The coming of democracy
Spanish communications were hampered by the Franco dictatorship which lasted from the Civil War of the 1930s until the 1970s. After years of censorship a democracy emerged which heralded the arrival of the newspaper El Pais (the Country). Freedom of expression is now enshrined in the Spanish constitution.
Low newspaper readership in Spain
Spaniards have tended to prefer listening to the radio and the newspaper readership is among the lowest in Europe. Newspapers have been perceived as costly and dull. Nevertheless there are hundreds of newspapers in Spain, including the national El Mundo and ABC. There are also regional papers which cover areas like the Canary and Balearic Islands. The main radio stations in Spain are FM 715 and AM 208.
Waiting for the letter in Spain
Like the radio, the Spanish postal service has a wide reach, even if it is a little slow. The Spanish post office is known as an 'Oficina de Correos'. A stamp is an 'estampilla', an envelope is 'el sobre' and a postcard is 'la tarjeta postal'.
Offices are generally open from 8.30am to 2pm. Letterboxes are yellow. The Central Post Office is located at 32 Avenida de la Constitución, Madrid.
Using the telephone in Spain
Now telephone is the main form of communication. There are about 18 million land lines in use in Spain and over 48 million mobile phones. Spanish mobile phones are GSM 900/1800 and can be used across Europe. Telephone connections had until recently been dominated by the state owned Telefonica company. Now you can get calling cards for all sorts of different mobile companies from kiosks, tobacco shops, newsagents and post offices. Vodaphone, Amena and Movistar sell cheap mobile phones. To use public telephones you can also use calling cards or coins.
If you are calling Spain you use the country code 34 and if you are calling from Spain then you use the prefix 00 followed by the relevant country code. Local calls get cheaper after 6pm. Toll free numbers start with 900.
'Cibercafes' can be found all over the place and the smaller the town the more you are to likely to pay for the privilege. It usually costs about 20 to 40 Euros to get a fixed line internet service in your home or place of work. These tend to run at about 1024/300 kbps and you will pay more for a faster connection. There are many companies which offer broadband in Spain.