Spain Profile

General Facts:

Population: 46.77 million (2014)

Official?Languages : Spanish

Capital: Madrid

Area: 194,845 mi?

 

Currency: Euro

Crime &Security:
Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, but you should be alert to the existence of street crime, especially thieves using distraction techniques. Thieves often work in teams of two or more people and tend to target money and passports. Don’t carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe.

Many people have their passports stolen while passing through airports, either on arrival in or departure from Spain. Take extra care to guard passports, money and personal belongings when collecting or checking in luggage at the airport, and while arranging car hire. There has been an increase in the number of thefts from hire cars. Remove all valuables from the vehicle when you park or store items out of sight.

In some city centres and resorts, thieves posing as police officers may approach tourists and ask to see their wallets for identification purposes. If this happens to you, establish that the officers are genuine and if necessary show some other form of ID. Genuine police officers don’t ask to see wallets or purses.

In any emergency, call 112. To report a crime, including stolen property and lost or stolen passports, visit the nearest Policia Nacional, regional police (Ertzaintza in the Basque Country, Mossos d’Esquadra in Catalonia, and Policia Foral in Navarre) or Guardia Civil Station to make a police report (denuncia). If you have had belongings stolen, you will need to keep the report for insurance purposes.

Economy
Spain has the fourteenth-largest economy by nominal GDP in the world, and sixteenth-largest by purchasing power parity. Spain is a member of the European Union, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the World Trade Organization.
The Spanish economy is the fifth-largest in the European Union, and the fourth-largest in the Eurozone, based on nominal GDP statistics. In 2012, Spain was the twelfth-largest exporter in the world and the sixteenth-largest importer.

Spain is listed 23rd in UN Human Development Index and 30th in GDP(PPP) per capita by World Bank, thus it is classified as high income economy and among the countries of very high human development. However, since the financial crisis of 2007–08, the Spanish economy’s recent macroeconomic performance has been poor. Between 2008 and 2012, the economic boom of the 2000s was reversed, leaving over a quarter of Spain’s workforce unemployed by 2012. In 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 1.4% and was in recession until Q3 of 2013.

Despite the poor performance of the Spanish economy generally in the 2008-2013 period, the economic situation improved later on. During the boom years, Spain had built up a trade deficit eventually reaching a record amounting to 10% of GDP (2007). Then, during the economic downturn, Spain significantly reduced imports, increased exports and kept attracting growing numbers of tourists; as a result, after three decades of running a trade deficit the country attained in 2013 a trade surplus which has strengthened during 2014 and 2015. Exports in 2014 were 34% of GDP, up from 24% in 2009.

Education in Spain
The Spanish state school system is generally considered good, although academic standards vary between cities, neighborhoods, and individual schools. The public education system in Spain is free for all children residing in Spain. It is mandatory for all kids and teens to attend school between the ages of six and sixteen. Most parents send their children to preschool and kindergarten as well, once their kids are three years old.

Spanish schools are divided by age groups into three, possibly four, types. There’s the primary school (colegio) teaching children from the ages of six to twelve, and the secondary school (instituto), which twelve to sixteen-year-olds attend, is followed by the bachillerato. The latter is no longer compulsory, but it gives adolescents the chance to get a degree equivalent to that of the British A-Levels or the American high school diploma. Some schools also offer an educación infantíl for toddlers and children between the ages of three and six.

Food:

The Spanish food tradition has varied ancestry, though most Spanish dishes have rather humble origins and are the result, over time, of ingredients put together by poor peasants, farmers or shepherd families; many times using leftovers, or at the very least products from their own farms and orchards.

So how come Spanish cuisine is so diverse? The answer is simple, and it’s all related to history and location. First of all we must consider that being in central Europe Spain had great Roman and Greek influence; think only of olive oil and wine, then the Moorish influence in the Spanish cooking tradition produced marvels such as gazpacho and nougats and the Jewish gastronomic tradition contributed to the preparation of stews known as olla (pot).

However it was Christians who began with the tradition of one of Spain’s most notorious and sought after products: Spanish ham, which is not only consumed as tapas in bars, but also accompanies many dishes. Unquestionably pork is par excellence the favorite Spanish meat: everything is used, nothing is wasted. However, the Spanish like to make use of all of the ingredients they can and often include a number of different meats in the same dish.

Of course there are many other meats served in Spanish tables including lamb, beef and chicken. But Spaniards are not exclusively carnivorous, there are many vegetarian stews and other dishes that are enjoyed from North to South, from East to West. Vegetables are grown throughout the country, and the varied climates and terrains in Spain mean that a variety of different vegetables are grown. As a result, the vegetable dishes in Spain tend to vary from place to place.

Political System
In its present democratic form, the Spanish political system is very new, dating from the death of the dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975. The current Spanish Constitution was approved in 1978. The name chosen for the new two-chamber Spanish Parliament – the Cortes Generales (literally General Courts but rarely translated as such) – reflects the use of the term Cortes since Medieval Times and the addition of the word General signals the nationwide character of the Parliament as the legislatures of some autonomous communities are also labeled “Cortes”.

For four decades, the political institutions of Spain have been fought over by two major parties that reflected the Centre-Right/Centre-Left divisions in so much of European politics – a system known in Spain as “bipartidismo”. But chronic corruption in the political system and the economic crisis of recent years, which saw a double dip recesssion and unemployment peaking at 26%, has led to the perceived failure of the two establishment parties and given rise to tumultuous electoral change that is still working its way through the system.

Spain is a constitutional monarchy with a hereditary monarch, currently King Felipe VI. For all practical purposes, however, the head of the executive is the Prime Minister , literally President of the Government). The current Acting Prime Minister is Mariano Rajoy of the People’s Party but, in the general election of December 2015, his party lost its overall majority and he now has to attempt to put together a coalition of parties that will have a combined majority in the Cortes.

The Prime Minister chairs the Council of Ministers which is a collegiate body composed of the President (Prime Minister), Vice Presidents when existing, and the various. Ministers. The Council meets on weekly basis, usually Fridays in the morning at Moncloa Palace.

In the Spanish political system, the executive has to power to make decree laws, but the Congress of Deputies can ratify or reject these.

Smoking
Smokers in Spain have been banned from lighting up in bars and cafes as the country introduces a tough new anti-smoking legislation. The move has been criticized by hospitality industry representatives.
A cigarette in an ashtray, previous rules allowed bar owners to decide on any ban
Smokers in Spain are no longer allowed to light up a cigarette in bars and cafes after new anti-smoking legislation came into effect on Sunday, January 2.
The new law replaces one of Europe’s most relaxed anti-smoking legislation with one of the strictest.
The measures completely prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces such as bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as outdoor areas such as children’s playgrounds and hospital grounds.
Spain introduced anti-smoking legislation in January 2006, but this gave many bar owners the opportunity to decide whether to allow smoking or not.

Transport


Air
Travelling by plane is also a good choice, the main cities are communicated by plane and it will save you a lot of time if you need to cover long distances.

Road
Travelling by car is highly recommended if you intend to visit different cities. Highways and good roads communicate the centre of the country -and thus the capital, Madrid- with the main Spanish cities, however it can be a bit more difficult to reach less popular cities or villages which may not have such good communications.

Bus
Transportation by bus is very popular in the country coaches reach places where trains do not go to, coaches will also offer you better schedules and destinations than trains. There are different coach companies working in the country depending on the destination.



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