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Tourist in Barcelona

Society and population

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Did you know that Spain has over 47 million inhabitants? Would it surprise you to hear that life expectancy is over 83 years, one of the world’s highest? How many official languages would you guess there are in Spain? Although Spanish (or Castilian) is the official language throughout the country, Catalan, Gallego, Euskera (Basque) and Valencian are co-official languages in their respective Autonomous Regions. 

What areas make up Spain?

Spain consists of 17 Autonomous Regions (Andalusia, Aragón, Asturias, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, the Region of Madrid, the Region of Valencia, Extremadura, Galicia, Navarra, Euskadi (the Basque Country), La Rioja, the Region of Murcia) and two Autonomous Cities (Ceuta and Melilla). Most Autonomous Regions are divided into provinces (some have a single province) and they have administrative and financial autonomy, and legislative and executive power in certain spheres.

Map of Spain

Which are the largest cities in Spain?

Madrid and Barcelona are the largest cities in Spain. Madrid is also the national capital, with over three million inhabitants. Most of the population of Spain lives in towns and cities. These are the largest:Over 1.5 million inhabitants: Madrid and Barcelona.Over 500,000 inhabitants: Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza, and Málaga.Over 300,000 inhabitants: Murcia, Palma, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Bilbao, Alicante/Alacant, and Córdoba.

Views of Barcelona

Spain also has many beautiful or interesting towns and villages which attract tourists from all over the world. They range from the group of World Heritage Cities to the peaceful medieval towns and the fishing villages of northern Spain. Some places are known for their vernacular architecture, such as the whitewashed towns and villages of Andalusia or the Black Villages of Guadalajara. Some are famous for their beauty and you can visit very quiet and peaceful villages in inland regions of Spain such as Aragón, Castilla y León, and Castilla-La Mancha. If you prefer the coast, there are relaxing destinations all along the coast in places like Andalusia, Catalonia, or the Region of Murcia.

What is the political system in Spain?

Spain is a parliamentary monarchy, under King Felipe II. National sovereignty is held by the people, and citizens take part in public affairs through the representatives they choose in free elections, which are usually held every four years. The most recent election was in 2019, and the current Prime Minister is Pedro Sánchez, of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE).

The Spanish Parliament, Madrid

Spain and the European Union

Spain became a member state of the European Union on 1 January 1986 (when it was the European Economic Community) and has held the Presidency of the Council in 1989, 1995, 2002, and 2010. In 2023 it will be Spain’s turn to hold the Presidency again.Spain is an active participant in constructing the European project, with contributions backed by its policies in various areas, especially external relations with Latin America and the southern Mediterranean.

Flags of the European Union