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  1. 1. SPAIN UNIT 11 Social Studies: Geography Almudena Corrales Marbán
  2. 2. THE PHYSICAL MAP OF SPAIN The geographical uniqueness of the Iberian Peninsula has been recognised since ancient times. The landmass of the Iberian Peninsula is located in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, creating a crossroads between Europe and Africa and between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This position has a decisive influence on the climatic conditions and gives rise to the presence of four distinct natural environments: Oceanic, Mediterranean, Subtropical (Canary Islands) and Mountainous. The way the land relief is shaped is original, due to its massif form, its high average altitude and the location of the main mountain systems on the periphery. This relief produces, for example, conditions which are not very favourable for agriculture, and influences population distribution, the transport infrastructure or the use of rivers as navigable waterways.
  3. 3. Spain is the second European country with the highest average altitude, 660 metres, after Switzerland. It is because much of its territory is occupied by a high central plateau (the Meseta), around which lie other forms of land relief. 1. LAND RELIEF FORMS ON THE PENINSULA
  4. 4. • The Meseta Central has an altitude of 600 to 700 metres. Two ancient, low mountain ranges run across it: the Central Sierra, which divides the Meseta into two, the northern sub-plateau and the southern sub-plateau; and the Toledo Mountains, dividing the southern sub- plateau into two. • The mountains that surround the Meseta are the Galician Massif, the Cantabrian Mountains, the Iberian Mountains and the Sierra Morena. • The land relief away from the Meseta includes various young mountain ranges: the Basque Mountains, the Pyrenees, the Catalan coastal range and the Baetic Mountains; and two depressions: the Ebro and the Guadalquivir.
  5. 5. The Peninsula has straight coastlines which are determined by the land relief of the interior. • The Cantabrian coasts are relatively straight and consist mainly of cliffs, with some beaches and estuaries. Galicia has the most jagged coastline in Spain. 2. THE COASTAL LAND RELIEF OF THE PENINSULA Coastal land relief. The Cantabrian coast has cliffs rising high above the level of the sea.
  6. 6. • The Atlantic coast of Andalusia is low and sandy. It is charactherised by its marshes and other sand formations such as bars and dunes, or mounds of sand created by the wind. • The Mediterranean coasts are lined with cliffs where the mountain ranges reach the coast, such as the Baetic Mountains and the Catalan coastal range. The rest are low, sandy coasts, with beaches, river deltas such as the one in the Ebro, and lagoons, such as that of Valencia. Doñana marshes Ebro delta
  7. 7. The Balearic Islands are a platform along the horizontal axis of the Mediterranean and part of the vertical axis that goes from the South of France to North Africa. They are located SW (Ibiza) to NE (Menorca), resting on a submarine platform which is an extension of the Baetic mountains of Cape Nao, and are separated from the Levantine coast by a channel which is more than a thousand metres deep. • Most of the coasts are cliffs, because the mountains in the islands reach the sea. We can find, however, many wide beaches and coves in Majorca and the rest of the islands. 3. THE LAND RELIEF OF THE ARCHIPELAGOS In the land relief of the island of Mallorca we can distinguish three landscape zones: the Serra de Tramuntana, the Llevante Ranges and the Pla or Plain. The Serra de Tramuntana runs parallel to the northern coast of the island forming a strip 88 km long and 15 km wide. It is considered a continuation of the Baetic Ranges.
  8. 8. The Canary Islands, located near the Tropic of Cancer, are an outpost of Spain and Europe in Africa and in the Atlantic Ocean. But, despite their proximity to the African continent, their history and culture are linked to Spain and Europe. In the Canary Islands, there are different forms of land relief of volcanic origin: the ash fields; the “badlands” or plains of rapidly solidified lava, scored by cracks; the “lava tubes” or underground channels, and the “roques”, volcanic rock formations.
  9. 9. 4. THE RIVERS AND THEIR WATERSHEDS The rivers of the Peninsula are grouped into three watersheds, depending on the sea, or ocean they flow into. • The rivers of the Cantabrian watershed are short with a regular flow, they flow across steeps terrain, descending rapidly* down the mountains near the Cantabrian Sea. The main ones include the Nalón, the Nervión and the Bidasoa. • The rivers of the Atlantic watershed are long and course over wide plains before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. In general, they carry a lot of water but are irregular (depending on the season and precipitation). The most important include the Miño, the Duero, the Tagus, the Guadiana and the Guadalquivir. • The rivers of the Mediterranean watershed, except the Ebro, are short. They descend steep terrain in the mountains near the Mediterranean Sea. In general, they do not carry much water and they are very irregular. The main ones include the Llobregat, the Ebro, the Mijares, the Turia, the Júcar and the Segura. We find short streams and torrents, in the Balearic and Canary Islands, which only carry water a er heavy rainfall. Watershed: vertiente Basin: cuenca To flow into: desembocar
  10. 10. 5. SPANISH LANDSCAPES The landscape and vegetation types vary in different parts of Spain due to the following factors: -Climate -Altitude -Distance from the sea The are four main regions: • Mediterranean Coast • Central Plateau • Atlantic • Canary Islands
  11. 11. A. MEDITERRANEAN COAST This area has a Mediterranean Coast region covers the south and east coast of peninsular Spain and the Balearic Island. This area has a Mediterranean climate. It is hot in summer and mild in winter. The sea moderates the temperatures. There is not very much rain. Th natural vegetation types are:  Evergereen forest (holm oak, cork oak, pine)  Aromatic shrubs (rosemary and lavender) Human influence: • Replacing natural vegetation with farmland : traditionally with vines and olives and recently with fruit trees and vegetables grown in greenhouses. • The impact of the tourism on the
  12. 12. B. CENTRAL PLATEAU The Central Plateau is in the centre of peninsular Spain. In many areas the landscape is very flat, but several mountain ranges, including the Central Sierra, cross the Central Plateau. This area has a Mediterranean climate. This climate is more extreme than on the Mediterranean coast because it is further from the sea. It is hotter in summer and colder in winter. There is hardly any rain. The natural vegetation is everygreen forest. Human influence: • Cutting down forests: for crops • The growth of big cities: Madrid • Road and railways
  13. 13. C. ATLANTIC/OCEANIC The Atlantic region goes along the north coast of Spain from Galicia to the Pyrenees, including the Cantabrian sea area. Elsewhere the landscape is hilly. This area has a maritime climate. This means it is mild with quite high rainfall all year round, but also due to the influence of the sea. There is a lot of vegetation because of the rain, and the landscape is very green. The natural vegetation types are:  Deciuous forests: oak, beech, chesnut  Heathland: heather, fern Human influence: • Replacing natural vegetation with farmland. • Reforestation with eucalyptus and pine trees • Industry has a large impact on the environment
  14. 14. D. HIGH MOUNTAINS The high mountains have the same type of vegetation in all of the regions. As you go higher the vegetation changes from evergreen forests to heathland to alpine meadows to bare rock (no vegetation) It is found in the Peninsula above an altitude of 1000 metres. Precipitation is high, normally around 1000 mm a year and temperatures are cold, with low winters around 0ºC.
  15. 15. E. CANARY ISLANDS The Canary Islands were formed by volcanic eruptions. The western islands are mountainous and the eastern islands are flat. The islands have a subtropical climate because they are near the Tropic of Cancer. There is not much change in temperature by seasons and there is not much rain. The natural vegetation types are: • Humid subtropical laurel forests • Plam trees, dragon trees and Canary Island palms Human influence: • Agricultural: terraces on slopes • Building hotels and apartments for tourism
  16. 16. 6. THE ORGANISATION OF SPAINThe Spanish state is governed by a set of laws and regulations which are contained in the Constitution of 1978.
  17. 17. A. THE POLITICAL ORGANISATION The Spanish satate is social, democratic and the rule of law applies, because the power of the state and the government is limited by the constitution and laws. Sovereignity lies with the Spanish people, and all powers emanate from them. The people delegate this power to representatves elected in general elections The political system is a parliamentary monarchy. The king is the head of the state but he has limited functions.
  18. 18. The powers of the state are divided between different institutions:  The Cortes Generales (Parliament) have the legislative power. Composed of two chambers elected every four years: • Congreso de los Diputados: represents the Spanish people • Senado: territorial representation  The Governmet holds the executive power. Composed od the president and ministers.  The courts of justice exercise the judicial power.
  19. 19. B. THE AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES After being recognised by the 1978 Constitution, 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla, were created Each community is governed by a statute of autonomy or fundamental law. They also have their own institutions: the Regional Parliament, the Government and the High Court.
  20. 20. c. PROVINCES AND MUNICIPALITIES The provinces and municipalities form the local administration. Their body of government is the Diputación or Provincial Council, composed of deputies elected. The municipalities are the smallest territorial units of the Sate. Their body of government is the Town or City Council. Their functions are to provide services to the inhabitants of the municipal district: waste collection, street paving, etc