Spanish people features stereotypically include tanned skin, brunette hair, and amber eyes. However, Spain is a very multicultural company, so you’ll find great physical diversity among the Spanish people, and the stereotypes are not truly representative of the nation’s inhabitants.
Spanish people, also called the Spaniards, have a diverse and complicated heritage due to a long history of colonialism.
This article concerns itself with the four main ethnic groups among the people of Spain, which are the Catalans, Basques, Castilians, and Galicians. You can also find mixes of Iberians, Greeks, Andalusians, Romans, and even Germanic Visigoths in their heritage.
Note that, while many people from South America (including Latino and Hispanic) people have Spanish heritage, they may also have other heritage, including Indigenous bloodlines.
Note: The following traits reflect stereotypes in media and culture, not facts. They likely do not reflect and are not representative of the diversity of the nation today.
What do Spanish People Look Like?
1. Tanned Skin
Spanish people have various skin tones, ranging from fair to light brown and olive skin.
On average, their skin type tends to range from 3 to 4 on the Fitzpatrick scale, which means that they typically tan rather than burn after exposure to the sun.
But do note that this also depends on which region they come from. Some regions like Madrid have more hours of sunshine per year than most of Southern Europe, so you will likely find more tanned people in these areas than in the cooler regions of the country.
2. Brunette Hair
Like other South Europeans, dark hair is prevalent among Spanish people.
So, the stereotype that the typical Spaniard is brunette is probably not one to go by – there are plenty of different hair colors throughout the country.
3. Amber Eyes
According to medical news today, people of Spanish descent have a high chance of having hazel and amber-colored eyes because of their heritage.
Amber eyes are a bit darker than hazel eyes as they contain more melanin but are not as dark as brown eyes.
This shade is believed to be in many Spanish people’s DNA. This color is quite a minority worldwide, accounting for only 5% of the world’s population.
Like their skin and hair, the variations in their eye colors are also primarily due to regional differences. For example, in areas like Alicante, it is not unusual to see people with green eyes.
4. Average Height
Compared to some of their European neighbors, the Spanish people are relatively shorter.
Spanish men are about 5 feet 8 inches tall on average, while the women are about 5 feet 4 inches in height.
5. Aquiline Nose
The Spanish people have the typical Mediterranean nose, also called the aquiline or Roman nose.
It has a prominent bridge and an edge that is slightly curved or bent.
The hooked ends make their noses look like the beak of an eagle when viewed from the side, which is why it acquired the term “aquiline”, coming from the Latin word “aquilinus” or “eagle-like”.
Stereotypical Character Traits of Spanish People
Note: These are stereotypes only, which often don’t reflect reality but rather cultural and media tropes.
6. They Love a Fiesta
One typical description of Spanish people is their love of festivals and holidays or fiestas as they call them.
Their calendars are filled with national holidays, and practically every city, town, and village celebrates its fiesta once a year.
Most of the time, these fiestas are means to honor their patron saint. The Spanish people take this opportunity to have fun and party, taking out their colorful decorations and costumes to celebrate the occasion.
They also organize cultural activities and live music and prepare a lot of food for everyone to enjoy.
7. Always Late
It is said that the Spanish people are always late, as embodied by the catchphrase that it’s the land of “manana” (tomorrow).
However, they strive to come on time for formal occasions like business meetings and conferences.
The reason for this is heavily rooted in their culture, which does not place a high value on punctuality.
People who arrive late at a social function are just welcomed with no eyebrows raised. If they attempt to apologize, the general response would be like “no pasa nada”, which roughly translates to “It’s not that important”.
8. Laziness and Sleepiness
Because of their siesta habit, the Spanish got a reputation for being lazy and sleeping a lot, but this is a misconception.
The Spanish actually sleep about 53 minutes less than the average hours in Europe. They also work longer hours because of their culture of “presentisimo”, where workers are expected to stay late in the office in order to give a good impression to their bosses.
An average Spanish employee works 1,691 hours per year compared to 1,674 for the British and 1,371 for the Germans.
However, the siesta habit does exist, and it is deeply rooted in their history. It originates from the Latin word “sexta”, which hails from the Roman tradition of taking a break on the sixth hour.
In Spain, it meant taking a break or a nap during mid-day, and there are two reasons for this. First, people used to work two jobs during the Civil War, and they needed a two-hour break between shifts to rest and travel to their next workplace.
Another reason is to beat the mid-day heat, particularly for the laborers who work outdoors and are exposed to the heat of the sun.
While the siesta is still recognized in modern times, people spend it differently. The elderly and the kids are most likely to take a nap, and small stores might close down for a short while during this time, but the office workers would usually take this time to take their lunch or run errands.
9. Flamenco Everywhere
When speaking of Spain, it’s nearly impossible to miss out on the flamenco, a fusion of music and dance unique to the country.
The dancer performs intricate hand, arm, and body movements while accompanied by a singer and guitar player.
The audience typically joins in by clapping their hands to the bear of the music. It is such an integral part of the Spanish culture that UNESCO even recognized it as part of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.
However, not everyone in Spain knows how to do flamenco as the art is mainly concentrated on selected regions such as Andalusia and Murcia.
It is also not an easy dance and requires training in a dance school to master the moves and execute them properly.
10. Beach Trips All Year Round
While it is true that Spain has more sunshine than the rest of Europe, they still get gloomy weather and cold winters.
Their geography is also quite varied, and the regions experience different climates depending on the location. In particular, the northern part of the country is less sunny than the southern regions.
It is true, though, that the Spanish love going to the beach and getting their tan. The country has some of the best beaches in the continent, which are well-maintained and have a high standard of cleanliness.
Spanish people have the typical Mediterranean look, with brunette hair, light brown skin, and aquiline noses. One of their standout features is their amber eyes, a rare color appearing in only about 5% of the global population.
There are several stereotypes about the Spanish, and most of them have been debunked in modern media, such as being lazy because of their siesta habit or the flamenco being an ingrained skill for all. Nevertheless, some stereotypes are quite true, such as their tendency to be late, and the festivals or fiesta that occur almost every month in different places around the country.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]