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|Tabernas Desert (Desierto de Tabernas)|
|Area||280 km2 (108 sq mi)|
The Tabernas Desert (Spanish: Desierto de Tabernas) is one of Spain's semi-deserts, located within Spain's southeastern province of Almería. Almeria is the driest region of Europe, with the continent's only true desert climate where annual rainfall reaches levels as low as 156 mm in coastal areas. The Tabernas desert is located in the interior, about 30 kilometers (19 mi) north of the provincial capital, Almería, in the Tabernas municipality. Due to its altitude it has slightly higher annual rainfall (around 200mm per year) and lower annual average temperature than Almeria's coastal desert. It is protected as a wilderness area (paraje natural) spanning 280 square kilometres (110 square miles).
The Tabernas Desert is situated between the Sierra de los Filabres to the north and the Sierra de Alhamilla to the south-southeast, isolating it from the humid winds of the Mediterranean Sea, in an area with little rainfall known as Levante.
In the lowest areas of the Tabernas basin (about 400 meters above sea level), the average annual temperature is of about 17.9 °C ( (Soil–geomorphology relations in gypsiferous materials of the Tabernas Desert (Almería, SE Spain), page 4/30). Temperatures in winter rarely drop below freezing at night while during the summer, absolute maximum temperatures always surpass 40 °C (104 °F) in the shade. The annual average precipitation is slightly over 20 cm (see same source pages 1 & 4/30) with only 1/3 falling in the hot season (May to October). The average annual sunshine is about 3000 hours.
Thus the Tabernas climate, between 400 and about 800–900 meters, is a) at the edge of the temperate and subtropical climates (The 18 °C mean annual isotherm separates both climates), b) semi-arid of "Syrian" type (see Georges Viers, Éléments de climatologie, Paris, Nathan, 1990) which means that the dry season occurs during the hot season (= 6 hottest months of the year).
These characteristics are also aggravated by the foehn effect.
Above about 800–900 meters the precipitation increases, thus reducing the dry summer season, while the temperature drops. At these altitudes, the Tabernas basin climate is not any more semi-arid but either Mediterranean or, at the highest points, even cold temperate, experiencing several frozen winter months.
Geology and biology
The little rainfall that occurs is usually torrential, so that the ground, consisting of marls and sandstone with little vegetation, is unable to retain moisture. Instead, the rain causes erosion, forming the characteristic landscape of badlands. Arroyos formed by torrential rain harbor the scarce vegetation and fauna such as swifts, hedgehogs, jackdaws, pin-tailed sandgrouses, blue rock thrushes, stone curlews, trumpeter finches, and crested larks.
Flora and fauna
The desert is well endowed with vegetation for a desert. Plants such as the sea lavender (Limonium insignis), which are teetering on the verge of extinction, manage to flourish in the semi-arid environment of the desert. In winter, the landscape of the desert turns white when the toadflax linaria (Nigricans lange) flowers.
Reptiles and amphibians
Birds of prey such as the Bonelli's eagles and peregrine falcons roam the desert's skies. Lesser hunters include kestrels and eagle owls. Species such as the blue rock thrush, rock sparrow, rock bunting inhabit the rocky areas of the desert whereas warblers, goldfinches, golden orioles and serins prefer the rambalas near the dry river beds.
The desert does not have a great number of mammalian species, with the total number a meager 20.The Algerian hedgehog, besides significant rabbit, hare and dormouse species, is one of the most important mammals inhabiting the area.
The Desert of Tabernas, because of its similarities with the North American deserts like the Far West of the American West, northern Africa, the Arabian deserts, and its lunar landscape, served from 1950s and is still used today for the shooting of many films and westerns. The spaghetti westerns were shot at the three main studios, Texas Hollywood, Mini Hollywood, and Western Leone. 
- Williams, Jo. "DESIERTO DE TABERNAS NATURAL AREA". Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Top Movie locations http://www.unique-almeria.com/movie-filming-locations.html Retrieved 19 November 2012
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