Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities inNorth Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, that border Morocco plus Alborán island, the Chafarinas islands (Islas Chafarinas), Alhucemasisland and Perejil (Parsley island). Furthermore, the town of Llívia is a Spanish exclave situated inside French territory. With an area of , it is the fourth largest country in Europe.
Because of its location, the territory of Spain was subject to many external influences since prehistoric times and through to its dawn as a country. Spain emerged as a unified country in the 15th century, followingthe marriage of the Catholic Monarchsand the completion of the reconquest, or Reconquista, of the Iberian peninsula in 1492. Conversely, it has been an important source of influence to other regions, chiefly during the modern era, when it became a global empire that has left a legacy of over 500 million Spanish speakers today, making it the world's second most spoken first language.
Spain is ademocracy organised in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy. It is a developed country with the twelfth largest economy in the world by nominal GDP, and very high living standards, including the tenth-highestquality of life index rating in the world, as of 2005. It is a member of the United Nations, NATO, OECD, and WTO.
Mountains and rivers
Mainland Spain isa mountainous country, dominated by high plateaus and mountain chains. After the Pyrenees, the main mountain ranges are the Cordillera Cantábrica, Sistema Ibérico, Sistema Central, Montes de Toledo, Sierra Morena and the Sistema Penibéticowhose highest peak, the 3,478 m high Mulhacén, located in Sierra Nevada, is the highest elevation in the Iberian peninsula, while the highest point in Spain isthe Teide, a 3,718-metre (12,198 ft) active volcano in the Canary Islands. The Meseta Central is a vast plateau in the heart of peninsular Spain.
There are several major rivers in Spain such as the Tagus, the Ebro, the Duero, the Guadiana and the Guadalquivir. Alluvial plains are found along the coast, the largest of which is that of the Guadalquivir in Andalusia.
Main article: Climate ofSpain
Köppen climate classification of Spain
Three main climatic zones can be separated, according to geographical situation andorographic conditions:
* The Mediterranean climate, characterized by dry and warm summers. According to theKöppen climate classification, it is dominant in the peninsula, with two varieties: Csaand Csb. The Köppen-Geiger classification (Csb), extends toadditional areas not typically associated with a typical Mediterranean climate, with a climate more extreme, hot in summer and cold in winter, such as much of central and northern-central of Spain (Ex. Madrid, Burgos, Leon).
* The semiarid climate (Bsh, Bsk), located in the southeastern quarter of the country, especially in the region of Murcia and in the Ebro valley. In contrast with theMediterranean climate, the dry season extends beyond the summer.
* The oceanic climate (Cfb), located in north quarter of the country, especially in the region of Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabriaand partly Galicia. In contrary to the Mediterranean climate, winter and summer temperatures are influenced by the ocean, and have no seasonal drought.
Apart from these main types, other sub-types...