Iberian Peninsula, c.230,400 sq mi (596,740 sq km), SW Europe, separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees. Comprising Spain and Portugal, it is washed on the N and W by the Atlantic Ocean and on the S and E by the Mediterranean Sea; the Strait of Gibraltar separates it from Africa. The Iberian Peninsula is dominated by the Meseta (central plateau), a great uplifted fault block (average elevation 2,000 ft/610 m) ringed and crossed by mountain ranges. It covers about two thirds of the peninsula. Coastal lowlands, the site of the major industrial cities, surround the primarily agrarian-oriented Meseta. Climatically, the Iberian Peninsula has hot summers, cold winters, and limited precipitation. Five major rivers drain the peninsula.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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