Spanish Cultural Study Introduction
This Spain introduction page provides an overview of the Spanish region.
Spain (España) is situated in southwest Europe (Europa). It borders Portugal (Portugal) in the west and in the northeast Spain borders France (Francia) and the Principality of Andorra (el Principado de Andorra). In the south, the region of Andalusia borders the British territory of Gibraltar. There are several languages used in Spain but the official language is Castilian Spanish, which is often thought of as just Spanish.
Spain and Potugal are surrounded by water; the Iberian Peninsula (la Península Ibérica) is comprised of these two countries. Spain’s northern coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean (el Océano Atlántico).
The north east coast looks onto the Bay of Biscay (la Bahía de Vizcaya). The Atlantic Ocean also surrounds the west of the Iberian Peninsula, which is largely Portuguese territory: the exception being Galicia in the northwest of Spain. Some parts of the southern Spanish coast also face the Atlantic, but moving eastwards through the Strait of Gibraltar (el Estrecho de Gibralatar), the Spanish coast meets the Mediterranean Sea (el Mar Mediterráneo). Click here to view a map of Spain showing Spain’s regions.
An Introduction to the Territory of Spain
Spain’s territory extends beyond the Iberian Peninsula. There are the Balearic Islands (east of the mainland regions of Catalonia and Valencia in the Mediterranean Sea), the Canary Islands (located northwest of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean) and the North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Spain also lays claim to several islands east of Gibraltar. These are known as Plazas de Soberanía and include the Chafarine Islands (las Islas Chafarinas), the rocks of Vélez and Alhucemas (los Peñones de Vélez de la Gomera and los Peñones de Alhucemas) and the Parsley Island (la Isla Perejíl). The “North African” Spanish territories are a source of dispute between Spain and Morocco.
Spain has a surface area exceeding half a million square kilometers and so is the second largest territory in Europe after France. With 40 million people inhabitants, Spain also has the fourth largest population in Europe.