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Spain - Geography

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Is located in southwestern Europe and comprises about 84 percent of the Iberian Peninsula. 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 (2,020 sq mi) is water.Spain is bounded to the north by the Bay of Biscay, France, and Andorra; to the east by the Mediterranean Sea; on the south by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; and on the west by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. In the south west the 13km wide Strait of Gibraltar separate Spain and the rest of Europe from Morocco in north Africa.The British dependency of Gibraltar is situated at the southern extremity of Spain. The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa are governed as provinces of Spain. Also, Spain administers Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan mainland.
The Pyrenees separate Spain from France and are the country's principal mountain range. They extend 435 km (270 mi) from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea.

Away from the Pyrenees, Mulhacén in the Sierra Nevada above Granada is the highest peak at 3,477 m (11,407 ft). The highest point in Spain is Pico de Teide (3,715 m/12,188 ft) on the volcanic island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

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 Cordillera Cantabrica and the northwest region, the Ibérico region, the Pyrenees, the Penibético region in the southeast, the Andalusian Plain, the Ebro Basin, the coastal plains, the Balearic Islands, and the Canary Islands.

These are commonly grouped into four types: the Meseta Central and associated mountains, other mountainous regions, lowland regions, and islands.The Meseta Central ("Inner Plateau") is a vast plateau in the heart of peninsular Spain, has elevations that range from 610 to 760 m. Rimmed by mountains, the 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 rims the capital city of Madrid with peaks that rise to 2,400 m north of the city and to lower elevations south of it. West of Madrid, the 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 is further divided by twin mountain ranges, the Montes de Toledo running to the east and 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 and the Sierra de Guadalupe do not present an obstacle to transportation and communication.

The two mountain ranges are separated from the Sistema Central to the north by the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula: the Tagus River.The mountain regions that rim the 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 merges in the east with the southern extension of the Sistema Iberico and reaches westward along the northern edge of the Rio Guadalquivir valley to join the mountains in southern Portugal. The massif of the 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 are rugged.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 that link them to the Pyrenees.The Sistema Ibérico extends from the Cordillera Cantábrica southeastward and, close to the Mediterranean, spreads out from the Río 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.The major lowland regions are the Andalusian Plain in the southwest, the Ebro Basin in the northeast, and the coastal plains. The Andalusian Plain is essentially a wide river valley through which the Río 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 and on the south by the Sistema Penibético; it narrows to an apex in the east where these two mountain chains meet. The 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 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.The major lowland regions are the Andalusian Plain in the southwest, the Ebro Basin in the northeast, and the coastal plains. The Andalusian Plain is essentially a wide river valley through which the Río 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 and on the south by the Sistema Penibético; it narrows to an apex in the east where these two mountain chains meet. The 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 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.The remaining regions of Spain are the Balearic and the Canary Islands, the former located in the 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 to form these islands are an extension of the Sistema Penibetico.

The archipelago's highest points, which reach 1,400 meters, are in northwestern Majorca, close to the coast. The central portion of Majorca is a plain, bounded on the east and the southeast by broken hills.Spain RiversThe main rivers of Spain flow west and south to the Atlantic Ocean. The Duero (Douro), Miño, Tajo (Tagus), and Guadiana rivers rise in Spain and flow through Portugal to the Atlantic. The Guadalquivir River is the deepest and most navigable. The Ebro River which flows through Zaragoza flows into the Mediterranean Sea and is navigable for part of its course.

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21
November
2018
22
November
2018
Covers trips up to 60 days overseas and within Australia for 12 months
Adult 1
Adult 2
Dependent children are covered for free, age limits apply.