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Cantabrian Mountains
Spanish: Cordillera Cantábrica
Range
The Picos de Europa overlooking the village of Sotres, in Cabrales
Named for: Cantabria
Country Spain
Region Iberian Peninsula
Borders on Pyrenees, Galicia
Highest point Torre de Cerredo
 - elevation 2,648 m (8,688 ft)
 - coordinates 43°11′51″N 04°51′06″W / 43.1975°N 4.85167°W / 43.1975; -4.85167
Length 300 km (186 mi), WE
Width 50 km (31 mi), NS
Geology limestone
The red line shows where the Cantabrian Mountains are located in the North of Spain
Pico Tres Mares (2,175 m) and Peña Labra (2,018 m.)
Typical Cantabrian Mountains landscape.

Cantabrian Mountains (Cordillera Cantábrica in Spanish) are a mountain range which extends for more than approximately 180 miles (300 km) across northern Spain, from the western limit of the Pyrenees (Basque mountains) to the borders of Galicia, and on or near the coast of the Cantabrian Sea. The Cantabrian Mountains offer a wide range of trails for hiking, as well as many challenging climbing routes. Skiing is possible in the ski resorts of Alto Campoo, Valgrande-Pajares and Manzaneda.

Contents

Geography

The Cantabrian Mountains stretch east-west, nearly parallel to the sea, as far as the pass of Leitariegos, also extending south between León and Galicia. The range's western boundary is marked by the valley of the river Miño (Portuguese: Minho), by the lower Sil, which flows into the Miño, and by the Cabrera River, a small tributary of the Sil.

Some geographers regard the mountains of Galicia beyond the Miño as an integral part of the same system; others confine the name to the eastern half of the highlands between Galicia and the Pyrenees, and call their western half the Asturian Mountains. There are also many local names for the subsidiary ranges within the chain, which includes the Picos de Europa.

As a whole, the Cantabrian Mountains are remarkable for their intricate ramifications, but almost everywhere, and especially in the east, it is possible to distinguish two principal ranges, from which the lesser ridges and mountain masses radiate. One range, or series of ranges, closely follows the outline of the coast; the other, which is loftier, forms the northern limit of the great tableland of Castile and León, and is sometimes regarded as a continuation of the Pyrenees. The coastal range rises in, some parts sheer above the sea, and everywhere has so abrupt a declivity that the streams which flow seaward are all short and swift.

The descent from the southern range to the high plateaux of Castile is more gradual, and several large rivers, notably the Ebro, rise here and flow to the south or west. The breadth of the Cantabrian chain, with all its ramifications, increases from about 60 m; in the east to about 115 m in the west. Many peaks are over 6000 ft high, but the greatest altitudes are attained in the central ridges on the borders of León, Asturias, Palencia and Cantabria. Here are the highest peak Torre de Cerredo (8,688 ft), Peña Vieja (8,579 ft), Peña Prieta (8,304 ft) and Espigüete (7,898 ft); an unnamed summit in the Picos de Europa, to which range the Peña Vieja also belongs, rises on the right bank of the Sella to a height of 8,045 ft; further west the peaks of Manpodres, Peña Ubiña, Peña Rubia and Cuiña all exceed 7,000 ft. A conspicuous feature of the chain, as of the adjacent tableland, is the number of its parameras, isolated plateaus shut in by lofty mountains or even by precipitous walls of rock.

The Cantabrian Mountains make a sharp divide between "Green Spain" to the north, and the dry central plateau. The north facing slopes receive heavy cyclonic rainfall from the Bay of Biscay, whereas the southern slopes are in rain shadow.

The Sierra de Ancares is an extension, to the south-west, of the Cantabrian Mountains, forming the boundary between Galicia and Léon.

These mountains are also a distinct physiographic province of the larger Alpine System physiographic division.

Flora and fauna

The Cantabrian Mountains are home to an important variety of plant life, as well as the Cantabrian brown bear (Ursus arctos pyrenaicus), catalogued as being in danger of extinction, which travels from Léon to areas in Palencia and Cantabria, and the Capercaillie (T. urogallus cantabricus).

Other animals associated with the range include the Chooga Wolf (Canis lupus signatus), Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) and the rebeco, or Cantabrian chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica parva).

Ecology

The Cantabrian mountain range includes such important protected areas as the Picos de Europa National Park, which is one of several Cantabrian parks included in UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Some sites are included in the European Union's Natura 2000 network and Special Protection Areas for the Conservation of Wild Birds.

References

Notes

External links

Coordinates: 43°00′N 5°00′W / 43°N 5°W / 43; -5

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CANTABRIAN MOUNTAINS (Span. Cordillera Cantabrica), a mountain chain which extends for more than 300 m. across northern Spain, from the western limit of the Pyrenees to the borders of Galicia, and on or near the coast of the Bay of Biscay. The Cantabrians stretch from east to west, nearly parallel to the sea, as far as the pass of Leitariegos, afterwards trending southward between Leon and Galicia. Their western boundary is marked by the valley of the river Mino (Portuguese Minho), by the lower Sil, which flows into the Mino, and by the Cabrera, a small tributary of the Sil. Some geographers regard the mountains of Galicia beyond the Mino as an integral part of the same system; others confine the name to the eastern half of the highlands between Galicia and the Pyrenees, and call their western half the Asturian Mountains. There are also many local names for the subsidiary ranges within the chain. As a whole, the Cantabrian Mountains are remarkable for their intricate ramifications, but almost everywhere, and especially in the east, it is possible to distinguish two principal ranges, from which the lesser ridges and mountain masses radiate. One range, or series of ranges, closely follows the outline of the coast; the other, which is loftier, forms the northern limit of the great tableland of Castile and Leon, and is sometimes regarded as a continuation of the Pyrenees. The coastal range rises in some parts sheer above the sea, and everywhere has so abrupt a declivity that the streams which flow seaward are all short and swift. The descent from the southern range to the high plateaus of Castile is more gradual, and several large rivers, notably the Ebro, rise here and flow to the south or west. The breadth of the Cantabrian chain, with all its ramifications, increases from about 60 m. in the east to about 115 m. in the west. Many peaks are upwards of 6000 ft. high, but the greatest altitudes are attained in the central ridges on the borders of Leon, Oviedo, Palencia and Santander. Here are the Pena Vieja (8743 ft.), Prieta (8304 ft.) and Espinguete (7898 ft.); an unnamed summit in the Penas de Europa, to which range the Pena Vieja also belongs, rises on the right bank of the Sella to a height of 8045 ft.; farther west the peaks of Manipodre, Ubina, Rubia and Cuina all exceed 7000 ft. A conspicuous feature of the chain, as of the adjacent tableland, is the number of its parameras, isolated plateaus shut in by lofty mountains or even by precipitous walls of rock. At the south-western extremity of the chain is el Vierzo, once a lake-bed, now a valley drained by the upper Sil and enclosed by mountains which bifurcate from the main range south of the pass of Leitariegos - the Sierra de Justredo and Montanas de Leon curving towards the east and south-west, the Sierra de Picos, Sierra del Caurel and other ranges curving towards the west and south-east. The Cantabrians are rich in coal and iron; an account of their geological structure is given under Spain. They are crossed at many points by good roads and in their eastern half by several railways. In the west, near the pass of Mares, the railway from Leon to Gijon passes through the Perruca tunnel, which is 2 m. long and 4200 ft. above sea-level; the railway descends northward through fifty-eight smaller tunnels. The line from Leon to Orense also traverses a remarkable series of tunnels, bridges and deep cuttings.


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