To which language should you translate to localize in Spain?
What we know from our community
One is for certain: Spain, there is only one. But what about the Spanish language? Formally, what it is spoken both in Spain and LATAM, it is known as Spanish. Nevertheless, in practice, Spain’s Spanish and LATAM’s are –literally and metaphorically– quite far away. The same occurs with the variations of Spanish within the South European country, whose diversity applies not only to geography and gastronomy, but also to the most “living” thing: language.
Consequently, someone from the very southern Spain (Andalucia for instance), may not only use different idiomatic expressions and inflections, but also have their own distinctive accent that makes it very difficult for someone from Asturias or País Vasco to understand.
Then there is the fact that Spanish is actually not “alone”: Basque, Catalan and Galician, among other minor varieties, complete the linguistic picture of this rich country.
19% Catalan, 5% Galician 2% Basque
T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales.
Dialects and other languages
Aragonese, Asturian/Leonese, Varieties: Eonavian (Galician-Austrian), Portuguese of Spain, Caló, Erromintxela, Riffian Berber (in Melilla), Darija (in Ceuta), Extremaduran, Cantabrian and other varieties of Spanish
Immigrant languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Darija, Berber, Romanian, English, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Russian.
Moderate proficiency (EF) – 33 of 112 countries/regions in the world- 33/35 position in Europe.
Population: 47,33 million
Population density: 95/km2
GDP: 1,425,276.59 trillion USD (2020)
GDP per capita: 30,115.7 USD (2020)
Exports: $298 billion (2020)
Internet users: 94% penetration, 43.93 million
Unemployment rate: 14.8% (2021)
Urbanisation: 80.32% (2018)
Literacy: 99% (2019)
Arabic numerals and comma as decimal separator
Date format: dd-mm-yyyy
Time: 24h time system
Country code: 0034
Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal
Facts and data
$315 billion (2020). Crude Petroleum ($15.8B), Cars ($13.9B), Vehicle Parts ($11B), Packaged Medicaments ($10.7B), and Petroleum Gas ($5.5B), importing mostly from Germany ($41.2B), France ($33.9B), China ($30.3B), Italy ($22B), and Netherlands ($15.5B).
Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of age)
• 94% have an account with a financial institution
• 54% have a credit card
• 65% make online purchases
Ease of doing business
It is very easy to conduct business (rated 79.7 out of 100) ranked 19th out of 44 OECD high income countries in ranked 30th out of 190 countries worldwide (2019, World Bank)
$298 billion (2020). Cars ($32B), Packaged Medicaments ($11.6B), Vehicle Parts ($9.14B), Refined Petroleum ($7.77B), and Pig Meat ($6.46B), exporting mostly to France ($47.6B), Germany ($34B), Portugal ($23.8B), Italy ($22.8B), and United Kingdom ($18.9B).
Main local online stores
El Corte Inglés, eBay, Amazon, Milanuncios, Segunda-Mano, Vinted, Wallapop, Vibbo, Lets Bonus, Groupon, Bing, eBay and Groupalia.
‘Moderately free’ (68.2 out of 100) ranked 26th out of 45 European countries ranked 41st out of 186 countries worldwide (2019, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal)
Global Innovation Index
Ranked 19th out of 39 European countries, 30th out of 132 worldwide.
The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.
Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal
Service Imports (2017)
Service Exports (2017)
Most complex products by PCI
Product Complexity Index measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters
Most specialised products by RCA Index
Specialisation is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage, an index that takes the ratio between Spain observed and expected exports in each product
Export Opportunities by Relatedness
Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product, the barchart show only products that Spain is not specialized in
E-commerce payment method in Spain split by value
Source: J.P. Morgan 2019 Payment Trends
Which of the following methods do you prefer to use when you pay for a product you've bought online?
Source: J.P. Morgan 2019 Payment Trends
Preferred e-commerce methods in Spain
Source: J.P. Morgan 2019 Payment Trends
Reach most of the online purchasing power
T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales. It estimates the market share of each country in relation to global e-commerce.Try it now
Media language Spanish, Catalan
Spain’s public broadcaster RTVE competes with large and established commercial operators. TV is the main news medium and satellite and cable are popular digital platforms. Home-produced dramas, reality shows and long-running soap operas are staple fare on primetime TV. Regional TV networks are operated by their respective governments and there are many local stations. Movistar+, owned by telecom firm Telefonica, is the biggest pay TV provider. There is a free press that investigates high-level corruption, says US-based Freedom House. But the organisation raises concerns about the concentration of media ownership and what it says is political interference in public media. Facebook is the leading social media platform.
El Mundo – Madrid-based daily
El Pais – Madrid-based daily
ABC – Madrid-based daily
La Razon – Madrid-based daily
La Vanguardia – Barcelona-based daily
El Periodico de Catalunya – Barcelona-based daily
TVE – public, services include national networks La Primera and La 2, satellite-delivered TVE Internacional, rolling news channel 24 Horas
Telecinco – national, commercial
Antena 3 – national, commercial
Cuatro – national, commercial
RNE – public, services include speech network Radio 1, cultural network Radio Clasica, youth-oriented Radio 3, news station Radio 5 Todo Noticias
Cadena SER – commercial, operates more than 50 national, regional stations
Onda Cero – commercial
Cadena COPE – church-controlled
EFE – government-owned
Europa Press – private
Colpisa – private
Media data source: BBC
94% penetration, 43.93 million
Share of web traffic by device
48.97% mobile phones, 48.28% computers (laptops and desktops), 2.69% tablet devices, others 0.06%
Median speed of mobile Internet connection
Median speed of fixed Internet connection
Mobile connection as a percentage of total population: 118.8%
Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G): 93.7%
Most popular web search engines
Google (95.57%), Bing (2.76%), Yahoo (1.03%), Ecosia (0.28%), Duckduckgo (0.28%), Yandex Ru (0.03%)
Most used social media
Facebook (84.52%), Instagram (6.26%), Twitter (5.74%), Pinterest (2.29%), YouTube (0.91%), Reddit (0.13%)
internet data sources: Datareportal/Statcounter
83.33 yrs (2020)
Average age of the population
44.9 yrs (2020)
Catholicism is the most common religion in Spain. People are not discriminated against by religion either in the workplace or in social life. Spaniards don’t usually ask about religious beliefs because they are assumed to be the same. But if there is a difference it is not an issue that would be a basis for discrimination.
Most Catholics in Spain call themselves “believers” but not “practitioners”. This means that they have been baptised and married according to religious ritual but that they don’t follow the other religious practices.
Social class in Spain is not relevant in terms of social relations or labour opportunities. Classes are divided according to money and not race, religion or any other factor. Culture and education are more important in order to succeed. A person from a lower class family who is well educated has the same opportunities for success as a person from a higher social class. Education, at all levels, is free in Spain.
There is only one class that is really different from the rest of Spanish people: nobility, which is very small. It is not even considered a true class since the possession of a noble title does not assure possessions, money, special treatment or any other favours. Spain is a democratic country where everyone has the same privileges and opportunities. The only advantage is the glamour related to such families.
Glass Ceiling Index
63.6 out 100, ranked 15th out of 29 countries.
The glass-ceiling index measures the environment for working women combining data on higher education, labor-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity and paternity rights, business-school applications, and representation in senior jobs.
9% of GDP (2018)
Women and men are considered equals by law and in a general sense. But discriminatory behaviour against women does continue in certain levels of society. Companies find legal ways to pay less to women that are doing the same task as men. Women are preferred in certain tasks because they are considered less confrontational than men.
Employers prefer not to hire women that are married and in child-bearing age to avoid paying for maternity leave. It is a common practice to ask openly about marital status and future family plans in a job interview. For men it is seen as a good sign of maturity and stability; for women it is seen as a probability of a high level of absenteeism.
In general, gender is not a restricting feature of any kind, though in private life, women assume the major part of the work at home and the education of the children. This fact is changing among the younger generations and these changes are well regarded by the older generations. It is important to mention that there is a big difference between the rural areas and the cities.
Spain has traditionally been a very racially homogeneous country, all white, but mostly “latin-looking” in the southern regions and Caucasian-looking in the northern regions. But this fact is presently changing, given globalization and immigration. Spain has been traditionally a country of emigrants and not immigrants.
There are two distinct ethnicities that suffer from discriminatory behaviour in Spain: the gypsies and the Moors.
Gypsies in general have always been rejected for their completely different way of life. They usually only follow their own regulations and “patriarcas” (head of each family) and refuse to live according to any central national government laws or to any of the western standards like housing, jobs or education. Because of the huge differences with the “payo” (majority) culture, people are usually scared and consider them thieves, pocket lifters and tend to discriminate them in job opportunities, housing or education. Their way of life inside a western culture does not help to adjust and get money or a comfortable life, which has contributed to young gypsies suffering more the effects of drug addiction and the criminal world related to it. This hasn’t helped in their integration in society despite huge efforts of all Spain’s democratic governments to approach this community. Traditionally, Moorish culture has been perceived negatively in Spain; this includes Moroccans, Algerians, Lebanese and Turkish. Nobody really knows the reason for the aversion against northern Mediterranean culture since they have contributed a great deal to Spanish culture. The truth is that Spanish people discriminate against them. They consider them to be untrustworthy and such discrimination is not related to skin colour, race or religious practises.
Social statistics sources: WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF
A political and territorial community that claims the right to freely decide its own future.
Catalan is spoken by 10 million people in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the Valencian Community, Andorra, Aragon, Alghero, Roussillon, and Carche.
On average, less than half the residents of these areas use the language daily. And Catalonia is no exception to this rule, with 40% of residents using Catalan as their lingua franca. *
* Catanyol = “street” Catalan. Due to the invasive presence of Castilian, spoken Catalan is packed with lexical borrowings and expressions acquired from Spanish.
Catalonia is an ancient European nation with many decades of history. A Mediterranean country, crowned by the Pyrenees, it has long been a crossing point between Europe and the Iberian Peninsula and, above all, a land of confluence and cultural cross-fertilization. Its geographical position has facilitated cultural exchange between north and south as part of a dynamic that has evolved over the years, shaping the personality of the region. Catalonia’s identity has thus been formed gradually, in a state of constant tension enriched by many influences that have forged the character of an open and engaging society, with its own history and a firm will to exist.
Ever since the region emerged as a political entity back in the 8th century, the relationship between Spain and Catalonia has always been combative. In the modern age, Catalonia has had to exist alongside a state that has opposed it. Both when controlled by authoritarian regimes and when governed by democratic parties, Spain has challenged, suspended, or abolished Catalan legislation, self-rule, and local laws.
Catalan, the language of Catalonia, is among the tools that the region has harnessed over the years to reaffirm its desire to independently choose its own future.
Today, Catalan is the primary language of state education, and it is used in politics, religious services, public administration, and place names. The language is viewed and promoted as a tool by which to assert the nation’s identity and unity. However, for those who do not speak it, the compulsory requirement to use Catalan can easily become counterproductive, a limiting factor for access to the workplace, culture, and public life. The language can become an instrument of separation, a guide used to define belonging and distinguish allies from foes.
While those who lived through the end days of Franco’s dictatorship supported the use of Catalan with the conviction that it would preserve and promote cultural heritage, the following generation had a far more conflict-ridden experience of the language question. At present, Spanish is used by 60% of people in Catalonia: a sure sign that, while the affirmation of the region’s will must involve Catalan, it must not exclude dialogue in Spanish. Yet there are still those who explicitly state that they feel uncomfortable expressing themselves in Spanish and would prefer any other European language. The problem is therefore linguistic but also political, because Spanish (a language spoken by a third of the world’s population, as well as by the rest of Spain) is associated with the hostile and perpetually adversarial government of Madrid.
“Write, talk, think in Catalan!”
This was the slogan written on one of the protest signs stuck up by students to reaffirm the exclusive use of Catalan in universities.
One thing is certain: the preservation of Catalan, to ensure that it represents an opportunity to define an identity rather than a limitation on identity itself, must go hand in hand with its integration with Spanish. Only thus can it play a fundamental role in the search for a solution to the conflict and in the quest for self-determination in Catalonia, a political and territorial community integrated into the nation of Spain that claims the right to freely decide its own future.
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Languages and dialects spoken in Spain
The geographical distribution of languages that you will find in the maps published in this section is a work in progress. Our community is helping us to fill it up with always new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write to email@example.com
Photo credit: Alberto Di Marian, Unsplash