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Overview Spain

Insights into the regulations, traditions, and logistics of Spain.

Currency: Euro
Calling code: +34
Area: 504. 782 km²
Population: 46,5 million
Density: 92 per km²                                                                                                                                                       

1. Are there typical greeting rituals?

The casual friendly inter-gender greeting in Spain is lightly joining cheeks right-left, while the formal business first-time salute is a short, firm handshake. However, if your Spanish host offers you the cheek-to-cheek greeting, you should accept it, as a refusal will be taken badly.

2. What business rules are to be followed?

Spaniards commonly write down both parental surnames on their business cards. Traditionally, first comes the father's followed by the mother's, though it is now legally possible to reverse positions. Otherwise and in a formal manner, you will address them by their first surname only (Señor/Mister - Señora /Miss). First time you meet a Spaniard you will usually face small talk, which leads to a conversation with a more personal background, often about the family. Speak openly and smile, and do not be shy to a look the other person in the eye. Your trustworthiness is often tested at the beginning of a business relationship.
Although business punctuality has improved a lot in Spain, meeting agendas still are no rule to follow but just a general idea to start talking. Spaniards love talking, they all want to say their thing back and forth in no particular order and interruptions are common, so you will need to be patient and talk along the way to take them to the point.

3. What prejudices are there and which of these are actually true?

We are loud...

We do sound quite loud, but whereas elsewhere people would raise their voice if they are angry, it's not the same for Spaniards who may quickly raise their voice when discussing something but this clearly does not imply anger.

Sunny Spain...

Spain has more sunshine than the rest of Europe because it is at the southern tip of Europe. Yet its geography is very varied. There are the central plateau, the Mediterranean coast, the Atlantic coast, and the Pyrenees. In the north there is less sun than in the south and in the central plateau it can get very cold in winter. The sun is predominant along the Mediterranean and in the south, in Andalusia. Of course the north is colder and has more rain throughout the year than the south.

We love Fiesta...

This is one stereotype that is unequivocally true as any visitor to Spain will confirm. Every single town has at least one fiesta a year when the streets are filled with music, dancing, eating and drinking. Throwing tomatoes at each other, drenching everyone in wine or being chased around by half a dozen bulls are just some of the activities in offer. ...

And Siesta...

The siesta is supposed to be a short nap or a quick shut eye after lunch. Most places in Spain give you 2 hours for lunch, from 14.00 to 16.00, and then you carry on working. Although some people have a siesta, most people use this time to pick up their kids from school, go home, cook, eat, drop their kids off, and go back to work. We do everything late. We do seem to run on a completely different timetable to practically every other country on earth, eating lunch between 2pm and 4pm and dinner well after 9pm. This is true, but there is a reason for Spain's tardiness: it is technically in the wrong time zone. Up until 1942 Spain was on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the same as London and Lisbon but it was during the Second World War that Spanish clocks were advanced one hour, in line with Germany. There have been several campaigns for Spain to change its clocks back, with supporters arguing that it would increase productivity and do away with the late mealtimes and even the siesta.


4. What subjects are discussed during small talk?

Sports and family are the classics, along with news, gossip and hometown topics.

5. What commodities play an important role in the country and to which countries does it export to and from which countries does it import from the most part?

a. Export:
Automobiles, fruits and veggies, textiles, car parts and pharmaceuticals
To: Europe is the main market (Germany, France...) followed by overseas destinations such as the United States, Morocco, China, Turkey and Mexico

b. Import:
Chemicals, cars, textiles, electronics and production machinery
From: Germany and France are main suppliers, followed by China, Italy, the United States, Holland and United Kingdom

6. What special logistics obstacles/difficulties are there on location?

Underdeveloped railway infrastructure and operators, cumbersome customs procedures, low domestic intermodal/multimodal connectivity.

7. What goods were the most exciting or unusual that were transported by Fr. Meyer's Sohn or of which you have heard?

An Elephant!

8. Are there traditional dishes that are eaten on specific holidays, for instance?

Paella in all restaurant menus each Thursday, spit-roasted sardines throughout the summer in the south, "Calçots" (spring onions) in Barcelona, "Chuleton" (1 kilo meat chop) in Bilbao...

9. What must absolutely be experienced or seen there?

A springtime night at any bar terrace, picking on "Pintxos" and "Tapas" (small bites), downing some of the many good Spanish wines, sitting by a bunch of Spaniards laughing at the joke of the day. Unwind, enjoy. Call it a night or get ready for Fiesta till sunrise...

Nadine Kinscher-Masur

Corporate Head of Marketing at Fr. Meyer's Sohn


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