- Nobody knows what España means.
The origin of the name España is still unclear. The first name of the region was Iberia, which comes from the word Iber (river). The Greeks called it Hesperia, “land of the setting sun”, and Hesperia Ultima, “last western land”. The Carthaginians turned this into Ispania, which means “land of rabbits”. Latin, our parent language, settled for Hispania. Other scholars suggest that España comes from the Basque word Ezpanna (“edge”), or even from the Iberian word Hispalis (“city of the western world”). At the end of the day though, we might be just a land of rabbits.
- We don’t believe in the tooth fairy.
Throwback to our childhoods! We thought ‘Ratoncito Pérez’ (the little mouse Pérez) would give us gifts in exchange for our teeth. Don’t ask us where that came from either.
- Names are tricky.
When you read the name “Francisco Pizarro Díaz”, you’ll probably call that person Francisco Díaz. Wrong! In Spain the father’s name comes first (Pizarro) and then the mother’s (Díaz), so that person would be Francisco Pizarro. And if Francisco marries “Marta López Solano”, their kids will have the surnames López Pizarro.
- Spain is the 16th largest economy in the world.
Spain has the 16th largest GDP in the world, despite having a population of only 46 million. In the middle of our siestas and long lunches, we’re doing something right!
- Madrid might have been the land of the bears.
Before being named Madrid, the name of the city could have been Ursaria. It literally means “the land of the bears” and is related to the population of bears in the nearby forests.
- Spain was a part of an Islamic Empire.
The Iberian Peninsula (with the exception of Asturias) was conquered by Moors in the 8th century. The Southern part of Spain was under their control until the 15th century, which left a distinct mark on Spanish culture.
- Spain is the world’s largest producer of oil.
Southern Spain is ideal of the production of olive oil. In fact, Spain’s production of olive oil more than doubles that of Italy, the world’s second largest producer, and triples that of Greece. And in many farms, olives are still picked by hand!
- We don’t eat our toasts with butter or jam.
You’re probably used to eating your toasts with butter or fruit jam. Well, not us. In Spain, traditional breakfast toasts are served with tomatoes and… olive oil.
- The national anthem has no words.
Spain is one of the 4 countries in the world whose national anthem has no lyrics.
- The Romans built to last, and we appreciate it.
We’re still using two dams that date back to Roman times: the Proserpina Dam and the Cornalvo Dam, both in Mérida. They now have the tender age of 1900 years.