Sunday, November 2, 2014

Just the facts ma'am

In winter, in our living room in Culebrón, it is very cold. Fortunately we don't live in Lago Estangento in Llleida province in the Pyrenees which has the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in Spain at −32°C. At the other end of the scale the highest temperature ever recorded was in Murcia, just next to el Corte Inglés in Gran Vía, at 47.2ºC on 4 July 1994.

After Switzerland Spain is highest country in Europe with an average height of 660 metres or 2,165 feet above sea level. Nearly 25% of Spain is above 1000 metres. Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England is 978 metres. The highest spot on the Spanish mainland is Mulhacén in Granada in the Sierra Nevada at 3,478 metres though Teide on Tenerife is higher at 3,718 metres.

Of the five main rivers in Spain, the Tajo, Duero, Guadiana and Guadalquivir all flow into the Atlantic ocean, whereas the Ebro has its outlet in Tarragona in the Mediterranean. The Tajo or Tagus is the longest Spanish river but the Ebro carries most water. The Segura, the river that flows through Archena and out to the Med at Guardamar, is the eighth longest river of the approximately 1,800 in Spain. It's a bit of a stretch to call the mighty Vinalopó that flows 81kms through Alicante province a river but it apparently caused flood damage in Elda in 1981.

Spain is divided into seventeen autonomous communities and two autonomous cities – Melilla and Ceuta – which are on the North African coast. Most communities, like Valencia, are sub divided into provinces though some, like Murcia, are one single unit. The largest of the Communities is Castilla y Leon which is roughly the size of Hungary and the smallest is the Balearic Islands. The most populous community is Andalusia and La Rioja (where the wine comes from) the least populous. Land borders are with France, Portugal, Andorra, Morocco and of course the UK at Gibraltar.

Spain's principal language is Castillian Spanish, but Catalan, Basque, and Galician also have official status within their own regions. Catalan includes Valencian and Balearic as subtypes and is related to Provencal French. Nobody knows where Basque came from. Galician is related to Portuguese. Distinctive regional accents include that spoken by Asturians (called "bable") in the north and that spoken by Andalusians in the south.

About 47 million people live in Spain and 88% of those are native Spaniards with the main “immigrant” groups being Romanians, Moroccans, Ecuadorians, Britons and Colombians in that order.

The biggest cities, in order are Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville with Murcia city coming in at number seven. The order changes when we talk about metropolitan areas when the Alicante – Elche area is the most populous in our area and the eighth largest in Spain.

We all know that Spain is in the throes of a deep, deep economic trough but it is still the thirteenth richest country in the world just behind Australia and Canada. More subjectively it is the 23rd “most developed” country in the world based on the The Human Development Index which measures life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living, and quality of life. For comparison the UK is in sixth richest country, with an economy roughly twice as big as Spain's and the 26th most developed.

No comments:

Post a Comment