Spain (in Spanish, España), officially Kingdom of Spain, constitutional monarchy in south-west Europe, occupying the greater part of the Iberian Peninsula, and bordered on the north by the Bay of Biscay, France, and Andorra; on the east by the Mediterranean Sea; on the south by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; and on the west by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. Name : Kingdom of Spain ; Capital : Madrid
The British dependency of Gibraltar is situated at the southern extremity of Spain. The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa are governed as provinces of Spain. Also, Spain administers two small exclaves in Morocco—Ceuta and Melilla—as well as three island groups near Africa—Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera and the Alhucemas and Chafarinas islands. The area of Spain, including the African and insular territories, is 505,990 sq km (195,364 sq mi). Madrid is the capital and largest city.
Spain occupies about 85 per cent of the Iberian Peninsula and is bounded by water for about 88 per cent of its periphery; its Mediterranean coast is about 1,660 km (1,030 mi) long, and its Atlantic coast is about 710 km (440 mi) long. The long, unbroken mountain chain of the Pyrenees, extending about 435 km (270 mi) from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea, forms the border with France on the north; in the extreme south the Strait of Gibraltar, less than 13 km (8 mi) wide at its narrowest extent, separates Spain from Africa.
The most important topographical feature of Spain is the great, almost treeless, central plateau, called the Meseta, sloping generally downwards from north to south and from east to west, and with an average elevation of about 610 m (2,000 ft) above sea level. The tableland is divided into northern and southern sections by irregular mountain ranges, or sierras, of which the most important are the Sierra de Guadarrama, the Sierra de Gredos, and the Montes de Toledo. Between many of the mountains are narrow valleys, drained by rapid rivers. The coastal plain is narrow, rarely as much as 32 km (20 mi) wide and, in many areas, broken by mountains that descend to the sea to form rocky headlands, particularly along the Mediterranean coast, where the sole excellent harbour is Barcelona. The north-western coastal area has several good harbours, particularly along the Galician coast.
The six principal mountain chains have elevations ranging up to more than 3,350 m (11,000 ft). The highest peaks are the Aneto Peak (3,404 m/11,168 ft) in the Pyrenees, and Mulhacén (3,478 m/11,411 ft) in the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain. The highest point in Spain and its insular territories is Pico de Teide 3,718 m (12,198 ft) on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The lowest point is sea level along the coast. © "Spain" © Emmanuel Buchot and Encarta
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