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Owing to the diversity of formations described above, and the elevation of the central portions, the surface of the Peninsula is, in general, of an uneven character with a very unequally distributed irrigation, some regions enjoying a wonderful fertility, while others are nothing but steppes.In other parts, again, the abrupt slope of the ground is such that the rains produce torrential floods in the rivers and thus negative their beneficial action.Its four extreme points are: on the north, the Estaca de Vares, in N. 43° 47' 32"; on the south, the southern extremity of the Island of Tarifa, in S. 35° 59' 49"; on the east, Cape Creus, in longitude 3 ° 20' 16" E.
What is now the Ebro was then a vast lake extending through the Eocene and Pliocene formations of Lérida, Saragossa, and Logroño, and joining in the regions of Sto.
No less uneven is the distribution of rainfall — from the northern provinces, with their ever-clouded skies, to the almost invariably dry and transparent atmosphere of the south.
The contrast extends even to the seas surrounding Spain — the tranquil Mediterranean, the stormy Bay of Biscay, and the Atlantic with a character midway between.
The mountain masses may be divided into six groups: (1) the northern, consisting of the Pyrenees on the east and the Cantabrian Range on the west, and terminated by Capes Creus and Finisterre; (2) the Iberic, or eastern, comprising the mountains which bound the basin of the Ebro and extend as far as Cape Gate; (3) the central system, the Carpetan, or Carpeto-Vetonic, Range, so called from the Carpetani and Vetones who inhabited its slopes in ancient times; (4) the Mountains of Toledo, or Cordillera Oretana; (5) the Betic system, or Cordillera Mariánica, forming the right-hand side of the basin of the Betis, or Guadalquivir, and the chief part of which is the Sierra Morena; (6) the Penibetic system, extending from the Sierra Nevada to Cape Tarifa.
The highest elevations are: Maladeta (11,004 ft.) and Pico de Nethou (11,168 ft.), in the Pyrenees: Peña de Corredo (8784 ft.), and Moncayo (7593 ft), in the Cantabrian Range; Plaza del Moro Almanzor (8692 ft.), in the Carpetan Range; the plateau of Corocho de Rocigalgo (4750 ft.), in the Toledo Mountains; Estrella (4260 ft.), in the Betic Range; Mulhacen (11,417 ft.) and Veleta (11,382 ft.) in the Penibetic.
The Quaternary formations are found chiefly on the east coast and the Provinces of Madrid (northwest), Segovia, Valladolid, Palencia, and Asturias, and the basins of the principal rivers.