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Something About Spain

Spanish is not only spoken in Spain but across the world; in Spain, it shares the peninsula with other languages. In Latin America, it is spoken in most of the republics of the continent, sharing it with French, Dutch, Portuguese, and the many indigenous languages spoken by the original inhabitants of Latin America. In the United States, people have come from many places to add their voices to the chorus. Some 22 million North Americans are Spanish speakers now, and Spanish is also spoken in the former colonies of Africa and in the Philippines.
So Spanish is a world language in several senses; it is spoken by 300 million people in many different places, climates and landscapes, and it has absorbed elements from other cultures and languages. The richness is perhaps its most important quality.

SPEAKING SPANISH (HABLANDO ESPAÑOL)

If you’re learning Spanish, chances are one reason you picked it to learn was because you expected you would have a good chance of using it some day. If so, you’re probably right — Spanish is the most common first language in the Americas, and Spanish speakers also can be found in Spain (of course), in much of the United States, the Philippines, and even Africa.

Spanish is considered one of the easiest foreign languages to learn, yet some foreigners live in Spain for years and never learn it or any of the other languages spoken here. Especially on the costas (coasts) there are foreign communities that are almost self- sufficient, and the local people involved with them often learn to speak the dominant language (usually English or German).

However if you have a basic knowledge of Spanish, and use it, this will show that you have an interest in the culture, and it will be greatly appreciated.

Spain is a great country for practicing the language. The basic grammar is straightforward, but in any case nobody worries if your Spanish is not grammatically correct, or if you make mistakes. In tourist areas the local people will be able to communicate in different languages, but away from there even stumbling Spanish will open up the possibility of communication. A gregarious people, the Spanish love talking, and will do their best to converse with you.

However, if you plan to stay for a while or will be visiting Spain often, consider doing a basic Spanish course. It will pay dividends.

EXPRESS YOURSELF

Whatever language you may be speaking, the Spanish have a typically Mediterranean manner. They stand quite close to the person they are speaking to, and will often touch the other person to emphasize a point. They gesticulate a lot, which can help a learner if the conversation is in Spanish, and they speak loudly. The combination of volume and forceful gestures often make it difficult to be sure whether two people are having a normal conversation or an argument.

In a formal situation the voices may be slightly lowered, gestures will be restrained, and the Usted (You Polite) form will be used. It is a polite and respectful way of address that is reserved when speaking to older people, or perhaps to business associates in a formal meeting.

Places to visit in Spain

Madrid

The capital of Spain since 1562 is located on the geographic center of the Iberian Peninsula. Right in the center of the Castillian plain 646 meters above sea level has a population of over three million. Because of its central location and high altitude, the climate of Madrid is characterized by warm dry summers and cool winters.

Madrid is a city of great monuments. Among its highlights are the medieval center dating back to the Habsburg Empire and the Prado Museum.

But Madrid is not just a cultural destination. It is also a lively metropolis with many pubs, cafes, discotheques and nightclubs open late into the night. Don’t be surprised if you get stuck in a traffic jam at four in the morning, and the people you meet are not necessarily going off to work….

A cosmopolitan city, a business center, headquarters for the Public Administration, Government, Spanish Parliament and the home of the Spanish Royal Family, Madrid also plays a major role in both the banking and industrial sectors. Most of its industry is located in the Southern fringe of the city, where important textile, food and metal working factories are clustered. Madrid is characterized by intense cultural and artistic activity.

What more need be said about one of the finest capital cities of Europe

Barcelona

The capital of Cataluña already had a rich culture history before it experienced a new expansion towards the end of the nineteenth century. From the 1870s, its industry began to develop and its trade with the rest of Europe grew. It developed faster than the other cities of Spain. Its planned area of urban growth – called el Eixample in Catalan, el Ensanche in Spanish – is elegant, ordered and beautiful. It gives a sense of the confident and innovative milieu which allowed a creative genius like Antonio Gaudi to work freely. His unique and eccentric buildings, like the still unfinished Sagrada Familia cathedral or the Casa Mila apartment block, were built in a art nouveau style. It is not an accident that some of the most important names in the Modern movement emerged from this burgeoning European city; for Miro, Dali and Picasso all began their careers here.

Cordoba

In Cordoba, the distinctive architecture of Muslim Spain grew out of the combination of the legacy of Roman Spain (multiple arches) and the décor of the East (repeated geometrical patterns, mirror images, abstract forms).The beauty of the city’s architecture was mirrored in its poetry and music which reached their richest expression under Abdel Rahman III, Caliph in tenth-century Cordoba. The elegance and symmetry of the palace walls were echoed in the wit and grace of the poetry. Even when political rivalries and power struggles led to the creation of smaller warring city-states (Reinos de Taifas), the poets continued to write about love, war, and the meaning of life. The must to visit in Cordoba is La mezquita de Cordoba.

Islas Canarias a must to visit

The Canarian archipelago, variously called “The Land of Eternal Spring”, “The garden of the Hespérides”, or “The Fortunates Isles”, stretches out in a chain of seven islands and three smaller ones, some 300 miles (480km) long. The nearest point to the African coast – only 60 miles (96 km) away – is the island of Fuerteventura, sometimes described as a piece of the Sahara that drifted away.

Totalling 870,000 inhabitants, the province of Las Palmas (Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura) is the more populous, while that of Santa Cruz (Tenerife and the other islands) has some 700,000 residents. The islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the most densely populated of the seven.

The climate has made the islands very popular in the resent years. A winter sunshine destination. There is little variation in temperatures between the four seasons (which do not have noticeable changes as happens in more northerly climes), ranging from 17 degrees centigrade in February, to 24, 8 degrees centigrade in August.

However, between November and March, the temperature can fall quite sharply. Generally, the southern part of each island tends to be a few degrees warmer than the northern part. Temporary visitors need not bring heavy clothing, and winter wear such as overcoats, gloves and boots is unnecessary.

Since the canaries became a duty-free area in 1852, by Royal Decree, commerce has flourished. Even if the visitor of the late 1990s finds the cost of living to be generally higher than at home, some items are still a ganga (bargain). Imported cigarettes, wines and spirits are much cheaper (oddly, local wine is dear) and some electrical goods, cameras and watches are also cheap, due to a lower luxury tax.

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