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Chapter 17—Mediterranean Europe

• Navigable: deep and wide enough to allow the passage of ships.

• Dry farming: A farming technique that leaves land unplanted every few years in order to gather
• Siroccos: A hot, dry wind from N. Africa.
• Hub: A central point of concentrated activity and influence.
• Seismic activity: Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
• Subsidence: A geological phenomenon in which the ground in an area sinks.
• Renaissance: The revival of art, literature, and learning that took place in Europe during the 14th, 15th,
and 16th centuries.
• Grabens: A long, narrow area that has dropped between 2 faults.
• Inhabitable: Able to support permanent residents.
• Tsunamis: A huge wave caused primarily by a disturbance beneath the ocean, such as an earthquake
or a volcanic eruption.

1. What are the physical characteristics of Spain?

• Castle—symbol of Spain’s history + physical characteristics
• Geographically, Spain is like a well-guarded castle
• Pyrenees Mountains block easy passage across the nation’s only land border with the rest of Europe—
approaches by water = no easier
• Steep cliffs rise directly from the water along large stretches of coastline—elsewhere coastal plains are
very narrow
• Rising form the slender coastal plains are the high plateaus that form most of Spain
• Central plateau—Meseta (Spanish world for plateau)
• Several large rivers flow across the Meseta + between mountain ranges that divide the plateau
• Only the Guadalquivir river is navigable—dangerous rapids make all other rivers unnavigable
• Almost all of Spain has a Mediterranean climate of mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers
• Elevation—major influence on climate
• Moist, Atlantic winds rising over the Cantabrian Mts. Along the N. coast drop ample rain for farmers to
raise corn and cattle
• Meseta in the interior—rain shadow of the mountains and is much drier
• Farmers in Meseta grow wheat or barley, using dry farming methods that leave land unplanted every
few years in order to gather moisture
• Sheep + goats graze on slopes too steep/dry for growing crops
• SE. Spain much drier than rest of country—semiarid
• Siroccos blow over SE. Spain—irrigation provides water for growing citrus fruits + olive trees on E.
coastal plains near Valencia and Barcelona
2. How is Spain’s economy changing?
• Agriculture to new industries
• Major export—transportation equipment
• 1 major industrial center—Bilbao—local iron ore provides material for producing steel
• Barcelona (nation’s largest port)—center for textiles and plastics
• Despite this economic shift, Spain often suffers from high unemployment rates
3. What patterns of settlement exist in Spain?
• Madrid—largest city + capital due to its center location
• Central control grew easier as Madrid became the hub of new transportation routes
• Madrid prospered y tapping the wealth of other Spanish regions
• Recent decades—Spanish built newer industries around Madrid—migrants from poor farming areas
have moved to the city—metropolis now has more than 3 million residents
• Problems—large population, including heavy traffic and air pollution
4. How is Spain an example of cultural divergence?
• Despite nearly 500 years of central control, Spain’s regions hold on to their strong independent
• Basques number fewer than 1 million people, yet they inhabit 1of Spain’s richest areas
• Basque language—not related to any other European language and is difficult to learn
• Basques have a strong tradition of cultural divergence
• Although the region has been granted limited autonomy, some Basques demand total independence—
a few of these separatists have engaged in violent acts against the central Spanish government
• Political tensions less severe in Catalonia—however, pressures for greater use of the Catalan language
(mixture of French + Spanish) are evident
• Other parts of Spain also asking for greater local control
5. Compare Portugal’s position of power today to that of the past, including global trade patterns and
• Global Trade Patterns
o Portugal—large impact on world affairs
o Emerged as independent nation in 1143—quickly became a trading nation
o 15th century—Portugal explored new sea routes to E. Asia around Africa + est. many trading
o Spain + Portugal both expanded colonial empires to S. America—conflicts rose so treaty was
signed—Portugal gained control of large parts of Africa + Brazil
• Migrations
o Empires of Spain + Portugal shrank in early 1800s as many colonies gained independence
o Not until 1975 did Portugal grant independence to their largest African colonies—since then,
nearly 1 million people from former colonies have immigrated to Portugal, seeking greater
o When Portugal gave back its colonies, it turned toward Europe—joined EU in 1986
6. What is the basis of Portugal’s current economy?
• Industry
• Late 1990s==Ford + Volkswagen built a motor vehicle plant near Lisbon
• Exports include cork, textiles, clothing, and footwear
• Nation is working to increase literacy rate of 87%
• Industrial pollution—growing problem
• Portugal faces economic, environmental, and human challenges
7. Which nation’s economy profits most from trade?
• Italy—total exports = 242.6 billion $, total imports = 206.9 billion $
8. What European languages have diffused the most throughout the world?
• English, Spanish, French
9. How has the environment in Italy changed?
• Apennine Mountains experiences seismic activity
• Aeolian Islands off S. Italy and Sicily have been sites of historic + recent volcanic eruptions
• Italy’s climate S. of the Alps is Mediterranean—hot and try in summer + mild and wet in winter
• Trees that once covered many hillsides have been cleared for space + fuel over the centuries—only
scrub vegetation remains
• Large volumes of soil have eroded through overgrazing by goats + sheep
• Until recently Italy relied heavily on agriculture—only 10% of Italy’s work force is agricultural today
10. What are the migration patterns in Italy?
• People can’t easily make their homes on mountains that dominate much of Italy’s landscape, so the
populated areas are very crowded
• Early 1900s—many Italians forced to move because small amount of farmland couldn’t support
• Unemployment in rural areas still high, especially in S. Italy
• Since WW2, many workers migrated from poor S. regions to N. provinces of Lombardy and Piedmont
to find jobs in factories
11. Describe the changing face of Italy’s economic activities.
• Government has encouraged growth of factories and services recently
• Automobiles, home appliances, other metal goods—most successful products
• Commercial industries have boosted Italy’s steel industry and helped growth of smaller factories that
supply parts + machines
• Turned geographic disadvantages into opportunities
• Until 1950s—relatively poor—worked hard to for EU to reach a larger and richer market
• Creativity played a role in industrial boom—Italian businesses developed new styles, designs, +
methods for making products—made innovations such as sleek home furnishings + high-fashion
clothes more attractive to foreign markets
12. What are the economic activities in the regions of Italy?
• Northern Italy
o Since drainage was improved in the Middle Ages, the valley has been Italy’s most productive
agricultural area—wheat and rice
o Po Valley important center of commercial industry—2/3 of Italy’s factory products made there
o Hydroelectricity from rivers in the Alps powers many factories
o Ski resorts in the Alps and splendid lakes attract visitors all year round
o Dairy farms very productive and profitable
o Frequent flooding around Venice has stunted agricultural and industrial growth
o Venice faces problems of pollution and subsidence—yet still remains popular with tourists for its
intricate network of canals that serve as streets
• Central Italy
o Rome—Colosseum, Forum, Vatican City (headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church)
o Bologna—leading agricultural center know for wonderful variety of foods
o Florence—cultural center made famous by Michelangelo and Italian painters during the
• Southern Italy
o Freeways bring this region closer to the rest of the nation
o Agriculture not highly profitable because of poor soil and outdated farming techniques
o Some heavy industries located here after WW2 but have suffered recently—many S. have
migrated to N. Italy
o Naples—largest city suffers from some of the worst poverty in Europe—# of available jobs can’t
keep up with the # of people who wish to work—people hope Italy’s economy develops within
the EU, and standard of living will improve
13. What are the physical characteristics of Greece?
• Greece includes about 2,000 islands
• N. mountains—extensions of Dinaric Alps, which form the mountainous backbone of the Balkan nations
• S. Greece—product of Eurasian tectonic plate and African Plate
• Major faults here thrust some lands higher and cause others to sink—grabens were flooded (Ex:
Aegean Sea)
• Gulf of Corinth—another graben—separates most of Greece from the Peloponnese, a large peninsula
of rugged mountains
14. How do Greece’s physical characteristics influence its economic activities and trade patterns?
• Economic Activities
o Narrow coastal plains provide flat areas on which wheat and grains are grown—olive and citrus
groves also abound
o Agriculture—important economic activity despite poor soil, sparse rainfall, and outdated farming
o With financial assistances from their government and the EU, farmers are growing new products
for export
o Sheeps and goats graze on more rugged slopes—have destroyed natural forests, leaving a
scrubby vegetation that does little to prevent soil erosion
o Many people make a living from fishing, but tourism continues to grow as a major economic
activity—visitors from around the world seek the sun, sparkling water, and gleaming beaches of
the Greek islands
• Trade Patterns
o Parallel ranges make travel difficult in many places
o Piraeus—Greece’s largest port—grew to importance during 20th century
o Greece relies heavily on trade over water—1 of the world’s largest commercial shipping fleets +
shipbuilding is an important industry
o Other industrials located near the docks of Piraeus—can take advantage of low transportation
costs for imported raw materials and exported manufactured goods
o Sea also enables Greece to maintain contact with its many islands
15. Why is Greek culture considered a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures?
• W. cultures has so many of its roots in ancient Greece
• Democratic government based on Greek ideals
• Iliad and Odyssey remain popular centuries after they were composed
• To Greeks the poems provided guide for moral behavior and were the cornerstone of a proper