Spain is an old country famous for its many well-preserved castles and palaces.

Children in Spain, like children everywhere, enjoy playing games. Boys learn to play fútbol (soccer) at an early age. Jai alai (merry festival), another favorite game, is similar to handball except that each player has a basketlike container called a cesta strapped to one arm with which he catches and throws the ball. Girls enjoy jump rope and a variation of this game played with an elastic stretched into a rectangle.

In the center of Spain the land is very dry and the winters are cold. Children in this area usually go to private schools, and most people live in apartments. After school they play futbol (soccer) and watch television. A typical dish is cocido, which is made of chickpeas, sausage, potatoes, and cabbage.

In the south of Spain the weather is hot, and beautiful white houses are surrounded by gardens of colorful flowers. Everyone takes long siestas in the afternoon, and children go to bed late because the weather is so nice. Foods eaten in the south of Spain are fried fish and spicy cold soup called gazpacho, which is made with strained tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, and spices. There is a big fair held during the Easter holiday, and the women dress in long ruffled dresses and dance the flamenco.

The north of Spain is green and beautiful. Cattle are raised near the many little towns by the sea. A favorite dish is fabada, which is made of white beans, sausage, and garlic. These people speak a different language called Vasco.

Oranges, figs, grapes, apples, peaches, strawberries, melons, and other fruits are grown in the east of Spain. A big fair is held in March, where there are many floats, fireworks, and flowers. Girls dress up in long dresses and braid their hair for this colorful festival.

Spain produces some of the best olives in the world and leads all other countries in the production of olive oil. Spanish cooks use olive oil in place of butter or other fats. They flavor their foods with garlic, onions, pimentos, and other spices.

Illustrated by Julie Fuhriman