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Teaching Spanish: Vocabulary Practice with European Countries

written by: Curt Smothers • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 2/15/2015

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.

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    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.

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    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).

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    Go Beyond Europe

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

Country Names and Nationalities in Spanish

Learning the Spanish names for countries, languages, and nationalities is a good vocabulary builder for Spanish students. This series is a vocabulary-building list of world countries along with some interesting "factoids" on each.
  1. Teaching Spanish: Vocabulary Practice with Country Names
  2. Teaching Spanish: Vocabulary Practice with European Countries

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