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. 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.
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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.
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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.
There are five major soil types in Spain. Two are widely distributed but of limited extent: alluvial soils, found in the major valleys and coastal plains, and poorly developed, or truncated, mountain soils. Brown forest soils are restricted to humid Galicia and Cantabria. Acidic southern brown earths leading to restricted crop choice are prevalent on the crystalline rocks of the western Meseta, and gray, brown, or chestnut soils have developed on the calcareous and alkaline strata of the eastern Meseta and of eastern Spain in general.
Saline soils are found in the Ebro basin and coastal lowlands. Soil erosion resulting from the vegetation degradation suffered by Spain for at least the past 3, years has created extensive badlands, reduced soil cover, downstream alluviation, and, more recently, silting of dams and irrigation works. Particularly affected are the high areas of the central plateau and southern and eastern parts of Spain. Although the origins of some of the spectacular badlands of southeastern Spain, such as Guadix , may lie in climatic conditions from earlier in Quaternary time beginning 2.
The government has adopted policies of afforestation, but some authorities believe that natural vegetation regrowth would yield more speedy and more permanent benefits.
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You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. More well known in Valencia is the City of Arts and Sciences, featured above. The buildings were a marvel to look at, functioning art forms.
Although possibly and probably biased, given it is my current home, Spain is nothing short of incredible. Bio: Kristyn is a student, traveler and photography fanatic. Her days are currently being spent in Spain, living the accident-prone life of a girl abroad. Through her work she aspires to capture the fleeting moments of ordinary people, whether it be through a photograph or written account. Spain is always in my wish list.
I already visited Barcelona. This is the place which amazes you with its modern architecture and old tradition blend.
Even you can experience the Mediterranean sunshine and high-quality delicious Spanish food. The pictures of this article are really inspiring. I have actually been living in Spain now for almost 12 years and can say each day I love it more and more. A couple of places that are worth a visit are Ronda and also for me Marbella.
I love Spain to the bone. Love, love this article on Spain — and the pictures are out of this world! This essay just reinforces why Spain is one of my favorite countries.
The tough part will be deciding whether to revisit the cities I loved or exploring some new-to-me areas! August 6, May 3, June 9, June 2, March 3, January 20, July 22, May 22, May 12, Beer Food Wine. November 10, February 25, June 17, January 14, January 4, November 25, October 29, Weibo Tumblr Email Print Evernote. Tags photography Spain.
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