General Info:

  • Official Name: Kingdom of Spain
  • Official Languages: Spanish (aka Castilian)

Co-official languages in several autonomous communities:

  • Catalan -- Catalonia & Balearic Islands
  • Valencian -- Valencia
  • Galician (aka Gallego) -- Galicia; closely related to Portuguese
  • Euskera (aka Basque) -- Basque Country & some territories of Navarra

Non co-official languages:

  • Bable/Asturian -- Asturias
  • Aragonese dialects -- Aragon
  • Aranese -- Aran Valley in Catalonia

All of these regional languages except for Euskera (aka Basque) are Romance languages

  • Population: 46,733,038
  • Currency: Euro
  • Spain occupies the Iberian Peninsula in Europe and pockets of territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the only European country to share a physical border with an African country (Morocco). 
  • Capital: Madrid
  • Government: Constitutional monarchy, with a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament.
  • King Felipe VI is head of state
  • Member of the United Nations, European Union, and a de facto member of G20.

Spain is one of the most decentralized countries in Europe: 

  • Each of the 19 autonomous communities or cities have their own elected parliaments, governments, public administrations, budgets, and resources.
  • Health and education systems are separate, and some communities have separate public finances and autonomous police corps which replace some of the State police functions.


  • Spain is considered a high income country, with the world’s 14th largest economy by GDP and 16th largest by purchasing power parity.
  • Spain’s capitalist economy is the 5th largest in the EU, with the largest industries including automotive, agriculture, tourism, and renewable energy.
  • Spain is the second-largest destination for foreign direct investment behind the US, and the majority of that investment (€4 billion) went to the country’s auto industry.
  • According to the World Tourism Organization in 2019, Spain is the second most visited country in the world, with over 83 million international tourist arrivals in 2018.
  • Weak points of Spain’s economy include a poor education system, a large informal economy, and high unemployment.
  • Youth unemployment was estimated at 35% in March of 2018.




  • Catholicism is the dominant religion in Spain, although most Spaniards do not participate regularly in religious services.
  • 70% of Spaniards self-identify as Catholics, of which 21.5% are practicing; 2% self-identify as another faith; and 25% identify with no religion.


  • Native Spaniards make up 88% of the Spanish population. 
  • Immigrants in Spain originate mostly from Latin America, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • There is no sole Spanish identity, rather, the diversity of Spain’s geography and its natural barriers have led to the development of many distinct local identities over time. The major local identities include Basques, Catalans, Galicians, Andalusians, and Valencians.
  • Sephardic Jews and Moriscos, are the main minority groups in Spain. Others include descendants from populations of former Spanish colonies in Latin America and North Africa, Gitano populations, and Europeans.


Societal Values

Schedule & the Spanish siesta

  • Spanish daily life follows a later schedule than other industrialized countries of the West. 
  • Lunch is the main meal of the day, and eaten between 2:00 and 3:00PM. Dinner, a lighter meal, is between 9:00 and 10:00PM, or later in the summer months.
  • Lunch is traditionally followed by a nap, or “siesta”, but as most people commute between home and work, this custom is in decline.
  • Business, shopping, and school hours reflect this pattern, with a long break, 2-5 hours long, in the middle of the day. The workday resumes in the late afternoon, between 4:30 and 5:00PM, and continues until around 8:00PM.
  • Greeting is a ritual, in which hands are shaken with everyone, and people who know each other kiss each other on both cheeks. Use the formal ‘usted’ until you are invited to use the familiar ‘tu.’
  • Spaniards stand close to each other, touch each other frequently on the arm, back or shoulder and maintain eye contact. Interruptions are common, and often means the person is honestly interested in what you are saying and is getting into a dialogue.


Doing Business

  • Strategic planning is generally less important in Spain, and is usually the sole responsibility of the managing director or owner of the company, who will often base decisions on intuition more than systematic research.
  • Meetings are informal in Spain, and are held to communicate decisions already made rather than reach a consensus. It is not uncommon to discuss personal matters, and it is not considered impolite to interrupt someone or even yell at a meeting, especially if they have yelled at you first.
  • Negotiations are lengthy, and personal relationships and trust must be established before negotiations can begin. Relations are built personally through lunch and social meetings.
  • Even in business lunches, people will not start discussing business before coffee (the last part of a meal) is served.

There are regional variations, e.g.:

  • Catalans prefer a professional negotiation style, and bargains are not the main aim.
  • In the South, more traditional, formal negotiation is appreciated.
  • Important decisions are taken at the senior level, and employees showing initiative might be viewed with suspicion or seen as overstepping the mark in more traditional business settings.
  • In Spain, people can lack punctuality. Meetings will start and finish late, deadlines are stretched, and the working day may not start until after 10:00AM, and working late until 8:00PM is not uncommon.
  • Siestas are not as common anymore, but lunch breaks are long, and work often ends around 2:30-3:00PM on Friday.


February 15, 2020