Country Listing

Spain Table of Contents


External Boundaries and Landform Regions

Most of Spain's boundary is water: the Mediterranean Sea on the south and east from Gibraltar to the French border; and the Atlantic Ocean on the northwest and southwest--in the south as the Golfo de Cadiz and in the north as the Bay of Biscay. Spain also shares land boundaries with France and Andorra along the Pyrenees in the northeast, with Portugal on the west, and with the small British possession of Gibraltar at the southern tip. Although the affiliation of Gibraltar continued to be a contentious issue between Spain and Britain in the late 1980s, there were no other disputes over land boundaries, and no other country claimed the insular provinces of the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands (see Gilbraltar, Ceuta, and Melilla , ch. 4).

The majority of Spain's peninsular landmass consists of the Meseta Central, a highland plateau rimmed and dissected by mountain ranges (see fig. 5). 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 Iberico region, the Pyrenees, the Penibetico 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.

Data as of December 1988