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Coordinates: 42°40′N 1°00′E / 42.667°N 1°E / 42.667; 1

Pyrenees
Spanish: Pirineos French: Pyrénées Catalan: Pirineus
Occitan: Pirenèus Aragonese: Perinés Basque: Pirinioak or Auñamendiak
Range
Central Pyrenees
Named for: Pyrene
Countries Spain, France, Andorra
Highest point Aneto
 - elevation 3,404 m (11,168 ft)
 - coordinates 42°37′56″N 00°39′28″E / 42.63222°N 0.65778°E / 42.63222; 0.65778
Geology granite, gneiss, limestone
Period Paleozoic, Mesozoic
Topographic map (in French)

The Pyrenees (also spelled Pyrenées, pronounced /ˈpɪərɨniːz/; Spanish: Pirineos; French: Pyrénées, IPA: [piʁene]; Catalan: Pirineus; Occitan: Pirenèus; Aragonese: Perinés; Basque: Pirinioak or Auñamendiak) are a range of mountains in southwest Europe that form a natural border between France and Spain. They separate the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe, and extend for about 430 km (267 mi) from the Bay of Biscay (Cap Higuer) to the Mediterranean Sea (Cap de Creus).

For the most part, the main crest forms a massive divider between France and Spain, with the tiny country of Andorra sandwiched in between. Catalonia and Navarre have historically extended on both sides of the mountain range, with small northern portions in France and much larger southern parts in Spain[1][2].

Contents

Etymology

Pyrene is the nymph of classical mythology who, according to legend, gave its name to the Pyrenees.

This legend attempts to explain (but not very well) how a mountain range that was worshipped as a god by the early inhabitants came to be.

According to the legend, the hero Heracles came to Iberia, with the purpose of stealing the oxen of Gerión, a monstrous giant who attempted to possess the nymph Pyrene. But Pyrene fled and hid in an area between Spain and France. Gerión then burned the entire area in order to find her. Pyrene, on the verge of burning to death, shrieked and cried in desperation, and her tears created the mountain lakes. Heracles heard her and came to her rescue. When he found her, the nymph was already in agony and only had time enough to tell the hero what has happened.

Heracles, deeply moved by Pyrene’s tragic ending, erected a mausoleum over her dead body, by piling up all the stones and rocks he could find, thus creating a great mountain range that he called the Pyrenees in memory of Pyrene.[3]

Geography

The Spanish Pyrenees are part of the following provinces, from east to west: Girona, Barcelona, Lleida, Huesca, Navarra, and Guipúzcoa.

The French Pyrenees are also part of the following départements, from east to west: Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, and Pyrénées-Atlantiques (the latter two of which include Pyrenees National Park).

The independent principality of Andorra is sandwiched in the eastern portion of the mountain range between the Spanish Pyrenees and French Pyrenees.

Composite satellite image of the Pyrenees (NASA)

Physiograpically, the Pyrenees are typically divided into three sections: the Atlantic (or Western), the Central, and the Eastern Pyrenees. Together, they form a distinct physiographic province of the larger Alpine System division.

Pico del Aneto, the highest mountain of the Pyrenees.
Vallée de Barétous and piedmont plain (western Pyrénées)

The Central Pyrenees extend westward from the Aran Valley to the Somport pass, and they include the highest summits of this range:

  • Pico d'Aneto or Pic de Néthou 3,404 metres (11,168 ft) in the Maladeta ridge,
  • Posets peak 3,375 metres (11,073 ft),
  • Mont Perdu or Monte Perdido or Mont Perdut 3,355 metres (11,007 ft).

In the Western Pyrenees, the average elevation gradually increases from the west to the east, from the Basque mountains near the Bay of Biscay of the Atlantic Ocean. In the Eastern Pyrenees, with the exception of one break at the eastern extremity of the Pyrénées Ariégeoises, the mean elevation is remarkably uniform until a sudden decline occurs in the easternmost portion of the chain known as the Albères.

Geology

See also: Geology of the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees are older than the Alps: their sediments were first deposited in coastal basins during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. Between 100 and 150 million years ago, during the Lower Cretaceous period, the Bay of Biscay fanned out, pushing present-day Spain against France and putting large layers of sediment in a vise grip. The intense pressure and uplifting of the Earth's crust first affected the eastern part and stretched progressively to the entire chain, culminating in the Eocene epoch.

The eastern part of the Pyrenees consists largely of granite and gneissose rocks, while in the western part the granite peaks are flanked by layers of limestone. The massive and unworn character of the chain comes from its abundance of granite, which is particularly resistant to erosion, as well as weak glacial development.

Landscape

Conspicuous features of Pyrenean scenery are:

  • the absence of great lakes, such as those that fill the lateral valleys of the Alps
  • the rarity and great elevation of passes
  • the large number of the mountain torrents locally called gaves, which often form lofty waterfalls, surpassed in Europe only by those of Scandinavia
  • the frequency with which the upper end of a valley assumes the form of a semicircle of precipitous cliffs, called a cirque.

The highest waterfall is Gavarnie (462 m or 1,515 ft), at the head of the Gave de Pau; the Cirque de Gavarnie, in the same valley, together with the nearby Cirque de Troumouse and Cirque d'Estaubé are notable examples of the cirque formation. Low passes are lacking, and the principal roads and the railroads between France and Spain run only in the lowlands at the western and eastern ends of the Pyrenees, near sea level. Between the two ends of the range, the only passes worth mentioning are the Col de la Perche, between the valley of the Têt and the valley of the Segre, the Port d'Envalira, the highest mountain pass in the Pyrenees and one of the highest points of the European road network, and the Col de Somport or Port de Canfranc, where there were old Roman roads, but apparently, no modern highways.

A notable visual feature of this mountain range is La Brèche de Roland, a gap in the ridge line, which - according to legend - was created by Roland.

Natural resources

The metallic ores of the Pyrenees are not in general of much importance now, though there were iron mines at several locations in Andorra, as well as at Vie de Sos in Ariège, and the foot of Canigou in Pyrénées-Orientales long ago. Coal deposits capable of being profitably worked are situated chiefly on the Spanish slopes, but the French side has beds of lignite. The open pit of Trimoun (Ariège) is one of the greatest sources of talc in Europe.

Mineral springs are abundant and remarkable, and especially noteworthy are the hot springs, of which the Alps are very deficient. The hot springs, among which those of Les Escaldes in Andorra, Ax-les-Thermes, Panticosa, Lles, Bagnères-de-Luchon and Eaux-Chaudes in France may be mentioned, are sulphurous and mostly situated high, near the contact of the granite with the stratified rocks. The lower springs, such as those of Bagnères-de-Bigorre (Hautes-Pyrénées), Rennes-les-Bains (Aude) and Campagne-sur-Aude (Aude), are mostly selenitic and not very cold.

Climate

The amount of the precipitation the range receives, including rain and snow, is much greater in the western than in the eastern Pyrenees, because of the moist air that blows in from the Atlantic Ocean over the Bay of Biscay. After dropping its moisture over the western and central Pyrenees, the air is usually dry over the eastern Pyrenees. The winter average temperature is -2 C.

Sections of the mountain range in more than one respect. Some glaciers are found in the western and especially the snowy central Pyrenees, but the eastern Pyrenees are without any glaciers - with the quantity of snow falling there being insufficient to cause their development. The glaciers are confined to the northern slopes of the central Pyrenees, and do not descend, like those of the Alps, far down into the valleys, but have their greatest lengths along the direction of the mountain chain. They form, in fact, in a narrow zone near the crest of the highest mountains. Here, as in the other great mountain ranges of central Europe, there is great evidence of a much wider extension of the glaciers during the Ice Ages. The case of the glacier in the valley of Argeles Gazost, between Lourdes and Gavarnie, in the département of Hautes-Pyrénées is the best-known instance.

The snow-line varies in different parts of the Pyrenees from about 2,700 to 2,800 metres above sea level.

Flora and fauna

A mountain stream

A still more marked effect of the preponderance of rainfall in the western half of the chain is seen in the vegetation. The lower mountains in the extreme west are wooded, but the extent of forest declines eastwards, and the eastern Pyrenees are peculiarly wild and barren, all the more since it is in this part of the chain that granitic masses prevail. There is a change, moreover, in the composition of the flora in passing from west to east. In the west the flora resembles that of central Europe, while in the east it is distinctly Mediterranean in character, though the difference of latitude is only about 1°, on both sides of the chain from the centre whence the Corbières stretch north-eastwards towards the central plateau of France. The Pyrenees are relatively as rich in endemic species as the Alps, and among the most remarkable instances of that endemism is the occurrence of the monotypic genus Xatardia (family Apiaceae), only on a high alpine pass between the Val d'Eynes and Catalonia. The genus most abundantly represented in the range is that of the saxifrages, several species of which are endemic here.

The Pyrenean Ibex mysteriously became extinct in January 2000; the native Pyrenean brown bear was hunted to near-extinction in the 1990s, but it was re-introduced in 1996 when three bears were brought from Slovenia. The bear population has bred successfully, and there are now believed to be about 15 brown bears in the central region around Fos, but only four native ones are still living in Aspe valley.

In their fauna the Pyrenees present some striking instances of endemism. The Pyrenean Desman is found only in some of the streams of the northern slopes of these mountains, but the only other member of this genus are confined to the rivers of the Caucasus in southern Russia. The Pyrenean euprocte (Euproctus pyrenaicus), an endemic relative of the salamander, also lives in streams and lakes located at high altitudes. Among the other peculiarities of the Pyrenean fauna are blind insects in the caverns of Ariège, the principal genera of which are Anophthalmus and Adelops.

Protected areas

Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, Spain

Principal nature reserves and national parks:

Demographics and culture

The Pyrenean region possesses a varied ethnology, folklore and history: see Andorra; Aragon; Ariege; Basque Country; Béarn; Catalonia; Navarre; Roussillon. For their history, see also Almogavars, Marca Hispanica.

The principal languages spoken in the area are Spanish, French, Catalan (in Catalonia and Andorra), Basque, and Aragonese . Also spoken, to a lesser degree, are the Occitan language (the Gascon and Languedocien dialects in France and the Aranese dialect in the Aran Valley).

Sports and leisure

Both sides of the Pyrenees are popular spots for winter sports such as alpine skiing and mountaineering. The Pyrenees are also a good place for European and North African athletes to do high-altitude training in the summertime, such as by bicycling and cross-country running.

In the summer and the autumn, the Pyrenees are usually featured in two of cycling's epic grand tours, the Tour de France held annually in July and the Vuelta a España held in September. The stages held in the Pyrenees are often crucial legs of both tours, drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators to the region, too.

Three main long-distance footpaths run the length of the mountain range; the GR 10 across the northern slopes, the GR 11 across the southern slopes, and the HRP which traverses peaks and ridges along a high altitude route. In addition, there are numerous marked and unmarked trails throughout the region.

Pirena is a dog-mushing competition held in the Pyrenees.

Ski resorts

Ski resorts in the Pyrenees include:

Formigal (Spain), one of the major ski resorts

Highest summits

Monte Perdido
  • Aneto (3,404 m)
  • Posets (3,375 m)
  • Monte Perdido (3,355 m)
  • Pic Maudit (3,350 m)
  • Cilindro de Marboré (3,328 m)
  • Pic de la Maladeta (3,308 m)
  • Vignemale (Pique Longue) (3,298 m)
  • Clot de la Hount (3,289 m)
  • Soum de Ramond (3,263 m)
  • Pic du Marboré (3,248 m)
  • Pic de Cerbillona (3,247 m)
  • Pic de Perdiguère (3,222 m)
  • Pic de Montferrat (3,220 m)
  • Pic Long (3,192 m)
  • Pic Schrader (Grand Batchimale) (3,177 m)
  • Pic de Campbieil (3,173 m)
  • Pic de la cascade orientale (3,161 m)
  • Pic Badet (3,160 m)
  • Pic du Balaïtous (3,144 m)
  • Pic du Taillon (3,144 m)
  • Pica d'Estats (3,143 m)
  • Punta del Sabre (3,136 m)
  • Pic de la Munia (3,134 m)
  • Pointe de Literole (3,132 m)
  • Pic des Gourgs Blancs (3,129 m)
  • Pic de Royo (3,121 m)
  • Pic des Crabioules (3,116 m)
  • Pic de Maupas (3,109 m)
  • Pic Lézat (3,107 m)
  • Pic de la cascade occidental (3,095 m)
  • Pic de Néouvielle (3,091 m)
  • Pic de Troumouse (3,085 m)
  • Pics d'Enfer (3,082 m)
  • Pic de Montcalm (3,077 m)
  • Grand pic d' Astazou (3,077 m)
  • Épaule du Marboré (3,073 m)
  • Pic du port de Sullo (3,072 m)
  • Pic des Spijeoles (3,066 m)
  • Pic de Quayrat (3,060 m)
  • Pic des Trois Conseillers (3,039 m)
  • Turon de Néouvielle (3,035 m)
  • Pic de Batoua (3,034 m)
  • Petit Vignemale (3,032 m)
  • Pic de Besiberri Sud (3,017 m)
  • Pic Ramougn (3,011 m)
  • Tour du Marboré (3,009 m)
  • Casque du Marboré (3,006 m)
  • Grande Fache (3,005 m)

Notable summits below 3,000 metres

Pic du Midi d'Ossau
  • Grande Aiguille d'Ansabère (2,376 m)
  • Pic du Soularac (2,368 m)
  • Cap de la cometa delforn (2,691 m)[5]
  • Pic du Saint Barthélémy (2,348 m)
  • Pic des Trois Seigneurs (2,199 m)
  • Pic d'Orhy (2,017 m)
  • Pic de Pedraforca (2,498 m)
  • La Rhune (905 m)

See also

Posets peak seen from Viadós.

References

Bibliography

  • Paegelow, Claus (2008) (in German, English). Pyrenäen Bibliografie. Andorra, spanische & französische Pyrenäen, Pyrenees Bibliography. Andorra, Spain & French Pyrenees. Verlag Claus Paegelow. ISBN 978-3-00-023936-6. 

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Notes

  1. ^ Preamble of the "Charter of the Catalan Language"
  2. ^ Collins Road Atlas of Europe. London: Harper Collins. 1995. pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-00-448148-8. 
  3. ^ http://www.caiaragon.com/en/arbol/index.asp?idNodo=119&idNodoP=38
  4. ^ Pays Toy Ski Resort
  5. ^ 1 of 3 triology summits

External links

"Pyreneans Echoes" by SoundFiction, free concrete landscape music from the "Parc National des Hautes Pyrénées", (free download) http://soundcloud.com/soundfiction


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The Pyrenees are a European mountain range on the border between France and Spain. Andorra is also to be found in the range.

France

Spain

Andorra

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PYRENEES [Span. Pirineos, Fr. Pyrenees], a range of mountains in south-west Europe, separating the Iberian Peninsula from France, and extending for about 240 m., from the Bay of Biscay to Cape Creus, or, if only the main crest of the range be considered, to Cape Cerbere, on the Mediterranean Sea. For the most part the main crest constitutes the Franco-Spanish frontier; the principal exception to this rule is formed by the valley of Aran, which belongs orographically to France but politically to Spain. The Pyrenees are conventionally divided into three sections, the central, the Atlantic or western, and the eastern. The central Pyrenees extend eastward from the Port de Canfranc to the valley of Aran, and include the highest summits of the whole chain, Aneto or Pic de Nethou (11,168 ft.), in the Maladetta ridge, Posets (11,047 ft.), and Mont Perdu or Monte Perdido (10,997 ft.). In the Atlantic Pyrenees the average altitude gradually diminishes westward; while in the eastern Pyrenees, with the exception of one break at the eastern extremity of the Pyrenees Ariegeoises, the mean elevation is maintained with remarkable uniformity, till at last a rather; sudden decline occurs in the portion of the chain known as the Alberes. This threefold division is only valid so far as the elevation of the Pyrenean chain is concerned, and does not accurately represent its geological structure or general configuration. The careful examination of the chain by members of the English and French Alpine Clubs has since 1880 considerably modified the views held with respect to its general character; the southern versant, formerly regarded as inferior in, area, has been proved to be the more important of the two. It has been recognized, as shown in the maps of MM. Schrader, de St Sand and Wallon, that, taken as a whole, the range must be regarded, not as formed on the analogy of a fern-frond or fish-bone, with the lateral ridges running down to the two opposite plains, but rather as a swelling of the earth's crust, the culminating portion of which is composed of a series of primitive chains, which do not coincide with the watershed, but cross it obliquely, as if the ground had experienced a sidewise thrust at the time when the earth's crust was ridged up into the long chain under the influence of contraction. Both the orderly arrangement of these diagonal chains and the agreement which exists between the tectonic and geological phenomena are well shown in the geological and hypsometrical maps published in the Annuaire du Club Alpin francais for 1891 and 1892 by MM. Schrader and de Margerie. The primitive formations of the range, of which little beyond the French portions had previously been studied, are shown to be almost all continued diagonally on the Spanish side, and the central ridge thus presents the appearance of a series of wrinkles with an inclination. (from north-west to south-east) greater than that of the chain as a whole. Other less pronounced wrinkles run from southwest to north-east and intersect the former series at certain points, so that it is by alternate digressions from one to the other series that the irregular crest of the Pyrenees acquires its general direction. Far from having impressed its own direction on the orientation of the chain at large, this crest is merely the resultant of secondary agencies by which the primitive mass has been eroded and lessened in bulk, and though its importance from a hydrographic point of view is still considerable, its geological significance is practically nil.

Geology

The Pyrenees are divided by E. de Margerie and F. Schrader into a number of longitudinal zones. The central zone consists of Primary rocks, together with great masses of granite. It forms most of the higher summits, but west of the Pic d'Anie it disappears beneath an unconformable covering of Cretaceous deposits. On the French side the central zone is followed by (1) the zone of Ariege, consisting of Lower Cretaceous and Jurassic beds, together with granitic masses; (2) the zone of the Petites Pyrenees, Upper Cretaceous and Eocene; and (3) the zone of the Corbieres, consisting of Eocene and Primary rocks. On the Spanish side, from north to south, are (1) the zone of Mont Perdu, Upper Cretaceous and Eocene; (2) the zone of Aragon, Eocene; and (3) the zone of the Sierras, Trias, Cretaceous and Eocene. In France the zones are clearly defined only in the eastern part of the chain, while towards the west they merge into one another. In Spain, on the other hand,' it is in the central part of the chain that the zones are most distinct. Although the number of zones recognized is the same on the two flanks, they do not correspond. The zone of the Corbieres has no equivalent in Spain, while in France there is no definite zone of Eocene like that of Aragon. The zone of the Petites Pyrenees, however, is clearly homologous with that of the Sierras. On the northern side granitic masses occur in the zone of Ariege amongst the Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous beds. On the southern side they are not found except in the axial zone, and the Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous deposits are reduced to a narrow band. In spite of these differences between the two flanks, the structure is to some extent symmetrical. On the north the greater number of the overfolds lean towards the north, while on the south they lean towards the south. Thus the chain shows the typical fan-structure which has long been recognized in the western Alps.

Missing image
Pyrenees-1.jpg

Since the publication of the maps by de Margerie and Schrader it has been shown that the phenomena of "recouvrement" play almost as large a part in the Pyrenees as in the Alps themselves. Large masses of rock have been brought upon nearly horizontal faults (thrust-planes) over the edges of either beds with which they originally had no connexion. In the region of Salies-du-Salat, for example, patches of Trias lie discordantly upon the edges of the Cretaceous and Tertiary beds. Several other similar cases ?? j?-,, r r ,, // Saurian to Crystalline Rocks Permian & Carboniferous ® Igneous Rocks Devonian 1 Jurassic Trsasiic have been described; but denudation has been carried further than in the western Alps, and accordingly the masses overlying the thrust-planes have been more completely removed (q.v.).

The earth movements which raised the Pyrenees appear to have begun in the Eocene period, but it was in Oligocene times that the principal folding took place. The Pyrenees are therefore contemporaneous with the Alps; but they appear to have escaped the Miocene disturbances which affected the latter.

The arrangement of the Pyrenees in chains gently inclined near the centre but longitudinal everywhere else, is illustrated by the courses of the streams which flow down towards Spain. On the French side most of the longitudinal valleys have disappeared; and this is why the range has so long been described as sending out transverse spurs, the more important slope remaining unknown. It is, however, still possible to distinguish some traces of this formation towards the east, where atmospheric denudation has been less active. On the south the principal streams, after cutting their way through the highest zone at right angles to the general direction of the range, become involved half-way to the plains in great longitudinal folds, from which they make their escape only after traversing long distances without finding an outlet.

The importance shown to attach to the Spanish versant has greatly modified the values formerly assigned to the area and mean elevation of the Pyrenees. Instead of the 13,440 sq. m. formerly put down for the total, M. Schrader found the area to be 21,044 sq. m. Of this total 6390 sq. m. fall to the northern slope and 14,654 sq. m., i.e. more than double, to the southern, the difference being mainly due to the zone of plateaux and sierras. The mean elevation, estimated by Elie de Beaumont at 1500 metres (4900 ft.), has been sensibly diminished by the addition of that zone to the system, and it must now be placed at only 1200 metres (3930 ft.) for the range as a whole; so important a part is played by the above-mentioned plateaux of small elevation in a chain whose highest summit reaches 11,168 ft., while the passes show a greater altitude than those of the Alps.

Four conspicuous features of Pyrenean scenery are the absence of great lakes, such as fill the lateral valleys of the Alps; the rarity and great elevation of passes; the large number of the mountain torrents locally called gaves, which often form lofty waterfalls, surpassed in Europe only by those of Scandinavia; and the frequency with which the upper end of a valley assumes the form of a semicircle of precipitous cliffs, locally called a cirque. The highest waterfall is that of Gavarnie (1515 ft.), at the head of the Gave de Pau; the Cirque de Gavarnie, in the same valley, is perhaps the most famous example of the cirque formation. Not only is there a total lack of those passes, so common in the Alps, which lead across the great mountain chains at a far lower level than that of the neighbouring peaks, but between the two extremities of the range, where the principal highroads and the only railways run between France and Spain, there are only two passes practicable for carriages - the Col de la Perche, between the valley of the Tet and the valley of the Segre, and the Col de Somport or Pot de Canfranc, on the old Roman road from Saragossa to Oloron.

Projects for further railway construction, including the building of tunnels on a vast scale, have been approved by the French and Spanish governments (see Spain: Communications). The metallic ores of the Pyrenees are not in general of much importance, though there are considerable iron mines at Vic de Sos in Ariege and at the foot of Canigou in Pyrenees-Orientales. Coal deposits capable of being profitably worked are situated chiefly on the Spanish slopes but the French side has numerous beds of lignite. Mineral springs are abundant and very remarkable, and specially noteworthy are the hot springs, in which the Alps, on the contrary, are very deficient. The hot springs, among which those of Bagneres de Luchon and Eaux-Chaudes may be mentioned, are sulphurous and mostly situated high, near the contact of the granite with the stratified rocks. The lower springs, such as those of Bagneres de Bigorre (Hautes-Pyrenees), Rennes (Aude) and Campagne (Aude), are mostly selenitic and not very warm.

The amount of the precipitation, including rain and snow, is much greater in the western than in the eastern Pyrenees, which leads to a marked contrast between these sections of the chain in more than one respect. In the first place, the eastern Pyrenees are without glaciers, the quantity of snow falling there being insufficient to lead to their development. The glaciers are confined to the northern slopes of the central Pyrenees, and do not descend, like those of the Alps, far down in the valleys, but have their greatest length in the direction of the mountainchain. They form, in fact, a narrow zone near the crest of the highest mountains. Here, as in the other great mountain ranges of central Europe, there are evidences of a much wider extension of the glaciers during the Ice age. The case of the glacier in the valley of Argeles in the department of Hautes-Pyrenees is the best-known instance. The snow-line varies in different parts of the Pyrenees from 8800 to 9200 ft. above sea-level.

A still more marked effect of the preponderance of rainfall in the western half of the chain is seen in the aspect of the vegetation. The lower mountains in the extreme west are very well wooded, but the extent of forest declines eastwards, and the eastern Pyrenees are peculiarly wild and naked, all the more since it is in this part of the chain that granitic masses prevail. There is a change, moreover, in the composition of the flora in passing from west to east. In the west the flora, at least in the north, resembles that of central Europe, while in the east it is distinctly Mediterranean in character, though the difference of latitude is only about 1°, on both sides of the chain from the centre whence the Cobieres stretch north-eastwards towards the central plateau of France. The Pyrenees are relatively as rich in endemic species as the Alps, and among the most remarkable instances of that endemism is the occurrence of the sole European species of Dioscorea (yam), the D. pyrenaica, on a single high station in the central Pyrenees, and that of the monotypic genus Xatardia, only on a high alpine pass between the Val d'Eynes and Catalonia. The genus most abundantly represented in the range is that of the saxifrages,. several species of which are here endemic.

In their fauna also the Pyrenees. present some striking instances of endemism. There is a distinct species of ibex (Capra pyrenaica) confined to the range, while the Pyrenean desman or water-mole (Mygale pyrenaica) is found only in some of the streams of the northern slopes of these mountains, the onlyother member of this genus being confined to the rivers of southern Russia. Among the other peculiarities of the Pyrenean fauna are blind insects in the caverns of Ariege, the principal genera of which are Anophthalmus and Adelops. The ethnology, folk-lore, institutions and history of the Pyrenean region form an interesting study: see Andorra; Aragon; Basques; Bearn; Catalonia; Navarre.

See H. Beraldi, Cent ans aux Pyrenees (1901), Les Sierras, cent ans acres Ramond (1902), Aprks cent ans. Les Pics d'Europe (1903), and Les Pyrenees orientales et l'Ariege 0904); P. Joanne, Pyrenees (1905); H. Belloc, The Pyrenees (1909) ,; for geology, in addition to the papers cited above, A. Bresson, Etudes sur les formations des Hautes et Basses Pyrenees (Paris, Ministere des Travaux Publics, 1903); L. Carez, La Geologie des Pyrenees francaises (Paris, Min. des. Tr. P., 1903, &c.); J. Roussel, Tableau stratigraphique des Pyrenees (Paris, Min. des Tr. P., 1904); and for climate and flora T. Cook,. Handbook to the Health Resorts on the Pyrenees, &c. (1905), and J. Bentham, Catalogue des plantes indigenes des Pyrenees et de Bas Languedoc (1826).


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Etymology

First attested in 1555; from French Pyrénées, from Latin Pȳrēnæī montēs, from Ancient Greek Πυρήνη (Pūrēnē; “Pyrene”, literally “fruit-stone”), daughter of Bebryx and beloved of Herakles, and who, legend has it, is buried in the range.[1]

Proper noun

Singular
Pyrenees

Plural
-

Pyrenees pl.

  1. The mountain range separating Spain from France, inhabited by Basques in the west and Catalans in the east.

Translations

References

  • Notes:
  1. ^Pyrenees” listed in the Online Etymology Dictionary (© November 2001, Douglas Harper)

Simple English


The Pyrenees (Catalan: Pirineus; French: Pyrénées; Spanish: Pirineos; Occitan: Pirenèus; Aragonese: Perinés; Basque: Pirinioak) are a range of mountains in southwest Europe that form a natural border between France and Spain. They separate the Iberian Peninsula from France, and extend for about 430 km (267 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Biscay) to the Mediterranean Sea (Cap de Creus).

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