, a mountain chain along the border of France and Spain, forming a formidable barrier separating the main part of Europe from the Iberian Peninsula. The tiny country of Andorra lies between France and Spain in the eastern part. The chain follows a fairly regular line about 250 miles (400 km) long, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It has a maximum width of about 80 miles (130 km).
The highest point is Pico de Aneto in Spain, rising 11,168 feet (3,404 m) above sea level. The northern slopes are the steepest. At their base lie several minor French ranges. The southern slopes descend rather gradually into the central plateau area of Spain. Forests cover the wetter northern and western sections. The few minerals mined include coal and iron ore.
Several of the passes through the Pyrenees carry highways. Two railways also make the crossing. Highways and railways also pass at either end, between the mountains and the sea.
The Pyrenees chain is sparsely inhabited. The Basques, a mountain people found in this area, grow crops on the lower slopes and in the valleys and raise sheep and goats. There are many resort areas, a number of which feature skiing, in the Pyrenees. There are chemical and metallurgical plants in the lower valleys—primarily on the French side—using hydroelectric power generated in the mountains. The Franco-Spanish border was set by the Peace of the Pyrenees in 1659. It has not changed since.