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Green Spain (direct translation into English of the Spanish España Verde) is the name given to the Spanish northern maritime façade exposed to the Atlantic Ocean in Galicia which also runs along the coastal strip lying north of the Cantabrian and Basque mountains, along the Bay of Biscay. This land strip includes Asturias, Cantabria, and the northern half of the Basque Country all the way from Galicia through the French border.

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Climate and landscape

Spanish climatic areas, so-called 'Green Spain' is in the northernmost part

It is called green because it has a wet and temperate oceanic climate which allows a lush vegetation to thrive. The climate and landscape are determined by the Atlantic Ocean winds whose moisture gets trapped by the mountains circumventing the Spanish Atlantic façade. Because of the Foehn effect, the southern slopes fall inside the rain shadow zone and so Green Spain contrasts starkly with the Spanish drier central plateau. Conversely, in those brief episodes when the southwestern winds blow through the mountains (especially during October-November[1]), the effect reverses, the northern coast gets inside the Foehn winds and is dry and much warmer than the inner plateau, where rain is present.

The average precipitation is about 1,200 mm, much higher than in most areas located in inland central Europe which may be regarded to be wetter than anywhere in Spain, a country generally regarded to be a rather dry one. The main native tree species of this biome are beeches and oaks. During the second half of the 20th century in some areas (especially in Galicia), the native forests were replaced by plantations of eucalyptus and Monterey Pines for its commercial exploitation in the paper industry.

The Pyrenees, which sometimes are considered to be in the same geologic system as the Cantabrian Mountains, used to be included in Green Spain, even though the rainfall there has different patterns and the general landscape tends to be more alpine rather than genuinely oceanic.

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