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Discovering Spain

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Spain is one of Southern Europe's main expat destinations. Every year, the country welcomes thousands of expatriates from the European Union as well as from other countries. Stretching over some 504,030 km², it is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, France, Andorra and Portugal. Spain's capital city is Madrid and its largest cities are Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla.

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Most expats decide to settle in Madrid and Barcelona for better job opportunities or opt for Alicante, which is a popular holiday area that has attracted investors as well as retirees in the past. These regions host almost 45% of all expatriates in Spain.

Demography of Spain

In early 2017, Spain's population amounted to around 46 million inhabitants, including a large number of expatriates from across the globe since the end of the 1980s. Madrid remains the largest and most important Spanish city with a population of 3.2 million, which makes it the third largest city within the EU after London and Berlin. Its metropolitan area amounts to some 6,4 million inhabitants and keeps on growing year after year. 

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In 2016 there were about 4.4 million residing foreigners in Spain. The majority comes from south Americans countries like Ecuador and Columbia, followed by expats from Rumania, Morocco, the UK and Italy.

Spanish culture

The Spanish flag displays red and yellow, which initially were colours of Castile and Leon, as well as those of the Navarre and Aragon regions. The coat of arms on the flag also represents the four regions, now called Aragon, Valencia, Balearic Islands and Catalonia, while Granada's symbol appears in the base.

The Marcha Real is one of the oldest national anthems in the whole of Europe. However, it does not have any official lyrics, despite the willingness of many patriots. This can be explained by a lack of popular adhesion and uniformity regarding the different languages that are spoken in Spain. While Spanish or Castilian is the official language, many other regional languages such as Catalan, Basque, Galician, and even Asturian, Leone and Aragonese, are recognized in the country. Various informal dialects are also spoken in different regions. For instance, Extremaduran is spoken in Extremadura while Cantabrian is spoken in Cantabria and Asturias and Portuguese is spoken in Olivenza, among others.

Spain is also known to be the birthplace of many great artists such as the writer Cervantes, the famous painters Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí as well as the renowned filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar.

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Bull fighting, Flamenco dancing or tapas food are probably Spain’s best-known traditions and that are also seen as forms of art there.

Economy of Spain

Spain is the European Union's sixth economic power, ranked fourteenth in the global economy. Following several years of recession, the economy started to stabilise in 2015 and the European Commission is now estimating a GDP growth rate of 2.3% for 2017. The Spanish GDP growth was 1,252 billion euros in 2016.

Since the early 1990s, Spain's economy is based on various sectors, namely industry, precision engineering, electronics, pharmaceuticals, oil, gas, uranium, energy, metal ores, etc. The secondary sector and tourism, shipbuilding, automotive industry and aeronautics are other important economic pillars. In fact, these are the country's main employment generators.

During the crisis, Spain experienced very high unemployment rates, especially among young people. This has gradually been improving since 2014 and by the end of 2016, the unemployment rate stood at 18.5%. The job market remains difficult, however, continuous improvement is seen.

Note that Spain is a member of the European Union, United Nations Organization, World Trade Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, among others.

Politics of Spain

Spain is a multiple party constitutional monarchy headed by King Felipé VI who has been ruling since 2014. He is also the head of government, head of state and President of the Government. The executive power is in the government's hands while legislative power is held by the Spanish Parliament. The Spanish parliament is bicameral, consisting of a congress of deputies and a senate. Regarding the judiciary, it is an independent system.

Climate

Spain's climate is divided into three zones: Mediterranean climate, semi-arid climate and oceanic climate.

The Mediterranean climate is dominant in the Iberian Peninsula and is characterised by high and dry temperatures in summer and mild and wet winters. The semi-arid climate predominates in the south eastern regions with dry temperatures, even after summer. As for the oceanic climate, it prevails mainly in the northern Atlantic coast regions like Galicia or the Basque Country. In mountainous regions, however, temperatures are rather humid.
Spain has very little rainfall throughout the year. Hence, water shortages due to drought are fairly common.

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The sunny Mediterranean climate and its location by the sea are definitely a great attraction for most expats seeking a great quality of life.

 Useful link:

Spain Info www.spain.info

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See also

Alicante is one of Spain's main tourism destinations. Its different neighborhoods and its architecture depict its rich cultural and historical heritage.
Rent prices are quite high in Barcelona, just like in Madrid. There are different forms of accommodation available in a variety of neighbourhoods.
Rent prices in Madrid can be quite high. But the Spanish capital city has rather attractive neighborhoods and accommodation offers.
Sevilla's economy was badly affected by the 2008 economic crisis and many people remain unemployed. However it is possible for expats to find work.

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