Spain, claiming over half a million acres on the Iberian Peninsula, fronts on the North Atlantic, the Bay of Biscay, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Balearic Sea. It borders the Pyrenees of France. and Portugal to the West. Morocco is its nearest Southern neighbor, across the Straits of Gibraltar (known in Classical times as the Pillars of Hercules) (n.a., Spain) .
Archeological evidence shows long habitation ranging from the pre-human (n.a., Spain History). Today’s populations represent a mix of Iron-Age Celtiberians, and subsequent conquerors; Romans, Visigoths, and Arabs, plus European allies/enemies (Gascoigne) . More recently, Spain has absorbed expatriates, ‘snow birds’ (Govan), and immigrants from less advantaged regions, including former New World colonies (Worden). Gypsies have always had a presence as well (n.a., Spain – The Gypsies).
The rich legacy thereby bequeathed includes the Paleolithic cave art of Altamira to the north, Neolithic passage tombs at Los Millares to the South (n.a., Los Millares (3200-2200 B.C.)), Alhambra’s Moorish beauty (n.a., Alhambra), traditional bull-fighting, Flamenco music and dancing, the Prado’s treasures, medieval walled communities such as Toledo, and magnificent cathedrals and shrines everywhere. All are compelling.
Daily life in Spain is idiosyncratic, although the siesta is disappearing (Deschenaux) . One wonders whether its demise will doom the nightly round of tapas bars; only feasible given a daytime rest. Gastronomy is unlikely to abate, given Madrid’s self-proclaimed ‘museum of ham’ (McLane). The distinctive cuisine of Spain includes the bounty of sea and land, plus colonial acquisitions such as potatoes and tomatoes.
When might we journey there?
Deschenaux, Joanne. Less Time for Lunch: the siesta in Spain is disappearing under the pressures of international business and big-city commuting, from HR Magazine. June 2008. 5 January 2010
Gascoigne, Bamber. History of Spain. From 2001, ongoing. 5 January 2010
Govan, Fiona. “British Expatriates March In Spain To Protest Against Chaotic Planning Laws.” 10 January 2009. The Telegraph. 5 January 2010
McLane, Daisann. “In Madrid There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Ham.” 9 July 2000. New York Times. 5 January 2010
n.a. A Traveller’s Geography of Spain. 2010. 5 January 2010
—. Alhambra. 2010. 5 January 2010
—. Los Millares (3200-2200 B.C.). 2010. 5 January 2010
—. Spain. 27 December 2010. Central Intelligence Agency. 5 January 2010
—. “Spain – The Gypsies.” Country Studies. US Library Of Congress. 5 January 2010
—. “Spain History.” 2010. Brittanica. 5 January 2010
Worden, Tom. “Spain Sees Six-Fold Increase in Immigration Over Decade.” 10 February 2010. The Guardian. 5 January 2011