Stretching east to west across 430 sq km (166 sq mi), the Pyrenees fall mostly within Spain's borders, but also pass into the independent state of Andorra.The NASA Terra satellite captured this image of part of the Central Pyrenees - the highest part of the range - on 1 August 2000.The waves are generated as a diurnal tidal pulse flows over the shallow Camarinal Sill at Gibraltar. The small Spanish enclave of Ceuta occupies a narrow isthmus of land on the African side of the Strait of Gibraltar; the rest of the surrounding territory is Morocco.The waves flow eastward and refract around coastal features; they can be traced for as much as 150 km. Algeciras, Spain (left), the Bay of Gibraltar (Bahia de Algecira), and Gibraltar itself (right) are featured in this detailed vertical view over the European side of the Strait of Gibraltar. Densely populated Ceuta occupies the center of the image, its pink and white residential and industrial rooftops occasionally broken by patches of green - city parks and athletic fields.North of the city, seawalls enclose a small bay and harbor.On the beach, bright blue patches are large water parks.The network of smaller cities and towns in the interior and along the coastline attest to the areal extent of human presence on the Iberian landscape.
There is a long history of mining in the Pyrenees - tin, tungsten, talc, fluorite, barium, and gold. The Alps may be more famous, but the Pyrenees have been around much longer - tens of millions of years longer, in fact.
The Spanish fort at Monte Hacho on the eastern isthmus tip commands a clear view of the Strait. Saharan dust blowing off the west coast of Africa and over the Canary Islands (a Spanish archipelago) on 11 November 2006.
The horizontal line is the border between Morocco (to the north) and Western Sahara.
These mountains formed between 100 and 150 million years ago when the landmass that Spain occupies pushed into the one that France occupies.
The mountains have served as a natural barrier between the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and the rest of Europe ever since.