Spain - geography
This article only discusses the conditions on the Spanish
mainland. Mht. conditions in the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, see
In the middle of the Iberian Peninsula, it travels approximately 211,000 km2 large
plateau La Meseta reaches an average altitude of approximately 600 m and dominates
most of the Spanish countryside. The plateau, which stretches west
into Portugal, includes in Spain the regions of Castilla y León, Castilla-La
Mancha, Madrid and Extremadura. The plateau is shaped like two flat basins
with surrounding mountains and rivers in the middle.
The northern part of La Meseta is bounded on the north by the Cantabrian
Mountains and on the east by the Iberian Border Mountains. The plateau is
divided in the northern and southern part of the Cordillera Central mountain
range with the Sierra de Guadarrama and the Sierra de Gredos, where the highest
points are respectively. Peñalara (2430 m) and Almanzor (2592 m). The
river Duero runs in the northern part of La Meseta and continues into Portugal
to flow into the Atlantic Ocean.
The southern part of La Meseta is bounded on the south by the Sierra
Morena mountain range, and through the flat, high-lying karst landscape of the
plateau La Mancha to the east, the rivers Tajo and Guadiana run in a westerly
direction towards the Atlantic Ocean.
The Iberian Rand Mountains with the highest peaks in the Sierra de la Demanda
at 2304 m separate in the east La Meseta from Valencia in the coastal foreland
to the Mediterranean. In northwestern Spain, the Cantabrian Mountains rise with
the highest point in the Torre de Cerredo (2648 m) in the Picos de
North of the mountains of Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country, the
landscape falls abruptly down to the coast of Biscay; to the west in Galicia,
the coastline, the so-called Ria coast, is lobed and marked by steep cliffs,
deep valleys and fjords.
In the northeast, the Pyrenees mountain range borders Spain
on France and Andorra. Between the Pyrenees, where Pico del Aneto (3404 m) is
the highest point, and the Iberian Rand Mountains to the south is the large
river plain Ebro brook, in which the river Ebro with its source in the
Cantabrian Mountains runs southeast to the Mediterranean and along the way has
numerous tributaries from the Pyrenees. Ebro is very watery and drains with
tributaries approximately 1/6 of the total area of Spain.
||Palma de Mallorca
|Castilla y León
||Santiago de Compostela
||Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife
|Santa Cruz de Tenerife
||Santa Cruz de Tenerife
|Castellón de la Plana
||Castellón de la Plana
|rural areas of Morocco
South of La Meseta, below the Sierra Morena in Andalusia,
the Guadalquivir River flows from east to west in a flat and fertile lowland,
which to the west becomes the marsh landscape of Las Marismas. The river empties
into the Atlantic Ocean north of Cádiz.
South of the river plain rises the Sierra Nevada mountain range, where the
highest peak of the Iberian Peninsula, the 3478 m Mulhacén (3482 m is also
mentioned), is located.
South of the Sierra Nevada lies the Mediterranean Costa del Sol. The total
Spanish coastline is approximately 4964 km long.
The majority of the rocks in Spain, ie. especially plateau areas formed
in the Paleozoic Era (545 to 245 million. years before present) and consists of
eroded sandstone, slate, granite, gneiss and quartzite.
Younger rock formations are the Pyrenees in the northeast and the Sierra
Nevada in the south, formed by the alpine fold for 110-5 million. years ago.
Spain has only a few natural lakes, but many are established artificially
using dams such as water reservoirs. irrigation and for hydropower.
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The climatic conditions in Spain can generally be divided into three main
groups with the Atlantic climate at the coastal areas in the north,
the Mediterranean climate along the coasts to the east and south and the
continental climate on the central plateau.
In the regions off the Biscay and the Atlantic coast to the north and
northwest, the climate is mild, temperate and humid, with an annual steady
rainfall of over 1000 mm and cool, humid winds from the north.
Average temperatures fluctuate from 9 °C in winter to 18 °C in summer. The
rich rainfall makes the landscape fertile and the conditions for cattle
breeding, agriculture and forestry ideal.
The Mediterranean climate of the east and south coasts gives dry and hot
summers (with an average temperature of approximately 25 °C) and mild, partly rainy
winters (approximately 11 °C on average).
However, the annual rainfall varies from approximately 800 mm on the Costa Brava in
the northeast to 220 mm on the Almería on the Costa del Sol. The Ebro Valley and
the hinterland of most of Andalusia and Extremadura also have a Mediterranean
The plateau of central Spain has a dry continental climate with an annual
rainfall of only 400-600 mm, which predominantly falls in spring and autumn. The
hot summers have average temperatures of approximately 25 °C, and in winter it can
drop to around 2-4 °C.
The warmest regions of Spain are located in Andalusia in southern Spain,
which is affected by the warm winds from North Africa and the Sierra Nevada,
which provide shelter from the Mediterranean winds.
Spain - Geography (Population)
According to AllCityPopulation.com,
the population of Spain is mainly concentrated in the coastal areas along the
Mediterranean, the Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean, along the Ebro River and
around Madrid, while La Meseta and the mountainous regions are rather sparsely
populated areas. Since the 1800's. the country has experienced extensive
urbanization and internal migration. Today approximately 80% of the Spanish population
in cities with more than 10,000 residents; the largest are Madrid, centrally
located in the country,
and Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza, Bilbao and Málaga. The internal
migration has been greatest in Andalusia, Galicia and the areas around the
rivers Duero and Ebro, while the migration has mainly taken place in Madrid,
Barcelona and the Basque Country. In the last decades of the 1900's, a number of
Spaniards emigrated to central and northern Europe, including Germany and
France. During the same period, the influx of new population groups has
increased, especially from the Latin American countries as well as a significant
number of pensioners from Europe, just as illegal immigration from North Africa
Do you know how many people there are in Spain? Check this site to see
population pyramid and resident density about this country.
The different autonomous regions reflect to some extent the spans of Spanish
culture; this is particularly the case in Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque
Country, as these three regions still have their own language,
respectively. Catalan (Català), Galician (Gallego)
and Basque (Basque); however, internal migration has mixed the
population groups of the country. Gypsies also make up a relatively large
population group (estimated at 200,000) with their own culture and way of life.
Spain - Geography (Business)
Compared to the rest of Western Europe, Spain has traditionally been an
agricultural country, but today appears as an industrial and service society. EU
membership (1986) has particularly affected business, the labor market and the
economy; necessary structural changes have been forced, not least in industry,
and the country's infrastructure has been improved.
Agriculture, formerly a major occupation, has undergone a number of
changes in the latter half of the 1900's, but is still lagging by European
standards; the share of total employment has fallen from 26% in 1970 to
approximately 8% in 1996. Limitations in the development of agriculture lie in the
natural conditions with poor soil quality and a dry climate and in ownership and
cultivation conditions. approximately 40% of the land's area is cultivated, and of the
cultivated land is approximately 10% artificial water; this is used for intensive
cultivation of rice, fruit and vegetables. The northern and north-western part
of Spain is characterized by many small farms (minifundies), which are generally
only mechanized to a modest extent and therefore have low productivity, while
southern areas such as Andalusia and Castilla-La Manchadominated by extensive
agriculture and low land use around large estates (latifundia); large areas
are used, for example, for cattle breeding. However, an agricultural reform from
1985 opens up the possibility for the authorities to expropriate underutilized
land that can be transferred to agricultural cooperatives. By the Ebro River and
along the Mediterranean coast, there are well-developed agricultural areas with
irrigation as in the province of Murcia.
The crops include barley and wheat grown mainly on La Meseta and in the
south-western parts of Andalusia. Sugar beet is grown mainly in Castilla y León,
and maize and potatoes in humid Galicia. Vha. irrigation rice is grown in
Seville, Valencia, Tarragona and Murcia. Grapes are grown in Navarre and
Rioja in the Ebro Basin, in La Mancha and in Andalusia on the river plains
around the Guadalquivir, and Spain is one of the world's largest wine
producers. Growing olives are mainly used for the production of olive oil, of
which Spain is the largest producer in the world with 1/3 of
total production. Citrus fruits are grown mainly along the Mediterranean
coast. In addition, vegetables are grown, especially onions, tomatoes, beans and
peas, as well as fruits such as apples, melons, figs, almonds, avocados and
Meat and dairy cattle farming is mainly concentrated in the northern regions,
Asturias, the Basque Country and Galicia, while sheep farming is not linked to
specific localities. Pig breeding is widespread in Extremadura and
Galicia. Especially in Andalusia, horses and bulls are bred for bullfighting.
Forestry. Spain's largest forest areas are found in the northern and
northwestern regions and in certain mountain areas. Since 1940, the planting of
forests, with eucalyptus and poplar, has been a high priority both to
increase timber production and as a basis for papermaking and to counteract soil
erosion. Spain's forest area amounts to almost 17% of the land area, and the
total annual timber production is approximately 16 mio. m 3 (1994). A
smaller part is the traditional natural cork from the cork oak in Andalusia and
Fishing. Spain is one of Europe's leading fishing nations with an
annual catch of approximately 1.4 million t fish mainly distributed on cod, tuna,
sardines, squid and shellfish (especially mussels and oysters). The fishing
fleet of approximately 19,000 boats are being modernized, and a large part of it
operates off Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, the Canary Islands and off the
coast of West Africa. The main areas for catch landings and processors are
Galicia with Vigo and La Coruña as the main ports. Further east in Biscay, the
port city of Bilbao is the dominant one, and Andalusia has the cities of Cádiz
and Huelva as its main fishing ports.
Minerals and energy. Spain has relatively rich mineral
deposits. Historically, deposits of iron and coal in the Cantabrian Mountains in
Asturias and the Basque Country have been of great importance for the
development of the north coast's heavy industry and industrialization,
around Oviedo and Bilbao. Spain has many, but small deposits of
lead, copper, zinc, manganese, tungsten and uranium, in Sierra
Morena; the occurrence of mercury in Almaden north of Córdoba is the world's
richest with 1/3of the world's total reserves; it was
exploited as early as Roman times and has an annual production of approximately 500 t
(1994). In Catalonia, both sea and mountain salt are extracted. Other raw
materials are oil and natural gas, with the largest oil deposits and extractions
off the Ebro river delta in Catalonia; recovery is modest and covers only a
small part of Spain's total oil and gas consumption.
To meet energy needs, Spain has been investing in hydropower, especially
since 1970, through the construction of several dams and hydropower plants,
especially in the northern, rain-rich part of the country. Hydropower accounts
for approximately 20% of Spain's electricity production. The rest is covered by nine
nuclear power plants (30%) and by oil, coal and natural gas-fired power
plants. Experiments with solar energy and not least the construction of large
wind farms (including from Denmark) in several places are approaches to new
energy extraction sources in Spain, which is Europe's second largest market
(after Germany) for wind turbines.
Industry.In 2000, around 27% of the total workforce in Spain was
employed in the industrial, construction and civil engineering sectors, which
have expanded sharply since the 1960's and now consist of a broad spectrum from
the traditional food and beverage industry, shipyards, metals and and automotive
industry to advanced electronic industry. With a background in deposits of coal
and iron in the northern part of the country, Catalonia in particular has been
the locomotive of the Spanish industry, with an emphasis on the textile and iron
and metal industries. In the Franco era, the focus was on building a heavy
industry, with steelworks, among other things. in Bilbao, El Ferrol in Galicia
and Avilés in Asturias, as well as industrialization around Madrid and
Barcelona, which are today the country's leading industrial areas. EU
membership has strengthened the regions along the Mediterranean and northern
Spain, the Basque Country and Asturias, with emphasis on modernizing the iron
and steel industry in the cities of Bilbao, Gijón and Oviedo as well as in
Valencia. Aluminum plants are built in La Coruña, Avilés and Valladolid.
Spain is one of the world's major shipbuilding nations with shipyards in El
Ferrol, Matagorda near Cádiz, Barcelona, Cartagena and Bilbao, for
example. Spain's oil refineries are located in Bilbao, Tarragona and along
the coast of Cartagena and in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The weight of the chemical
industry with the production of paints, plastics, fertilizers and chemicals
are located in Madrid and Barcelona and to the north in Bilbao, Santander and
Gijón. Cement production takes place in Bilbao and Seville, and Spain has
significant exports in this area. The car industry has in a short time become
the country's leading industry due to strong demand in the domestic market and
significant exports. Many of the world's largest car manufacturers have
established themselves with assembly plants in Spain, with the country's leading
car brand, SEAT (Volkswagen), at the head. There are assembly plants in
Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza and Palencia. In several
of these cities there is also another metal goods industry with production
of household and kitchen appliances.
The textile and footwear industry focuses on Barcelona's industrial region
and in the provinces of Valencia and Alicante. Competition from Asian countries
has led to significant rationalizations in this industry. Advanced
communications equipment, telecommunications equipment and industrial robots are
part of the high-tech electronic industry, which has seen strong growth in Spain
since the 1990's; some are located in the Madrid region together with other
light industry, food production and construction.
Service and tourism. Just under two - thirds of
the active population is employed in the service sector, which is mainly
dominated by tourism-related occupations, and the tourism and service-related
share of GDP is almost as large. Spain has an extensive tourism; from January to
November 2005 the number of visitors was 52.4 million, the majority coming from
neighboring France and Portugal as well as Germany and the United Kingdom; the
annual number of visitors is increasing, and it is expected to receive
approximately 75 million tourists in 2020. The major tourist concentrations are in
the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, along the coastlines as well as in
Madrid and Barcelona. Especially the coastlines of the Mediterranean, Costa
Brava, Costa Dorada and Costa del Sol, are visited by both Spanish and foreign
tourists, but also large cities such as Segovia, Salamanca, Bilbao, Seville,
Granada and Córdoba are favorite tourist destinations due to their historical
monuments and others tourist attractions.
Spain - Geography (Infrastructure)
Since Spain's accession to the EU in 1986, the infrastructure has been
modernized and expanded. The transport network has Madrid at its center; Spain
currently has approximately 13,000 km of motorway (mostly tolled), 105 airports, of
which 33 are international, a well-developed electrified railway network and 53
international ports on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. A high-speed
railway between Madrid and Seville was built in 1992 as part of a larger network
that would initially strengthen the connection to Barcelona in the NE
and Bilbao.in the north and to France and Portugal. However, different track
widths between the French and Spanish rail networks make the connection to the
neighboring country difficult. Both international air traffic and domestic
flights are dominated by the state-owned company Iberia.
Spain - plant geography
Most of Spain is characterized by Mediterranean vegetation types, where
kermes (Quercus coccifera) and in the west also cork oaks (Q.
suber) are prominent. Central European species and vegetation types occur
in the northern mountains, beech forest eg south to approximately 40 ° N. Steppe and
semi-desert occur in the low-rainfall areas in the interior. The Pyrenees have a
rich mountain flora with clear connections to the Alps. The southern mountains,
especially the Sierra Nevada, are rich in species with local distribution (endemics),
many of which also occur on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar; many
local endemics are also found in the Balearic Islands. In total, Spain has at
least 6000 species of wild and naturalized vascular plants.
The botanical activity has been rising sharply and there are several ongoing
flora projects; the most important is Flora Iberica, of which seven
volumes have been published until 1999.