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.