Spain occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula, stretching south from the Pyrenees Mountains to the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Spain from Africa.


  • OFFICIAL NAME: Kingdom of Spain
  • FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Parliamentary monarchy
  • CAPITAL: Madrid
  • POPULATION: 49,331,076
  • OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Castilian Spanish, Basque, Catalan, and Galician
  • MONEY: Euro
  • AREA: 195,363 square miles (505,988 square kilometers)
  • MAJOR MOUNTAIN RANGES: Pyrenees, Sierra de Guadarrama, Sierra de Gredos, Sierra Nevada
  • MAJOR RIVERS: Guadalquivir, Ebro, Duero, Miño, Tajo, and Guadiana
map of Spain


Spain occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula, stretching south from the Pyrenees Mountains to the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Spain from Africa. To the east lies the Mediterranean Sea, including Spain’s Balearic Islands. Spain also rules two cities in North Africa and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic.

The interior of Spain is a high, dry plateau surrounded and crisscrossed by mountain ranges. Rivers run to the coasts, creating good farmland. Still, the interior of the country gets very hot in summer and very cold and dry in the winter. Droughts are common.

Plants and trees grow so well on the northwestern coast, in Galicia and along the Bay of Biscay, that the area is called Green Spain. Rain, trapped by the mountains farther inland, is frequent. Beech and oak trees flourish here. Numerous coves and inlets break up the coastline.

The southern and eastern coasts of Spain, from the fertile Andalusian plain up to the Pyrenees, are often swept by warm winds called sirocco winds. These winds originate in northern Africa and keep temperatures along the Mediterranean coast milder than the interior.

La Pedrera in Barcelona, Spain
La Pedrera in Barcelona was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí.PHOTOGRAPH BY TASSTOCK, DREAMSTIME


Many Spaniards share a common ethnic background: a mixture of the early inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, the Celts, and later conquerors from Europe and Africa. The origins of the Basque people in the north of Spain remain unknown. Recent immigrants from North Africa and Latin America have added to the mix.

Spaniards are known for their love of life and for eating and drinking with family and friends. Traditional appetizers like tapas or pintxos, the Basque country equivalent, are popular. Regional dances and music are almost as important as soccer and religious festivals.


A link between Europe and Africa, Spain is an important resting spot for migratory birds. Spain is also home to such mammals as the wolf, lynx, wildcat, fox, wild boar, deer, hare, and wild goat. Streams and lakes shelter trout, barbel, and tench fish. But many species of wildlife face threats from habitat loss and pollution.

Due to centuries of tree cutting, large forests are now found only in the north Pyrenees and the Asturias-Galicia area. Planting new trees is difficult where sheep and goats graze. Erosion and river pollution are also problems. Spain has created many national parks and refuges, but they only cover about 7 percent of the country.

One protected area is Doñana National Park, a region of marshes, streams, and sand dunes where the Guadalquivir River flows into the Atlantic. The park’s diversity of life is unique in Europe and includes the European badger, Egyptian mongoose, and endangered species such as the Spanish imperial eagle and the Iberian lynx.

Source : National Geographic

Things To Do in Spain