Capital | Madrid
Population | 40,548,753 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 504,782 SQ KM
Official Language | Spanish
Holidays | National Day, 12 October (1492); year when Columbus first set foot in the Americas
Currency | euros (EUR)
Time Zone | UTC+1
Best Time to Visit | May, June and September
Connecting with the Culture | Walking the Camino de Santiago to Santiago de Compostela. Exploting the architecture of Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona. Partying through the night in Valencia’s Las Fallas. Seeing the Romanesque relics of medieval Aragon at Huesca and San Juan de la Pena. Sipping summering canas (beers) and enjoying the magnificent views to the Sierra de Guadarrama at Las Vistillas.
Read | the 17th century novel Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, or For Whom the Bell Tolls, a terse tale of civil war by Ernest Hemingway.
Listen | to Andres Segovia, who established classical guitar as a genre or flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia
Watch | Pedro Almodovar’s Todo Sobre Mi Madere (All About My Mother), which portrays the lives of an improbable collection of women.
Eat | home-cooked paella, or fabada asturiana (a heavy white-bean-based stew)
Drink | red wine from the Ribera del Duero region
In a Word | Buenos Dias (Good day)
Characteristics | Flamenco; bull-fighting; Picasso; football; the running of the Bulls festival; Ibiza.
Surprises | Almost every second village has a medieval castle. In Catalunya devil and dragon figures run through the streets spitting fireworks at crowds during the correfoc (fire-running)