- Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula, or Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of
Europe, and includes modern day Spain, Portugal, Andorraand Gibraltarand a very small part of France. It is the westernmost of the three southern European peninsulas (the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan peninsulas). It is bordered on the south-east and east by the Mediterranean Sea, and on the north, west and south-west by the Atlantic Ocean. The Pyreneesform the northeast edge of the peninsula, separating it from the rest of Europe. In the south, it approaches the northern coast of Africa. It is the second largest peninsula in Europe, with an area of 582 860 km². The name "Iberia" was also used since the times of Ancient Greeceand Rome for another territory at the opposite corner of Europe, Caucasian Iberia, in modern day Georgia.
The term "
Iberia" is the Greek equivalent of Latin " Hispania". Surviving Roman texts always use "Hispania" for the peninsula (first mentioned in 200 BC by the poet Quintus Ennius) while Greek texts employ "Iberia". It is believed that the root "Iber" is of Iberian origin, and could relate to the word ancient Iberians used to say "river" (which may have survived in the modern name or the Ebroriver, which was named by the Romans "Iberus Flumen", or River Iber).
Substituting "Spanish" for
Iberianor "Spain" for the Iberian Peninsula can be anachronistic and potentially misleading, since the peninsula also includes Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar, and a tiny French territory in the Pyrenees, and has not been under unified rule since the short-lived Iberian Union(1580-1640).
The modern usage of "
Hispanic", if not used in a specific historical meaning, mostly refers to Spain or the Spanish speaking world. The equivalent term for Portugal or the Portuguese speaking worldis " Lusitanic" (derived from the Roman Provinceof Hispania Lusitania). " Iberian", in modern usage, refers to the whole of the peninsula, that is, Portugal and Spain and to a lesser extent Gibraltar and Andorra.
Modern countries and territories
Political divisions of the Iberian Peninsula sorted by area:
Prehistoric Iberia, Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula, Hispania, Visigothic Kingdom, Spania, Al Andalus, Reconquista, History of Portugaland History of Spain."The Iberian Peninsula has been inhabited for at least 1,000,000 years as remains found in the sites at Atapuercademonstrate. Among these sites is the cave of Gran Dolina, where six hominin skeletons, dated between 780,000 and one million years ago, were found in 1994. Experts have debated whether these skeletons belong to the species " Homo erectus", " Homo heidelbergensis", or a new species called " Homo antecessor". [F. Jordá Cerdá "et al.", "History of Spain 1: Prehistory", Gredos, 1986, ISBN 84-249-1015-X.] [José Mattoso (dir.), "História de Portugal. Primeiro Volume: Antes de Portugal", Lisboa, Círculo de Leitores, 1992 - in Portuguese.]
Around 200,000 BC, during the
Lower Paleolithicperiod, Neanderthals first entered the Iberian Peninsula. Around 70,000 BC, during the Middle Paleolithicperiod, the last ice agebegan and the Neanderthal Mousterianculture was established. Around 35,000 BC, during the Upper Paleolithic, the Neanderthal Châtelperroniancultural period began. Emanating from Southern Francethis culture extended into Northern Iberia. This culture continued to exist until around 28,000 BC when Neanderthal man faced extinction, their final refuge being present-day Portugal.At about the 40th millennium BCModern Humans make way into the Iberian peninsula, coming from Southern France. Here, this genetically homogeneous population (characterized by the M173 mutationin the Y chromosome), developed the M343mutation, giving rise to the R1b Haplogroup, still the most common in modern Portuguese and Spanish males. In Iberia, Modern Humans will develop a series of different cultures, such as the Aurignacian, Gravettian, Solutreanand Magdalenian cultures, some of then characterized by complex forms of Paleolithic art.
During the Neolithic expansion, various
megalithiccultures had developed in Iberia. An open seas navigation culture from the east Mediterranean, called the Cardium culture, had also extended their influence to the eastern coasts of Iberia, possibly as early as the 5th millennium B.C. These people may have had some relation to the subsequent development of the Iberian civilization.
Chalcolithicor Copper Age (c. 3000 BC in Iberia) a series of complex cultures developed, that would give rise of the first civilizations in Iberia and of extensive exchange networks that would reach to the Baltic, the Middle Eastand North Africa. Since c. 2150 BC the Bell Beaker cultureintrudes in Chalcolithic Iberia, of quite clear Central European origin. Bronze Age cultures eventually developed since c.1800 BC, where the civilization of Los Millareswas followed by that of El Argar- from this center, bronze technology spread to other areas, such as those of the Bronze of Levante, South-Western Iberian Bronzeand Cogotas I. In the Late Bronze Age the clearly urban civilization of Tartessoswould develop in the area of modern western Andalusia, characterized by Phoenicianinfluence and Tartessian scriptof its Tartessian language, a language isolatenot related to the Iberian language.
Early in the first millennium BC, several waves of Pre-Celts and
Celtsmigrated from central Europe, thus partially changing the ethnic landscape of Iberia into a clearly Indo-Europeanspace in its northern and western regions.
Iron Age, starting in the 7th century BC, the global panorama in Iberia was one of complex agrarian and urban civilizations, either Pre-Celtic or Celtic (such as the Lusitanians, the Celtiberians, the Gallaeci, the Astur, or the Celtici, amongst others), the cultures of the Iberiansin the eastern and southern zones of Iberia and the cultures of the Aquitanian in the western portion of the Pyrenees. The seafaring Phoenicians, Greeksand Carthaginianssuccessively settled along the Mediterranean coast and founded trading colonies there over a period of several centuries. Around 1100 BCE Phoenician merchants founded the trading colony of Gadiror Gades (modern day Cádiz) near Tartessos. In the 8th century BCE the first Greek colonies, such as Emporion (modern Empúries), were founded along the Mediterranean coast on the East, leaving the south coast to the Phoenicians. The Greeks are responsible for the name Iberia, after the river Iber ( Ebro). In the 6th century BCE the Carthaginiansarrived in Iberia while struggling with the Greeks for control of the Western Mediterranean. Their most important colony was Carthago Nova(Latin name of modern day Cartagena).In 219 BCE, the first Roman troops invaded the Iberian Peninsula, during the Second Punic waragainst the Carthaginians, and annexed it under Augustusafter two centuries of war with the Celtic and Iberian tribes and the Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian colonies, resulting in the creation of the province of Hispania. It was divided into Hispania Ulteriorand Hispania Citeriorduring the late Roman Republic, and during the Roman Empire, it was divided into Hispania Taraconensisin the northeast, Hispania Baeticain the south and Lusitaniain the southwest.Hispania supplied the Roman Empire with food, olive oil, wine and metal. The emperors Trajan, Hadrianand Theodosius I, the philosopher Seneca and the poets Martialand Lucan were born from families living in Iberia.
In the early 5th century,
Germanic tribesinvaded the peninsula, namely the Suevi, the Vandals( Silingiand Hasdingi) and their allies, the Sarmatian Alans. Only the kingdom of the Suevi( Quadiand Marcomanni) would endure after the arrival of another wave of Germanic invaders, the Visigoths, who conquered all of the Iberian peninsula and expelled or partially integrated the Vandals and the Alans. The Visigoths eventually conquered the Suevi kingdom and its capital city Bracara(modern day Braga) in 584-585. They would also conquer the province of the Byzantine Empire(552-624) of Spaniain the south of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands.
In 711 CE, a
North African Moorish Umayyad army invaded Visigothic Christian Hispania. Under their leader Tariq ibn-Ziyad, they landed at Gibraltarand brought most of the Iberian Peninsula under Islamic rule in an eight-year campaign. Al-ʾAndalūs (Arabic الإندلس : Land of the Vandals) is the Arabic name given the Iberian Peninsula by its Muslimconquerors and its subsesquent inhabitants.
From the 8th to the 15th centuries, parts of the Iberian peninsula were ruled by the
Moors(mainly Berber with some Arab) who had crossed over from North Africa. Many of the ousted Gothic nobles took refuge in the unconquered north Asturian highlands. From there they aimed to reconquer their lands from the Moors: this war of reconquest is known as the Reconquista. Christian and Muslim kingdoms fought and allied among themselves. The Muslim taifakings competed in patronage of the arts, the Way of Saint Jamesattracted pilgrims from all Western Europe and the Jewish population of Iberia set the basis of Sephardicculture.
medieval timesthe peninsula housed many small states including Castile, Aragon, Navarre, León and Portugal. The peninsula was part of the Islamic Almohadempire until they were finally uprooted. The last major Muslim stronghold was Granadawhich was eliminated by a combined Castilian and Aragonese force in 1492. The small states gradually amalgamated over time, with the exception of Portugal, even if for a brief period (1580-1640) the whole peninsula was united politically under the Iberian Union. After that point the modern position was reached and the peninsula now consists of the countries of Spainand Portugal(excluding their islands - the Portuguese Azoresand Madeira Islandsand the Spanish Canary Islandsand Balearic Islands; and the Spanish exclaves of Ceutaand Melilla), Andorra, French Cerdagneand Gibraltar.
Nationalities in Spain
Forests of the Iberian Peninsula
* [http://www.iberianature.com Iberianature] A guide to the environment, geography, climate, wildlife, natural history and landscape of Iberia
* [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Mapas/Iberia/Populi.htm Detailed map of the Pre-Roman Peoples of Iberia (around 200 BC)]
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