The Spanish capital, Madrid, lies just over 2,000 kilometres to the south-west of Berlin and almost in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula. In terms of area, Spain is the 3rd largest country in Europe at approximately 500,000 square kilometres and is much bigger than Germany, which has an area of approximately 350,000 square kilometres. The Spanish climate is milder and consistently warmer, even though it spans four different climate zones. The average temperature in Spain is almost 10 degrees Celsius higher than in Germany, and this alone creates some cultural differences between the two countries.
The daily rhythm: in Spain the evenings are longer, the days start later
As a result of the midday heat in Spain and the associated siesta, people eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at different times to people in Germany. People get up later and usually don't start their working day before 9 am. The lunch break is around 2 pm, followed by the siesta. People don’t usually have dinner, therefore, until after 8 pm. Offices and shops operate similar hours and you should bear this in mind when making business appointments.
Spanish sounds quite soft to Germans, who are used to a harder sounding language. The softer sounding language is also reflected in the content and phrasing of the Spanish, because they are very generous in the way they give compliments; often giving multiple compliments and greeting people every time they see them as if they have not seen them for months. In Germany, effusive compliments are more unusual and Germans are inclined not to take someone so seriously if they dole out excessive praise.
The Spanish like to say goodbye to very good friends with: "Ya sabes que te quiero mucho verdad? (you do know that I like you very much?), whereas in Germany people tend to say a polite and nicely meant: "It was nice to see you" as a farewell.
The emotional closeness in friendships is also reflected in body language. Germans rarely touch other people, whereas in Spain it is normal for friends to reach across the table for each other's hands.
Small talk is important to Spaniards
In Spain, small talk is very important at business meetings and Spaniards like to have meals with business partners. In fact, many business meetings take place directly in a restaurant or café and people meet on the spot. Business conversations are never the first thing on the agenda, because Spaniards think it is impolite to start a conversation with serious topics. Therefore, they talk about things such as football, culture, and architecture etc., and people also like to hear the guests' personal stories. Spainiards love modesty however, and you should avoid singing your own praises too much as they find it too boastful. Quite often Spaniards devote more time to small talk than talking about business, but this need not be a disadvantage.
In Spain, life takes place outdoors
Summers in Spain are very hot and last significantly longer than in Germany. Restaurants in Spain therefore usually have large terraces that fill up quickly, especially in the evening. Spaniards love good food and this always includes olive oil and garlic. Paella, the famous Spanish rice dish, is on the menu in many restaurants and for dessert there is often crema catalana, a creamy dish with a crunchy layer of caramel. People enjoy the weather and treat themselves to social moments after a long day at work.
There is another clear difference between Spaniards and Germans and that is in attitudes to punctuality. Being punctual is often very important for Germans, even when they are meeting up with friends or family, whereas in Spain delays are part of everyday life. Planning events in advance is also less common here. In Germany, people often know for example, that a barbecue with friends is coming up in three weeks. Spaniards don’t plan so far in advance and for example will often make appointments at lunchtime for the evening of the same day.
There are about 80 million people living in Germany. In Spain, there are just under 48 million, although the country is significantly larger than Germany in terms of area.
In Spain, people follow Central European Standard Time, which is the same as in Germany, except on the Canary Islands (one hour less).
According to the last census in 2021, 111,937 Germans currently live in Spain, most of them in the Balearic Islands (18,790 people), followed by Barcelona and Tenerife.
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