Spain is a large country with a surprising variety of cultures, climates and geography. Separated from France by the Pyrenees, and from Africa by the Straits of Gibraltar, Spain shares the Iberian peninsula with Portugal. Mountains are a key component in Spain's climate and geography. Three major chains serve as "borders" between the main geographic areas. In the north, the Picos de Europa and Pyrenees separate the north coast on the Bay of Biscay (and France) from the central plateau. The Central Mountain System separates Madrid and La Mancha from the Castilian plateau. And the Penbetic System cuts through Andalucia, not far from the Mediterranean coast.
Language is another key factor in Spanish culture and politics. Castilian Spanish is the most common tongue, but a wide variety of languages and dialects are used across the country: Catalan (Cataluña), Euskera (Basque), Gallego (Galicia), Valenciano (Valencia), etc.
Other data CIA Factbook: Spain
Area: total area 504,750 sq km (194,884 sq miles)
comparative area slightly more than twice the size of Oregon
Coastline: 4,964 km (3,084 miles)
Climate: temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast
Population: 39,302,665 (July 1994 est.)
Languages: Castilian Spanish, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%