Facts about Spain
Area: 504,030 sq km 195,364 sq mi
Population: 2009 estimate 46,661,950
Currency: The Euro. Previously the Spanish peseta (€1=166.66 pesetas)
Language: Castilian Spanish (Castellano) is the national language though visitors who have learned their Spanish abroad find regional accents difficult to cope with, especially in rural Andalucia. Other important language groups include Gallego in Galicia, Basque in the Basque Country and different forms of Catalan in Catalunya, Valencia and the Balearic Islands.
Visa: No visas are necessary for EU nationals staying a maximum of three months
Geography: Spain is Europe’s fourth largest country after Russia, Ukraine and France. It consists of the Spanish mainland, which occupies most of the Iberian peninsula apart from Portugal, the Balearic islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, Gomera, Fuerteventura and Hierro in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco.
Religion: Over 98% of people are Roman Catholic, the rest being made up of a few Protestants, Muslims and Jews. There are also around 500,000 gypsies living mainly in the larger cities.
Ethnic groups 88.7% Spanish, 11.3% Other (Romanian, Moroccan, Ecuadorian, Colombian, British)
Time: Central European Time = GMT + 1 hour.
Business hours: The normal opening hours for shops are Monday to Saturday from around 9am or 10am until about 1.30pm. After siesta they reopen from around 4pm until 8pm or 9pm. Large stores usually stay open all day. Most places are closed on Sundays. Many businesses (especially in Madrid) close for holidays in August.