Iberian Peninsula


Geographical location

The Iberian Peninsula or Iberian Peninsula is the part of Europe which is located southwest of the Pyrenees. Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar are the present-day states in the peninsula. Spain occupies about 85 percent of the area. Portugal is located on the west coast. Andorra is located in the north-east, on the border mountains to France. Gibraltar on the southern tip of the peninsula is a British Crown Colony. The Strait of Gibraltar, which is 14 km wide at its narrowest point, separates the peninsula from Africa.


The peninsula is of five major rivers traversed ( Ebro, Guadiana, Guadalquivir, Tagus (Spanish ) and Tagus (Portuguese ) and Douro (Spanish ) and Douro (Portuguese ) ) and is almost completely surrounded by mountain ranges. In the north, the western continuation of the Pyrenees, the Cantabrian Mountains, the Gulf of Biscay with the Costa Verde separated by a plateau, called the Meseta ( Mesa = " table "), which occupies the entire northern half of the inland. Salamanca, León and Burgos are the dominant type. The Meseta is divided by the Duero into a northern and southern half, which opens at Porto in the Atlantic, after which Portugal is named. In the southwest the plateau merges into the more mountainous Extremadura, with which it forms a geologic unit. Aragon, the river system of the Ebro, is in the east south of the Pyrenees, a river delta near Zaragoza, which is separated by a low mountain range ( esp. the Costa Brava) from the Mediterranean.

The East-West flows

The river systems of Tajo, Guadiana and Guadalquivir - listed from north to south - south of the Meseta run from east to west across the Iberian Peninsula. Your ideal common origin they have on the sierras of the Iberian Mountains (Spanish Sistema Ibérico ). The Iberian mountain range is from the west views the sharp eastern edge of the central table-land, and is the main watershed between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

  • The Tagus / Tejo follows approximately the line Madrid, Toledo, Alcántara, Santarém and Lisbon.
  • The Guadiana along the line of Don Benito, Villanueva de la Serena, Merida, Badajoz and Ayamonte. It forms, with its south-facing from Badajoz final leg about the eastern border of Portugal with Spain.
  • The Guadalquivir follows the line of Cordoba, Seville and Cadiz to Sanlucar de Barrameda. It is navigable from the Atlantic Ocean from up to Córdoba.

Mountains and Coast Mountains

The north coast of Spain runs almost in a straight line, forming only between Gijón and Avilés and between Ribadeo and A Coruña (Spanish La Coruña) significant projections to the north. In the west, close to the mountains of Galicia. The border between Spain and France forming Bidasoa River runs on the northwestern foothills of the Pyrenees between Hendaye and Irun in the Bay of Biscay.

The south and east is the Sierra Nevada with its promontories and ending in the sea headlands. The highest mountain of the peninsula is with 3482 m height of the Mulhacen, which is located in Andalusia in the province of Granada. The coastline to the Mediterranean front of it form the bays / Gulf of Cadiz, Malaga, Almeria, Cartagena, Alicante and the Gulf of Valencia ( from west to east ).

The European fold mountains is echoed by the folding of the Atlas Mountains, on the northwest side of the African plate.

The Portuguese coastal regions

The Portuguese coastal regions form the south-west of the peninsula. The Minho is it in the northwest and in the northeast of Trás -os- Montes ( "Behind the Mountains" ).

The most important landscapes in Central Portugal, the Beira, the Ribatejo ( the Tagus level with name "Garden of Lisbon " ), Extremadura and the estuary of the Tagus.

The south of Portugal is composed of the three landscapes Terras do Sado, Alentejo and Algarve together ( from north to south).


The name of the Iberian peninsula is derived from the ethnic or tribal group of the Iberians who inhabited, according to the Greek tradition the peninsula in ancient times. Its name in turn from the river Ebro (Latin Iberus ) infers that flows from northeastern Spain to the Mediterranean.

Iberia ( Ιβηρία ) was the Greek name of this area.

In Latin, the region was called Hispania, which España and Spain are derived. The Roman province of Lusitania in the southwest of the peninsula comprised most of the present-day Portugal and parts of Extremadura. Lusitania therefore became the Latin name of Portugal, Lusitania Germanized.

In the Middle Ages included large parts of the Iberian Peninsula with the Islamic world. The Moorish influence has shaped the Hispanic culture in a sustainable manner. From the 8th century until January 2, 1492 ( victory over Boabdil ) was the gradual Reconquista ( " Reconquest " ) from Al -Andalus by the Christian kingdoms. The remaining Muslims and the Jews of Spain, the Sephardim were forced to leave or convert to Christianity in the course of these wars of conquest Spain.

Countries and territories