Because of Spain's diverse geography and climates, there are a lot of different types of animals and plants that call Spain home. Mediterranean and continental maritime climates are typical in peninsular Spain. The temperature varies greatly and rainfall is irregular, which affects plant life. Spain has mountains, a Mediterranean and an Atlantic coast and lots of dry terrain in between, so the animals in Spain also vary considerably because of the diverse terrains.
The Brown Bear is a permanent and traditional part of the animal world of Spain; however, the number of brown bears has decreased drastically. Kwintessential.com reports that there were more than 1,000 brown bears in Spain's wild at the beginning of the 20th century, but now there are about 100. Cordillera Cantabrica National Park is the best place to go to spot one of these traditional creatures of Spain.
Vegetation: Northwest Spain
Peninsular Spain is about 20 percent forested, according to PlantaEuropa.org, which includes conifer plantations. In the northwest, a wetter region extending from Galicia to the Pyrenees as well as the Cantabrian coast, there are smatterings of mixed woodland where oak, beech and Scots Pine can be found.
Vegetation: Mediterranean & Inland
There are two main kinds of vegetation found in the Mediterranean zone: Aleppo Pine, Stone Pine, Holm and Kermes Oak as well as cacti and century plants. Holm, Pyrenean, Portugues and Cork Oaks are found predominantly in inland Spain. You will see large areas of grassland on the southern slopes of the Pyrenees and Cantabrian Mountains, but not so much grass is seen on mountains in eastern Spain.
The Long Haired Mountain goat is very common in Spain. Kwintessential.com claims that wildlife experts say there are as many as 20,000. The male goats have incredibly long horns. This mountain goat is extremely agile and can be seen on some of the steepest mountain faces in Spain. Some hunting of the Long Haired Mountain Goat is permitted to control levels.
The Iberian Lynx is indigenous to Spain and it is only found there. It is just one of many species of animals in Spain that is under the threat of extinction. Kwintessential.com states that experts believe there are about 400 in Spain as of 2010. The Iberian Lynx can best be seen in Andalusia's Danona National Park in southern Spain.
Spain is a great place if you like to bird watch. Kwintessential.com reports that there are more than 20 different species of birds of prey there; a good portion of these are indigenous; others migrate to and from Spain annually. The Egyptian and Griffin Vultures and the Golden Eagle are of particular interest to bird watchers. It is reported that there are more than 400 Black Vultures in Spain. Spain's Black Vulture is the largest bird of prey indigenous to Europe.
Vegetation: Canary Islands
In Spain's Canary Islands, you will find extensive woodlands in the western and central islands; the eastern island has mostly xerophytic (plants that need very little water to survive) shrubs, which reflect the arid climate of North Africa.
About the Author
Rachel Oliva is a writer/actress who has been writing since 2005. She has been published in "Valley Scene Magazine" and her voice has been featured in television and radio ads across the country. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater and psychology from Augsburg College. She studied acting at the Actors Studio and the Royal Theatre and writing at the UCLA Writer's Program.