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Nature in the Basque Country
Ambling plains, mountain ranges, green forests, rich marshes and relaxing beaches. Nature lovers have plenty to discover in the Basque Country.
Although the wide range of beautiful and rugged landscape is easily found in the nature reserves, it is also a feature of many other parts of the province. Deep countryside is only minutes from the towns and cities. Both active tourism enthusiasts and those only coming along for the views will be in their element.
But it’s not all green. The Basque Country offers any amounts of different landscapes sure to delight lovers of the open countryside: steep cliffs and gentle beaches in the coastal cities; green valleys set around little rivers; mountainous ranges offering all sorts of pleasant walks; sweeping plains with a different colour and climate. Despite its high population density, almost 290 inhabitants per square kilometre, and the heavy industrialisation of certain areas, with their subsequent environmental problems, the Basque Country has nevertheless managed to preserve its natural resources. Proof of this are the several nature reserves making it possible to enjoy flora and fauna in their virtually pure state.
Humid and dry
The little over 7,200 km2 covered by the Basque Autonomous Community offers two main kinds of landscape. On the one hand is the wide, green, humid and mountainous coastal belt of Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, and the mountains of Alava. On the other, the extensive, dry meridional plains of southern Alava as they head towards the landscape and climate of the succeeding Castilian meseta. The Alavese plain serves as an area of transition between the two extremes.
This difference is clearly reflected in the local hydrographic attributes. The rivers flowing into the Bay of Biscay (Mayor, Ibaizabal-Nervión, Butrón, Oka, Lea, Artibai, Deba, Urola, Oria, Urumea and Bidasoa) are fairly short, steep and run along the bottom of little valleys. On the other side of the mountains, however, the rivers of Alava become wider and meander a while before their waters flow into the river Ebro in the Rioja alavesa region.
These two hydrographic areas are likewise responsible for different climates. In the north, the weather is oceanic, with mild temperatures in both winter and summer and a fair amount of rain. In the south, however, the climate is cataloged as being of the continental kind, that is, dryer but with more extreme temperatures.
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