The exotica unparalleled of Europe, Spain, is among the most naturally beautiful countries of the world with great history, culture, folklore, enthusiastic and hospitable people and great food. The country located in the south-western part of Europe and occupying the dominant share of the Iberian Peninsula was considered to be the furthest tip of the world or the edge before the New World was discovered by certain Christopher Columbus. It was from this idea of being the ‘edge of the world’ that the region got itself named Hispania by the Greeks from which the current name of the country has been derived “España”. With a geographical area of 505,000 sq. km Spain boasts itself as the second largest country in the European Union, and has a parliamentary democracy in a constitutional monarchic set up.
The territory of Spain stretches from the small principality of Andorra at its border with France to the straits of Gibraltar to the south bordering Portugal to the West and having the extended boundaries till Africa. The world famous Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and the cities of Ceuta and Melila in North Africa are also part of its territorial range. Te Iberian Peninsula experienced first human footsteps in some 35,000 years ago with led to the development of many Hispanic tribes such as the Iberians, the Celts and the Basques. These tribes fought a valiant battle with the Roman Empire but ultimately seceded and were ruled for centuries under the Roman Flag. They were also occupied by the Germanic Tribes in the Dark Ages which also saw Christianity come to its shore. The Moors of North Africa occupied the Spanish territory from the Germanic Tribes and brought a period of great cultural and architectural development which saw the establishing of many of the greatest examples of Islamic architecture in the world.
Around the time The Moors were busy running their rule of the Iberian land, the small Christian rulers who were largely concentrated in the Northern parts of the country slowly began their war for reclaiming their homeland from the Moors which is known as the Reconquista. The Reconquista which ended in 1492 saw the establishment of a single crown ruled by the orthodox Christians. From this point onwards in its history Spain went on to establish one of the greatest overseas empires in the world with massive colonization in the New World which was discovered by Columbus being funded by the Spanish Queen Isabella. They became the most powerful kingdom in Europe and remained so for the coming century and a half and remained colonial rulers for three centuries. In the modern era constant battles for sovereignty triggered by the invasion of Napoleon and a bloody civil war before the Second World War saw the status of Spain diminished. Post Second World War under a democratic setup Spain joined the European Union and enjoyed a period of cultural renaissance and economic stability making it a developed country.
Spain has been popularized as a tourist destination more for its beautiful beaches which are tourist hotspot during the summer months but there is so much more to this Iberian country with great geographical and cultural diversities, history, festivals, cathedrals and food that any who come to these lands to expect just great beaches are left in wonderment with the extra toppings. Spain has been divided into autonomous states which have their own traditions, history, culture and languages. If you wish to see the mountains travel to the Basque Country in the North home to the Pyrenees ranges and the region of Sierra Nevada home to stunning Ski Resorts which are largely covered with snow all year round. The world famous beaches of Spain can be found in the southern and eastern parts of the country with the best cities being the second city of Spain Barcelona, the coastal areas of Andalusia and the beautiful island of the Canary off the Atlantic Coast.
Being historically so relevant throughout Spain is home to the second highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is home to the largest number of World Heritage Cities. The Andalusia region of Spain holds many reminders of the glorious past of this country with the city of Cadiz being the foremost example which still has remnants of its Roan past. The cities of Cordoba and Grenada are wonderful testament to the beautiful architectural gifts that The Moors left to this region, the amazingly built mosques and palaces of the region are just brilliant in their appearance. In the Galician state is located one of the holiest sites in the world in the form of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella which is the end point of a great religious journey known as the Way of St. James and also the resting place of St. James.
Spanish folk culture, arts, cuisines and dances require no second introduction, the country that gave the world Salsa and Flamenco is home to many such great traditions and cultural art forms which have been part of their identity for ages. The San Fermin of Pamplona which includes the adventurous Bull race and the Tomatino Festival are great cultural fiestas which attract millions of tourist from all across Europe and the world. Spain is not to be left behind when it comes to cuisines and is home to some great Mediterranean delicacies as well regional cuisines such as those of Galicia, Basque and Cataluña. The beaches, the mountains, the Canary Island, Salsa, cathedrals and historic monuments undoubtedly make Spain the exotic country of Europe.