Living on the Costa Blanca
The Costa Blanca is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe and even the world. In 2014, 64 million people came to the country to enjoy the culture, gastronomy and of course the beaches and sun. The Costa Blanca is, however, much more than the typical image that people have of this country.
Below are some interesting facts about the country Spain.
While the whole of Europe was covered with a thick layer of ice and many glaciers in the ice age, Spain remained virtually free of ice. The advantage of this is that a multitude of trees and plant species can be found in the country. These plants / trees survived the ice age in Europe, so that Spain now has more than 8,000 plant species, of which just over 2,000 occur in Spain alone. Noteworthy when one considers that there are only about 9,000 plant species in Europe.
In addition to many thousands of plant species, no fewer than five million trees grow in Spain, including one of the most remarkable, the Dragon Blood tree that can be found mainly in the Canary Islands. Actually it is not a tree but a twelve-meter high plant that is seen as a tree because of its thick trunk. The name comes from the orange-colored fruits that have a red liquid.
Spain owes its name to the Phoenicians who called the Iberian Peninsula Hispania, a name that probably means "Land of the rabbits".
The oldest cave drawing in Europe and even in the world can be found in the cave Al Castillo in Cantabria, in the green north of the country. This UNESCO-protected cave was discovered in 1903 and houses cave paintings of no less than 40,000 years old. In the same region you can also find the Altamira caves, discovered in the year 1868 and with cave paintings that are more than 22,000 years old and have been exceptionally well preserved.
At the time of the Romans, Spain was a great bastion of Italian activity, so the Romans built many monuments including aqueducts in cities like Segovia or Tarragona and other monuments such as theaters, forums and arenas were built. There are many Spanish cities where Roman remains can still be found, except in the current Basque country, which during the years that there were Romans, the brave warriors managed to keep the Romans out of their country.
Spain was managed between 711 and the 11th century by the Moors who controlled large parts of the country. The fact that the Moors were in Spain has left behind clear features such as street names, monuments (like the Alhambra in Granada) and place names such as Jerez de la Frontera or Alicante. The Moors were driven out of the country for good by the Reyes Catolicos in the year 1492.
The years that the Moors were in the country have had a lot of influence on place names that start with an "al" like Alicante, Almeria, Alcala de Henares. In addition, places such as Jerez de la Frontera, Arcos de la Frontera, were named after the border between the Spanish empire and that part of the land that was occupied by the Moors (frontera means border).
Spain used to have many explorers, including the Spaniard Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (1499-1543) who was the first European to land in present-day California. The place San Diego was founded at that location. Of course there was also Cristobal Colón or Columbus who knew the continent of America from Spain but the historians still do not agree whether Columbus was an Italian, Portuguese or Spaniard.
The name Madrid comes from the Arabic word 'Magerit' which means 'place of many streams'. While the city name Barcelona is probably derived from the Roman word Barcino.
Spain has four official languages: Castilian (Spanish), Catalan, Basque and Galician but there are also many variants such as Balearic or Valencian.
Known to older readers but probably not among younger readers. Not so very long ago, Spain was still a dictatorship led by General Franco. This dictatorship ended in 1975 when he died and King Juan Carlos was appointed. During the dictatorship, Spain was one of Europe's poorest and least developed countries. After the death of Franco, however, that changed rapidly and the country became more and more modern, in some things even more modern than in the Netherlands or Belgium, for example.
The Puerto del Sol in Madrid is the geographical center of Spain and the city of Madrid. At this location, the Spaniards count to the new year on 31 December and most demonstrations are held here.
Not only on the Puerto del Sol, but throughout Spain, the Spaniards celebrate the New Year by eating a grape at midnight. This tradition was introduced by wine-growers who were looking for a way to get rid of surplus grapes and later on the Spanish television after which it became a tradition.
While most people know the beaches of the Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, Costa Blanca, Mallorca or Costa del Sol, that is only a small part. Spain has a total of no less than 4,964 coastlines, many of which are beaches. Spain's most beautiful beaches can not be found in the most touristy places but along the Atlantic Ocean in the part that is called "Green Spain". Every year the beaches of Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria again win the prizes as best beaches.
Did you know that the Iberian Peninsula is the only part of Europe where monkeys can still be found in the wild. This is the case in the British headland of Gibraltar, which does not belong to Spain but to Great Britain (something that is still politically contested). On the only mountain that can be found there, the monkeys still steal the show and in some cases they take off with your food, mobile phones or cameras.
Spain is also the only country in Europe where bananas grow, namely in the Canary Islands. They are smaller bananas that are mainly eaten in their own country.
Spain is one of the countries with the lowest population density in Europe. Only 82 people live per square kilometer. By comparison, in England there are 420 and in the Netherlands 495.
Spain is,(after Switzerland), the most mountainous country in Europe. Almost a quarter of the country is above 1,000 meters and the average altitude is 660 meters more above sea level. Madrid is even the highest capital of a country in Europe, the city rises 600 meters above sea level.
Spain is known to most people as the land of sun and beaches, but there are parts of the country where more rain and clouds can be found than sun. In the regions along the Atlantic, for example, it rains more than in any other part of the country.