Spain’s Top 7 Contributions to the World
Posted by Dreamer
Information about Spain's top 7 contributions to the world and what makes them important achievements for Spain.
Are you looking for another reason to love Spain? From art, culture, food, and literature to language, politics, science, and sports, Spain has undoubtedly made its mark on the world, and not only in terms of sangría, Alonso and Nadal, anarchist movements, sun and sand, or the invention of the mop. Spain has been much more than that, and not just during Spain’s Golden Age or after Franco’s death. Spain has long been a mix of tradition and innovation that continues to delight.
So how about 7 more reasons to cheer for Spain then?
- Pedro Almodóvar
- The Spanish language
- Pablo Picasso
- Don Quixote
- The Alliance of Civilizations
The current king of Spanish cinema, director and screenwriter Pedro Almodóvar continues to delight audiences both in Spain and abroad with his brash, unique filmic vision, which has earned him a bevy of awards and fans worldwide with such successes as Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios and Hable con ella. From 1980’s Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón to his most recent film Volver, Almodóvar’s films have been notoriously hip and disturbing, with heavy infusions of vivid colors, pop culture, and song. His films are often credited with bringing realism back to Spanish cinema. Whose reality though, it’s hard to say.
First as the film darling of the celebrated movida madrileña (an alternative cultural renaissance post-Franco) and now as a cinematic force of nature, his dramas and comedies have covered the whole spectrum of light to dark. Tackling themes such as female solidarity, loss, and sexuality, his films present a lavish world filled with housewives and prostitutes, bullfighters and nurses, transvestites and priests, people in transition and people on the margins of society.
Conservative critics have targeted the blatant sexuality, anti-Church stances, unapologetic homosexuality, and violence present in some of his films. Nevertheless, his films have received the most prestigious awards in the business: Oscars, Golden Globes, Goyas, Césars, BAFTAs, awards at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as a Prince of Asturias award, and Almodóvar enjoys wide popularity in Spain as well as abroad. It’s easy to think that he’ll be shocking and delighting both critics and audiences for years to come.
Principally derived from Latin in Spain’s northern regions, castellano, the language of Spain, (also known as español or Spanish,) has provided a rich legacy to the world in terms of the language itself, as well as Spanish words borrowed by other languages.
From the 16th to 18th centuries Spanish was the most important language in Europe, and although French and in turn English have upstaged Spanish in prestige among the elite, Spanish language usage just continues to grow.
Today Spanish is spoken by over 400 million people in the world and is ranked second in number of native speakers (second only to Mandarin), and third in the world in number of total speakers (behind Mandarin and English).
Spanish is an official language in 21 countries, but spoken in many more, with a presence on all continents, including Antarctica. It’s no wonder that Spanish is an official language of many international organizations, including the United Nations.
What’s more, Spanish has contributed its rich vocabulary to other world languages. Take English for example. Many of the fun words we have in English were taken or adapted from the original Spanish. Consider words like: fiesta, siesta, hammock, buckaroo, amigo, vamoose, renegade, and filibuster. I mean, what’s more fun than a good old-fashioned filibuster or saying the word buckaroo three times fast? If you think cowboys and controlled substances are fun, then it’s good to know that Spanish gave us words like rodeo, lasso, marijuana, bodega, and tobacco.
As a ubiquitous feature of heavy-traffic shopping districts throughout Spain and around the globe, Spanish fashion retailer Zara has become synonymous with stylish, reasonably-priced clothes for women, men, juniors, and children. Satisfied customers report that there is always something new at Zara. But in the business world, Zara has been heralded as an unlikely success story, achieving financial success and a strong global brand by going against traditional fashion wisdom.
Zara opened its first store in A Coruña, Spain in 1975, but currently has 1,026 stores in 64 countries around the world, 290 of which are located in Spain. Today Zara is the Inditex Group’s flagship brand, accounting for over 65% of the group’s revenue, and is still headquarted in A Coruña.
In 2006, Zara was named the 73rd Best Global Brand by BusinessWeek with a value of US$4,235 million and in 2007, Inditex was named the Global Retailer of the Year at the World Retail Congress. Yet Zara has been averse to the conventional advertising used by global competitors, relying largely on word of mouth and store window displays to attract customers with a false lure of exclusivity. Zara’s advantage at bucking the trend doesn’t stop there, however.
Keeping a tight rein on design, production, and distribution, and performing much of it in-house, allows Zara the freedom to introduce several thousand designs each year and constantly diversify their offerings to keep on top of trends and reduce risk with smaller batches. According to Time magazine: “The Spanish company [Zara] is often credited with inventing fast fashion, a business model that moves garments from the design table to stores quickly.” A scant two weeks is the time it takes, as cited by the company in BusinessWeek. Other chains, however, need nine months to take designs from the drawing board to the store.
It’s certainly no wonder that Zara is currently the world’s fashion darling and Spain’s flagship brand.