Spain today

This page provides a few links to other site which can give more details of Spain today. Further down you will be able to read some of our own thoughts.

Comment from prayforSpain on current and other events can be found on our comment column

Interesting articles on Spain from the international press can be read at: Yahoo News and click on "News full coverage on Spain"

Weather? In Spanish: Spanish Met. Office

Listen to the Spanish National Anthem, etc.and check out the BBC's country profile here

Spain has more music than the National Anthem! In fact it's music stands out among European nations due to the influence of Islam and Gypsy culture, particularly on the southern region of Andalusia, where Flamenco is strong. But other regions also boast ther own traditional styles, while both classical and pop music have had significance beyond Spanish borders. The BBC has a guide to Spanish music.

More links can be found here on the links page.

Living in Spain today

Life in Spain, as elsewhere in Europe, has changed radically over the past century. For Spain, the most significant changes occurred later than in most other countries due to the standstill caused by the Civil War and the early years of the Franco era.

Housing 100 years ago, much of the population still lived in villages and the relatively late industrialisation of the country means that the cities only grew during the 20th century, particularly from the 1950s onwards. People left the land and moved to the big cities. There, used to living close to everything in their villages and with no money to buy houses anyway, the new city dwellers bought flats in large complexes as close as possible to the city centres... and to each other. Unlike many northern Europeans and Americans, the Spaniards are therefore more like the Chinese. they actually seem to like living cheek by jowl and being able to have everything within a few minutes' walk. The author used to live in a block of 117 flats housing over 500 people sharing the same front door, a block with more inhabitants than the villages many had left -partly precicely because they had left. Many villages in central Spain are also very concentrated, due to the historical combination of war in the middle ages and extreme climate. The concentration of inhabitants means that services can be supplied far more cheaply and effectively than in more scattered populations, reducing the need for high local taxation. In these high density districts you can also find all the shopping facilities you would need for day to day life within a stone's throw. Banks and bars are particularly ubiquitous, Spain boasting the highest cover of ATMs in the world... so that Spaniards can get out the cash to buy a drink (beer, coffee, or whatever) next door. Often they will get a coffee breakfast on the way down the street to catch the bus into town, stopping for a drink and tapas on the way home.

This said, life has changed even more radically over the past two decades. In cities which had open space around, like Madrid, many have moved to European or even American style housing developments, with tansport, shopping and eating habits following. Thus you will find low-rise lines of houses, each with a short drive and a couple of cars; shopping malls with cinema multiplexes and takeaway restaurants; motorways running in parrallell!

Shopping is one area where the last 20 years has seen major change. 20 years ago, most homes were families, the wife was a 'housewife' and did almost all her shopping on foot. Markets existed in every neighbourhood where small stall-holders sold direct anything and everything, but particularly fresh food. Supermarkets were used mostly to top up with dry groceries and other day-to-day necessities. Housewives used their own shopping trolleys -the predecessor to the roller brief case!- to take everything home. Occasionally they would go into the city centre to visit one of the department stores to look for clothes, although generally these would be more cheaply found in smaller local stores. Now busy young motorised couples both work and have a different view of shopping. While many of the old models survive, others, particularly mid-sized supermarkets have been squeezed out by the superstore and mall. Even the department stores have had to adapt and build their own susperstores to survive or die.

Schooling has been universal only since the 1970 law which established free education for all and this model, in varied form continues to provide education for the vast majority of the population. The evangelical schools which were part of the scene before the Civil War almost completely died out, or rather were closed down. The exception to the rule was the El Porvenir school in Madrid which, being the property of a German family, the Fliedners, was allowed to continue to serve the evangelical community. Likewise, the evangelical hospital in Barcelona survived as the 'hospital of the foreign communities'. For the last decade it has also been possible for evangelical religious education to be given to children as an alternative to Catholic religion. Likewise, university education is largely free and available to all who make the grade, but not quite so freely as in France. The entry exams determine who studies what where. Thus many of the current generation of young graduates are the children of parents who had no schooling beyond the age of 12 and many of these are barely literate. Spain now leads or is catching up fast in areas of medicine, technology, etc..

Food and social life. ...

Sorry! We have never found time to write this section, but there are some interesting hints on our Pray for Spain Day page!

More soon...