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Spain

Spain is a European country sharing a western border with Portugal. The country, which has a population of forty six million, officially joined the European Union in 1986. In 1999, it formally adopted the Euro currency. It is believed that many Spaniards have roots in Africa, Greece, Morocco and the Middle East.

Although Spaniards are known for their easygoing and laid back character, the country also has a history that is dotted with periods of social unrest. Fortunately, the implementation of a more democratic process has seen a decline in such unrest. However, the country’s high unemployment rate remains a topic of social concern.

de_0117_spain - Alhambra

Attractions

A very popular tourist destination, especially among younger travellers, is the magical island Ibiza. The island has gained notoriety because of its popular nightlife scene. However, there are also other attractions that this island has to offer such as a picturesque rural landscape and crystal clear beaches. It is also an ideal winter getaway since the sun shines almost year round. For a list of other attractions, visit here.

The country also offers many historic cities to see. The old town Segovia, which is located just north of Madrid, is a beautiful Roman style aqueduct which dates back to A.D. 50. It is home to an impressive gothic cathedral as well as many other historical attractions.

Spain is also famous for its rich artistic culture. Madrid is home to the Golden Triangle of Art, which consists of three prominent museums, the Prado Museum, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.  Think Spain has a good description of the art pieces featured in these museums.

de_0115_spain - Detail of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Local Food & Drink

The local cuisine will usually be accompanied by a rich glass of wine. Spanish cuisine usually consists of many different types of vegetables paired with some type of meat or seafood.

Tapas have recently gained popularity in western culture. They can be thought of as appetizers that are usually meant to accompany your drink. Local residents usually have one tapa and one drink at a couple of different locations. Because there are many different types of tapas, this is a good way to ensure that your evening is filled with variety.

Steak is a very popular dish in Spain because you are almost certainly guaranteed a high quality cut of meat. This is because the country has a high proportion of free range animals.
If you are in search of something lighter, gazpacho is a very popular Spanish soup. It is a tomato soup that usually consists of other vegetables and is served cold.

de_0116_spain - Building detail, La Rambla Street, City of Barcelona, Spain

Safety

Although Spain is a very safe country, you should always take precautions in high volume tourist areas. There have been numerous reports of pickpocketing in Spain. Therefore, if you are visiting busier places like markets, be sure to keep a very close eye on your wallet. Tourists are often distracted by gypsies attempting to read your fortune or offer you other spiritual advice. This is a common distraction tactic so that a thief can steal your wallet without your knowledge.

It is also important to keep in mind that there are multiple types of police in Spain. Local police mainly enforce traffic in larger cities like Barcelona. They can also be helpful if you are lost or seeking directions.

The Policía Nacional deal with any type of offence or crime that takes place inside of a city. Therefore, if you have been a victim of theft, they are the ones that can help you.

Finally, the Guardia Civil enforces rules and regulations in rural or remote areas.