1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sierra Nevada, The (Spain)

SIERRA NEVADA, THE, a mountain range of southern Spain, in the provinces of Granada and Almería. The Sierra Nevada is a well-defined range, about 55 m. long and 25 m. broad, situated to the south of the Guadalquivir valley, and stretching from the upper valley of the river Genii or Jenil eastwards to the valley of the river Almería. It owes its name, meaning “the snowy range,” to the fact that several of its peaks exceed 10,000 feet in height and are thus above the limit of perpetual snow. Its culminating point, the Cerro de Mulhacen or Mulahacen (11,421 ft.) reaches an altitude unequalled in Spain, while one of the neighbouring peaks, called the Picacho de Veleta (11,148 ft.), is only surpassed by Aneto (11,168 ft.), the loftiest summit of the Pyrenees. The Sierra Nevada is composed chiefly of soft micaceous schists, sinking precipitously down on the north, but sloping more gradually to the south and south-east. On both sides deep transverse valleys (barrancas) follow one another in close succession, in many cases with round, basin-shaped heads like the cirques of the Pyrenees (q.v.). In many of these cirques lie alpine lakes, and in one of them, the Corral de Veleta, there is even a small glacier, the most southerly in Europe. The transverse valleys open on the south into the longitudinal valleys of the Alpujarras (q.v.). On the north, east and west there are various minor ranges, such as the Sierras of Parapanda, Harana, Gor, Baza, Lucena, Cazorla, Estancias, Filabres, &c, which are connected with the main range, and are sometimes collectively termed the Sierra Nevada system. The coast ranges, or Sierra Penibetica, are not included in this group. The Sierras de Segura form a connecting link between the Sierra Morena and the Nevada system.