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Highest allude in territory: Teide height (3,718 meters/12,198 feet), situated on Tenerife Island

Lowest suggest on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and also Western

Time zone: 1 P.M. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1,085 kilometers (764 miles) from eastern to west; 950 kilometers (590 miles) from phibìc to south

soil boundaries: 1,918 kilometers (1,192 miles) complete boundary length; Andorra 64 kilometers (40 miles); France 623 kilometers (387 miles); Gibraltar 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles); Morocco 16 kilometers (10 miles), Portugal 1,214 kilometers (754 miles)

Coastline: Total: 4,964 kilometers (3,084 miles); Mediterranean Sea 1,670 kilometers (1,038 miles); Atlantic and also Bay of Biscay 2,234 kilometers (1,388 miles)

ar sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION and also SIZE

The mainland that Spain covers many of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe and also shares borders with France, Andorra, and Portugal. The nation has northern and also western coasts along the Atlantic Ocean and the bay of Biscay and an eastern shore along the Mediterranean Sea. V a full area of around 504,782 square kilometers (194,897 square miles), the country is slightly more than twice the size of the state that Oregon. Spain is administratively divided into seventeen autonomous communities.


Spain controls "places of sovereignty" ( plazas de soberania ) on and also off the coastline of Morocco: the coastal enclaves that Ceuta and also Melilla, return Morocco contests these territorial claims; and the Alhucemas and also Chafarinas Islands. Spain also administers the Balearic islands in the Mediterranean and Canary islands in the Atlantic. Finally, Spain proceeds to have actually a centuries-old problem with the united kingdom over Gibraltar, a small enclave come the south of Spain.


Daytime summer temperature in Spain deserve to reach 35°C to 39°C (95°F come 102°F) in the northern Meseta and are also hotter in the south. Temperature of 43°C (109°F) have been tape-recorded in the Ebro basin. Nights are substantially cooler. The climate is more moderate in the northern Atlantic marine region. In the Mediterranean region, winter temperatures average between 10°C and 13°C (50°F and also 55°F) and also summer temperature average between 22°C and also 27°C (72°F and also 81°F).

Rainfall is extremely irregular, but annual averages generally fall in between 30 and 50 centimeters (12 and also 20 inches). The north Meseta enjoys 2 rainy seasons: indigenous April come June and also from October come November. In the southern Meseta, the spring rainy season begins in March and also is wetter than the fall. The marine northwest receives numerous rainfall throughout the year, v the wettest season native October with December. The Mediterranean region receives the the very least rainfall, with many of that precipitation developing in the fall and also winter.


Overall, Spain's terrain is mountainous, with major ranges running throughout the country. The Pyrenees mechanism is an especially noteworthy. Among Europe's most efficient natural boundaries, the highest possible terrain of the main portion of this range marks Spain's border with France. The tiny country of Andorra is likewise located there. Many of the level floor in Spain is located in river valleys, along the coast, or ~ above the Meseta central (Central Mesa), the huge plateau at the facility of the country.

Topographically, Spain is split into 4 parts: the temperate region in the north and also northwest, the marginal hill ranges, the Meseta main and the surrounding inner region, and also the seaside areas. The boundaries between regions are far from clear-cut, however. The temperate region, for example, includes far-ranging portions of the hills and coastal areas. The Meseta main contains 2 large, low-lying flow valleys and also is traversed through several significant mountain systems.

Seacoast and also Undersea functions

The Atlantic s lies come the west of Spain. The just of Biscay, an eight of the Atlantic, runs along the northern coastline. The Mediterranean Sea currently the eastern and also southern boundaries of Spain. The Mediterranean Sea is one almost completely landlocked body of water situated in between southern Europe, north Africa, and southwest Asia. It links to the Atlantic s at that is western allude through the Strait of Gibraltar, and also to the Red Sea at its southeastern shore though the Suez Canal. The Mediterranean also connects come the black Sea in the northeast v the Dardanelles, the Sea the Marmara, and the Bosporus. The Balearic Sea, an eight of the Mediterranean, lies in ~ the northeast shore of Spain, separating the mainland indigenous the Balearic Islands.

Sea Inlets and also Straits

The Gulf of Cádiz, at the southwest coastline of Spain, is an extension of the Atlantic Ocean. The small Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and also Morocco connect the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. The Gulf of Valencia is one inlet of the Balearic Sea.

Islands and Archipelagos

The Balearic Islands space an extension of the Baetic Cordillera, i m sorry stretches throughout the southerly border the Spain and also reaches underwater into the Mediterranean. The major islands of the archipelago room Majorca, Miñorca, and Ibiza, through Majorca by far the largest. Formentera and also Cabrera are smaller sized islands in ~ the Balearics. Every one of the islands space mountainous.

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The rock of Gibraltar is component of a peninsula that juts the end from the south-central shore of Spain right into the Mediterranean Sea near the Strait of Gibraltar. The rock has a number of limestone caves and also a lengthy tunnel that have been used for shelter and also defense. A big number of historical finds have been uncovered in the caves. The absent of Gibraltar to be once recognized as one of the Pillars of Hercules, which stand at either finish of the Strait of Gibraltar. The other pillars space Mount Acha in Ceuta and Jebel Musa (west the Ceuta), i beg your pardon are likewise sometimes dubbed the entrances of Hercules. Despite the area has been under brothers rule since 1704 ~ the war of Spanish Succession, the Spanish government continues to work toward regaining the territory.

The Canary Islands space an archipelago the ten volcanic islands in the north Atlantic not much from Africa, around 1,324 kilometers (823 miles) southwest of mainland Spain. They have actually been a possession of Spain for centuries and also thus are considered a part of the country. Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, and Gran Canaria room the largest of the Canaries. La Palma, Gomera, Hierro, Graciosa, Lobos, and also Alegranza make up the rest of the archipelago. The archipelago are mostly mountainous and Teide top (3,718 meters/12,198 feet) top top Tenerife is Spain's tallest mountain.

seaside Features

The northern coastline extends about 724 kilometers (450 miles) from France to the northwestern edge of the country. The Cantabrian hills are never much from the shore in this an ar and the coast is normally even, marked only by occasional river estuaries. The largest of these, the Betanzas Estuary and Arosa Estuary, room in the excessive northwest ~ above the Atlantic Ocean.

Spain's tourism thrives top top the beauty, beauty of the sun-drenched southern beaches. In fact, the southerly Atlantic coast is dubbed Costa de la Luz (Coast the Light) because of its bright sunshine. At the Strait of Gibraltar is point Tarifa, the southernmost point in Europe. Eastern of this is the small Costa del solar (Sun Coast), i beg your pardon extends come Cape Gata (Cabo de Gata). The Costa Blanca, from Cape Gata to Cape Nao (Cabo de la Nao), has white and also sunny beaches encountering the warm Mediterranean Sea. Cape Palos forms the Menor Lagoon along this coastline.


many of the larger lakes in Spain are formed along the process of the rivers. The most significant, however, are man-made reservoirs.


Spain has some eighteen hundred rivers and streams, of which only the Tagus (Río Tajo) is much longer than 965 kilometers (600 miles). Only ninety of this rivers are longer than 97 kilometers (60 miles). The Tagus, Duero, Guadiana, and also the Guadalquivir all have their sources in the center of the country and also drain to the west, into the Atlantic Ocean. The Ebro rises in the north and also runs southeast between the Pyrenees and the Iberian Cordillera into the Mediterranean. The Júcar, whose source lies in the southern Iberian Cordillera, likewise flows into the Mediterranean. The mountain rivers in the north all have short courses, owing to the nearness the their resources to the sea. Those in the northwest space the longest, particularly the Miño (Minho). Numerous of them conference the sea with deep estuaries, comparable to fjords, which expand from the mountains to the sea.

owing to scant and also unpredictable rain, countless of Spain's lesser riverbeds space dry most of the year. All of the Meseta Central's rivers room sluggish most of the year, except for a couple of days every spring and fall as soon as raging waters fill the riverbeds. Also the Tagus, the biggest of the three, is variable in the volume the water. The Miño dead a volume the water equal to or better than the of the Ebro, back the Miño's course is less than half as long and its container covers only about a fifth as much area. South of the Meseta and the Sierra Morena, and also draining most of the Andalusian Plain, the Guadalquivir is the country's most regular and valuable river; Spain's only major river port, Seville (Sevilla), is situated on it. The delta that the Guadalquivir is marshy and also frequently saline.


except in the north and also northwest, the Meseta central is considerably denuded and desert-like. Scrub growth has changed forests. Parts of the Mediterranean region are dry and desolate, especially the Baetic Cordillera, i m sorry receives dry, warm winds from the eastern or south east originating over North Africa.


Grasslands room sparse in Spain because of its semi-arid climate and also are found primarily in the valleys the the significant rivers. The Andalusian Plain, in the valley of the Guadalquivir, is the largest and most vital of these. The is the best farmland in the country and also the just low-lying area the permits straightforward entry indigenous the sea. The La Mancha level is uncovered near the Guadiana River. Grasses likewise cover parts of the Meseta central and the high Sierra Nevada.

The land between the bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian hills is hilly, through an mean elevation the 610 meters (2,000 feet). This verdant an ar is fairly broad in the west, yet it becomes narrower in the east, whereby it is confined come the ocean-side slopes the the mountains.


The Pyrenees hills extend throughout the country in between the bay of Biscay and also the Balearic Sea, a distance of about 418 kilometers (260 miles). Your width averages 80 kilometers (50 miles), through a maximum of 129 kilometers (80 miles). The French-Spanish border runs v these mountains, connecting 6 of the highest peaks. ~ above the Spanish side, three of this peaks exceed 3,353 meters (11,000 feet); Aneto Peak, the highest of these, reaches an altitude the 3,403 meter (11,165 feet). The Pyrenees summits are very steep and rugged with couple of passes.

In the north, the Cantabrian mountains (Cordillera Cantábrica) extend across the nation parallel to, and in some places surrounding to, the only of Biscay. There are drops exceeding 1,524 meters (5,000 feet) in ~ 20 mile (32 kilometers) of the shore. Generally, peaks in the Cantabrian Mountains selection from 2,133 to 2,938 meter (7,000 come 8,000 feet).

The Iberian Cordillera (Sistema Ibérico) extend southeast native the center of the Canta-brian Mountains, reaching virtually to the Mediterranean coast. This region's 20,725 square kilometers (8,000 square miles) space covered with barren and rugged terrain. The Spanish speak to it the "area of difficulty." that separates the Meseta main from the northeastern flow valleys.

The Baetic Cordillera (Sistema Penibético, sometimes referred to as the Andalusian Mountains) that southwestern Spain expand from Cape Nao to Gibraltar, a distance of some 579 kilometers (360 miles). The most impressive component of this range is the which is closest to the coast, the Sierra Nevada; lot of it is desolate, however. That is 3,478-meter (11,411-feet) peak, Mulhacén, is the highest point on the Iberian Peninsula. The coastal Sierra Nevada is separated from a sister variety in the north by a geological error line that runs approximately parallel to the shore. The northern range is equally forbidding, with the exemption of a couple of exotic places, such as Granada. Additional north is the Sierra Morena, a reduced chain through elevations between 152 and also 610 meters (500 and 2,000 feet).

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The Iberian Peninsula consists of only two countries: Spain and also Portugal. The is a factory crossroads between Africa and also Europe, with much more than eight thousand species of plants.

11 CANYONS and also CAVES

Although there are numerous caves in Spain, one of the most interesting is the Altamira Cave. Altamira has actually been dubbed the "Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic Art." The main hall of the cave, i beg your pardon measures about 18 meters by 9 meters (59 feet by 30 feet), features paintings top top the ceiling the are around fifteen thousand year old. Many of the numbers are animals, such together bison, horses, and also wild boars, in addition to a couple of anthropomorphic figures (human-like creatures with animal features). The paintings are remarkably detailed, with various brush-strokes providing a sense of texture and also realism. The artists shown most that the animals poised in the midst of movement, and they painted with just three colors: ochre (yellowish-brown), red, and also black. Due to the fact that the paintings deteriorate as soon as exposed come the carbon dioxide i beg your pardon is exhaled by tourists, a limited number of civilization are enabled to visit the cave. A surrounding museum contains an exact replica, however. UNESCO has designated Altamira cave as a people Heritage Site.

The Sierra de Guara Canyons, located in the Spanish Pyrenees, are renowned sites because that climbing and canyoning enthusiasts. The area includes practically sixty limestone canyons that contain stunning rock formations and also views.

The Guayadeque Gorge, located on Gran Canaria Island of the Canary Islands, is a spectacular canyon the stretches halfway throughout the island. The canyon includes the violet Caves (Cuevas Bermejas), some of which room still occupied by humans.


The Meseta Central, the large Spanish tableland, dominates main Spain from the Cantabrian hills in the north to the Sierra Morena in the south and from the Portuguese border in the west to the Iberian Cordillera in the east. Generally, the Meseta varies in elevations in between 610 and 762 meters (2,000 and also 2,500 feet), other than in the river valleys. It likewise contains many small mountain ranges, however; 2 of these space the Toledo Mountains and the Cordillera Carpetovetonica, the latter of i m sorry reaches 2,591 meter (8,500 feet). In general, the Meseta gives means to greater land in the western component of the country between the containers of that is three biggest rivers.

The El Torcal de Antequera, located in the southerly hill regions, consists of a variety of limestone absent formations resembling towers, sculpted figures of assorted shapes and also sizes, and also even some dramatic balancing rocks. The rock sculptures were developed primarily by erosion.

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13 synthetic FEATURES

over there are about twelve hundreds dams situated along the rivers the Spain. They have actually been built for irrigation, hydropower, and water supply storage. The Alcantara Reservoir, located on the Tagus River, is among the biggest in west Europe.


Cross, Esther, and Wilbur Cross. Spain . Chicago: Children's Press, 1994.

Schubert, Adrian. The Land and People that Spain . Brand-new York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Simonis, Damien. Spain . Third ed. Oakland, CA.: Lonely Planet, 2001.

Smith, Angel. Historical dictionary of Spain . Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1996.