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Dividing the northern and southern Mesetas are the Central Sierras, one of the outstanding features of the Iberian massif. In contrast, the granitic Galician mountains, at the northwestern end of the Hercynian block, have an average elevation of only 1, feet metres , decreasing toward the deeply indented ria coast of the Atlantic seaboard.

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Part of Alpine Europe, the Pyrenees form a massive mountain range that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Bay of Biscay, a distance of some miles km. The range comprises a series of parallel zones: the central axis, a line of intermediate depressions, and the pre-Pyrenees. The highest peaks, formed from a core of ancient crystalline rocks, are found in the central Pyrenees—notably Aneto Peak at 11, feet 3, metres —but those of the west, including Anie Peak at 8, feet 2, metres , are not much lower. The mountains fall steeply on the northern side but descend in terraces to the Ebro River trough in the south.

The outer zones of the Pyrenees are composed of sedimentary rocks. Relief on the nearly horizontal sedimentary strata of the Ebro depression is mostly plain or plateau, except at the eastern end where the Ebro River penetrates the mountains to reach the Mediterranean Sea. A series of sierras trending northwest-southeast forms the Iberian Cordillera, which separates the Ebro depression from the Meseta and reaches its highest elevation with Moncayo Peak at 7, feet 2, metres.

In the southeast the Iberian Cordillera links with the Baetic Cordillera , also a result of Alpine earth movements. On their northern and northwestern sides they flank the low-lying and fairly flat Guadalquivir basin, the average elevation of which is only feet metres on mainly clay strata. Unlike the Ebro basin, the Guadalquivir depression is wide open to the sea on the southwest, and its delta has extensive marshland Las Marismas.

The Guadiana and the Guadalquivir are miles km and miles km long, respectively. In fact, all the major rivers of Spain except the Ebro drain into the Atlantic Ocean. The hydrographic network on the Mediterranean side of the watershed is poorly developed in comparison with the Atlantic systems, partly because it falls into the climatically driest parts of Spain.

However, nearly all Iberian rivers have low annual volume, irregular regimes, and deep valleys and even canyons. Flooding is always a potential hazard. The short, swift streams of Galicia and Cantabria , draining to the northwestern and northern coasts, respectively, have only a slight or, at most, modest summer minimum. The predominant fluvial regime in Spain is thus characterized by a long or very long summer period of low water.

Only the Ebro River has a relatively constant and substantial flow—19, cubic feet cubic metres per second at Tortosa—coming from snowmelt as well as rainfall in the high Pyrenees. In comparison, the flow of the Douro is only 5, cubic feet cubic metres per second. The flow of many Iberian streams has been reduced artificially by water extraction for purposes such as irrigation.

Subterranean flow is well-developed in limestone districts. The older packet labeled contains at least 14 waves, which can be counted like tree rings. A younger group is forming near the middle of the strait marked by the carat south of Gibraltar. The waves are generated as a diurnal tidal pulse flows over the shallow Camarinal Sill at Gibraltar.

The waves flow eastward and refract around coastal features; they can be traced for as much as km. Image credit: NASA. Algeciras, Spain left , the Bay of Gibraltar Bahia de Algecira , and Gibraltar itself right are featured in this detailed vertical view over the European side of the Strait of Gibraltar. Ship traffic in the bay can easily be seen.

The small Spanish enclave of Ceuta occupies a narrow isthmus of land on the African side of the Strait of Gibraltar; the rest of the surrounding territory is Morocco. Densely populated Ceuta occupies the center of the image, its pink and white residential and industrial rooftops occasionally broken by patches of green - city parks and athletic fields. North of the city, seawalls enclose a small bay and harbor. On the beach, bright blue patches are large water parks. The Spanish fort at Monte Hacho on the eastern isthmus tip commands a clear view of the Strait.

Saharan dust blowing off the west coast of Africa and over the Canary Islands a Spanish archipelago on 11 November The horizontal line is the border between Morocco to the north and Western Sahara. The plumes of dust are more distinct off the coast of the former than the latter. The fine particles blow to the northwest, and although the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria appear unaffected, the neighboring islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are receiving a strong dusting.

Click on photo for higher resolution. Scene in the old walled town of Pensicola in Andalusia. A view of the city of Toledo. On the right is the castle-fortress known as the Alcazar. Ronda, a city perched on cliffs in the province of Malaga. This mountainous area of Andalucia is roughly m 2, ft above sea level. Well-preserved Roman aqueduct a few kilometers north of the city of Tarragona. A view of Barcelona from the heights overlooking the city.

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Construction began in and completion is hoped for by Construction is dependent on donations. It was constructed from the 13th to the 15th centuries, with the bulk of the work done in the 14th century. The saint is the patron of the Spanish city. Evidence of damage dating back to the Spanish Civil War may be seen on this church wall in the Old City in Barcelona. Doric columns supporting the roof of the lower court that forms the central terrace at the unique Park Guell garden complex in Barcelona.

Designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and built between and , the park is full of his mosaics including this ceiling rondel. The facade of the City Hall in Barcelona. Chapel of St. The royal chapel was built in the 14th century. Building in the complex of the Grand Royal Palace in Barcelona. The palace dates to the 11th century. View of Cordoba showing the Roman Bridge and the massive Mesquita complex on the left.

The cathedral was originally a church constructed about A. Following the recapture of the city in , the building was reconsecrated as a Christian church and additional architectural alterations were added in subsequent centuries. Interior of the Mezquita in Cordoba showing some of the distinctive Muslim architecture and a section of the dome.

The treasure chamber in the Mezquita of Cordoba houses a remarkable monstrance - a vessel used to display a consecrated Eucharistic Host - constructed by the German master goldsmith Heinrich von Arfe between and Cordoba monument honoring a native son, the eminent Jewish philosopher Maimonides Original Moorish Garden at the Alhambra, Granada. Alhambra garden viewed through an archway, Granada. View of Granada from the Alhambra. Courtyard of the Lions at the Alhambra, Granada. View of the gardens through a window at the El Escorial.

Tombs of Spanish kings and queens at the El Escorial.

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The lower two-thirds of the structure are a former minaret. Gateway in the gardens of the Alcazar in Seville. Pathway in the gardens of the Alcazar in Seville. North facade of the Royal Palace in Madrid. Interior detail from the Cathedral of Toledo. Exterior detail over one of the Cathedral doors in Toledo.


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The Aqueduct of Segovia - built of unmortared, granite blocks - is one of the best-preserved Roman monuments on the Iberian peninsula. It is one of the symbols of Segovia and appears on the city's coat of arms. Garden at the Alcazar fortress in Segovia. Built between and , this late Gothic structure - dedicated to the Virgin Mary - is referred to as the "Dame of Spanish Cathedrals.

Ceiling detail in the Cathedral of Segovia. Inaugurated by King Carlos III in , it originally functioned as an enormous gate in the city's wall. The bear eating the fruit of the tree is the heraldic symbol of the city of Madrid.

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The Plaza de Toros bullring in Madrid. Inaugurated in , it has a capacity of 25, Inspired by The Crystal Palace in London, it was built of glass and steel in - originally to keep alive exotic plants from the Philippines. The eclectic Palacio de Comunicaciones Palace of Communications in Madrid successfully combines elements of Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance architecture.

Opened as the headqusrters for the Post and Telegraph State Company in , it became the municipal headquarters of Madrid in The Lago Metro Station in Madrid is one of the few surface stations of the system.

First opened in , the Madrid Metro is one of the largest subway systems in the world. It was commissioned by Philip II in the late 16th century, but not completed until the middle of the 18th century. Part of the Palacio Real de Aranjuez fan collection. Introduction :: Spain. Background : This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends. Geography :: Spain. Location : This entry identifies the country's regional location, neighboring countries, and adjacent bodies of water.

Geographic coordinates : This entry includes rounded latitude and longitude figures for the centroid or center point of a country expressed in degrees and minutes; it is based on the locations provided in the Geographic Names Server GNS , maintained by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on behalf of the US Board on Geographic Names.

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Map references : This entry includes the name of the Factbook reference map on which a country may be found. Note that boundary representations on these maps are not necessarily authoritative. The entry on Geographic coordinates may be helpful in finding some smaller countries. Area : This entry includes three subfields.

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