Iberia is located in southern Europe. Historical region located on the Iberian Peninsula. Iberia, lying on the Iberian Peninsula, is separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees. Both Portugal and almost all of Spain for a long time, much longer than other European countries, were under Arab influence. Both countries are better known for their agricultural products than for their technological achievements, but their long and unusual history has managed to assemble a wealth of cultural and historical landmarks, from the Roman and Arab periods to remarkable modern architecture. Gibraltar, which has belonged to Great Britain for three hundred years, differs significantly from Spain and Portugal, while Andorra, a small Pyrenean state, on the contrary, is similar to the neighboring regions of Spain. The Pyrenees in the north and the Sierra Nevada in the south of the peninsula guarantee a sufficient amount of natural beauty, and, in addition, the region includes the islands in the Atlantic Ocean - Madeira, Azores and Canaries.







The geology of the Iberian Peninsula is closely related to the genesis and nature of its relief. Its main core, which occupies about 60% of the entire area, is Meseta, the ancient residual Hercynian highlands. It constitutes the central and western part of the peninsula, falling directly to the sea in the northwestern region. For most of its length, the Meseta is bordered by either folded mountain ranges or tectonic depressions. Tertiary folded mountains, in turn, play a large role in the structure and relief of the Iberian Peninsula, especially its eastern and southern parts. Remarkable in length and straightness, fault and fault lines limit Meseta from the south and west. The southern edge of the Meseta rises as a steep slope above the Andalusian lowland stretching at its foot. To the south of the lowland stretches (from southwest to northeast) the powerful system of mountains of the Cordillera Betica, at the foot of which lies the southern and southeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain. To the east, the Andalusian lowland wedges out, and the Betsky mountains closely merge with the southeast corner of the Meseta. Further northeast, the Andalusian Mountains end at Cape Nao. Their tectonic continuation is the group of the Pitius and Balearic Islands stretched from the southwest to the northeast.



The relief of the Iberian Peninsula is dominated by mountains and plateaus: lowlands are located only in places in the marginal (coastal) zone and occupy a relatively small area. The average height of the peninsula is significant - about 600 m above sea level. A feature of the peninsula are vast high-lying inland plateaus - a type of relief rarely found in southern and western Europe. These are the plateaus of the Meseta: the northern - Old Castile and the southern - New Castile; the first lies at an altitude of about 800 m, the second - about 600 m (on average). They are separated by a chain of mountains that crosses the Meseta (in the direction from west-southwest to east-northeast), known as the Cordillera Central. These plateaus have a closed character, bordering on mountains for most of their length; along their periphery, at the foot of the mountains, even higher leveled surfaces (up to 900-1100 m) are observed.

Along with the significant development of plateaus, a sharply dissected and rocky mountain landscape is also widely represented in the relief of the peninsula; mountains are often steep-sided, with deeply incised river valleys and gorges. The Alpine type of landscape is clearly expressed in the Pyrenean Range, which bears groups of small glaciers, and in the Pleistocene was subjected to significant glaciation. High-mountain relief features are also inherent in other mountain ranges (in their highest sections) - such as the Cantabrian Mountains, the Central Cordillera, the Andalusian Mountains.

In contrast, the landscapes of medium-altitude mountains and hilly areas, so typical of Italy, are much less developed in Spain. In general, the Iberian Peninsula is a country of rather sharp contrasts in relief, climate and landscapes, which makes it noticeably different from the rest of Western Europe. To emphasize this feature of the peninsula, it is sometimes called "Little Africa" or compared with the highlands of Western and Central Asia, in particular with Asia Minor. Differences in the landscapes of individual regions of the Iberian Peninsula are due to the isolation of its inner parts, with a continental shade of climate, which creates other features of nature compared to coastal areas. In addition, due to the significant height of mountains and plateaus, the role of vertical climatic and landscape zonality is quite pronounced on the Iberian Peninsula. Despite these features and originality of the Iberian Peninsula, in general, in terms of nature, it is still close to the rest of Southern Europe, belonging together with it to a single Mediterranean large geographical area, remarkable for the vividness of its typical landscapes.

The bay type of coast is generally relatively undeveloped on the Iberian Peninsula, but still occurs in a number of places with excellent natural harbors: in the northwest - in Galicia, in the west - at the mouth of the Tagus River (Lisbon harbor), in the south - in the bay with the ancient port of Cartagena.


Historical evolution

Regarding Prehistory, the Iberian Peninsula has been populated in all prehistoric periods: Lower Paleolithic, Middle Paleolithic, Upper Paleolithic, Epipaleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age. Human bone remains have been dated to the sites of the Sierra de Atapuerca with more than 1,000,000 years old. According to archaeopaleontological investigations in the caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos), to date there are human bone remains of four different species: Homo antecessor (Lower Pleistocene), Homo heidelbergensis (Middle Pleistocene), Homo neanderthalensis (Upper Pleistocene) and Homo sapiens (Holocene).

Iberia was the name given by the Greeks to the peninsula, although the part they knew best was the southern part of the eastern part of the peninsula, around the Iber River. "Hispania" was the name used by the Romans to designate the Iberian Peninsula, possibly of Punic origin (see Origin of the name of Hispania).

After the Muslim conquest it received the name al-Andalus, becoming part of the North African province of the Umayyad Caliphate (711 to 1492) and later becoming the emirate of Córdoba and later the Caliphate of Córdoba independent of the Abbasid Caliphate. With the dissolution of the Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031, the territory was divided into the first Taifa kingdoms, a period followed by the Almoravid stage, the second Taifa kingdoms, the Almohad stage and the third Taifa kingdoms.

Later, after the dynastic union of the crowns of Castile and Aragon and the conquests of Granada and most of the Kingdom of Navarra, the resulting territories began to be called Spain, for simplification among non-Spanish people, although the legal unification of all these kingdoms was not consolidated until the 18th century, with the Bourbons.

Until the end of the 17th century, beginning of the 18th century, all the peoples of the Iberian Peninsula considered themselves Spanish, just as currently the various peoples of Scandinavia consider themselves Scandinavian, or those of the Balkan Peninsula consider themselves Balkan.[citation needed] With difficulty the Portuguese felt forced to stop also calling themselves Spanish, in order not to be taken for Castilian, as the Castilianization of other kingdoms of ancient Hispania developed.

Due to the manifest historical, political and cultural impossibility of continuing to call the Portuguese "Spanish", without them being confused with the Castilians by other peoples who ruled inside and outside the Hispanic peninsula, since then the term began to be used. expression "Iberian" to designate the "two peoples" of the Hispanic peninsula, now preferably called by the neologism Iberian Peninsula. This process was parallel and similar to the one that arose abroad of calling Spanish the Castilian language, made the only official language by the Spanish government, until they changed the official designation of the State, with the creation of the official name: Kingdom of Spain in the 18th century, and the change of the title of the kings of León, Castile, Aragon, Sicily, etc. for the kings of Spain for symbolic purposes of administrative unification and for the new international presentation of the monarchy of the plateau.



The following main climatic regions can be distinguished on the Iberian Peninsula:
northern oceanic, with a very even maritime climate, mild winters and cool summers, high cloudiness and relative humidity, frequent and heavy precipitation in all months of the year, but with a noticeable summer minimum;
the Iberian region, of the same type in general, but distinguished by a pronounced vertical zonality and the presence of a zone of high mountain climate;
southwestern region adjacent to the ocean and under its moderating influence, but having hot and dry summers, rainy and very mild winters;
the southeastern region, with the maximum dryness of the climate, with a very long hot and cloudless summer (with the greatest use of artificial irrigation in agriculture - irrigation facilities);
inland areas (plateaus of Old and New Castile, the Aragon Basin with a dry, temperate continental climate, hot summers and cool winters, with frequent slight frosts in winter (especially in Old Castile);
mountainous regions of inner Spain, with a moderately humid and rather severe climate, with cold snowy winters.
The pronounced dryness of the climate, characteristic of most of the Iberian Peninsula, is further enhanced by the extremely uneven precipitation over the seasons. In the southern half of the peninsula, winter precipitation prevails, in the middle lane - precipitation in the transitional seasons: autumn and spring. Summer almost everywhere is characterized by prolonged dryness. Moreover, precipitation often has the character of showers. These climate features are reflected in the hydrographic network and vegetation.



The geology of the Iberian Peninsula responds to a long geological history, from Proterozoic times to the present, reflecting fusions and breakups of continents, opening of oceans and important orogenic episodes. The traces and scars of this history shape the continental crust, the structure and nature of the igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks that make up the peninsula as well as the current reliefs.



Its geographical isolation has allowed the development of characteristic flora and fauna that include a significant number of endemic taxa. As an interesting fact, it should be noted that in Spain there are 17,804 million trees and that an average of 284 million more grow each year, according to a study prepared by the Spanish Society of Forest Sciences in September 2009.

Spain is the second country in the European Union with the largest forest area, a total of 26.27 million hectares or 57% of its territory, with the wooded area, according to the third forest inventory, being 14.73 million hectares and the rest of the Mediterranean scrub.

The flora of the peninsula, due to its biohistorical, geographical, geological, orographic conditions, etc., is one of the richest and most varied in all of Europe, comparable to that of Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy and even of greater diversity; It is estimated that it includes more than 8,000 plant species, many of them endemic.

In the past, the Mediterranean has been subject to major changes in climate and vegetation, together with variations, sometimes very large, in sea level and variations in the relative positions of the continental masses (European and African plates). With the introduction of plants and isolation, due to marine fluctuations or periodic glaciations, a varied diversity of plant species can be found.

The Iberian Peninsula, located on an important passageway between Africa and Europe, was enriched with the arrival, as the climate changed, of steppe, thermophilic, xerophilous, orophilous and boreo-alpine plants, many of which managed to survive later, thanks to the diversity of means that exist in the mountain ranges, which allow them to rise in altitude if the climate becomes warmer, or descend if it becomes colder. The geological complexity of the majority of the Iberian mountains, especially the Baetic mountains, the Iberian system and the Pyrenees, greatly increased the number of new environments to which to adapt and made possible the diversity and richness of the current flora.

The Euro-Siberian region is represented by the Atlantic zone, which extends from the north of Portugal, most of Galicia, the Principality of Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, northwest Navarra and the western and central Pyrenees. However, its influence in the form of specific communities or species extends in many places inland, especially in the northern and western halves. It is characterized by a humid climate, softened by the oceanic influence, with mild-cold winters and a mild dry season.

The vegetation is represented by deciduous forests of oaks (Quercus petraea) and oaks (Quercus robur), with ash trees of Fraxinus excelsior and hazelnut groves in the cooler, deeper soils at the bottom of the valley. The montane terrain is characterized by the presence of beech forests and sometimes, in the Pyrenees, by Abies alba fir forests; These beech and fir forests occupy the cool slopes with deep soil of the not very high mountains. The Mediterranean influence is felt in the presence of holm oak forests with laurel, which are located on the warmest ridges and slopes, especially on limestone soils, where the dryness is accentuated.

The use by man throughout history has transformed many of these forests into meadows, which preserve on their edges remains of the hedges or species of the primitive forest. The natural border is formed by hedges and thorns that are installed in the clearings and cleared parts; They are made up of wild roses, brambles, blackthorns, hawthorns and other more or less thorny shrubs; Piornales and brooms can also play this role. The following are the main forests in this area.



The fauna of the Iberian Peninsula presents a wide diversity that is largely due to two factors, the geographical position of the Iberian Peninsula, between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and between Africa and Eurasia, and the great diversity of habitats and biotopes, as a consequence of a considerable variety of climates and well-differentiated regions.

Among the large carnivores, two species that have disappeared from much of Western Europe stand out: the brown bear, which survives in the Cantabrian Mountains and in certain Pyrenean enclaves, and the Iberian wolf, a subspecies endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. Although the most emblematic carnivore is undoubtedly the Iberian lynx, the most endangered felid on the entire European continent. Much more numerous are the populations of wild cats, red foxes and some mustelids: the badger, the polecat and the weasel; Somewhat less numerous are those of otter, marten and marten. The Viverrids are represented by the genet; and the herpestids, for the mongoose.

Herbivores are represented by fairly widespread species, such as some deer: the common deer, fallow deer and roe deer. There are endemic populations of ibex and Pyrenean and Cantabrian pockets of chamois. The wild boar is also widely spread.



The name of the Iberian Peninsula is derived from the ethnic or tribal group of Iberians who, according to Greek tradition, inhabited the peninsula in ancient times. Their name is derived from the river Ebro (Latin Iberus), which flows from northeast Spain into the Mediterranean.

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

In Latin, the region was called Hispania, from which España and Spain are derived. The Roman province of Lusitania in the southwest of the peninsula included most of today's Portugal and parts of Extremadura. Lusitania therefore became the Latin name of Portugal, Germanized Lusitanien.

In the spring of 711, Mūsā ibn Nusair, Umayyad governor of the Maghreb since 700, sent the Berber Tāriq ibn Ziyād with around 12,000 men across the strait to conquer the Visigoth Empire on the Iberian Peninsula. In the Middle Ages, large parts of the Iberian Peninsula belonged to the Islamic world. The Moorish influence left a lasting mark on Hispanic culture. From the 8th century until January 2, 1492 (victory over Boabdil), the gradual reconquista (“reconquest”) of Al-Andalus by the Christian empires took place. The remaining Muslims and also the Spanish Jews, the Sephardim, had to leave Spain or convert to Christianity in the course of these wars of conquest.