Geography of Portugal

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Portugal is a coastal nation in southwestern Europe, located at the western end of the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain (on its northern and eastern frontiers: a total of 1,214 km (754 mi)). Portuguese territory also includes a series of archipelagoes in the Atlantic Ocean (the Azores and Madeira), which are strategic islands along western sea approaches to the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea. In total, the country occupies an area of 92,090 km2 (35,560 sq mi) of which 91,470 km2 (35,320 sq mi) is land and 620 km2 (240 sq mi) water.[1]

Despite these definitions, Portugal's border with Spain remains a unresolved territorial dispute between the two countries. Portugal does not recognise the border between Caia and Cuncos River deltas, since the beginning of the 1801 occupation of Olivenza by Spain. This territory, though under de facto Spanish occupation, remains a de jure part of Portugal, consequently no border is henceforth recognised in this area.

Contents

Physical

Portugal is located on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula and plateau, that divides the inland Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. It is located on the Atlantic coast of this plateau, and crossed by several rivers which have their origin in Spain. Most of these rivers flow from east to west disgorging in the Atlantic; from north to south, the primary rivers are the Minho, Douro, Tagus and the Guadiana.[2]

Coastline

The continental shelf has an area of 28,000 km2 (11,000 sq mi), although its width is variable from 150 km in the north to 25 km in the south.[3] Its strong relief is marked by deep submarine canyons and the continuation of the main rivers. The Estramadura Spur separates the Iberian Abyssal and Tagus Abyssal Plains, while the continental slope is flanked by sea-mounts and abuts against the prominent Goringe Bank in the south.[4] Currently, the Portuguese government claims a 200 metre depth, or to a depth of exploitation.

The Portuguese coast is extensive; in addition to approximately 943 km (586 mi)) along the coast of continental Portugal, the archipelagos of the Azores (667 km) and Madeira (250 km) are primarily surrounded by rough cliff coastlines. Most of these landscapes alternate between rough cliffs and fine sand beaches; the region of the Algarve is recognized for its tourist-friendly sand beaches, while at the same time its steep coastlines around Cape St. Vincent is well known for steep and foreboding cliffs. An interesting feature of the Portuguese coast is Ria Formosa with some sandy islands and a mild and pleasant climate characterized by warm but not very hot summers and generally mild winters.

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