“Exploring Spain’s Physical Geography: Mountains, Deserts, and Everything In Between”


Written By Avinash Sharan

8th June 2023

Spain’s Physical Geography: Discovering the Natural Wonders

Welcome to the exciting world of Spain’s physical geography. Spain is a beautiful country located in Europe, and it has a wide variety of natural wonders. From soaring mountains to sandy beaches, Spain has it all! In the north, you can find the magnificent Pyrenees Mountains, where you might even see snow. If you head south, you’ll discover the sunny Mediterranean coast with its golden sands and crystal-clear waters. In the middle, there are vast plains and rolling hills, perfect for exploring and picnics. So, get ready to learn about Spain’s amazing landscapes and the incredible adventures that await!

The Iberian Peninsula:

Do you know that at the heart of Spain lies the Iberian Peninsula, a landmass shared with Portugal.

It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the east.

Therefore, the peninsula boasts a diverse array of physical features, making it an excellent starting point for our exploration.

What children must know about the Iberian Peninsula?

The Iberian Peninsula is a significant geographical feature that holds great importance for KS2 children studying the physical geography of Spain.

Here are some key points that they should know:

Location and Borders:

Firstly, the Iberian Peninsula is located in southwestern Europe and is shared by two countries: Spain and Portugal.

Secondly, It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the east.

Size and Shape:

The peninsula is approximately 580,000 square kilometers (220,000 square miles) in size.

Making it the second-largest peninsula in Europe after the Scandinavian Peninsula.

Therefore, It has a distinctive triangular shape, with the narrower end pointing toward the east.

Mountain Ranges:

The Iberian Peninsula is known for its diverse mountain ranges.

The most prominent one is the Pyrenees, which acts as a natural border between Spain and France in the northeastern part of the peninsula.

These mountains offer breathtaking scenery, including tall peaks, deep valleys, and beautiful lakes.



The climate of the Iberian Peninsula varies depending on the region.

The northern areas, influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, tend to have a mild and humid climate, while the southern regions experience a Mediterranean

climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters.

However, In the central parts, the climate is more continental, characterized by hot summers and cold winters.


Several important rivers flow through the Iberian Peninsula.

The Tagus (Tajo) is the longest river in Spain, running through the central part of the country and forming part of the border with Portugal.

The Ebro, another significant river, originates in the Cantabrian Mountains and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.



Firstly, the Iberian Peninsula is home to a rich variety of plant and animal species.

Secondly, Its diverse landscapes, including mountains, plains, and coastlines, provide habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna.

Therefore, from lush forests in the north to arid regions in the south, the peninsula supports an array of ecosystems and is known for its unique



Cultural Significance:

Beyond its physical characteristics, the Iberian Peninsula has played a crucial role in shaping the history and culture of Spain and Portugal.

It has witnessed the rise and fall of various civilizations, including the Celts, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors, leaving behind a legacy of diverse traditions,

languages, and architectural wonders.

By understanding these key aspects of the Iberian Peninsula, KS2 children can gain a deeper appreciation for the geographical features that have shaped the land, influenced the climate, and contributed to the cultural heritage of Spain and Portugal.

Mountain Ranges:

One of the most prominent features of the Spanish landscape is its mountain ranges.

The Pyrenees, forming a natural border with France, stretch across the northeastern region, offering stunning peaks and valleys.

Further south, the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia boasts Spain’s highest point, Mulhacen, towering at 3,478 meters (11,411 feet) above sea level.

What Ks2 children must know about the Mountain Ranges of Spain?

Understanding the mountain ranges of Spain is essential for KS2 children studying the physical geography of the country.

Here are some key points they should know about Spain’s mountain ranges:


The Pyrenees is a mountain range located in the northeastern part of Spain, forming a natural border between Spain and France.

It stretches over 430 kilometers (267 miles) and is known for its majestic peaks, deep valleys, and stunning landscapes.

To be more precise, the Pyrenees offer excellent opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and wildlife observation.

Sierra Nevada:

The Sierra Nevada, located in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain, is another significant mountain range.

Moreover, it is home to Spain’s highest peak, Mulhacén, which stands at 3,478 meters (11,411 feet) above sea level.

The Sierra Nevada is famous for its ski resorts, picturesque alpine scenery, and unique biodiversity, including the endangered Iberian ibex.

Sistema Central:

The Sistema Central is a mountain range that runs through the center of Spain.

It extends approximately 500 kilometers (310 miles) from east to west.

This range consists of several subranges and is known for its diverse landscapes, including rugged peaks, deep gorges, and expansive plateaus.

The Sierra de Guadarrama, part of the Sistema Central, is located near Madrid and offers recreational activities and hiking trails.

Cordillera Cantabria:

The Cordillera Cantabria is a mountain range situated in the northwestern part of Spain, parallel to the northern coast.

It spans about 480 kilometers (300 miles) and is renowned for its lush green valleys, dense forests, and rugged cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The Picos de Europa, within the Cordillera Cantábrica, is a spectacular national park that features impressive limestone peaks and is home to various

wildlife species.

Other Mountain Ranges:

Apart from the major ranges mentioned above, Spain has several other notable mountain ranges.

These include the Sierra Morena, which stretches across the southern part of the country, the Montes de Toledo in central Spain, and the Serra de

Tramontana in the Balearic Islands.

Each of these ranges contributes to the diverse physical geography and natural beauty of Spain.

Understanding the mountain ranges of Spain enables KS2 children to appreciate the country’s varied landscapes, geological formations, and the influence these mountains have on climate, ecosystems, and human activities. Moreover, it highlights the opportunities for adventure, exploration, and outdoor recreation that these mountainous regions offer.

The Meseta:

Moving inland, we encounter the Meseta, a vast plateau encompassing the central part of Spain.

This flat, elevated land covers much of the country’s heartland and is flanked by various mountain ranges.

The Meseta is characterized by extreme temperatures and is sparsely populated, with vast plains stretching as far as the eye can see.

Few interesting facts about “The Meseta” for Ks2 Children

Here are five interesting facts about the Meseta, a significant geographical feature in Spain, that will engage KS2 children:

Location and Extent:

The Meseta is a vast plateau located in the central part of Spain.

It covers a large portion of the country’s interior, extending over 200,000 square kilometers (77,000 square miles). It is often referred to as the “heartland”

of Spain due to its central location.

Elevation and Climate:

The plateau is characterized by its high elevation, ranging from 600 to 1,000 meters (2,000 to 3,300 feet) above sea level.

Due to its position in the interior, the Meseta experiences an extreme continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters.

It is known for its temperature fluctuations and low rainfall.

Plains and Agriculture:

The Meseta consists of vast, flat plains that stretch as far as the eye can see.

These fertile plains make it an ideal region for agriculture. Wheat, barley, grapes, olives, and sunflowers are some of the crops grown in this area.

The agriculture of the Meseta plays a crucial role in Spain’s economy.

Human Settlements:

Despite its arid climate, the Meseta is home to several important cities and towns.

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is situated on the eastern edge of the plateau.

Other notable cities in the region include Toledo, Salamanca, and Valladolid.

These urban centers have played significant historical and cultural roles in Spain’s history.

Cultural Heritage:

The Meseta has a rich cultural heritage that reflects its historical importance.

It has witnessed the rise and fall of various civilizations throughout the centuries.

For instance, it was a significant area during the Roman Empire and later saw the influence of Visigoths, Moors, and Christian kingdoms.

Many historical sites, castles, and churches are scattered across the Meseta, providing a glimpse into Spain’s past.

Understanding these facts about the Meseta enables KS2 children to appreciate the unique characteristics of this plateau and its significance in Spain’s physical geography and cultural history. They can learn about the challenges and opportunities associated with living in this region, the agricultural practices, and the human settlements that have thrived on its plains.


Spain is blessed with several significant rivers that crisscross its varied landscape.

The Tagus (Tajo) is the longest river in the country, flowing from the east-central region towards the southwest and eventually forming part of the border

with Portugal.

The Ebro, on the other hand, is the most voluminous river in Spain, originating in the Cantabrian Mountains and flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

What children must know about Tagus river?

Here are five key facts that children should know about the Tagus River:

Length and Importance:

The Tagus River, also known as the Tajo in Spanish, is the longest river in Spain, stretching over 1,008 kilometers (626 miles).

It originates in the Sierra de Albarracín in central Spain and flows southwestward across the country,

It forms the part of the border between Spain and Portugal before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

Historical Significance:

The Tagus River has played a vital role in Spain’s history.

It has served as a natural boundary and transportation route, facilitating trade and communication throughout the centuries.

Many historic cities, such as Toledo and Lisbon, have been established along its banks, serving as centers of culture, commerce, and political power.

Ecosystem and Biodiversity:

The Tagus River and its surrounding areas support diverse ecosystems and a rich biodiversity.

The river’s flow creates a variety of habitats, including wetlands, marshes, and forests, which provide shelter and sustenance for numerous plant and

animal species.

It is home to various fish species, migratory birds, and other wildlife.

Human Activities and Utilization:

The Tagus River has been utilized for various human activities throughout history.

It has served as a source of water for irrigation, supporting agriculture in the surrounding regions.

The river has also been harnessed for hydroelectric power generation, contributing to Spain’s renewable energy production.

Environmental Challenges:

Firstly, like many rivers, the Tagus faces environmental challenges.

Secondly, pollution from agricultural runoff, industrial waste, and urban development can impact the water quality and ecosystem health.

Finally, conservation efforts are crucial to maintain the river’s ecological balance and ensure its sustainability for future generations.

Understanding these facts about the Tagus River helps children appreciate the significance of rivers in shaping landscapes, supporting ecosystems, and influencing human activities. They can gain insights into the historical, cultural, and environmental aspects associated with this iconic river in Spain

Coastlines and Islands:

Spain is home to a diverse coastline that stretches over 4,964 kilometers (3,082 miles). From the rugged cliffs of the Costa Brava to the sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol, students will discover the contrasting beauty of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines. Additionally, Spain boasts a treasure trove of enchanting islands such as the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa.

Importance of diverse coastline in Spain?

The diverse coastline of Spain holds great importance for various aspects of the country. Here are five points highlighting its significance:

Tourism and Economy:

Spain’s diverse coastline is a major attraction for tourists from around the world.

The stunning beaches, clear waters, and pleasant climate draw millions of visitors each year, contributing significantly to the country’s tourism industry.

This influx of tourists boosts the economy through spending on accommodations, dining, activities, and souvenirs.

Natural Beauty and Biodiversity:

The coastal areas of Spain offer breathtaking natural beauty.

From rugged cliffs to sandy beaches, from hidden coves to expansive dunes, the diverse coastline provides a range of stunning landscapes.

These areas are also home to rich biodiversity, including unique marine ecosystems, coastal plants, and wildlife habitats.

Fishing and Aquaculture:

Spain has a long history of fishing, and its diverse coastline plays a crucial role in supporting the fishing industry.

The waters off the coast are abundant with a variety of fish and seafood, providing a livelihood for many coastal communities. Additionally, aquaculture,

the farming of fish and shellfish, is an important industry along the Spanish coastline.

Cultural Heritage and History:

The coastline of Spain is steeped in cultural heritage and historical significance.

Coastal towns and cities have been hubs of trade, exploration, and cultural exchange for centuries.

They often boast ancient architecture, fortifications, and landmarks that tell stories of Spain’s maritime history and its connections to other civilizations.

Recreational Activities:

The diverse coastline of Spain offers a wide range of recreational activities for both locals and tourists. Water sports such as swimming, surfing, sailing,

and scuba diving are popular along the coast.

Coastal areas also provide opportunities for hiking, beachcombing, nature walks, and enjoying the vibrant seaside atmosphere.

Understanding the importance of Spain’s diverse coastline helps children appreciate the role it plays in the country’s economy, tourism, natural heritage, and cultural identity. It also highlights the significance of protecting and conserving these coastal areas for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.

Natural Parks and Biodiversity:

The country’s varied geography has given rise to an impressive array of natural parks and protected areas.

Students will be amazed by the unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife found in these regions.

For example, the Donana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a crucial habitat for migratory birds and endangered species.

The Teide National Park in Tenerife is home to Spain’s highest peak, the dormant volcano Mount Teide, surrounded by otherworldly landscapes.

Why is the Donana National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

The Doñana National Park in Spain is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for several reasons.

Here are five points that highlight its significance:

Biodiversity and Ecosystems:

Doñana National Park is a unique and exceptional ecosystem that supports a remarkable biodiversity.

It serves as a crucial habitat for numerous bird species, including migratory birds that travel between Europe and Africa.

The park is home to over 300 bird species, making it one of the most important bird reserves in Europe.

Wetlands and Marshes:

The park encompasses wetlands, marshes, lagoons, and dune systems that provide essential habitats for a wide range of plant and animal species.

It is a haven for endangered species such as the Iberian lynx, Spanish imperial eagle, and the endangered Doñana shrew.

The park’s ecological diversity contributes to its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Conservation Efforts:

Doñana National Park has been a focal point for conservation efforts in Spain.

It serves as a model for successful habitat restoration and conservation initiatives.

However, the park management works diligently to preserve the natural balance of its ecosystems, protect endangered species, and maintain the park’s

ecological integrity.

Environmental Importance:

The park plays a significant role in maintaining the hydrological balance of the region.

It acts as a natural filter, purifying water and preventing saltwater intrusion into underground aquifers.

The wetlands and marshes of Doñana National Park act as reservoirs, retaining and gradually releasing water, thus contributing to the local hydrological

system and supporting nearby agricultural activities.

Cultural and Historical Significance:

Firstly, apart from its ecological importance, Doñana National Park holds cultural and historical significance.

Secondly, the area has been inhabited for thousands of years and has witnessed human activities, including farming, hunting, and fishing.

Thirdly, It has also been a favored hunting ground for Spanish royalty throughout history.

Finally, the park’s cultural and historical connections further contribute to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

By recognizing the Doñana National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is acknowledged that the park’s ecological, biological, and cultural values are of outstanding universal significance. Its protection and preservation serve as a testament to the importance of conserving natural areas and fostering sustainable practices for the benefit of future generations.


The physical geography of Spain offers an exciting journey of discovery for KS2 students. From soaring mountains to rolling plains, pristine coastlines to unique islands, Spain’s landscapes are as diverse as its cultural heritage. Exploring the physical geography of Spain not only broadens our understanding of the world but also fosters an appreciation for the wonders of nature and the intricate connections between the land and its inhabitants. So, pack your bags and embark on an adventure to unravel the secrets of Spain’s physical geography.

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