Southern Europe


Compare the geographic features of Spain and Portugal.
Summarize the physical features and cultural contributions of Italy.
Outline the physical geography and cultural contributions of Greece.

     Chapter Overview

Chapter 12: Southern Europe

Spain, Portugal, and Andorra make up the Iberian Peninsula. People there enjoy a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. Although agriculture is still important to Spain and Portugal, most people now work in manufacturing and service industries. Spain has several distinct cultural regions, each with its own language or dialect.

The Italian peninsula is shaped like a boot. It extends out from Southern Europe into the center of the Mediterranean Sea. The Po River valley, in the north, is Italy's main agricultural region and its principal industrial center. The capital city of Rome was once the heart of the Roman Empire. In the 1300s the Renaissance began in Italy.

The mainland of Greece sits on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula. Another peninsula, the Peloponnesus, extends from the mainland farther south into the Mediterranean Sea. There are also 2,000 islands surrounding the mainland. Shipping and tourism are vital to Greece's economy. Ancient Greece laid the foundation for western civilization.

     Quick Notes

Spain and Portugal

Spain's dry central highland slopes down to fertile coastal lowlands. Mountains rise on its northern and southern coasts.
Both Spain and Portugal have a mostly Mediterranean climate.
Spain & Portugal has developed an industrial economy.
Portugal is more culturally uniform than Spain, which has several distinct cultural regions.


Italy's major landform is the Apennine mountain chain that runs through the center of the Italian Peninsula.
Fertile soil, a mild climate, and hydroelectric power help make northern Italy a productive region.
The ancient Romans made important contributions to Western civilization in language, government, and architecture.
Rome, Italy's capital, encompasses Vatican City, the world's smallest nation and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.


Greece consists of a mountainous mainland and nearly 2000 offshore islands.
The Mediterranean climate found throughout Greece varies only slightly with changes in elevation.
The Greek economy relies on tourism and shipping.
Ancient Greece laid the foundations of Western science, art, philosophy, government, and drama.

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