11 interesting facts about Spain: The land of late dinners and long life expectancies

11 interesting facts about Spain: The land of late dinners and long life expectancies

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated June 7, 2023

Spain is a beautiful country on the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. When you visit for the first time, you’ll be fascinated by the Spanish people and all the country has to offer. If you are learning to speak Spanish, Spain is a great place to visit to practice your language skills. Plus, if you’re thinking of moving to Spain you’ll want to learn all you can. Want some interesting facts before you go? Spain has plenty to discover, from history to culture. Let’s jump in and learn something new.

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Unique facts about Spain: Food and drink

If you travel or move to Spain, you’ll want to know all about the food. Even the mealtimes in Spain are different than in many parts of the world. Lunch, known as la comida, is usually from 2:00 – 4:00 PM. Dinner is eaten late around 10:00 PM. You’ll also notice that people are not rushed when eating. Meals take a long time and restaurants will never rush you by bringing the bill. You can stay as long as you like, enjoying the sobremesa!  

Spain has the most bars in Europe

Drinking is part of the culture in Spain. It should be no surprise that Spain has the highest number of bars per capita in Europe. You’ll see people of all ages drinking at all hours of the day.

Expect tapas when ordering a drink

All that drinking might be for a reason. You receive a free tapa with each drink. Tapa means top or cover. Originally tapas, small plates of food, were used to cover drinks to keep flies and other insects away. The custom of tapas continues to this day. You order a drink and you are served olives or tortilla española, a potato and egg omelet served everywhere in Spain. 

In the city of Granada in Andalucia the tapas are very generous. You can eat a meal this way!  

Spain brought New World foods to Europe

Spain colonized what we know today as Mexico and Central and South America. Spain extracted foods such as tomatoes, potatoes and beans from these countries and brought them back to Spain. These ingredients quickly spread throughout Europe and became staple food items in the European pantry. 

Spain’s largest fresh food market is in Valencia, Spain

The Mercado Central, Central Market is a fresh food market that sells fruit, vegetables, fish, ham, olives and more. It is more than 8,000 square meters and is designed in the Valencian Art Nouveau style. This is a must-see if you visit Valencia. 

Spain is the world’s largest olive oil producer

Spain produces almost half of the world’s olive oil. If you travel around the country you’ll see olive trees everywhere. Olives and olive oil are ubiquitous. 

Interesting facts about Spain: Culture

Learning a little about the culture of Spain is important if you’re thinking of visiting or moving there for work

The ‘siesta’ is an important part of the culture

Siesta means nap but also refers to the time of day. In Spain, la siesta is generally between 2:00 – 6:00 PM. It is a time when people eat la comida (lunch) and then take a nap or rest. In Spain, it can be very hot at this time of day so it is convenient to stay indoors. Restaurants and businesses may close during this time. Take that into consideration when planning a trip.

Spain has the 3rd largest number of UNESCO sites in the world

If history and culture are your interests, then Spain is the perfect place. Spain has 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the country. Some of the more well-known places include the Alhambra in Granada, the city of Toledo and the mosaic and architecture work of Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona. 

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Moorish influence can be seen in many areas

People known as the Moors from North Africa controlled the area now known as southern Spain from 711 AD to 1492. Southern Spain was called Al-Andalus, an area known today as Andalucia. Arabic and Islamic influence can be found in the language, culture, food, architecture, and art of Spain. Cities such as Granada and Sevilla are places to visit if you are interested in this history. 

Other interesting facts about Spain

If you are considering an international move, don’t forget to check the information about visas for Spain. Here are more interesting facts to consider before your move.

Life expectancy in Spain is long

The average life expectancy in Spain is over 85. Why? It could be the relaxed way of life, not rushing meals, a Mediterranean diet with olive oil, taking plenty of naps or having a healthy social life. Whatever it is, sounds good to us!

Spain has over 8,000 kilometers of coastline (and beaches!)

Spain is a peninsula and Portugal takes some of the coastlines, but you can visit the coast in the north, the west, the east and of course the famous sunny south. Spain is famous for its beaches so make sure you visit some. 

More tourists than residents

Spain is a popular tourist destination. Spain has a population of 47 million. In 2022, over 71 million tourists visited. That is nearly double the number of residents! If you are focused on learning basic Spanish for travel, don’t worry, many tourist spots have information in English. 

Plan your trip – or move – to Spain today!

Spain is a country with so many interesting facts. These are only a few that we hope piqued your interest. If you are planning a trip or thinking of moving for Spanish immersion, Spain might be your answer. Take some time to learn the customs of the food, drink and people. As you practice your Spanish, don’t miss the rich history all around you. Enjoy!

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

Alison Maciejewski Cortez

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