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State Emblem of SpainFlag of SpainSpain
Kingdom of Spain






Currency: EURO = 100 EURO cent.
Dialing code: 34.
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October); The Canary Islands: GMT (GMT +1).
Local time now:

Region: Europe.
Capital: Madrid.

Main cities: Barcelona (one of Spains major ports, responsible for handling the maritime trade), Zaragoza, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao.
Land and Resources: Spains territory includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Occupying the greater part of the Iberian Peninsula, Spain is bordered by water for most part of its periphery. The Bay of Biscay, France, and Andorra border Spain on the north. The Mediterranean Sea is on the east and south. The Atlantic Ocean lies on the south and west, and Portugal is also on the west. The British colony of Gibraltar is situated at the southern extremity of Spain. The long, unbroken mountain chain of the Pyrenees forms the border with France on the north. The most important of sierras are the Guadarrama Mountains, the Gredos Mountains, and the Toledo Mountains. Narrow valleys which are drained by rapid rivers are situated between many of the mountains. There are six principal mountain chains. The principal rivers of Spain are the Douro, Minho, Tagus, and Guadiana, Guadalquivir, Ebro River.
Climate: The climate of Spain is marked by extremes of temperature, except in the north, and generally insufficient rainfall. The climate is agreeable along the coasts of the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean, where conditions are generally damp and cool. The central plateau has summers so arid that nearly all the streams dry up, the earth parches, and drought is common. In Madrid, winter temperatures are sufficiently low to freeze surrounding streams, while summer temperatures rise as high as 42C (108F). In contrast, the southern Mediterranean coast has a subtropical climate.
Government: The monarch is head of state, but the executive head of government is the prime minister. Each region has its own legislative assembly and a governing council. The regions are themselves divided into provinces with responsibilities for local government.
Population: The overwhelming majority of the people of Spain are Spanish, but there are some distinctive ethnic groups, such as the Basque people. Non-Spanish residents include Arabs and Greeks, and quite a few Britons have retired to Spain.
Languages: Four languages are spoken in Spain: Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque.
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic.
1 January - New Years Day
6 January - the Day of the Three Kings
3 February - San Blas (Saint Blaise) Day
19 March - the Feast of San Jose
1 May - Labour Day
24 June - the Kings Birthday
25 July - Santiago Day
12 October - National Day
1 November - All Saints Day
6 December - Constitution Day
8 December - the feast of the Immaculate Conception
25 December - Christmas Day

Visa: US, UK, Australian citizens, Canadians, New Zealand, Irish nationals require a passport valid for period of intended stay and a return ticket or proof of onward travel. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months. South Africans should apply in advance for a visa to enter Spain. Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. Non-EU nationals must hold a return or onward ticket. All visitors may be asked for proof of financial means for their stay in Spain.
Customs regulations: The following items may be imported without incurring customs duty by passengers aged 17 years or older arriving from countries outside the EU: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos 50 cigars or 250g tobacco (300 cigarettes, 150 cigarillos, 70 cigars and 400g of tobacco for EU nationals); 1l of spirits if exceeding 22 per cent volume or 2l of alcoholic beverage not exceeding 22 per cent volume and 2l of wine (1.5l exceeding 22 per cent and 3l of up to 22 per cent and 5l of wine for EU nationals); 250ml eau de toilette and 50g of perfume; 500g of coffee or 200g of coffee extract (1000g of coffee and 4000g of coffee extract for EU nationals); 100g of tea or 40g of tea extract; gifts up to the value of approximately 37.26. Travellers should note that they may be required to prove at customs that the goods purchased are for personal use only.
Transportation: There are scheduled international air services to Madrid, Barcelona, and a number of other airports, as well as thousands of charter flights to Spain from all over Europe. The domestic air and railway networks provide links between the main cities. Buses compete with rail services and operate in certain areas where rail services do not. Within cities, buses, taxis, and private cars are the main methods of public transport. Both Madrid and Barcelona have efficient underground railway systems.
Sightseeing: Madrid: one of the greatest art collections in the Prado National Museum; the National Museum of Modern Art; the National Archaeological Museum; the National Ethnological Museum; the Natural Science Museum and the Museum of the Spanish People; the Royal Palace.
Situated in Barcelona are the Maritime Museum and the Archaeological Museum.
Towering above the Spanish city of Granada, the red brick walls of the Alhambra fortress hide exotic gardens, textiles, mosaics, embroidery, and metalwork.
Strongholds such as the Castillo de la Estrella in Teba, a small Mediterranean town in southern Spain, serve as reminders of the countrys military past.
Palma, on the island of Mallorca, has many architectural treasures, including Bellver Castle. Palma is a popular destination, hosting numerous cruise ships and annual international conferences.
The Benedictine monastery, carved into the side of Montserrat northwest of Barcelona, has attracted pilgrims for more than 700 years. The site provided the inspiration for Wagners final opera Parsifal. In addition to its stunning view and unusual setting, the monastery is known for its Escolania boys choir, which claims to be the oldest such choir in the world. The choir sings each Sunday and on special occasions.
The lively music and dance called flamenco is the product of several influences on Spanish culture, including that of the Roma (Gypsies) and the Moors. Guitars and hand-clapping accompany the stomping and whirling flamenco dancers. Each August scores of flamenco festivals take place in Andalucía.
The Canary Islands: most visitors arrive between December and March.
One of Spains most famous bullrings is the Maestranza in the Andalusian city of Seville. Today, Madrid and Seville are considered the centres of bullfighting in Spain.
The rugged coastal landscape of Mallorca near Cala de la Calobra offers a peaceful hideaway for pleasure boaters. The island of Mallorca, the island is a major tourist destination.
Money: Money can be exchanged at bureaux de change and major hotels, but banks give the best rates. All major credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining money. Banks are open from 9 AM to 2 PM.
Communications: Pay phones are either blue or green and accept either coins or phone cards, which are sold at post offices, tobacco shops, and newsagents. Three mobile phone operators provide thorough GSM 900/1800 coverage throughout the country and the Balaeric and Canary Islands. Email and internet access is available at internet cafes, available in the most towns and resorts.
Shops and cafes: In Spain, the shopper can find items of high quality at a fair price, not only in the cities, but in the small towns as well. In Madrid, the Rastro Market is recommended, particularly on Sundays. Half of the market takes place in the open air and half in more permanent galleries, and it has a character all of its own. Catalonian textiles are internationally famous and there are mills throughout the region. Spanish leather goods are prized throughout the world, offering high-fashion originals at reasonable prices. Of note are the suede coats and jackets. In general, all leather goods, particularly those from Andaluca, combine excellent craftmanship with high-quality design. Fine, handcrafted wooden furniture is one of the outstanding products; Valencia is especially important in this field, and has a yearly international furniture fair. Alicante is an important centre for toy manufacturing. Shoe manufacturing is also of an especially high quality; the production centres are in Alicante and the Balearics. Fine rugs and carpets are made in Granada and Murcia. The numerous excellent sherries, wines and spirits produced in Spain make good souvenirs to take home. Shopping hours: Mon-Sat 1000-1300 and 1600-2000. However, most commercial stores and malls stay open from 1000-2200.
Tipping: Hotel and restaurant bills usually include service charges, but additional tips are welcomed for services rendered. In restaurants tips of about 15% are expected. In Mallorca value-added-tax is usually included in restaurant bills, designated 'I.V.A', and may be mistaken for service charge. Drivers of metered taxis expect tips of 10 to 15%. It is customary to tip small amounts for most services, including guides.
Health and safety: There are no health risks associated with travel to Spain, and no vaccination certificates are required for entry. Spain has a reciprocal health agreement with most EU countries, including the UK, providing free emergency health care at State run hospitals. UK travelers should take a completed E111 form. There is a potential risk of international terrorism, as in other countries, although the risk to tourists is considered to be low. However most visits to Spain are trouble-free, except for street crime, which is common in the big cities, and travellers are advised to take precautions to avoid theft of passports, credit cards, travel documents and money. Be wary of strangers offering or asking for help of any kind as it is often a distraction for accomplices.
Electricity: 220 or 225 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
Important phone numbers:
Police 092
Ambulance 061
Fire service 080
Spanish Embassy
15, Arkana St. Yarralumla. ACT 2600. P.O.B.: 9076 Deakin. ACT 2600
Tel: + 61 2 6273 3555
Fax: + 61 2 6273 3918
Spanish Embassy
74 Stanley Avenue
K1M 1P4 Ottowa, Ontario
Tel: + 1 613 747-2252; + 1 613 747-7293
Fax: + 1 613 744-1224
Spanish Embassy
22, avenue Marceau
75008 Paris
Tel: + 33 1
Fax: + 33 1; + 33 1 147 23 59 55
Spanish Embassy
Cancillería: Schöneberger Ufer 89, 6.º
10785 Berlín
Tel: + 49 30 254 007-0
Fax: + 49 30 257 99 557
Spanish Embassy
12, Prithviraj Road
110011 New Delhi
Tel: + 91 11 379 20 82; + 91 11 379 20 85
Fax: + 91 11 379 33 75.
Spanish Embassy
Palacio Borghese Largo Fontanella di Borghese, 19
00186 Rome
Tel: + 39 6 684.04.01; + 39 6 687.22.55
Fax: + 39 6 687 22 56
Spanish Embassy
Lange Voorhout 50
2514 EG Den Haag
Tel: + 31 70 302 49 99
Fax: + 31 70 361 79 59
Russian Federation
Spanish Embassy
Ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya 50/8
121069 Moscow
Tel: + 7 095 202 21 61; + 7 095 202 21 80
Fax: + 7 095 200 12 30; + 7 095 291 91 71
South Africa
Spanish Embassy
169, Pine St., Arcadia.- Pretoria 0083
Tel: + 27 12 344 38 75/76/77
Fax: + 27 12 343 48 91
Spanish Embassy
Djurgårdsvägen 21
115 21 Stockholm
Tel: + 46 8 663 79 65
Fax: + 46 8 662 67 45
Spanish Embassy
93 Wireless Road
10330 Bangkok
Tel: + (66) (2) 252 6112; + (66) (2) 252 8368
Fax: + (66) (2) 255 2388
United Kingdom
Spanish Embassy
39 Chesham Place
SW1X 8SB London
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7235 5555
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7235 9905
United Nations
Spain (Mission: New York)
809 United Nations Plaza 6th floor
NY 10017 New York
Tel: + 1 212 661 1050
Fax: + 1 212 682 4460
Spanish Embassy
2375 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
20037 Washington, D.C.
Tel: + 1 202 452-0100; + 1 202 728-2340
Fax: + 1 202 833-5670

Encarta World Atlas

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