Baetic Cordillera

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Map of the Betic Cordilera

The Baetic Cordillera is a mountain system in the southern and eastern Spain. Also known as the Baetic ranges or Baetic mountains, and in Spanish as the Sistema Penibético, the Baetic Cordillera is made up of multiple mountain ranges that reach from western Andalusia to Murcia and Valencia, trending generally southwest-northeast. The Sierra Nevada and the Aljibe Mountains of Andalusia are part of the Baetic system.

The Baetic Cordillera is home to a number of Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub plant communities, including shrublands, oak woodlands, broadleaf forests, and coniferous forests, which vary with elevation, soils, and topography. The cordillera, together with the Rif Mountains of Morocco which face the Baetic Cordillera across the Alboran Sea, is one of the Mediterranean basin's ten biodiversity hotspots, known to ecologists as the Baetic-Rifan complex. The Baetic mountains are home to a rich assemblage of Mediterranean plants, including a number of relict species from the ancient laurel forests, which covered much of the Mediterranean basin millions of years ago when it was more humid.

Gibraltar is also considered to be part of the Baetic Cordillera[1]. Most of these mountain chains are better-known by their own name. The Betic Cordillera is part of a great arc (Gibraltar Arc) that follows the Moroccan coast from Oujda in the east to Tanger in the west, then crosses the Strait of Gibraltar and goes east again from Cádiz to Valencia and the Balearic Islands.

To the north, the Baetic Cordillera is separated from the Meseta Central (here the Sierra Morena) by the basin of Guadalquivir Basin.


The Baetic Cordillera is a geological feature belonging to a larger orogen usually called Gibraltar Arc, which represents the westernmost edge of the Alpine Orogeny. The geodynamic mechanisms responsible for its formation are so far relatively unknown.


The Baetic Cordillera encompasses the following mountain chains:

  • Serranía de Ronda
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Sierra de los Filabres
  • Sierra de Alhamilla
  • Sierra Cabrera
  • Sierra Almagrera
  • Sierra Almagro
  • Sierra Almen
  • Rock of Gibraltar