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Country Profile

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a sovereign state largely located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe, with archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, and several small territories on and near the North African coast. Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the European continent. Its capital and largest city is Madrid.  

National Demographic

The population of Spain officially reached 46 million people, Native Spaniards make up 88% of the total population of Spain with a large numbers of immigrants who make up 12% of the population. For some people, Spain's identity consists more of an overlap of different territorial and ethnolinguistic identities than of a sole Spanish identity. Distinct traditional identities within Spain include the Basques, Catalans, Galicians, Andalusians and Valencians, although to some extent all of the 17 autonomous communities will claim a distinct local identity. Spanish (español)—officially recognised in the constitution as Castilian (castellano)—is the official language of the entire country, and it is the right and duty of every Spaniard to know the language. The other co-official languages of Spain are Basque (euskara); Catalan (català); Valencian (valencià); and Galician (galego).


In recent years the value of Spain’s telecom market has fallen, with the sector affected by the poor economic climate resulting in high unemployment and reduced disposable income among consumers. However, when the economy showed a steady return to growth a g rowing confidence among investors was palpable and the improved business climate augurs well for the sector into 2016. Mobile penetration is high and growing steadily, while broadband uptake is backed by continuing investment in infrastructure among operators in a bid to provide improved bundled services and so compete more effectively against other players.  

English Literacy

Does the Spanish speak English? Overall, No. While many foreigners who live in Spain do speak English, most Spaniards do not. In fact, so poor is the English ability of most Spaniards, a recent study showed almost 65% speak no English at all and, of the remaining 35%, few speak it well. But in the tourist areas of the Mediterranean coast and the islands, English and German are widely spoken by tourists, foreign residents, and tourism workers.

School System

Schooling in Spain is state funded and is compulsory between the ages of six years and sixteen, given that no courses are repeated. Although non-university education in state-funded schools is free in Spain, parents must pay for books, materials, and sometimes uniforms for their children. Once the required schooling is finished, a student can then opt to continue on to high school (bachillerato) or move on to a vocational school. Only those who finish high school can be admitted to a university.

There are three categories of Spanish schools in the Spanish education system: public schools (colegios públicos), state-funded private schools (colegios concertados) and private schools (colegios privados). Since some private schools are publicly funded the line between public and private is blurred.

Higher Education

Those who have passed the Bachillerato with acceptable marks and who want to go on to university take an entrance exam in June. There are state universities throughout Spain that provide ‘degrees’ (diplomaturas) and professional qualifications (licenciaturas) and post degree education.

Most courses at Spanish universities are taught in Spanish and some courses are taught in a regional language such as Catalan. But there are increasing numbers of courses at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels taught in English. The Internationalization of the Spanish Higher Education Unit has an online database of English-taught programs at Spanish universities. Most Spanish universities divide the academic year into two semesters: the first generally runs from mid-September/early October to the end of December; the second runs from late around January/early February to the end of May. Some universities have trimesters.

Medical Education

Once they have finished college (equivalent to high school in the US). After having done 2 years of Biological Sciences (Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics) and General Knowledge (such as Grammar, Foreign languages, Literature, Philosophy, History) a Selection Test is required. Once the test is done, you get a final mark that determines if you are accepted into University. You need to get about 9/10 to become a Medical Student. There are public and private universities to study Medicine in Spain. If you didn’t get the mark to go to a public one, you can try with a private one (they are REALLY expensive, so many people can’t afford that option). Depending on the university you want to go to, you’ll need to do a test of Biological Sciences, a test of your level of English and a psychological test. Every test has a mark. All marks are averaged for a final mark and the best marks are accepted to be enrolled.

As in other countries, medical education in Spain is structured across three distinct stages: undergraduate or basic medical education; postgraduate specialized training; and continuing medical education. The European Higher Education arena, as defined by the Bologna Declaration, provides many opportunities as well as a challenging situation for improving any current weaknesses in the Spanish medical education system.

The Dentistry Profession

Dentists in Spain are mostly private, and publicly funded dental care is only available in emergencies. This means that there are a lot of private practices all competing with one another and consequently most are trying to outdo their rivals by offering the best possible treatment. This does however mean that these practices are not formally regulated by the government, so it is imperative that you make sure that any dentist you are considering is properly regulated and qualified. Every practicing dentist in Spain should be registered with the Spanish Dental Association (officially the Consejo General de Colegios de Odontólogos y Estomatólogos). This is located in Madrid and is updated daily, though any registering dentist must also register in their local area. In order to be on this register the dentist must have obtained a degree from a Spanish university officially recognized by the association, or must have a diploma awarded in an officially recognized European Union country. This degree or diploma must count as a primary dentist qualification. There are a number of these but you must find out which the dentist has, and then research to ensure that it is a genuine qualification. A medical health provider can usually do this for you, although equally you can contact the Spanish Dental Association.

Getting There for Dental Care

The majority of international visitors arrive at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) or Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN), both of which are less than 15 miles from the city center. Spain has dozens of international and local airports, though the best options for connections are from Madrid or Barcelona. Both are well served by national and discount airlines, including Iberia and Air Europa, and offer daily flights to almost every corner of the country and also to the Canary and Balearic Islands.

Taking the train to Spain is a greener option and has much to recommend it – there’s a lot to be said for waking up refreshed in Madrid or Barcelona after the quick Eurostar service to Paris and the comfortable overnight journey on the “train-hotel”. Driving is more of an adventure, but there are several routes that can save you time, like the direct ferry services from Portsmouth and Plymouth to Santander and Bilbao.

Visitor Highlights

Land of the siesta, daily life in Spain moves slowly and runs until late. Many travelers can get frustrated at the limited store hours and seemingly laid back pace of life. But it’s this Spanish perspective – move slowly, enjoy yourself, eat well, and relax – which gives the country so much character. Spain is a beautiful, interesting, and dynamic country. Madrid and Barcelona are hip and energetic cities. Visit Granada for a Moorish touch. Visit the beautiful Basque Country in the north and get off the beaten track. Valencia is a great port town that heaves with crowds during the August tomato throwing festival in Bunol. Take a quick jaunt to the Canary Islands or Ibiza. The list goes on. Spain is a lovely and diverse country and, unlike other Western European countries, will be a lot kinder to your budget. For more information on tourism, visit the Institute of Tourism of Spain website.