Today we are going to look at 10 fascinating facts about one of the most peaceful countries in the world. From the first ever computer game, to the origins of the Molotov cocktail, Spain is an extraordinary country unlike any other place on earth!
Spanish cuisine has been heavily influenced by other nations who, throughout history, have conquered its lands. Similar to food found in Mexico, lots of beans, rice, and meats can be found in their diet. Originating in Valencia, paella is a rice dish prepared with seafood. USA Today claims that it is the most popular of all other Spanish foods. The dish is made with a few simple ingredients: yellow rice, tomatoes, onions, peas which are optional, and shellfish, squid, or chicken drumsticks with clams, depending on the chef. They are all cooked together in a large saucepan complemented with olive oil and salt for extra flavor. This meal can easily dehydrate you, for this reason we suggest washing it down with a Spanish sangria. These are made from sweet red wine, your choice of liquor, and sparkling lemonade.
Spain Remains Neutral
Spain remained neutral throughout the entirety of World War I and despite economic difficulties, a source has it as being “one of the most important neutral nations Europe by 1915.” The country had enjoyed its state of neutrality during the difficulties much of Europe faced before entering war, and would remain at peace up until 1936 when the Spanish Civil War broke out. Under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, the nation deemed itself non-belligerent during World War II and took a semi-pacifistic outlook on the matter. The one thing Franco did do was send material and limited military support to the Axis Powers as a way of saying “thank you” for the heavy assistance they had provided Spain during its civil war.
Spaniards have contributed to the world by giving us new ways to enjoy one of the most popular recreational games, and also by taking science to a whole new level, and giving man the chance to explore the great beyond. In terms of the more leisurely activities, Leonardo Torres y Quevedo was a Spanish civil engineer and mathematician during the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1910 he began constructing a chess automaton device dubbed El Ajedrecista, or quite simply, The Chessplayer. He designed it in such a fashion that it was able to automatically play a king and do other simple tasks without the need for any human intervention. The device was first demonstrated in Paris, France in 1914 and is considered to be the very first computer game. His early versions put to use mechanical arms which would move the pieces, but by 1920, electromagnets under the board would work to do the same. Another revolutionary Spanish invention was the pressurized space suit which was invented in 1935 by Emilio Linares. Linares was a Spanish military engineer and physicist who is also well known for his studies of high altitude flight. Without this, Neil Armstrong would never have been able to leave the spacecraft and take the first steps on the moon. Because of a modified version of Linares pressurized suits, astronauts are able to survive in space without overheating or freezing and are able to receive sufficient amounts of oxygen.
The Spanish Wine Industry
Spain produces the third largest amount of wine worldwide. It has over 2.9 million acres or 1.17 million hectares of wine grapes planted; the largest expanse of vineyards compared to any other country. The only countries ahead of Spain as far as sales and production go is France and Italy. One source notes that the reason Spain doesn’t control a monopoly over the industry is that the ground on which much of the vines are planted is infertile and doesn’t always yield a successful ‘crop’, if you will. Spain ranks ninth in the world for wine consumption; an average of 5.7 gallons or 21.6 liters is consumed annually per adult. With over four hundred varieties of grapes planted throughout the country, eighty percent of production comes from twenty of the more popular ones.
Spain At The Olympics
Spain first competed in the Olympic Games in 1900, four years following the original one which took place in Athens, Greece. They have sent athletes to most Olympic events since 1920 other than the 1936 Summer Olympics due to the fact that it was being held in Nazi Germany, and the 1956 Games because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary. In 1992, Spain hosted its very first ever Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The city was home to the then-president of the IOC. According to the International Olympic Committee, Spain’s athletes have won a total of 133 medals, but the Council of Europe counts one more. This discrepancy came about when a Spanish athlete was awarded a monetary award instead of a medal for his pigeon shooting performance in the 1900 Olympic Games.
Ratoncito Perez – Spain’s Tooth Fairy
Ratoncito Perez is a popular fictitious figure in Spanish and Hispanic American cultures. Unlike the Tooth Fairy, Ratoncito appears in the form of a mouse. After a young boy or girl has lost one of their teeth, it is customary for them to place it under their pillow in hopes that he will come during the night and exchange it for a special gift. In 1894, Spanish writer Luis Coloma was asked to write a story for Alfonso XIII (the 13th) of France who had just lost his first tooth at the age of eight. The completed work revolved around the life of Ratoncito Perez who lived with his family in a box of cookies in Madrid. It tells of how he would often sneak out through city pipes to enter the bedrooms of children who had lost their teeth and slip past cats who stood guard. In honor of this brave and kind mouse, the city council placed a plaque outside the warehouse his box of cookies is said to be located inside of.
Like most well-known countries, Spain has its fair share of people considered to be famous. Pablo Picasso was born on October 25th, 1881 in the town of Malaga, Spain. His training as in artist began in 1890 under the guidance of his father. As one source puts it, the juvenile quality seems to have slipped away during 1893 and one year later, his career as a painter is said to have begun. Although he is best remembered by paintings such as ‘The Weeping Woman’ and ‘La Vie’, Picasso was also a poet and playwright who spent a significant amount of time in France. Other famous Spaniards include world renowned artist Salvador Dali, model, singer and songwriter Enrique Iglesias, actress and model Penélope Cruz and singer and songwriter, Julio Iglesias.
The Molotov Cocktails Spanish Origins
Interestingly enough, Molotov cocktails were first used during the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, General Francisco Franco ordered Nationalist forces to use the weapon against T-26 tanks operated by the Republicans in a failed advance on a Nationalist stronghold 25 miles or 40 kilometers from Madrid. Such weapons were again used by the Finnish against the Soviet Union on November 30th, 1939. The Finns perfected the petrol bombs used in Spain by tweaking its design and adding a sticky mixture of fuel for an even more deadly explosion. Gasoline, tar, and kerosene were the three main components; a combination so deadly that it is illegal in many countries. Despite these weapons first being used in Spain, the Finns added the prefix Molotov as an insulting reference to Soviet foreign minister, Vyecheslav Molotov.
On May 15th of each year, single women in the capital city of Spain, Madrid, enter a little chapel named Ermita de San Isidoro in order to perform a unique and uncanny ritual. All in attendance prick one of their fingers with a pin in adherence to tradition which states that if done, a husband should soon be found. On this day, large crowds swarm the chapel, and as it always seems, the early bird gets the worm while the other girls must stand in line for long periods of time. One Spaniard attributes these superstitions and customs to the large number of Christians in the country.
According to residents in the town of Ayelo, Spain, the famous soft drink, Coca-Cola was invented not by John Pemberton, an Atlanta, Georgia based pharmacist, but by JuanJo Mica’s great-great uncle. Mica is a fourth-generation operator of the Fabrica de Licores, or the Liquor Factory. He claims that his family’s invention of Coca-Cola is the “real-thing,” and was made in 1884, two years prior to Pemberton’s. According to JuanJo, his great-great uncle took the syrupy concoction with him to the United States, and won a prize for it at a fair in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Coca-Cola historian Phil Mooney responded to these claims by stating that at various points in time, claims were made from places such as Scotland and India insisting that the formula was created there. Mooney said that most of these come about due to the fact that the company has a secret recipe, which quite naturally has always sparked curiosity.