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Spain
Spain
is a country located in southwestern Europe
Europe
occupying most (about 85 percent) of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
and includes a small exclave inside France
France
called Llívia
Llívia
as well as the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
in the Atlantic Ocean 108 km (67 mi) off northwest Africa, and five places of sovereignty (plazas de soberanía) on and off the coast of North Africa: Ceuta, Melilla, Islas Chafarinas, Peñón de Alhucemas, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera. The Spanish mainland is bordered to the south and east almost entirely by the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
(except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar); to the north by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
and Portugal. With an area of 504,030 km², Spain
Spain
is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe
Europe
(behind France) and the fourth largest country in the European continent (behind Russia, Ukraine and France). It has an average altitude of 650 m. Its total area is 504,782 km2 (194,897 sq mi) of which 499,542 km2 (192,874 sq mi) is land and 5,240 km2 (2,023 sq mi) is water.[1] Spain
Spain
lies between latitudes 36° and 44° N, and longitudes 19° W and 5° E. Its Atlantic coast is 710 km (441 mi) long. The Pyrenees
Pyrenees
mountain range, extends 435 km (270 mi) from the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
to the Bay of Biscay. In the extreme south of Spain
Spain
lie the Straits of Gibraltar, which separate the Iberian peninsula and the rest of Europe
Europe
from Ceuta
Ceuta
and Morocco
Morocco
in North Africa; at its narrowest extent, mainland Spain
Spain
and Morocco
Morocco
are separated by only 13 km (8.1 mi).

Contents

1 External boundaries and landform regions

1.1 The Inner Plateau and associated mountains 1.2 Other mountainous regions 1.3 Lowland regions 1.4 The islands

2 Drainage, floods and water stress

2.1 Floods and erosion 2.2 Water stress

3 Climate 4 Population geography 5 Largest cities by population

5.1 Biggest metropolitan areas 5.2 Islands

6 Resources and land use 7 Environmental concerns 8 Maritime claims 9 See also 10 Notes 11 References 12 External links

External boundaries and landform regions[edit]

Spain's exclaves in north Africa

Hypsometric curve of Spain

Most of Spain's boundaries are water: the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
on the south to the French border and the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
on the northwest and southwest (in the south as the Golfo de Cádiz
Cádiz
and in the north as the Bay of Biscay). Spain
Spain
also shares land boundaries with France
France
and Andorra
Andorra
along the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
in the northeast, with Portugal
Portugal
on the west, and with the small British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar
Gibraltar
near the southernmost tip. The affiliation of Gibraltar
Gibraltar
has continued to be a contentious issue between Spain
Spain
and Britain. The sovereignty of the plazas de soberanía on the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
coast of Morocco
Morocco
is disputed by Morocco. Spain
Spain
also has a small exclave inside France
France
called Llívia. The majority of Spain's peninsular region consists of the Meseta Central, a highland plateau rimmed and dissected by mountain ranges. Other landforms include narrow coastal plains and some lowland river valleys, the most prominent of which is the Andalusian Plain in the southwest. The country can be divided into ten natural regions or subregions: the dominant Meseta Central, the Cantabrian Mountains (Cordillera Cantabrica) and the northwest region, the Ibérico region, the Pyrenees, the Penibético region in the southeast, the Andalusian Plain, the Ebro
Ebro
Basin, the coastal plains, the Balearic Islands, and the Canary Islands. These are commonly grouped into four types: the Meseta Central
Meseta Central
and associated mountains, other mountainous regions, lowland regions, and islands. The Inner Plateau and associated mountains[edit] The Meseta Central
Meseta Central
("Inner Plateau") is a vast plateau in the heart of peninsular Spain, which has elevations that range from 610 to 760 m. Rimmed by mountains, the Meseta Central
Meseta Central
slopes gently to the west and to the series of rivers that form some of the border with Portugal. The Sistema Central, described as the "dorsal spine" of the Meseta Central, divides the Meseta into northern and southern subregions, the former higher in elevation and smaller in area than the latter. The Sistema Central
Sistema Central
rims the capital city of Madrid
Madrid
with peaks that rise to over 2,400 m within the Madrid
Madrid
region. South-west of Madrid, the Sistema Central
Sistema Central
shows its highest peak, Pico Almanzor, of 2,592 m. The mountains of the Sistema Central, which continue westward into Portugal, display some glacial features; the highest of the peaks are snow-capped for most of the year. Despite their height, however, the mountain system does not create a major barrier between the northern and the southern portions of the Meseta Central because several passes permit road and railroad transportation to the northwest and the northeast. The southern portion of the Meseta (Spanish: Submeseta Sur) is further divided by twin mountain ranges, the Montes de Toledo
Montes de Toledo
running to the east with the Sierra de Guadalupe, to the west. Their peaks do not rise much higher than 1,500 m. With many easy passes, including those that connect the Meseta with the Andalusian Plain, the Montes de Toledo do not present an obstacle to transportation and communication. This chain of lower mountain ranges is separated from the Sistema Central to the north by the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula: the Tagus
Tagus
River.

The Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa
in Northern Spain

The mountain regions that rim the Meseta Central
Meseta Central
and are associated with it are the Sierra Morena, the Cordillera Cantábrica, and the Sistema Ibérico. Forming the southern edge of the Meseta Central, the Sierra Morena
Sierra Morena
merges in the east with the southern extension of the Sistema Iberico and reaches westward along the northern edge of the Rio Guadalquivir
Guadalquivir
valley to join the mountains in southern Portugal. The massif of the Sierra Morena
Sierra Morena
extends northward to the Río Guadiana, which separates it from the Sistema Central. Despite their relatively low elevations, seldom surpassing 1,300 m, the mountains of the Sierra Morena
Sierra Morena
are rugged at their southern edge. The Cordillera Cantábrica, a limestone formation, runs parallel to, and close to, the northern coast near the Bay of Biscay. Its highest points are the Picos de Europa, surpassing 2,600 m. The Cordillera Cantábrica extends 182 km and abruptly drops 1,500 m some 30 km from the coast. To the west lie the hills of the northwest region and to the east the Basque mountains
Basque mountains
that link them to the Pyrenees. The Sistema Ibérico
Sistema Ibérico
extends from the Cordillera Cantábrica southeastward and, close to the Mediterranean, spreads out from the Río Ebro
Ebro
to the Río Júcar. The barren, rugged slopes of this mountain range cover an area of close to 21,000 square kilometers. The mountains exceed 2,000 m in their northern region and reach a maximum height of over 2,300 m east of the headwaters of the Rio Duero. The extremely steep mountain slopes in this range are often cut by deep, narrow gorges. Other mountainous regions[edit] External to the Meseta Central
Meseta Central
lie the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
in the northeast and the Sistema Penibético
Sistema Penibético
in the southeast. The Pyrenees, extending from the eastern edge of the Cordillera Cantábrica to the Mediterranean Sea, form a solid barrier that separates Spain, France
France
and Andorra
Andorra
and has acted as a natural border throughout history, which has effectively isolated the countries from each other. Passage is easy in the relatively low terrain at the eastern and western extremes of the mountain range; it is here that international railroads and roadways cross the border. In the central section of the Pyrenees, however, passage is difficult. In several places, peaks rise above 3,000 m; the highest, Pico de Aneto, surpasses 3,400 m. The Sistema Penibético
Sistema Penibético
extends northeast from the southern tip of Spain, running parallel to the coast until it merges with the southern extension of the Sistema Ibérico
Sistema Ibérico
near the Rio Júcar
Júcar
and with the eastern extension of the Sierra Morena. The Sierra Nevada, part of the Sistema Penibético
Sistema Penibético
south of Granada, includes the highest mountain on the peninsula and continental Spain, Mulhacén, which rises to 3,479 m. Other peaks in the range also surpass 3,000 m. Lowland regions[edit] The major lowland regions are the Andalusian Plain in the southwest, the Ebro
Ebro
Basin in the northeast, and the coastal plains. The Andalusian Plain is essentially a wide river valley through which the Río Guadalquivir
Guadalquivir
flows. The river broadens out along its course, reaching its widest point at the Golfo de Cadiz. The Andalusian Plain is bounded on the north by the Sierra Morena
Sierra Morena
and on the south by the Sistema Penibético; it narrows to an apex in the east where these two mountain chains meet. The Ebro
Ebro
Basin is formed by the Río Ebro valley, contained by mountains on three sides—the Sistema Ibérico to the south and west, the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
to the north and east, and their coastal extensions paralleling the shore to the east. Minor low-lying river valleys close to the Portuguese border are located on the Tagus and the Río Guadiana. The Coastal Plains regions are narrow strips between the coastal mountains and the seas. They are broadest along the Golfo de Cádiz, where the coastal plain adjoins the Andalusian Plain, and along the southern and central eastern coasts. The narrowest coastal plain runs along the Bay of Biscay, where the Cordillera Cantábrica ends close to shore.

Teide, the highest mountain in Spain
Spain
(Tenerife, Canary Islands)

The islands[edit] The remaining regions of Spain
Spain
are the Balearic and the Canary Islands, the former located in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
and the latter in the Atlantic Ocean. The Balearic Islands, encompassing a total area of 5,000 square kilometers, lie 80 kilometers off Spain's central eastern coast. The mountains that rise up above the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
to form these islands are an extension of the Sistema Penibetico. The archipelago's highest points, which reach 1,400 meters, are in northwestern Mallorca, close to the coast. The central portion of Majorca is a plain, bounded on the east and the southeast by broken hills. The Canary Islands, ninety kilometers off the west coast of Africa, are of volcanic origin. The large central islands, Tenerife
Tenerife
and Gran Canaria, have the highest peaks. Pico de Las Nieves, on Gran Canaria, rises to 1,949 meters, and the Teide, on Tenerife, to 3,718 meters. Teide, a dormant volcano, is the highest peak of Spain
Spain
and the third largest volcano in the world from its base. Drainage, floods and water stress[edit] See also: List of rivers of Spain

River basins of continental Spain

Of the roughly 1,800 rivers and streams in Spain, only the Tagus
Tagus
is more than 960 kilometers long; all but 90 extend less than 96 kilometers. These shorter rivers carry small volumes of water on an irregular basis, and they have seasonally dry river beds; however, when they do flow, they often are swift and torrential. Most major rivers rise in the mountains rimming or dissecting the Meseta Central and flow westward across the plateau through Portugal
Portugal
to empty into the Atlantic Ocean. One significant exception is the river with the most abundant flow in Spain, the Ebro, which flows eastward to the Mediterranean. Rivers in the extreme northwest and in the narrow northern coastal plain drain directly into the Atlantic Ocean. The northwestern coastline is also truncated by rias, waterbodies similar to fjords. [2]citation neededdate=October 2015 The major rivers flowing westward through the Meseta Central
Meseta Central
include the Duero, the Tagus, the Guadiana, and the Guadalquivir. The Rio Guadalquivir
Guadalquivir
is one of the most significant rivers in Spain
Spain
because it irrigates a fertile valley, thus creating a rich agricultural area, and because it is navigable inland, making Seville
Seville
the only inland river port for ocean-going traffic in Spain. The major river in the northwest region is the Miño.[citation needed] El Atazar Dam
El Atazar Dam
is a major dam built near Madrid
Madrid
to provide a water supply. Floods and erosion[edit]

Santa Teresa flood.

Certain Spanish regions can be considered vulnerable to both flooding and erosion.[3]

15 October 1879, in Murcia, Santa Teresa flood. 13–14 October 1957, in Valencia, torrential rain results in a devastating flood, at least 81 people lost their lives.[4] In 1982, the river Jucar
Jucar
(Valencia, Spain) broke the Tous Reservoir causing a flood that killed 30 people.[5]

Water stress[edit] See also: Water abstraction Water stress
Water stress
or water lack, poses the greatest threat in Spain. Water scarcity is a significant issue in many regions throughout Spain
Spain
and climate change may aggravate the problem, with longer periods of dry weather. Supply problems regularly occur in the Jucar
Jucar
basin during summer. In the Segura basin, water scarcity has resulted in an increase of the water prices by 30% for households. Overall, the regions in the south-east of Spain
Spain
are particularly vulnerable to water shortages. Furthermore, large areas of the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
are affected by saltwater intrusion.[3] Climate[edit] Main article: Climate of Spain

The Mediterranean
Mediterranean
coast of Spain

Three main climatic zones can be separated, according to geographical situation and orographic conditions:[6][7][8][9]

The Mediterranean
Mediterranean
climate, characterized by dry and warm summers. According to the Köppen climate classification, it is dominant in the peninsula, with two varieties: Csa and Csb. The semiarid climate (Bsh, Bsk), located in the southeastern quarter of the country, especially in the region of Murcia
Murcia
and in the Ebro valley. In contrast with the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
climate, the dry season extends beyond the summer. The oceanic climate (Cfb), is located in the northern quarter of the country, especially in the regions of Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabria
Cantabria
and partly Galicia. In contrary to the Mediterranean climate, winter and summer temperatures are influenced by the ocean.

Apart from these main types, other sub-types can be found, like the desertic climate in parts of southeastern Spain, like in coastal Almería. Humid continental, alpine and tundra climates in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
and Sierra Nevada, and a typical subtropical climate in the Canary Islands, varying from humid subtropical climates to desertic climates in most of the islands, and a tropical hot semi-arid climate in coastal parts, such as Tenerife
Tenerife
or Gran Canaria. Population geography[edit] Main article: Demographics of Spain

Spain's cities and main towns

Largest cities by population[edit]

Madrid
Madrid
3,300,000 Barcelona
Barcelona
1,582,738 Valencia
Valencia
797,654 [1] Seville
Seville
709,975 Zaragoza
Zaragoza
626,081 Málaga
Málaga
547,105 Murcia
Murcia
391,146 Las Palmas
Las Palmas
377,600 Palma 367,277 Bilbao
Bilbao
353,567 Valladolid
Valladolid
321,143 Córdoba 318,628 Alicante
Alicante
305,911 Vigo
Vigo
292,576 Gijón
Gijón
270,875 Hospitalet de Llobregat 246,415 A Coruña
A Coruña
(Corunna) 243,902 Granada
Granada
237,663 Vitoria-Gasteiz 223,257 Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Tenerife
220,022 Badalona
Badalona
214,440 Oviedo
Oviedo
207,699 Elche
Elche
207,163 Móstoles
Móstoles
201,789 Terrassa
Terrassa
200,000 Pamplona
Pamplona
198,750

Biggest metropolitan areas[edit]

Main metropolitan areas in Spain

The largest metropolitan areas, based on 2007 population, were:[10]

Madrid
Madrid
5,603,285 Barcelona
Barcelona
4,667,136 Valencia
Valencia
1,671,189 Sevilla
Sevilla
1,294,081 Bilbao
Bilbao
950,829 Málaga
Málaga
897,563 Asturias
Asturias
(Gijón-Oviedo) 857,079 Alicante- Elche
Elche
748,565 Zaragoza
Zaragoza
731,803 Vigo
Vigo
662,412 Las Palmas
Las Palmas
616,903 Bahía de Cádiz
Cádiz
(Cádiz-Jerez de la Frontera) 615,494 Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Tenerife
573,825 Murcia
Murcia
563,272 Palma de Mallorca
Mallorca
474,035 Granada
Granada
472,638 San Sebastián
San Sebastián
402,168 Tarragona
Tarragona
406,042 A Coruña
A Coruña
403,007 Valladolid
Valladolid
400,400 Santander - Torrelavega 391,480 Cordoba 323,600 Pamplona
Pamplona
309,631

Further information: List of metropolitan areas in Spain
Spain
by population Islands[edit] Islander population:[11]

1. Tenerife
Tenerife
886.033 2. Mallorca
Mallorca
846.210 3. Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria
829.597 4. Lanzarote
Lanzarote
132.366 5. Ibiza
Ibiza
113.908 6. Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura
94.386 7. Menorca
Menorca
86.697 8. La Palma
La Palma
85.933 9. La Gomera
La Gomera
22.259 10. El Hierro
El Hierro
10.558 11. Formentera
Formentera
7.957 12. Arousa 4.889 13. La Graciosa
La Graciosa
658 14. Tabarca
Tabarca
105 15. Ons 61

Resources and land use[edit] Natural resources: coal, lignite, iron ore, uranium, mercury, pyrites, fluorspar, gypsum, zinc, lead, tungsten, copper, kaolin, potash, sepiolite, hydropower, arable land Land use:

Arable land: 27.18% Permanent crops: 9.85% Other: 62.97% (2005)

Irrigated land: 38,000 km² (2003) Total renewable water resources: 111.1 cubic metres (2005) Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 37.22 cu km/yr (13%/19%/68%) per capita: 864 cu m/yr (2002)

Environmental concerns[edit] Natural hazards: periodic droughts, occasional flooding Environment – Current Issues:

Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
from raw sewage and effluents from the offshore production of oil and gas; water quality and quantity nationwide; air pollution; deforestation; desertification

Environment – International Agreements:

Party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling Signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants

Maritime claims[edit]

contiguous zone: 24 nmi (44.4 km; 27.6 mi) exclusive economic zone: 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi) (applies only to the Atlantic Ocean) territorial sea: 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi)

See also[edit]

Autonomous communities of Spain Comarcas of Spain Extreme points of Spain Provinces of Spain

Notes[edit]

^ "Spain". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-09.  ^ " Spain
Spain
- Rivers". countrystudies.us. Retrieved 2017-10-05.  ^ a b http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/documentation/studies/documents/spain_en.pdf ^ Hasta aquí llegó la riada, ABC, 13 August 2007 ^ Diluvio en el País Valenciano, La Vanguardia, 21 October 1982, p1 ^ "Atlas Climático Ibérico – Iberian Climate Atlas" (PDF). 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-18.  Agencia Estatal de Meteorología © (Espana). Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino © (Espana). Instituto de Meteorologia de Portugal
Portugal
©. ^ "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated – (see p.3)" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-30.  ^ http://www.city-data.com/forum/attachments/weather/56180d1263187925-ultimate-climate-poll-koppen-climate-classification-kottek_et_al_2006.gif ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 30, 2011. Retrieved January 1, 2013.  ^ Ruiz, Francisco (2007). "Población de las áreas urbanas y metropolitanas". Población de España – datos y mapas (in Spanish). Alarcos Research Group. Archived from the original (xls) on February 3, 2009. Retrieved 2008-12-10.  ^ La superficie de las islas vendrá dada en hectáreas salvo la de las mayores islas de los archipiélagos canario y balear, así como las Plazas de Soberanía.

References[edit]

This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (June 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/.  This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.

External links[edit]

Loyd, Nick (2007). "IberiaNature: A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, geography and nature of Spain". Retrieved 2008-12-04.  Data Spain: Satellite relief maps, aerial photography, outline maps, travel maps and useful themed maps of Spain Virtual Cadastral: Lookup official Spanish property (catastro) deeds and other Spanish property information: exact map location, altitude, land area, and distances.

Coordinates: 40°00′N 4°00′W / 40.000°N 4.000°W / 40.000; -4.000

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