Baetic System

The Baetic System or Betic System (Spanish: Sistema Bético) is one of the main systems of mountain ranges in Spain. Located in the southern and eastern Iberian Peninsula, it is also known as the Cordilleras Béticas (Baetic Mountain Ranges) or Baetic Mountains. The name of the mountain system derives from the ancient Roman region of Baetica, one of the Imperial Roman provinces of ancient Hispania.

Baetic System
Alcazaba y Mulhacén (3247171069).jpg
Mulhacén seen from the Vereda de la Estrella in Sierra Nevada National Park
Highest point
Elevation3,478.6 m (11,413 ft)
Baetic Systems.png
Schematic representation of the Baetic System of mountain ranges
CountrySpain and little bit in Gibraltar (UK)
Regionmostly Andalusia,
small parts in Murcia,
Castile-La Mancha,
Valencian Community
and Gibraltar (only Rock)
Range coordinates37°N 5°W / 37°N 5°W / 37; -5
Parent rangeGibraltar Arc
OrogenyAlpine Orogeny
Map of the Baetic System in Andalusia


The Baetic System is made up of multiple mountain ranges that reach from western Andalusia to the Region of Murcia, southern Castile-La Mancha and the Land of Valencia. To the north, the Baetic Ranges are separated from the Meseta Central and the Sierra Morena by the basin of the Guadalquivir. The Iberian System rises north of the eastern part of the Prebaetic System, the northernmost prolongation of the Baetic System. Generally the mountain ranges that are part of this system are aligned in a southwest-northeast direction.[1]

The most well-known range of the Baetic System is the Sierra Nevada, where the Mulhacén, the highest mountain in continental Spain and in the Iberian Peninsula is found. The Rock of Gibraltar is also considered to be part of the Baetic System,[2] but not the Cabo de Gata area further east which includes rocks of volcanic origin.[3]


The Baetic System as a geological feature belongs to a larger orogeny usually called the Gibraltar Arc, which represents the westernmost edge of the Alpine Orogeny. The geodynamic mechanisms responsible for its formation are so far relatively unknown.[4]

Geologically the Rif mountains in Morocco and the Serra de Tramuntana in the island of Majorca are extensions of the Baetic System.[5] The Gibraltar Arc geological region follows the Moroccan coast from Oujda in the east to Tangier in the west, then crosses the Strait of Gibraltar and goes east again from Cádiz to Valencia and the Balearic Islands.


The Baetic System 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 Baetic System, together with the Rif Mountains of Morocco, which face the Baetic Ranges 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.


The Baetic System is divided into the following sub-chains:

Penibaetic SystemEdit

The Penibaetic System includes the highest point in the peninsula, the 3,478 m high Mulhacén in the Sierra Nevada; other ranges and features are:

Subbaetic SystemEdit

The Subbaetic System occupies a central position within the Baetic System. Highest point 2,027 m (6,650 ft) high Peña de la Cruz in Sierra Arana.

Prebaetic SystemEdit

The Prebaetic System is the northernmost feature of the whole Baetic System. Highest point 2,382 m high La Sagra.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Granada Natural - Las Zonas Externas
  2. ^ A Guide to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve Archived 2008-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ European geoparks website Archived 2009-05-30 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Wes Gibbons & Teresa Moreno, The geology of Spain. Geological Society of London, 2003, ISBN 978-1-86239-110-9
  5. ^ Dan Davis, Commercial Navigation in the Greek and Roman World

External linksEdit