45 Fun Facts about Spain and Spaniards

Disclaimer: The below fun facts about Spain and Spaniards are my own opinions, reached upon studying a semester in Spain, traveling through the country several times, or from my Spanish teachers. They are not meant to offend anyone, nor are they a rule.

  • They have funny looking sandals – especially in Barcelona
  • They say joder, coño, madre mia, vaya putada, ostia, gilipollo, esta de puta madre, hijoputa every few words. They all mean pretty much the same – damn, f…,  Jesus Christ, wtf (palabrotas as the Spaniards call them)
  • They eat very VERY late – lunch from 2 to 4pm and dinner beginning with 10pm
  • Having breakfast at home is not common
  • Madrid’s tap water is one of the best ever, it’s actually drinkable
  • Surprisingly, the older population goes out very often, and are always extremely elegant
  • Older women love their long natural fur coats
  • Madrid has the smallest metro cards I’ve ever seen (similar to the Paris ones)
  • Football is their second religion
  • Playing the lottery is a national hobby
  • They treasure their free time above all; most stores close for 3hrs after lunch time
  • Spaniards like to party (no shit?!)
  • Spaniards do botellon before they go to a club (drinking much cheaper drinks in someone’s house or in a park rather than paying triple inside a club)
  • Only Cyprus surpasses Spain in the highest number of bars per inhabitants !!! (1 bar for 129 people; Romania has 1 bar for 1295 people - quite a difference, isn’t it?) Spain has the highest number of bars, restaurants and coffee shops, in the European Union, more exactly 344.426 !!!

  • Presenting oneself at a party at 12 or 1 am is ridiculously early; Spaniards start the night around 2 am and finish at 6-7am, after which they go to eat churros
  • On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, at 6-7am, the subway is one of the most crowded spots in Madrid – everyone is going home and they are still very much alive
  • Alcohol and tobacco are part of their culture – they almost never ask, while with a group of people, if they can smoke
  • To demonstrate just how much tobacco is part of their culture, you can only get subway passes for a month in an estanco, which is where they sell tobacco
  • Spaniards smoke a lot and a bit of everything
  • Not only that, but, strangely enough, even if it’s only a country of 4o something million people, Spain is number 1 in the world in consuming cocaine
  • Smoking is also perceived as a family activity, I have never seen any other culture of young people smoking along their parents, very at ease
  • A few years ago years ago, you could practically smoke anywhere and everywhere in Spain: in class, on the plane, on the subway, in hospitals, etc. Now you can only smoke in bars
  • The Canary Islands are a fiscal Paradise, they only pay around 5% taxes - they are closer to Africa than Spain and their main resource of living is tourism
  • Spaniards are always complaining, they talk a lot and very fast
  • However, Spaniards are some of the nicest kindest people you will ever see – when asking for directions in the street, EVERYONE will thoroughly explain the way, regardless of how busy they might be

Performers Las Ramblas Barcelona

  • Most Spaniards I’ve seen are dark haired with dark eyes, peludos (hairy) and not very tall
  • Spaniards, men and women, have the most eccentric, bold, funny looking haircuts I’ve ever seen
  • The waiters are generally rude – understandable considering they work for almost no tips
  • Mahou  is the no 1 best selling beer in Spain, however I think Alhambra is the best beer I’ve ever had
  • Seat is the only Spanish car brand
  • You don’t have to leave any tip in Spain – this is a common mistake of Americans, being used to the traditional 15% tip in the US
  • When you buy a coffee, the waiter always brings something that looks like an expresso, and then they ad, in front of you, a ton of milk
  • Spaniards kiss on one cheek when meeting someone, as opposed to kissing on both cheeks as Romanians do
  • The Spanish hymn has no lyrics – did you notice the winner of the Euro Cup mumbling when listening to their national hymn?
  • Each regional country of Spain – Pais Vasco, Cataluña, Galicia – has its own language, hymn and flag
  • El Castellano is the main language

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

  • Spaniards are not very good at learning other languages
  • Every English word is made into a Spanish one (freak turns into friqui/friki, iphone turns into ifon, CD turns into cede, DVD turns into deuvede, etc)
  • For 40 years, between 1936 and 1975, Franco ruled Spain in the form of a dictatorship
  • Spain transformed itself from a traditional modest society to a modern one, reaching second place in the most visited countries in the world, with 59.2 million visitors a year (France is on first place with 81.9 million visitors, while the US is on third place, with 56 millions), as well as the second fastest growing population regarding immigration
  • Barcelona has 15 million visitors per year, while Madrid has only 6 or 7
  • The Madrid-Barcelona route has the highest number of flights per week in the world
  • The Madrid subway system is the third in the world, by number of kilometres covered, after London and New York, even if Madrid is barely the 50th metropolis
  • Spain has been the biggest donor of organs in the world, for 15 consecutive years !!!
  • Spain is the third country in the world, after the US and Brazil, adherent to plastic surgery!!!

And I love them!

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  • Hiba

    kewl!!
    who would’ve known.

  • T.O.P.’s wifeyy

    nice. haha. i never knew that about Spain [about all the smoking stuff.] heheh. xD *i’ll be sure to bring tons of masks to wear when i go visit.

  • http://www.myspanishvillarental.com Villa Rentals Spain

    Also they love lots of noise – and the later in gets the louder they talk.
    Although thought of as a Catholic country most of the population under 30 only goes to church for funerals, weddings and christenings
    Not all local mayors in Spain are corrupt but most have something to hide
    Sound proofing in spanish apartments does not exist neither does central heating even in cities which have relatively cool winters.

  • real spanish

    eating churros after party is only an habit in Madrid
    football (soccer) is THE FIRST RELIGION
    we have universal health-care
    we are living our sports golden age
    our smoking restrictions will become one of the hardest in Europe after 1st of january
    north spanish and south ones are SOOOO diferent
    foreign movies and series are translated to spanish
    politicians are our first national problem (like italians)

  • titus

    U are wrong in one think, we (spaniards) leave tips, but just on restaurants, and its volunteer, but the usual is to leave 1 to 4 euros.

  • http://redisme.wordpress.com Maria Novianti

    hey, missing one thing, spaniards usually are late!!! they take their time for everything, hehe.

    • Isabel

      that is only true in the south! but it happens in every country, because of the weather, in the south they take things with calm
      when i lived in naples (italy) same thing happened!

  • Another Spaniard

    Tips are only left if the place deserves it! Good food, good service? Tip is granted ;)

    Oh, and kissing is only done on woman-woman or man-woman greetings. Men shake hands among themselves. However, lots of women complain privately about having to kiss everyone they meet :-P

    Also, regional accents are so thick, we can barely understand each other sometimes!

  • Mikel A.

    in this blogs it seems that the people who comment on spain are young students on holiday resorts…I work 50 hours per week, i have worked hard all my life, as most of the people around me, i dont have siesta, have not drunk sangria in my life, most of the people i know arrive on time to their appointments, do no shout all the time and is not always partying…..I suppose that all your commentaries are the result of age and the kind of life you carry on in Spain….

  • Spaniard

    Not all the spaniards smoke, that is false and in the past year we have non-smoke law in public zones.
    To speak other languages is related with economy situation of the family. We have official school of languages and british academies and we have in mostly private schools trips to another countries to learn English. I’m Basque Spaniard and I speak 4 languages Spanish, Basque, English and French.

    • monicasuma

      Thank you for your comment. My article was based on a few months spent in Spain, and my experience first-hand with Spaniards and their habits. Of course there are plenty of exceptions. I did not say Spaniards cannot speak foreign languages or that there is no interest, however having had direct access to them, I noticed even the ones that had studied a foreign language as a main concentration in college and had all the means to do so, I could barely understand them. The smoking part, yes, it might have changed, like everywhere else in the world.

  • http://www.plantheperfectkitchen.com Marvin W.

    I’ve never been to Spain…but after reading this I gotta go.

  • A Canarian girl :)

    Hi, well I am Spanish, and most of those facts are true, but I have to say that the smoking ones aren’t really true:
    Not all the spaniards smoke, I think you may have exaggerated those facts. Also, now we have a new non-smoking law in public zones.
    Also, it is not true that we find it difficult to learn languages. This is just that some people just can’t be bothered (most of them). Other spaniards (like me) have been studying foreign languages since we were young and take it very seriously. I am Canarian, and I speak 6 languages: Spanish (of course), English, French, Italian, German and Russian.
    Also, if you enjoyed Madrid and Barcelona, my advice (if you haven’t been there yet) would be to go to the Canary Islands. It is truly like paradise, and I think that anyone who goes wouldn’t wan’t to leave.
    Anyway, most of your facts are quite accurate and congrats for the article :)

    • monicasuma

      Hey, thank you so much for your comment. As I said before, in reply to someone else, this article is from 2008, therefore some of the smoking laws have changed indeed. I am Eastern European, therefore I am used to seeing many people smoke, however for us, it is something of a tabu; for instance, I was surprised to see young people smoke in the same room as their parents as if nothing. I was also surprised to see shops that only sold tobacco. As a percentage, there are many Spaniards that smoke but of course not all of them. As for the languages, it was just something I noticed about most Spaniards while spending a few months there. I do not claim to know every single one and I am positive there are many of you that can speak many languages. Most people I met at the time were like that. As for Islas Canarias, I know they are like paradise and I am very much looking forward to going there. Thank you once again!

  • María Dolores

    I´m a spaniard woman:

    1- It is no longer allowed to smoke in public places. Smoker number is decreasing rapidly.
    2-We don´t eat THAT late. When school time 8.30 pm lunch is usual, and around 1.30 pm for lunch.
    3-SEAT is not longer a spanish brand. It is german.
    4-Spaniards always kiss BOTH cheeks!!!!!
    5- Lots of spaniards have actually breakfast at home.
    6-It´s true we have some troubles learning languages, but lots of schools are bilingual and we are making great efforts with english.

    Thank you for loving us!!!

  • Isabel

    Hi! I’ve just got to your webpage by mistake, but i thought it’s really funny!!
    Im actually spanish, and i loved some of the facts you posted, still i would like to disagree (in a nice way ofcourse) with some of them.
    1.Most Spaniards are dark haired with dark eyes, peludos (hairy) and not very tall
    this is not true at all, actually in spain given the mix of cultures over the years we’re actually pretty tall (women 1,70 easily)!

    2.we do kiss on both cheeks when we meet someone! we generally kiss on one only to family and really close friends!

    other than that you’re right, specially when you say waiters are rude, THEY ARE!! and i laughed so hard!
    now seriously, i loved your page, cuz is fun to see how other people see us!!
    keep the good work!

    Isa

    • http://www.monica-suma.com Monica Suma

      Isabel,

      Thanks so much for your comment. Of course not everything is 100% accurate, these are just my observations over having spent a few months there and visited several times. I respectfully give you the right to disagree. But hey, I am glad I got most of them right!

      Thanks for stopping by, do come back!

      xoxo

  • Adriana

    Hi! Looking for something else I found your blog. I’m Spanish and this is kind of fun to read, non offensive at all! It looks as if you really enjoyed your time here. I’ve got to say something, though: if you haven’t been to the south, Andalucía, you need to come back and check it! It’s really different Spain from north, with its beautiful cities and forests, to south, with its beaches, and only olive trees as far as the eye can see… It’s a different way of being spanish :P

    One last thing, don’t come here in the summer… we’re having African heat right now and can only live at night (maybe the heat is the reason why we are used to these strange timetables)

    By the way, did it shock you how many people use fans here? I sincerely think we have yo export the idea, since it’s the cheapest way to stay cool :D

    • http://www.monica-suma.com Monica Suma

      Thank you so much for your comment, Adriana! Andalucia is indeed stunning, I’ve seen some of it. Don’t worry, it’s brutally hot everywhere I’ve been this summer, Eastern Europe, Middle East, New York, Caribbean, so no one expects pleasant summers anymore :) Thanks for reading, I LOVE Spain.

  • Rosetta

    I never knew that about Spain! I’m doing a project for school about another country and I chose Spain. We have to tell a lot of interesting facts about our country.

    • http://www.monica-suma.com Monica Suma

      Rosetta,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad this post can be of help!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marrissa.rodriguez Marrissa L. Rodriguez

    All very nice info, but one “fact” is wrong I’m afraid. Most places in Spain, you DO kiss on both cheeks not just one. And most waiters and people are actually very nice and attractive. Maybe it was just in those places? But even in Barcelona they kiss on both cheeks. My family has friends in Barcelona for almost 10 years.

  • Marta Rizzo

    Monica maybe a semester wasnt good enough :) I also studied in Spain but went there for 3 yrs. Most Spaniards are very white, in fact they look like Brits in the way of Sean Connery, and in the south many have beautiful olive skin like Italians. Most of them have either dark brown hair to light brown and green to light brown eyes. In the north I saw plenty of blonds but the south has them too. Also Spaniards are very tall and much taller than my Italian people and also than people in the USA. Many basketball players do play in the USA and their male tennis players are very tall too. Taller than most nations. Also they kiss on both cheeks so I dont know why you said only one cheek. All my Spanish friends there spoke French, Italian and some English and hated smoking and NOBODY I knew there took any siesta unless they were 80 yrs old :) Cocaine? Girl, you were hanging out with that kind of Spaniards. My friends didnt do drugs.

    Spaniards eat well, stay slim and make some of the best wine in the world.

    Overall, I found them VERY GOOD LOOKING! Spain, next to Russia, has the best looking women in Europe. Me I can’t wait to return to see my Spanish boyfriend :) whom I hope to marry. There rest of your comments were right on but pls update your writings. BTW I love Romania and its people. Many, like yourself, look Spanish too.