Friday, November 30, 2012

Ten Random Trivia About Spain

Arches of the Great Mosque of Córdoba
 Random facts about Spain:
  1. For 800 years, the Moors (Spanish Muslims from Arabic countries in northern Africa) ruled in Spain, which is why there are beautiful Moorish (Arabic) mosques, bridges, castles, and other Arabic structures in Spain.
  2. The Moors allowed peaceful co-existence of Islamic, Christian, and Jewish religions. The Christian rulers were not so tolerant.
  3. Spain has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world except Italy.
  4. 1492 was a key year in the history of Spain. You already know about Columbus, who sailed for the Indies that year. But that is also the year that the Christians finally drove out the Moors. It is also the year that the Christians drove out the Jews.
  5. One euro (€1.0) = US$1.30 on this day, November 30, 2012. A euro buys in Spain about what a dollar buys in the U.S., so the cost of living in Spain is about 30% higher than in the U.S. At the temple, our housing is partially subsidized, so our cost of living is about the same here as it would be on a mission in the U.S.
  6. Dates expressed in numeric form in Spain are day-month-year, a much more logical way than in the U.S. But in the U.S., Scott's birthday is an unforgettable 01-23-45 (012345), but here in Spain it is an ordinary 23-01-45 (230145).
  7. Most Spaniards (as well as people in most other Spanish-speaking countries) have four names: two given names, a paternal last name, and a maternal last name, in that order. Example: José Antonio Gutiérrez Ballesteros. We would call him hermano Gutiérrez, which is his paternal last name. Women don't change their last name when they get married. So we know a married couple (temple workers) who have different last names (Hermano Caso and Hermana Rioja).
  8. The official language of Spain is Spanish, or more properly (according to some authorities), Castillian (Castellano). Regional languages (Co-official) include Basque (Euskara), Catalan (Catalán), Galician (Gallego), and Aranese. Almost everyone who speaks one of these regional languages also speaks Castillian.
  9. Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil. It produces almost three times as much as Italy, the number 2 country. And Spaniards love it. They put olive oil in almost everything, and seem incredulous and exasperated when we tell them that we don't use olive oil.
  10. Flamenco, for which Spain is famous, is not a dance but a musical form involving singing (actually wailing), hand clapping, often guitar playing, and sometimes dancing.
Just in case you'd like to know.

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