Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/547

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527
SPAHIS—SPAIN

Nine Muses. Lo Spagna was alive in 1528, but he appears to have died before 1530, as in that year a pupil of his named Doni completed a fresco in S. Jacopo, near Spoleto, which Lo Spagna had begun.


SPAHIS (in Persian Sipari, meaning warriors, and synonymous with Sepoy) originally the holders of fiefs in Central Asia who yielded personal military service to their superior chief. In time the term came to be applied to the soldiery furnished in their own stead. A similar institution existed in Turkey, and the " Spahis " were the light irregular cavalry which from the time of Sultan Amurath I. (1326) down to the beginning of the 19th century formed the flower of the Turkish army; at one period they are estimated to have numbered 130,000. " Spahis " is the term now applied to certain native cavalry regiments in Algiers and Tunis, officered by Frenchmen.


SPAIN (España), a kingdom in the extreme south-west of Europe, comprising about eleven-thirteenths of the Iberian Peninsula, in addition to the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, and the fortified station of Ceuta, on the Moroccan coast opposite to Gibraltar. Each of the two island groups forms one of the forty-nine provinces of the kingdom, although only the first named belongs geographically to Spain. Ceuta is included in the province of Cadiz. In 1900 the kingdom (ex- clusive of its colonies) had a population of 18,607,674, and a total area of 194,700 sq. m. It is thus rather more than twice the size of Great Britain, nearly 50,000 sq. m. larger than Japan, and nearly 85,000 sq. m. larger than Italy and Sicily. Exclusive of the Canaries its area is 191,893 sq. m. On all sides except that of Portugal the boundaries of continental Spain are natural, the Peninsula being separated from France by the Pyrenees and on every other side being surrounded by the sea. On the side of Portugal a tract of inhospitable country ;led originally to the separation between the two kingdoms, inasmuch as it caused the reconquest of the comparatively populous maritime tracts from the Moors to be carried out independently of that of the eastern kingdoms, which were also well peopled. The absence of any such means of intercommunication as navig- able rivers afford has favoured the continuance of this isolation. The precise line of the western frontier is formed for a con- siderable length by portions of the chief rivers or by small tributaries, and on the north (between Portugal and Galicia) it is determined to a large extent by small mountain ranges. The British rock of Gibraltar, in the extreme south of the peninsula, is separated from Spain by a low isthmus known as the Neutral Ground.

By the relinquishment of Cuba and the cession of Porto Rico, the Philippine and Sulu Islands, and Guam, the largest of the Ladrones, to the United States, as a consequence Colonial Posses-
sions.
of the war of 1898, and of the remaining Ladrone or Marianne Islands, together with the Caroline and Pelew Islands, to Germany by a treaty of the 8th of February 1899, the colonial possessions of Spain were greatly reduced. Apart from Ceuta, Spain possesses on the Moroccan seaboard Melilla, Alhucemas, Pefion de la Gomera, Ifni, and the Chaffarinas islets. Besides these isolated posts Spain holds Rio de Oro, a stretch of the Saharan coast, and its hinterland lying between Morocco and French West Africa; the Muni River Settlements or Spanish Guinea, situated between French Congo and the German colony of Cameroon; Fernando Po, Annobon, Corisco and other islands in the Gulf of Guinea. Spain has given to France the right of pre-emption over any of her West African colonies.

I.—General Survey or the Spanish Kingdom

Physical Features.—The coast-line on the north and north-west is everywhere steep and rocky. On the north there are numerous small indentations, many of which form convenient harbours, although the current flowing along the coast from the west often leaves in the stiller water at their mouths obstruction bars. The best harbours are to be found Coast-lines. on the rias or fjord-like indentations in the W. and N. of Galicia, where high tides keep the inlets well scoured; here occur the fine natural harbours of Pontevedra and Vigo, Corunna and Ferrol. Less varied in outline but more varied in character are the Spanish coasts on the south and east. The seaboard is generally flat from the frontier of Portugal to the Straits of Gibraltar. Between the mouth of the Rio Tinto and that of the Guadalquivir the shore is lined by a series of sand-dunes, known as the Arenas Gordas. Next follows a marshy tract at the mouth of the Guadalquivir known as Las Marismas, after which the coast-line becomes more varied, and includes the fine Bay of Cadiz. From the Straits of Gibraltar a bold and rocky coast continues almost to Cape Palos, a little beyond the fine natural harbour of Cartagena. North of Cape Palos a line of flat coast, beginning with the narrow strip which cuts off the lagoon called the Mar Menor from the Mediterranean, bounds half of the province of Alicante, but in its northern half this province, becoming mountainous, runs out to the lofty headland of Cape de la Nao. The whole coast of the Bay of Valencia is low and ill provided with harbours; and along the east of Catalonia stretches of steep and rocky coast alternate with others of an opposite character.

The surface of Spain is remarkable at once for its striking contrasts and its vast expanses of dreary uniformity. There are mountains rising with alpine grandeur above the snow-line, but often sheltering rich and magnificent valleys at their Surface. base. Naked walls of white limestone tower above dark woods of cork-oak and olive. In other parts, as in the Basque country, in Galicia, in the Serrania de Cuenca (between the headwaters of the Tagus and those of the Jucar), in the Sierra de Albarracin (between the headwaters of the Tagus and those of theGuadalaviar), there are extensive tracts of undulating forest-clad hill country, and almost contiguous to these there are apparently boundless plains, or tracts of level table-land, some almost uninhabitable, and some streaked with irrigation canals and richly cultivated—like the Requena of Valencia. While, again, continuous mountain ranges and broad plains and table-lands give the prevailing character to the scenery, there are, on the one hand, lofty 7 isolated peaks, such as Monseny, Montserrat (q.v.) and Mont Sant in Catalonia, the Pefia Golosa in Valencia, Moncayo on the borders of Aragon and Old Castile, and, on the other hand, small secluded valleys, such as those of Vich and Olot among the Catalonian Pyrenees.

The greater part of the interior of Spain is composed of a table-land bounded by the Cantabrian Mountains in the north and the Sierra Morena in the south, and divided into two by a series Central Table-land.of mountain ranges stretching on the whole from east to west. The northern half of the table-land, made up of the provinces of Leon and Old Castile, has an average elevation estimated at about 2700 ft., while the southern half, made up of Estremadura and New Castile, is slightly lower—about 2600 ft. On all sides the table-land as a whole is remarkably isolated, and hence the passes on its boundary and the river valleys that lead down from it to the surrounding plains are geographical features of peculiar importance. The isolation on the side of Portugal has already been mentioned. On the north-west the valley of the Sil and a series of valleys farther south, along both of which military roads have been carried from an early period, open up communication between Leon and the hill country of Galicia, which explains why this province was united to Leon even before the conquest of Portugal from the Moors. The passes across the Cantabrian Mountains in the north are tolerably numerous, and several of them are crossed by railways. The two most remarkable are the Pass of Pajares, across which winds the railway from Leon to Oviedo and the seaport of Gijon, and that of Reinosa leading down to the deep valley of the Besaya, and crossed by the railway from Valladolid to Santander. In its eastern section the chain is crossed by the railways from Burgos to Bilbao and San Sebastian ; the last-named line winds through the wild and romantic gorge of Pancorbo (in the north-east of the province of Burgos) before it traverses the Cantabrian chain at Idiazabal.

On the north-east and east, where the edge of the table- land sweeps round in a wide curve, the surface sinks in broad terraces to the valley of the Ebro and the Bay of Valencia, and is crowned by more or less isolated mountains, some of which have been already mentioned. On the north-east, by far the most important communication with the Ebro valley is formed by the valley of the Jalon, which has thus always formed a military route of the highest consequence, and is now traversed by the railway from Madrid to Saragossa. Farther south the mountains clustered on the east of the table-land (Sierra de Albarracin, Serrania de Cuenca) long rendered direct communication between Valencia and Madrid extremely difficult, and the principal communications with the east and south-east are effected where the southern table-land of La Mancha (q.v.) merges in the hill country which connects the interior of Spain with the Sierra Nevada.

In the south the descent from the table-land to the valley of the Guadalquivir is again comparatively gradual, but even here in the eastern half of the Sierra Morena the passes are few, the most