Due to popular demand at Missouri Southern State University, España has been selected as the themed semester country for the fall of 2015. Here are eight reasons why Spain is vitally important and is the featured country at MSSU for 2015:
1. According to RandomHistory.com, the most enduring contribution of Spain to the world is its language, which was imported to the Americas with the expansion of the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. Today, there are some 500 million Spanish speakers worldwide, including an estimated 38 million in the United States.
2. Spain is the second-largest country in Western Europe (behind France) and the world’s 52nd largest country. It is slightly larger than the state of California.
3. With a population of nearly 48 million, Spain is the 29th most populous country in the world. Madrid and Barcelona are the two major urban areas.
4. Spain has the 14th largest economy in the world. According to the Guardian, Spain was one of the worst hit by the eurozone crisis, suffering a housing market crash which brought its banking system to the brink of collapse. It is now outperforming some of its bigger eurozone peers, including Germany and France. Spain, for good measure, produces 45% of the planet’s olive oil.
5. Famous Spaniards include Juan Ponce de León, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Plácido Domingo, JulioIglesias, Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Steve Ballesteros (golf), and Rafael Nadal (tennis).
6. Of the world’s most visited tourism destinations, Spain (with 61 million arrivals) ranks No. 3 (behind France and the United States). The Running of the Bulls, held every year from July 6-14 in Pamplona, is one of the country’s top draws. Spain has the third highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, with a total of 44.
7. Spain brings us flamenco ‒ singing, dancing, and guitar playing from the Andalusia region in southern Spain. Characterized by colorful costumes, stamping of the feet, and clapping of the hands, flamenco is now an international phenomenon. “In my experience, there is nothing as deeply moving and exciting as real flamenco, especially when the dance and music are both there together,” says Dr. Joy Dworkin, chair of MSSU’s English and philosophy department.
8. Speaking of Andalusia, the largest city and capital is Seville, which is the fourth largest city in Spain. The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City is modeled after Spanish architecture found in Seville. Kansas City and Seville have had a “sister city” relationship since 1966.
Dr. Allen H. Merriam, retired MSSU Professor of Communication, provides even more reasons Americans should learn about Spain in his essay, Why Spain?