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Cultural Information

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Facts About Spanish Speaking Countries

globe Lifestyles
In Spain, and much of Central and South America, the tradition of taking a siesta, or afternoon nap, is slowly fading away. It was customary to eat a light breakfast, go to work, and then take a break at about 2 p.m. for a large lunch. Then one would go home and sleep off the effects of lunch for an hour, or so, before going back to work. With modernizations, computers, and demands of business, the siesta is no longer as prominent as it once was.

Over the last few decades dress styles have changed. There is a relatively new democracy, and the influence of the Catholic church isn't as strong as it once was. The Spanish still dress elegantly, but have a more modern approach.

As a tourist you'll find quality clothes at reasonable prices. This suits the Spanish as they prefer quality and fit more than design (which is still important to them).

Here's a list of a few Do's and Don'ts while in Spain:

  1. Dress up. When in doubt, dress up, not down, for the occasion.
  2. Wear jeans. They're popular, and neutral- they go with anything.
  3. Wear nice shoes, not ones that are falling apart. As a tourist you want to wear shoes that will support you in the amount of walking you'll do.
  4. To business meetings: If you're a man- wear jacket and tie. If a woman then wear a dress or skirt.

  1. Wear shorts into a church. (Show some respect, religion is still a large part of their lifestyle.)
  2. Wear mini-skirts (or shorts) in the city. It's ok for the beach, but otherwise you'll be recognized as tourist. Keep the strappy tops and skimpy bikini tops for the beach, too, otherwise, expect some unwanted attention.
  3. Wear brightly colored clothes. Stick to neutral colors, and coordinating your outfit.
  4. Look like a tourist. Thieves/pickpockets are watching for you. So, no shorts, sandals, or super casual clothing unless you're at the beach.

The main sport for all Spanish speaking countries is futból (soccer). In the USA we're fans of football, and baseball, and basketball, but nothing like the way the Spanish (or Spanish speaking people) are for futból. Everyone plays it as a child, and continues to enjoy playing or watching or both, as an adult.

Historically, there is bullfighting in Spain and Mexico as well. If you have the opportunity to see a bullfight, take it. It's a different experience.

Spain also has a reputation in bicycling. Athletes have competed in the Tour d'France, and in the Olympics and done excellently.

As far as other sports go, they are enjoyed as well, where they can be afforded.

The monarchy of Spain, currently King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia, propose the Council of Ministers and it's president as the executive branch. The legislative branch is elected by vote and is made up of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate.

There are 17 autonomous communities and 50 provinces of Spain. Each territory takes care of its own affairs: health, education, finances, and security.

Most governments in Central and South America are democracies or republics. In some countries there are military coupes, or other political shifts in power, that occur from time to time that might make tourists or traveling businessmen justifiably alert. As with traveling anywhere abroad it is wise to find out as much information as possible about the current state of affairs politically, and to plan accordingly.

Population of Spanish Speaking Countries
Please note that this does not necessarily reflect the number of people that speak Spanish. In many of these countries there are Native Americans, or people that do NOT speak Spanish, though they live in that country. These numbers are according to the available population estimates as of October 2010.

Est. Population
(In millions)
Est. Population
(In millions)
Argentina 40.1 Honduras 7.8
Bolivia 10.9 Mexico 111.2
Chile 17 Nicaragua 5.9
Colombia 45.5 Panama 3.3
Costa Rica 4.2 Paraguay 6.3
Cuba 11.2 Peru 29.5
Dominican Republic 10.0 Philippines 92.0
Ecuador 14.7 Puerto Rico 4.0
El Salvador 6.1 Uruguay 3.5
Guatemala 13.2 Venezuela 26.8