The country is divided into 17 autonomous regions and has four official languages; the traditional language is Castellano, and Catalan is spoken in the Catalonia region, Gallego in Gallicia and Euskera in the Basque area. Since 1975 Spain has been a constitutional monarchy which joined the EU in 1986 and hosted the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 and Expo ‘92 in Seville. In 2007 the population of Spain is thought to be in the region of 45 million, with around 8.5 percent being foreigners.
The Spaniards are a nation of fun-loving people with an infectious enthusiasm for life who find any excuse for a party - there is a fiesta on almost every day of the year, whether it’s to celebrate a religious event or simply the change of season. And like all of the Mediterranean countries the Spaniards place big importance on meal times, spending long leisurely lunches around the table with friends and family followed by (in the very hot regions) a siesta. Popular Spanish dishes include Paella and plates of Tapas such as Cured Ham, Tortilla Espanola, Calamares Fritos, Gambas a la Plancha and Patatas Bravas. The many cultures and civilisations which have settled in Spain over the years have greatly influenced Spanish cuisine and each region tends to have its own speciality. With such importance placed on entertainment, and with eating being one of the most pleasurable activities, it comes as no surprise that there are more bars and restaurants per head in Spain than in any other country.