The formation of the Iberian Peninsula was completed following what is called 'the most important process in the geological history of southern Europe', in other words, an Alpine-Himalayan tectonic movement, which occurred in the Tertiary era.
Almost the entire morphology of mainland Spain was formed in the Tertiary era. The Pyrenees, the Andalusian, Cantabrian, Iberian and Sierra Morena mountain ranges, as well as the sedimentary basins of the Ebro and the Guadalquivir rivers were formed. The uplifting occurred by means of faults in the Galician massif, defining the Central Mountains and the Toledo mountains, and therefore, the unevenness that exists between the two plateaux. The marks left by these tectonic movements have fundamentally remained until present day. It can therefore be said that they gave rise to the geography of the peninsula as it is known today.
Spain is geographically divided into very distinct territories. Its average altitude is high at 660 metres, in other words, two times the European average. Its highest peaks are Teide (3,718 metres), on the island of Tenerife; Mulhacén (3,478 m), in Granada; and Aneto (3,404 m), in the Pyrenees. The coasts have very diverse outlines, as they belong to different climatic systems and are surrounded by different seas and oceans. The overall structure of the Peninsula could be described as follows. A great central high plateau (the Castilian Meseta) cut into two sub-plateaux (north and south) and divided by the Central and Toledo mountains. This plateau is surrounded by other mountainous structures on its periphery: the Galician massif, the Cantabrian mountain range, the Iberian Mountains and the Sierra Morena. Three exterior ranges define the mountainous structure of the Peninsula; they are the Pyrenean, Andalusian and Catalan mountains. The Canary Islands is the region with the longest coastlines (1,546 km) and its land rises up over volcanic accumulations. The Balearics, on the other hand, have a varied relief composed of the Tramuntana mountain range in Majorca, the low lands of the island of Minorca -where the land level does not exceed 300 metres, except in El Toro (357 m)- and the gentle relief of Ibiza, where the highest altitudes are Sa Talaiassa (475 m) and the Puig Gros (415 m).
Spain covers an area of 505,955 square kilometres, which places it amongst the fifty largest countries in the world.
The largest part of the territory is located in the Iberian Peninsula, the remainder, approximately 12,500 square kilometres, are islands, -Balearics and the Canary Islands- plus 32 square kilometres that are accounted for by the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, situated on the coast of Africa. The situation of the Iberian Peninsula in the extreme south west of Europe and only 14 kilometres away from the African continent, endows Spainwith a great strategic value: projecting into the Mediterranean on one side and acting as an intersection on the path to Africa and America on the other. The fact that a large part of Spain is peninsular also explains the length of its coastline, which runs along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. As a result of its position, between 36 and 43 degrees North latitude, the climate ranges from the mild oceanic climate in the North, to the continentalMediterranean in the centre and the Mediterranean in the East and South, factors which combine to create a wet Spain in the North and mountainous areas, green Spain with luxuriant forests and a dry Spain in the Mediterranean.
Tourism in Spain
Tourism in Spain