1902 Encyclopedia > Spain > Spain - Rivers. Lakes.

(Part 2)


Spain - Rivers. Lakes.

The main water-parting of the peninsula is everywhere near the edge of the tableland on the north, east, and south, and hence describes a semicircle with the convexity to the east. The Ebro alone of the great rivers flows into the Mediterranean. The following table gives the length of the principal Iberian rivers, with the area of their basins,—the length according to different authorities, the area of the basins according to Strelbitsky, whose measurements of area appear to be more trustworthy than those made by him of the length of rivers:—

== TABLE ==

With the exception of the Guadalquivir, none of the Iberian rivers is of great service for inland navigation, so far as they lie within the Spanish frontier. On the other hand, those of the east and south are of great value for irrigation, and the Jucar and Segura in the south-east are employed in floating timber from the Serrania de Cuenca.

The EBRO and TAGUS are described in separate articles (q.v.).

The Miño (Portug. Minho, the Minius of the Romans) is formed by the union of two small streams in the north of the province of Lugo, and flows first southwards, then on the whole south-westwards to the Atlantic, forming in the lower part of its course the boundary between Spain and Portugal. It becomes navigable for small vessels at Salvaterra, 25 miles above its month. Large vessels cannot cross the bar at its mouth. Its only important tributary is the Sil (left), which at the confluence is the larger river of the two.

The Duero (Portug. Douro, the Durius of the Romans) emerges from the rock as a small stream among the mountains of Urbion on the borders of the provinces of Logroño and Soria, and, after describing a wide sweep to the east, flows westwards across the northern half of the Spanish tableland and across Portugal. For a distance of nearly 60 miles it forms the boundary between the two countries. It begins to be navigable 80 miles above its mouth, but seagoing vessels ascend only to Oporto, and even so far, on account of a bar at the mouth, only at high tide. The principal tributaries on the right are the Pisuerga and Esla, on the left the Adaja, Tormes, and Coa (the last in Portugal).

The Guadiana (i.e., Wádi Ana, the Anas of the ancients) was long believed to take its rise in the district known as the Campo de Montiel, where a string of small lakes known as the Lagunas de Ruidera (partly in Ciudad Real, partly in Albacete) are connected by a stream which, on leaving the last of them, flows north-westwards towards the Zancara and then disappears within two or three miles of that river. About 22 miles to the south-west of the point of disappearance the stream was believed to re-emerge in the form of several large springs which form a number of lakes at no great distance from the Zancara, and these lakes are hence known as the "eyes of the Guadiana" (los ojos de Guadiana). The small stream issuing from them is known as the Guadiana and soon joins the Zancara. It has now been ascertained, however, that the stream which disappears higher up can have no such course, but that in fact its waters flow or trickle underground to the Zancara itself, which is therefore entitled to ho regarded as the upper Guadiana. It has its source not far from that of the Jucar in the east of the plateau of La Mancha, and flows westwards till, under the name of the Guadiana, it turns south-south-west on the Portuguese frontier. In piercing the Sierra Morena it forms a series of foaming rapids, and it begins to be navigable only at Mertola, about 42 miles above its mouth.

The Guadalquivir (i.e., Wádi-el-Kebir, "the great river," the Baetis of the ancients), though the shortest of the great rivers of the Peninsula, is the only one that at all seasons of the year is a full-bodied stream, being fed in winter by the rains, in summer by the melting of the snows on the Sierra Nevada. What is regarded as the main stream rises in the Sierra de Cazorla in the east of the province of Jaen, but it does not become a considerable river till after it is joined by the Guadiana Menor (from the Sierra Nevada), on the left bank and the Guadalimar on the right. Lower down the principal tributary which it receives is the Jenil (left). In the days of the Moors the Guadalquivir was navigable for large vessels to Cordova, but, having been allowed to become silted up in the lower part of its course, it has only recently again been made navigable for vessels of 1200 tons burden to Seville.

Lakes. The only considerable lakes in Spain are three coast lagoons,—that of Albufera in the province of Valencia, the Mar Menor in Murcia, and the Laguna de la Janda in Cadiz behind Cape Trafalgar. Small alpine and other lakes are numerous, and small salt lakes are to be found in every steppe region.

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