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Modern Spain

During the first half of the 20th century, most Spaniards lived in villages or in towns of fewer than 10,000 people, but by the early 21st century about three-fourths of the population lived in urban areas. The most intense growth took place in a handful of the largest cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Málaga, and Murcia. Spanish cities recorded some of the highest population densities in the Western world. This explosive urban growth occurred with very little planning, and many migrants to the cities could find housing only in cheaply constructed apartment blocks in outlying districts that lacked adequate municipal services.

Since 1978 democratically elected municipal governments in many cities have tried to alleviate some of the worst effects of the uncontrolled urban boom of the 1960s. They acquired more parkland and began to provide a variety of public cultural facilities. Meanwhile, growth in the larger metropolitan areas has shifted from the central cities to the suburbs. Even smaller cities, such as Valladolid, León, and Granada, have begun to suburbanize.

Beginning in the 1970s, Spaniards began to have fewer children, and at the turn of the 21st century the total fertility rate was one of the lowest in Europe and well below the rate of replacement. The size of the average household also declined during this period, and the number of Spaniards living in traditional households, composed of a married couple and their children, also dropped.

Modern Spain is a welcoming culture and tourism throughout the country is very high in part due to the beautiful weather and landscape. The Spanish people are usually described as kind with a good sense of humor. They are family oriented and known for gathering with family and friends for large meals. There are three national languages apart from Spanish (Catalan, Gallego and Basque). The Spanish accent is softer in the south. In the north people are a little bit shyer and they speak less. They tend to eat meals on a schedule later than many countries with lunch around 2pm and dinner not starting earlier than 9pm and sometimes 10pm in the summer months. A siesta, a short nap taken in the early afternoon is common, especially in the summer when temperatures are warmer.

To learn more about modern Spain, please visit:
U.S. Dept. of State – U.S. Relations with Spain
Encyclopedia Britannica
CIA World Factbook – Spain
Seville Traveller – Life in Spain

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