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Iberia....Isn’t that an airline?

One of the most com­mon ques­tions I get when talk­ing about my busi­ness per­tains to the mean­ing of Iberia. That’s part­ly my fault. Even in my web­site copy, I fre­quent­ly refer to my focus on Spain and Por­tu­gal and then turn around to talk about how I focus on Iberia. So if you are not clear on exact­ly what Iberia is, it’s OK. In fact, I think it would be a bit strange if you did. 

The easy answer is pret­ty straight for­ward. It’s the penin­su­la at the south­west cor­ner of the Euro­pean Con­ti­nent con­tain­ing the nations of Spain and Por­tu­gal. Fur­ther­more, we can say that the Pyre­nees moun­tains set the north­ern lim­it of the penin­su­la and gen­er­al­ly sep­a­rate it from France and the rest of Con­ti­nen­tal Europe. And now we can breathe a sigh a relief for a moment since we are all on the same sheet of music. How­ev­er, I want to take a look at a cou­ple of minor dis­crep­an­cies that result from our ele­gant answer. Noth­ing to be too con­cerned about, but a small mat­ter that you can use to impress friends on triv­ia night. Here’s the thing. Spain and Por­tu­gal are not the only nation­al denizens of the Iber­ian Penin­su­la. (And yes, Iberia and the Iber­ian Penin­su­la are geo­graph­ic synonyms.) 

  1. The first prob­lem we have is the French. (They always seem to cause trou­ble, don’t they! :) With­out going into detail, part of France is actu­al­ly locat­ed in Iberia. The Cerdagne region was left south of the Pyran­nese fol­low­ing a 1659 treaty. It’s a beau­ti­ful area, and I’ll come back to it in a future blog post.
  2. The Prin­ci­pal­i­ty of Andor­ra. Andor­ra is indeed an inde­pen­dent nation, and as such, is one of the small­est in the world. Locat­ed in the Pyre­nees, shar­ing bor­ders with France and Spain, it is an impor­tant play­er in both com­merce and tourism. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing des­ti­na­tion, and will also be the focus of a future post. 
  3. Now here’s one you already knew about: The British Over­seas Ter­ri­to­ry of Gibral­tar. Talk about a polit­i­cal sore spot for Spain! You may have heard more about Gibral­tar recent­ly because nobody real­ly under­stands what its sta­tus would be if the British move for­ward with their exit from the Euro­pean Union. In the mean­time, it’s full of great pubs and some very clever mon­keys which we will get back to in the future.

So now you know that Iberia is real­ly the penin­su­la that con­tains Spain, Por­tu­gal, Andor­ra, Gibral­tar, and part of France. And here’s what makes it even more unfair that I tend to use Spain/​Portugal and Iberia inter­change­ably…… Spain and Por­tu­gal are not lim­it­ed to Iberia! From arch­i­pel­a­gos to over­seas ter­ri­to­ries, these nations are cer­tain­ly not con­strained by the Penin­su­la. More on that in the next issue of The Iber­ian Compass. 

Hap­py New Year to all of you!

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Picos de Europa

Map Source: Source: Esri, Dig­i­tal­Globe, Geo­Eye, Earth­star Geo­graph­ics, CNES/​Airbus DS, USDA, USGS, Aero­GRID, IGN, and the GIS User Com­mu­ni­ty | CC BY 4.0 ign​.es, Esri, HERE, Garmin, FAO, NOAAUSGS