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Carthaginian trading colonies were established along what is now the modern water border of Spain, these traders worked with the indigenous people to foster a bargaining community. This empire of trade quickly fell in the Punic Wars to the Roman Empire until the 8th century, when Moors from North Africa conquered much of the area until the 11th century when internal strife paved the way for a more unified Christian reconquest of the area. Christianity and a new monarchy emerged to rule the area and usher in an age of extremes with the inquisition, the expulsion of Jews, Moors and most non-Christians, and eventually the age of exploration with the launch of several sea expeditions, namely that of Christopher Columbus in 1492 signifying that Spain under Isabella and Ferdinand was the first world power.
Their empire expanded and grew until internal problems threatened to tear apart the country. A lost battle against France and an ongoing plague and religious extremes resulted in the fall of Spain as a world power, and the installation of Joseph Bonaparte as Spain’s ruler. Napoleon intervened in revolts to oust the puppet French government and although the Spanish were unsuccessful, in 1814 Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia gave Spain the opportunity to push for independence. Still holding valuable property and resources in the new world, Spain was launched into yet another war this time with the Americans in 1898 and Spain lost much of its island territory. A civil war from 1936-39 resulted in Spain’s neutrality in WWII, which left the country isolated until the Cold War demanded the US post defense systems in Spain to protect Europe and Spain joined NATO in 1982, and is now a member of the EU.
Transportation: As with most places in Europe, transportation in Spain is comprehensive and includes an extensive roadway, rail network, airports, water ways and various ports, and bus and taxi services. Energy efficiency and green technology are priorities in the Spanish transportation sector in the future.
Money: The Euro. Exchange rate - $1 USD = 0.73 Euro. 1 Euro = 1.36 USD
While many EU countries are experiencing unemployment and a zero or low growth rate, Spain continues to employ more new workers and has a growing economy. For a traveler, this can be good because areas of high unemployment are usually more dangerous for tourists. Additionally, with a growing economy, prices in Spain are somewhat lower than their more northern European counterparts, making Spain a great destination for the sites, but also for the cost.
Food: Spanish food is heavily influenced by the region’s rich resources, including abundant seafood and a propensity for Mediterranean cuisine. You will also find a diverse North African, Italian and French variety of foods as well as some foods indigenous to Mexico and South America.
Interaction with residents: Medium.
Spanish people are notorious for their friendliness, and many travelers and backpackers who visit the region list it among their favorite places. For soccer (football) fans, there is nowhere better to be for an interactive and adrenaline-pumping viewing experience, and the rich food, culture and excitement of the large cities makes Spain a place you’ll not soon forget. Along the less traveled areas you’ll find friendly but more reserved people, in general.
Suggestions: Any visit to Spain should include a visit to a football game, the running of the bulls or to a matador show, or to Formula 1, a European pastime that is perfected and idolized in Spain. To really enjoy your time in Spain you’ll need to see the locals at these events and enjoy the rich, vibrant excitement that radiates in all major cities on a game night.
We’d love to have stayed in Spain longer, and while we only ventured to cities along the coast we are hoping to return soon and see the country’s interior and spend a great deal of time watching football and interacting with the locals. We can only rightly recommend the place we visited – Malaga, which was a lovely place full of wonderfully clean and beautiful architecture, quiet cafes and lots of pedestrian walkways.
Visas: EU members do not need a visa, neither do Americans. Please check with your local embassy or consulate if you come from outside these regions.
Route: We entered Spain via Malaga and only stayed a short while in the city. We hope to return soon and see much, much more of this diverse and wonderful country.
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