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Culture, Society and ReligionBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Spain - Culture, Society and Religion
When the monarchy resumed there was a change in Spanish culture as the focus turned to tourism. The welcoming nature of the country is one of the reasons that so many expats choose to set up home there each year. The variety of languages and dialects are also an important part of the Spanish culture and demonstrate the diversity of culture and society to be found in the country. Spain has other official languages besides the standard Spanish that most of us recognize and there are also hundreds of regional dialects. These stem from the time that the country was divided into different regions, each one with its own ruling family and customs.
There is a class system in Spain which is headed by the Royal family, followed by the titled aristocracy. There are different levels of society with the wealthy, the middle classes and the working classes. It is usual for the Spanish to look down on those who have no permanent home. Gender roles are also still fairly traditional, with men carrying out tasks such as maintenance and women being responsible for running a home. This is beginning to change as more and more women are choosing to work.
The arts are a strong part of Spanish culture and Spain has produced world famous artists such as Goya, Picasso and Dali. Spanish cinema is currently becoming recognized as a tour de force with directors such as Pedro Almodovar and actors such as Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz successfully making their names in Hollywood.
The religion in Spain is mainly Roman Catholic, although there are many other religious communities in the country. The influence of Islam can be seen in many areas of the country, although particularly in the South, due to the arrival of the Moors. The Spanish Inquisition attempted to remove other religions from the country and for many years religious freedom was not permitted. Catholicism became the official religion of the country in 1851. While Franco was in charge in the country all other religions were not permitted to advertise their services and they were not allowed to own property. This policy continued until 1966 when other religions found some of the restrictions lifted on them but the Roman Catholic Church was still the strongest.
Spain developed a new relationship with Rome when the monarchy was restored, giving the church the right to choose its own bishops. When the new constitution was formed in 1978, Spaniards were given the right to choose their own religion. Spain has a population of approximately 40 million people and it is estimated that less than 300,000 people are not Catholic. Of these, almost 250,000 belong to another Christian group and less than 20,000 are Jewish. Spain also boasts high numbers of regular churchgoers, with around 60% of Catholics regularly attending Mass. As the country becomes more industrialized it is mainly those in rural areas that keep up traditions such as attending Mass. Those who live in an urban area are considered to be less likely to go to church regularly.
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