Geography of Spain

Geography of Spain

Spain is located between 43° and 36° north latitude and between 3° east and 9° west longitude. It is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean – in the northwest and southwest, the Mediterranean Sea – in the south and east.

The total length of the sea borders is 4964 km, land – 1918 km. The shores of Spain are poorly dissected, but in the north and northwest in the Bay of Biscay there are a number of convenient bays that are natural harbors.

Spain borders in the north with France (the length of the Franco-Spanish border is 623 km) and in a short section with Andorra (62.3 km), in the west with Portugal (1214 km), in the southwest with Gibraltar (1.2 km). ), in the south – from Morocco (Ceuta, 6.3 km and Melilla, 9.6 km).

The landscape of Spain is a kind of “continent in miniature”, full of contrasts and deep natural differences. The center of the country is located at a distance of 300 km from the sea. The dominant role in the relief is played by systems of mountain ranges and high plateaus, which occupy 60% of the country’s interior. In the northeast, Spain is connected to Europe by a ridge of the Pyrenees, stretching for 440 km and reaching 3404 m in height (Aneto peak). The main part of Spain is filled with the largest plateau in Europe, called the Central or Castilian Meseta (660 m above sea level). From almost all sides it is bordered by mountain ranges: the Cantabrian Mountains with the main peak Peña de Seredo (altitude 2500 m), the Galician massif, the Iberian and Toledo mountains. Meseta is crossed from northeast to southwest by the Central Cordillera mountain range, whose highest point is Plaza Almansor (2678 m). Along the southern and southeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain, there is a system of Andalusian, or Beta, mountains, which break up into a large number of ridges and massifs, the highest of which (more than 3000 m in height) is the Sierra Nevada. Here is also the highest point of peninsular Spain – Mulasen peak, 3481 m. Along the Mediterranean coast there is a mountain range of the Catalan Mountains with the top of Montseny (1698 m). In the east, under their cover, Mediterranean Spain opens up, where sandy coastal valleys and steep cliffs alternate. The Canary Islands are of volcanic origin. On the island of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, there is the highest point in Spain – Peak Teide (3717 m).

The lowlands in Spain occupy a relatively small area. From the east, the vast Aragonese Plain adjoins the Catalan Mountains, and in the southwest – the Andalusian lowland, which forms the coast of the Gulf of Cadiz. In a narrow strip, two other plains adjoin the Mediterranean Sea: Valencia and Murcia.

The main rivers of Spain – Duero, Tagus (belonging to Portugal in the lower reaches), Guadiana (flows along the Spanish-Portuguese border), Guadalquivir and Ebro – do not differ in high fullness, they are significantly dependent on rain supply. The only navigable river for a long distance is the Guadalquivir, which flows into the Gulf of Cadiz.

The soil cover varies considerably between wet and dry Spain. Wet forest brown soils are common in the north, red earth soils in the south, and infertile, sandy and stony soils in a significant part of the Meseta. The most fertile alluvial soils of the coastal lowlands and river valleys give good crop yields.

The flora of Spain is exceptionally diverse. Forests and shrubs cover 52% of the country’s territory, but only 5% of them are real dense and tall massifs (evergreen oaks, including cork, coniferous and juniper forests), found mainly to the north and west of the Meseta plateau. Broad-leaved forest with chestnut, beech and ash grows in moist forests, along river valleys. Shrubs, herbal meadow (including medicinal) and rocky flora are richly represented, close to alpine, but with a considerable number of local forms. Meseta is a predominantly agricultural region, where the production of traditional cereals (wheat, barley), as well as grapes, olives, almonds, and citrus fruits is concentrated. The natural landscape of the south and southeast of the country is predominantly steppe and desert type with a predominance of grasses, wormwood, thickets of dwarf palm, and other species of southern flora. The only exception is the Andalusian lowland, which is characterized by vast fields of agricultural crops. Spain has approx. 215 (8.4% of the national territory) nature reserves. Among them are the Doñana and Carajonay National Parks, recognized by UNESCO as a heritage of mankind.

The animal world is widely represented by a variety of Central European and North African fauna. There are lynx, fox, wild boar, wild goat, wolf, rodents, insectivores, reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes), magot monkey (in the Gibraltar region) are quite numerous. The avifauna of Spain is also diverse, which is characterized by the presence of endemic forms (blue magpie, sultan chicken, flamingos). From other types of birds: eagles, hawks, herons, owls, a detachment of waterfowl is numerous. The coastal waters and local freshwater basins of Spain are rich in fish, various types of aquatic invertebrates, and shellfish.

The bowels of Spain are rich in minerals. Of pan-European importance are deposits of iron ore, pyrites, copper, lead, tin, zinc, tungsten, uranium, titanium, molybdenum, gold and silver. Large deposits of mercury (one of the first places in the world). Energy resources are represented by hard and brown coal. Explored coal reserves are 0.7 billion tons. Coals are of low quality, among them there are few coking ones. Explored reserves of oil are 1 million tons, gas – 2 billion m3. In general, Spain’s fuel and energy resources are insufficient, and it has to import oil (97% of domestic consumption) and coke (30%). Fresh water resources per capita – 2398 m3.

According to, the climate of Spain – subtropical Mediterranean type – is divided into three main zones. Northern humid Iberia is strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. It has moderately warm summers and mild but very wet winters. In central Iberia, the climate is sharply continental with dry, dusty summers and rather cool winters. In the south and southeast, the climate is close to African: summers are dry, long and very hot, winters are warm with a significant amount of precipitation. The main climatic feature of the country is the lack of moisture and the abundance of sunlight. By the number of sunny days per year, Spain occupies one of the first places in Europe.

Geography of Spain