Cantabria

Cantabria is a Spanish province and autonomous community with Santander as its capital city. It is bordered on the east by the Basque Country (Biscay), on the south by Castile and Leon (provinces of Leon, Palencia and Burgos), on the west by the Principality of Asturias, and on the north by the Cantabrian Sea (Bay of Biscay).

Cantabria belongs to the Green Spain, the name given to the strip of land between the Cantabrian Sea and the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain. It is called green because it has a wet and moderate oceanic climate, strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean winds that get trapped by the mountains. The average precipitation is about 1,200 mm, this allows the lush vegetation to grow.

Cantabria is the richest region in the world in archaeological sites from the Upper Paleolithic period. The first signs of human occupation date from Lower Paleolithic, although this period is not so well represented in the region. The most significant cave painting site is Altamira, dated from about 16.000 to 9.000 BC and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Because of the gulf stream, Cantabria, as well as the rest of Green Spain has a climate much more temperate than might be expected for its latitude, which is comparable to that of Vermont. The region has a humid oceanic climate, with warm summers and mild winters. Annual precipitation is around 1,200mm at the coasts and higher in the mountains. The mean temperature is about 14C. Snow is frequent in higher zones of Cantabria between the months of October and March. Some zones of Picos de Europa, over 2,500 meters high, have an alpine climate with snow persisting year round. The driest months are July and August, although droughts are unknown because rain is frequent and temperatures never get particularly high.

Natural parks
Natural and national parks in Cantabria: 1. Picos de Europa National Park 2. Collados del Asn Natural Park 3. Dunas de Liencres Natural Park 4. Macizo de Pena Cabarga Natural Park 5. Oyambre Natural Park 6. Saja-Besaya Natural Park 7. Santoa, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park
Natural and national parks in Cantabria:
1. Picos de Europa National Park
2. Collados del Asn Natural Park
3. Dunas de Liencres Natural Park
4. Macizo de Pena Cabarga Natural Park
5. Oyambre Natural Park
6. Saja-Besaya Natural Park
7. Santona, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park

Despite its small size, there are seven natural areas of undoubtedly interest in this autonomous community:

* Picos de Europa National Park
* Collados del Ason Natural Park
* Santoa, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park
* Macizo de Pena Cabarga Natural Park
* Oyambre Natural Park
* Saja-Besaya Natural Park
* Dunes of Liencres Natural Park

The most important of these is the Picos de Europa National Park, which affects Castile and Leon and Asturias in addition to Cantabria, the three autonomous communities sharing its management. Santona, Victoria and Joyel marshes are also Special Protection Areas for the birds.

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