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Meseta:see Iberian PeninsulaIberian Peninsula,
c.230,400 sq mi (596,740 sq km), SW Europe, separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees. Comprising Spain and Portugal, it is washed on the N and W by the Atlantic Ocean and on the S and E by the Mediterranean Sea; the Strait of Gibraltar separates it
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a plateau in Spain and Portugal, occupying most of the Iberian Peninsula. Tectonically, the Meseta corresponds to an ancient massif with a basement formed by Hercynian folding. The folded basement appears on the surface in the west, but in the east it is covered by marine and continental deposits of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. The Meseta tilts from east to west and consists of alternating plateaus, block ranges, and intermontane basins. The central part of the plateau is occupied by the Central Cordillera, rising to 2,592 m on Mount Almanzor (the highest point in the Meseta), and by several smaller block ranges extending sublatitudinally. These ranges separate the large New Castile Plateau, with elevations of 600–800 m, from the Old Castile Plateau, with elevations ranging from 800 m in the center to 1,000–1,200 m along the edge. In the south the Sierra Morena contain deposits of lead, copper, mercury, cobalt, and iron ore, and in Galicia in the northwest there are iron ore, gold, tin, and tungsten deposits.
The climate is predominantly subtropical and mediterranean, although northern Galicia has a temperate marine climate. In July the temperature ranges from 20° to 28°C, and in January it is about 5°C. Annual precipitation averages. 400–500 mm, in-creasing to 1,000–1,500 mm in the mountains and the northwest. Winters are wet, and summers are dry, except in Galicia. Most of the large rivers—the Duero, Tagus, Guadiana, and Mino— flow from east to west. Brown forest soils and cinnamonic Mediterranean soils predominate. Vegetation consists of maquis shrub thickets in the west and tomillares and garigue in the east and south. Broadleaf and coniferous forests grow in the mountains; the largest tracts are found in Galicia.
P. A. ERAMOV