Spain Fast Facts

Spain

Population: 48,563,476

Capital City: Madrid

Climate: Temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, cloudy and cool along coast

Time Zone: UTC+1

Language: Spanish

Country Code: 34

Coastline: 4,964km

Spain: A Great Value Retirement Haven in The Old World

Picture a sun-drenched, white-washed house with a shady courtyard, perched on a cliff-top site in Spain. With the deep blue sea beyond, and an olive grove nearby, it’s the stuff of which fantasies are made.

Beaches…mountains…fabulous cities…colorful festivals, and, of course, sunshine almost everyplace. It’s not surprising that Spain is the most popular country for Europeans seeking a home overseas. Now North Americans, too, are starting to see the allure of Spain for laidback yet cultured European life.

Western Europe’s second-largest country (just slightly smaller than France), Spain offers fantastic variety in terrain, culture, and lifestyle. To start with, Spain has nearly 3,100 miles of coastline, and much of it is beach. In Northwest Spain, the hills are green, the climate is humid and mild (much like Oregon), and the coast is the chilly but dramatic Bay of Biscay. Spain’s eastern coast and part of the south border the warm waters of the Mediterranean, while the far-western reaches down south look out on the Atlantic. All the coastal areas have relatively temperate climates…cooler in the north, hotter in the south, but generally with only about 40 F between average highs and average lows year-round.

Seville, Spain
Seville, Spain

Looking for culture? Spain has a rich history. The Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs all settled here and left ample remains, language, and customs. Walk in the steps of sultans at Granada’s Alhambra, take the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, or gaze on Segovia’s mighty Roman aqueduct, over 2,000 years old… You’ll find plenty of cities in Spain, large and small, which merit exploration.

And, thanks to rapid public transportation, it’s easy to get around Spain. High-speed and suburban train lines connect many cities, and bus routes crisscross the country. You can get from Madrid to destinations on the southern coast in three to four hours, to Valencia in two, and up to Barcelona in about three. In addition to the large airports in Madrid and Barcelona, smaller airports around the country—served by discount airlines as well as the major carriers—connect Spain with the rest of Europe.

This is First-World Europe, after all. You’ll find modern services, efficient transport, and excellent healthcare in Spain.

You’ll also find a lively, outgoing lifestyle and some of the best food and wine around. In Spain, life is meant to be enjoyed, and hanging out is an art. And, even better, it all comes at an affordable price: Spain has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe. So if you’ve ever dreamed of a romantic, affordable European lifestyle, take a look at Spain.

Find Out More From Our Spain Editor

From the Archives of Spain

I Cover My Costs in Spain Working Only 12 Hours a Week

I Cover My Costs in Spain Working Only 12 Hours a Week

When I came upon the opportunity to live in Ibiza, Spain, with the only obligation being to work 12 hours a week, it didn’t take me long to make up my mind… One of Spain’s four Balearic Islands, Ibiza is 220 square miles of end-of-the-world cliffs, remote valleys, and crescent-shaped callas tucked below rows of Read more...: I Cover My Costs in Spain Working Only 12 Hours a Week

Bargain Living in a Vibrant Spanish City by the Mediterranean

Bargain Living in a Vibrant Spanish City by the Mediterranean

Like any good traveler making a life for themselves overseas, Jamie Hodgkin has struck a balance between the need to earn an income for herself, and also taking advantage of living in a part of the world where adventure lies just beyond your doorstep.

Get Paid to Guide Tourists Through Spain’s Ancient Pilgrim Trail

Get Paid to Guide Tourists Through Spain’s Ancient Pilgrim Trail

Though the Camino de Santiago Trail is traditionally walked for spiritual reasons, Denis Houde says that today people have all kinds of motives in mind. "Some people do it for just plain tourism. For some people, it's a bucket-list thing. Some people want to lose weight. Some see it as a challenge..."

Top 10 Things to Do in Madrid

Top 10 Things to Do in Madrid

Residents of Madrid call themselves “gatos,” Spanish for “cats,” perhaps because they nap in the afternoon and prowl the streets at night. Dinner is never served before 9 p.m. and is often enjoyed at midnight. Conversation, drinking, and dancing continue into the wee hours. If you’re early to bed, you will miss the vibrant spirit of this sophisticated city.