Topography and Climate
Portugal contains considerable physical and climatic diversity. The most striking contrasts in topography and climate are between the region north of the Tejo and the region to the south. The extreme south has a distinct topography and climate because of its separation from the rest of Portugal by two low ranges of mountains, the Serra do Caldeirao in the east and the Serra de Monchique in the west. Sheltered by these mountains, this region faces the sea, which makes its climate similar to that of North Africa. The southern half, or terraquente, is characterized by low, protected valleys with a climate much warmer than that of the high plateau of the terrafria. The good soils, moderate climate, and even rainfall support an intensive agriculture and make the Estremadura Portugal’s most densely settled province. Villagers from Soutocico parading in traditional dress during Portugal Day celebrations, Leiria.