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Cantabrian Mountains(kăntā`brēən), N Spain, extending c.300 mi (480 km) along the Bay of Biscay from the Pyrenees to Cape Finisterre. Torre de Cerredo (8,687 ft/2,648 m) in the Picos de Europa group in the central section is the highest peak. The mountains are rich in minerals, especially coal and iron; the slopes are farmed. The streams on the northern slope are used to generate hydroelectricity. The Ebro River rises on the southeast slope. The mountains are the last Iberian redoubt of the European brown bear, and most of the Picos de Europa range was converted into a national park (1995) in part to protect it.
(Cordillera Cantábrica), mountains in northern Spain. They extend along the southern shore of the Bay of Biscay. Length, about 500 km; maximum elevation, 2, 648 m (Torre de Serredo).
The northern slopes are steep, precipitously sheer in places, and deeply dissected by river valleys and canyons; in the south they are flat, turned toward the meseta. The highest, western part (with an average elevation of about 2, 000 m) is formed of Paleozoic quartzite, marble, and limestone; the eastern part (the Basque Mountains) is lower (with elevations of 1,000–1, 500 m)and consists primarily of ridges whose peaks and slopes haves softer outlines; it is formed of Mesozoic limestone, sandstone, and dolomite. Karst is widespread. There are deposits of coal, iron, and polymetallic ores. The climate is moist, especially on the northern slopes; annual precipitation amounts to more than1,000 mm. There is a dense network of fast-flowing rivers. The northern slopes have broad-leaved and mixed forests (oak, beech, chestnut, and pine); predominant in the south are ever-green and deciduous shrubs. Above 1, 600–1, 800 m are subalpine scrub and alpine meadows.