Everybody knows that Spain has bullfighting, tapas, sangria and beaches. But do you know that the submarine was invented by the Spaniard Isaac Peral Or where the rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid comes from? Read on.

The country’s name

No one is quite sure why Spain is called Spain. It could be do with rabbits (from the Punic word Ispanihad) or maybe edges and borders (the Basque word Ezpanna). The Phoenicians called it Span, which means “the hidden land.” Here is a taste of what it hides:

Festivals

Forget bullfighting – there’s tomato fighting! At La Tomatina, “The World’s Biggest Food Fight,” more than 150,000 tomatoes are thrown. It’s held in Buñol, near Valencia, on the last Wednesday in August.

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Romance

There are some pretty liberal laws in Spain…in fact, there are no laws when it comes to public nudity. Meanwhile, same sex marriage was made legal back in 2005.

There are also some very sweet and heart-warming traditions. For a few years now, lovers in the captivating city of Seville are making their mark on the city and showing their love, by attaching padlocks to the Isabel II Bridge. To signify true love forever, the keys are then thrown into the Guadalquivir river, and the names written on the padlocks give a hint to the lovers identities.

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Nature

People once believed the dragon tree held dragon’s blood. They got this idea because there’s a thick, red liquid found inside its orange fruit. This tree can be found in the Canary Islands.

Spain escaped the last ice age which enabled it to develop some of the most diverse plant species in Europe.

Art

The oldest known cave painting can be found in the north of Spain in the Cave of El Castillo. Incredibly, this faint red dot is over 40,000 years old. The “Sistine Chapel” of cave painting is near Santander, in the Cave of Altamira.

Football

The rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid comes from the time of the dictator Franco. Madrid represented nationalism and was favoured by Franco. Barcelona represented opposition to his regime. Real Madrid is the most popular club in the world with more than 228 million fans.

Nightlife

Spain has more bars than anywhere else in Europe but that doesn’t make Spaniards the heaviest drinkers. This is partly because every beer comes with tapas (a small portion of food).

food

Criadillas, or bull testicles, are a delicacy. They’re rubbed in oil, parsley and garlic before being grilled.

Tip on tips: Notice what language the tip sign is in – if it’s only in English, the locals don’t tip. Tip in Spanish is propina. For a menu del dia, tipping is uncommon.

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Language

Spanish (or, more specifically, Castilian) has more native speakers than English. Whilst most Spaniards speak Castilian, there are also many who speak Catalan, Valencian, Basque and Galician.

Latin has had the strongest influence on Spanish, followed by Arabic. The Moors spent 800 years in Spain and left behind over 4,000 Arabic words and phrases. Words starting with “al” come from Arabic, like algebra, alcohol and alkaline. Also the cities starting with “al” have Arabic origins, like Almeria, Albarracin, and Alicante.

The Spanish expression Ojalá (meaning “I hope/wish that”) comes from the war cry Wa Allah.

Inventions

Of course Spain is known for being a great holiday destination, and centre of culture and art, but did you know that the Spanish actually invented a lot of the things we use in everyday life?

For example, the acoustic guitar, the submarine and even cigarettes were all invented by creative and clever Spanish inventors.

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