Geography in Spain
The travel destination Spain is located in south-western Europe and extends over most of the Iberian Peninsula. With an area of approx. 506,000 km², the kingdom is the fourth largest state in Europe after Russia, Ukraine and France. Land borders exist in the northeast with France and Andorra and in the west with Portugal. In the north and north-west and in the extreme south-west, Spain borders the Atlantic Ocean and in the east and south-east the Mediterranean. The coastline without islands is approx. 3,150 km, around half of which is the Mediterranean coast. The state area also includes the Balearic Islands with the well-known travel destination Mallorca, the Canary Islands and in North Africa the small areas of Ceuta and Melilla. The Gibraltar peninsula on the extreme southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula has been administered by Great Britain since 1704.
Spain and the entire Iberian Peninsula are traversed by several mountain ridges, which mainly run from west to east. The Cantabrian Mountains stretch along the northern Atlantic coast with peaks of up to 2600 meters above sea level (Picos de Europa). In the east, the Cantabrian Mountains merge into the Pyrenees, the highest point of which is in the Pico de Aneto at 3404 meters above sea level and which separate the Iberian Peninsula from France and the rest of Europe.
Around the middle of Spain, the Castilian Scheidegebirge runs in several blocks, which have heights of up to 2600 m above sea level. To the west, the mountains in Portugal continue with the Sierra da Estrela. Further south, the approximately 1300m high Sierra Morena separates the central highlands from the Guadalquivir valley.
Finally, on the Mediterranean coast, the Betic Cordillera runs from Gibraltar to south of Valencia and on to the Balearic Islands, where it continues in the Serra de Tramuntana on Mallorca. In the mountains of the Betic Cordillera, on the Sierra Nevada, with the Mulhacén, is the highest point on the Iberian Peninsula at 3482 meters above sea level.
Between the mountain ranges run the river systems of the Duero, Tajo, Guadiana and Guadalquivir, which flow into the Atlantic and have their origin in the Iberian Mountains.
The Iberian Fringe, east of the Castilian Divide Mountains with heights of up to 2300 meters, is the only mountain range in Spaninen that runs from northwest to southeast and forms a natural watershed between the river system of the Ebro in the east, which drains into the Mediterranean, and the rivers that run to the west all of which flow into the Atlantic.
The center of the Iberian Peninsula is occupied by an extensive high plateau called Meseta, which is separated by the ridge of the Castilian Divide into a slightly higher northern and a lower southern part.
In the mountainous Spain only the river valleys of the Guadalquivir and the Ebro form deeper depressions, the coasts of Spain are also mostly rocky and formed without extensive valley lands, which among other things makes up the scenic attraction of the coastal travel regions in Spain.
On the Canary Islands, the origin of which is due to the volanic activity of the mid-Atlantic ridge, the Teide volcano on Tenerife is the highest peak on Spanish territory at 3715 m above sea level.
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Flora and fauna in Spain
The southern half of Spain is dominated by Mediterranean vegetation with plants such as lavender, myrtle, laurel, rockrose or mastic. Ferns, gorse and heather species are also widespread. Typical tree species found in Spain are the pine and other types of pine, various types of oak such as holm oak and cork oak as well as eucalyptus trees. On the Mediterranean coasts, palm trees add to the Mediterranean flair of the popular travel destinations.
In the mountain regions you can find conifers or beech trees, in lower elevations you can also find chestnuts, hazelnuts, ash, linden or maple. In many parts of the country, except on the rainy Atlantic coast, trees find it difficult to settle again after being cleared due to the dry periods and temperature fluctuations.
The Balearic Islands already have a distinctly Mediterranean flora with the typical Maccia from mastic bushes, dwarf palms, gorse, rosemary, strawberry or juniper trees. On the volcanic subsoil of the Canary Islands, in connection with the favorable climatic conditions at the respective altitude, a diverse range of vegetation has developed or preserved, such as the laurel forests, which in the rest of Europe were already extinguished by the Ice Age.
Especially in the hot south of Spain, crops are intensively cultivated with appropriate irrigation measures, which leads to permanent disturbances of the groundwater balance in the long term.
The Spanish animal world was partly influenced by Africa and some animal species such as the gorse cat migrated from there to the Iberian Peninsula. The Pyrenees form a natural migration barrier to the rest of Europe, which has preserved some wolf and bear species in Spain that have been exterminated elsewhere in Europe. Another rare, protected species is the Iberian lynx. The Ichneumonin is also the only species of mongoose in Europe that occurs only in Spain, Portugal and, more recently, in Italy.
Numerous mammal species known from Central Europe are also common when traveling through Spain, including red deer, wild goats, squirrels, hares, rabbits, wild boars and foxes. Pyrenean chamois, Iberian ibex, mouflon and marmots are native to the mountain regions. Among the many birds that live on the Iberian Peninsula are large birds such as buzzards, imperial and golden eagles, bearded black vultures, griffon and Egyptian vultures, pheasants and the flamingos that live in wetlands. As in all countries with hot and dry climates, a large number of reptiles is represented in Spain, including lizards, geckos, skinks, creeps, snakes, land and sea turtles, as well as special species such as the loggerhead turtle, the canary lizards, the El-Hierro -Giant lizard or the pearl lizard,
At times, especially southern Spanish regions are afflicted by locusts that fly in from Africa. The Barbary macaques of Gibraltar are a well-known tourist attraction and boat tours are offered from many coastal locations to observe marine mammals and the diverse underwater world off the coast of Spain.