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Teaching Spanish: Vocabulary Practice with European Countries

By Curt Smothers

This is part two in a series of Spanish geographical names. Part one focused on our neighbors to the south. This article spotlights the European Union: the country names, their capitals, languages spoken, and an interesting "factoid" on each.

Continuing the Combination Vocabulary and Geography Approach

Learning the Spanish names for European countries can be somewhat of a challenge. Students will be familiar with Portugal, España, and Francia, but what and where is Chipre? Which people speak a language known as letón? This article continues the quest to help students enrich their Spanish vocabulary while exploring the map of Europe.

European Country and Nationality Data for Vocabulary Practice with "Factoid"

Austria - AustriaEurope 

Capital: Viena

Language: alemán (German)

Factoid: Dominated in the west by the Alps and by the Danube River valley in the east.

Belgium - Bélgica

Capital: Bruselas

Language: alemán, francés, neerlandés (German, French, Dutch)

Factoid: Belgium is a federal state divided into three regions that speak Dutch, French, and German.

Bulgaria - Bulgaria

Capital: Sofía

Language: búlgaro (Bulgarian)

Factoid: In the heart of the Balkans, its east coast borders the Black Sea.

Cyprus - Chipre

Capital: Nicosia

Language: griego, inglés (Greek, English)

Factoid: The largest island in the Mediterranean, situated to the south of Turkey.

Czech Republic - República Checa

Capital: Praga

Language: checo (Czech)

Factoid: Became independent in 1993 with the breakup of Czechoslovakia.

Denmark - Dinamarca

Capital: Copenhague

Language: danés (Danish)

Factoid: Denmark consists of the Jutland peninsula, some four hundred islands, eighty-two of which are uninhabited.

Estonia - Estonia

Capital: Tallin

Language: estonio (Estonian)

Factoid: The northernmost of the Baltic states. It obtained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Finland - Finlandia

Capital: Helsinki

Language: finés, sueco (Finish, Swedish)

Factoid: A land of lakes and forests, well-known for its breathtaking natural beauty.

France - Francia

Capital: Paris

Language: francés (French)

Factoid: The largest country in Europe by land area.

Germany - Alemania

Capital: Berlin

Language: alemán (German)

Factoid: The most populous country of the European Union.

Greece - Grecia

Capital: Atenas

Language: griego (Greek)

Factoid: At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, situated in the extreme south of the Balkan Peninsula.

Hungary - Hungría

Capital: Budapest

Language: húngaro (Hungarian)

Factoid: The Hungarian language is quite different from its neighbors, most closely related to Finland and Estonia.

Ireland - Irlanda

Capital: Dublín

Language: Irlandés, inglés (Irish, English)

Factoid: Ireland has undergone an economic resurgence from a primarily agricultural nation to one the the technological centers of Europe.

Italy - Italia

Capital: Roma

Language: Italiano (Italian)

Factoid: Italy’s geography is essentially mountainous except for the Po River Valley.

Latvia - Letonia

Capital: Riga

Language: letón (Latvian)

Factoid: Situated on the Baltic coast, Latvia regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Lithuania - Lituania

Capital: Vilna

Language: lituano (Lithuanian)

Factoid: The southernmost and most populous of the Baltic states.

Luxemburg - Luxemburgo

Capital: Luxemburgo

Language: francés, alemán (French, German)

Factoid: Known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, it is a tiny country situated between Belgium, France, and Germany.

Malta - Malta

Capital: La Valeta

Language: maltés, inglés

Factoid: Consists of a group of seven islands situated in the center of the Mediterranean Sea.

Netherlands - Países Bajos

Capital: Amsterdam

Language: neerlandés (Dutch)

Factoid: Known as the Low Countries, the Netherlands occupy an area at or below sea level.

Poland - Polonia

Capital: Varsovia

Language: polaco (Polish)

Factoid: Poland is rich in natural minerals such as iron, zinc, and copper.

Portugal - Portugal

Capital: Lisboa

Language: portugués (Portuguese)

Factoid: Portugal is a country rich in the history of navigation and discovery.

Romania - Rumanía

Capital: Bucarest

Language: rumano (Romanian)

Factoid: The Romanian language, like others in the south of Europe, is derived directly from Latin.

Slovakia - Eslovaquia

Capital: Bratislava

Language: eslovaco (Slovakian)

Factoid: Became an independent state in 1993 with the division of Czechoslovakia.

Slovenia - Eslovenia

Capital: Liubliana

Language: esloveno (Slovenian)

Factoid: Became an independent state in 1991 when Yugoslavia divided.

Spain - España

Capital: Madrid

Language: espańol (Spanish)

Factoid: Spain is now a constitutional monarchy with a two-house parliament.

Sweden - Suecia

Capital: Estocolmo

Language: sueco (Swedish)

Factoid: Sweden is the most populous of the Nordic countries.

United Kingdom - Reino Unido

Capital: Londres

Language: inglés (English)

Factoid: The United Kingdom consists of England (Inglaterra), Wales (Gales), Scotland (Escocia), and Northern Ireland (Irlanda del Norte).

Go Beyond Europe

Part 1 of this series will teach your students the Spanish names of countries beyond Europe.

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