Environment: Mediterranean Climate and Spain

Hola clase! Have you ever wondered how the environment affects the way people live?  The world is full of diverse environments and ecosystems.  No matter what country or area we live in, people are always interacting with the environment.  These interactions affect people’s lives on a daily basis. 

What makes this environment special or different?

As we have discussed before, Spain is located on the Iberian Peninsula.  Spain is in such an interesting location, because the entire country is surrounded by water.  The three main bodies of water that border Spain are the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and the Bay of Biscay.  There are also over 1,800 rivers and streams located throughout the country. Do you live near any major rivers, oceans or lakes? If you live in a city, I bet there is water nearby. Almost all major cities in the world developed because of their access to water.

In addition to the several bodies of water that surround the country, Spain also has five major mountains.  These mountains help to create a natural border between Spain and France.  The three most popular mountains are Sierra Nevada, Pyrenees and Montserrat.  Do you remember the long two-hour hike I took a couple of weeks ago?  That was in Montserrat. The view from these mountains is breathtaking! Have you ever seen a mountain before? What do you see on the horizon where you live?

What parts of this environment help people to live here?

The Mediterranean Sea is a very important feature for those living in Spain.  There is even a climate called “Mediterranean” which describes the characteristics of weather patterns, and seasonal shift in temperature and humidity, that the land around the Mediterranean Sea experiences. Since much of Spain is located on the Mediterranean coast, its climate can be described as Mediterranean. Similar plants and animals can be found in Spain and in Italy, for example, from certain species of fish and birds, to different types of olives, figs and tomatoes, because the coastal areas of each country are on the Mediterranean Sea!

The access to such a large body of water allows cargo ships to travel to and from the country easily. Spain ships and receives goods from around the world today. In fact, Spain has an added advantage because it is very close to the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, the Straits of Gibraltar, and North Africa. (Check out Spain on a map. Do you see how close the North African country Morocco is to Spain? It is just a few hours away by boat!) Many years ago its geographic location helped the country to have the best naval military fleets in the world!

What challenges do people face living in this environment?

There are several current issues affecting the environment in Spain.  There have been increased signs of sewage and pollution in the Mediterranean Sea due to the production of oil and gas.  This has caused an issue with access to clean drinking water for the country, as the water has become increasingly polluted.  There has also been an issue with toxic spills polluting the freshwater supply.

Sadly, the Mediterranean Sea has been overfished for many, many years. This affects the ecosystem because there are less fish living in the sea for less time. The people of Spain and the fishing companies will have to do things differently in order to rebuild the fish populations to the way they were before industrialization.

How have people been adapting to this environment?

Fortunately people in Spain want their country to respect and preserve its resources. Right now Spain is a leader in solar energy use and has begun to pass laws to help people and companies make the right decisions about the way they consume energy.

People have adapted to the environment through increased urban planning.  The Spanish have some of the most innovative or progressive building designs in the world, which take into account population growth, community development and the use of natural resources.

Despite all of the mountains, Spaniards have built a very extensive railway transportation system that goes all over the country.  This system is called the RENFE, and it is considered to be one of the best systems in all of Europe.  There is a station in almost every major city in Spain.  This form of transportation definitely saves the country gas or fuel, money and time.


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