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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 eastern portions of the Peninsula were built up during the Cretacean period, while, between these formations and the Granitic and Silurian, extensive lakes were left which have since disappeared but which may still be traced in the level steppes of Aragón and the two Castiles.
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.
Large islands arose in the neighbourhoods of Burgos, Soria Daroca, Granada, Malaga, and Gibraltar.
The general structural form of the Peninsula is somewhat that of a truncated pyramid, sloping abruptly towards the west, but gently towards the east.
The elevated plains of the centre are intersected by mountain ranges.
This name properly signifies the whole peninsula which forms the south-western extremity of Europe.
Since the political separation of Portugal, however, the name has gradually come to be restricted to the largest of the four political divisions of the Peninsula: (1) Spain; (2) Portugal; (3) the Republic of Andorra; (4) the British possession of Gibraltar, at the southern extremity.For hydrographic purposes the surface of Spain is divided by the Instituto Geográfico into the following ten basins: (1) the Eastern Pyrenees, basin of the Rivers Muga, Fluvía, Ter, Tordeva, Besós, Llobregat, Foix, and Francolí; (2) the basin of the Ebro, to the south and west of the preceding, containing the Nela, Zadorra, Ega, Arga, Aragón, Arba, Gallego, Cinea, and Segre, affuents of the Ebro, on its right side, and the Oca, Tiron, Oja, Najerilla, Iregua, Alhama, Jalon, Huerva, Aguas, Martin, Guadalope, Matarrana, and other smaller affuents on its left; the south-eastern region, watered by the Cenia, Migares, Palancia, Turia (or Guadalaviar), Jucar, Serpis, Vinalopó, Segura, and Almanzora; (4) the southern region, intersected by small streams, the most important rivers being the Almería, Adra, Guadalfeo, Guadalhorce, Guadiaro, and Guadalete; (5) the basin of the Guadlaquivir, the affluents of which are, on the right, the Rivers Borosa, Guadalimar, Rumblar, Jandula, Yeguas, Guadamellato, Guadiato, the Brook of Huesna, the River Viar, and the Brooks of Cala, Huelva, and Guadiamar, and on the left, the Guadiana Menor, Genil, Guadabullón, Guadojoz, Corbones, Guadaira, and Salado de Morón; (6) the basin of the Guadiana, with its tributaries, the Záncara, or Cigüela, Bullaque, and Gévora, on the right, and the Javalón, Zujar, Ardila, and Chanza, on the left; (7) the basin of the Tagus, which river rises in the Province of Teruel, in the Sierra de Molina, and receives, on the right, the Gallo, Jarama, Guadarrama, Alberche, Tiétar, Alagón, and Eljas, and, on the left, besides other streams of slight importance, the Guadiela and the Almonte.