Cabo de Gata-Níjar Parque Natural (Natural Park), in Almeria province is Andalucia's largest coastal protected area. It is a wild and isolated area with an ancient landscape. Some of the geological features are the oldest in Europe. Officially classified as a desert (Köppen climate classification) it is really a semi-arid zone due to the high humidity. Even so, the area is unique in Europe, being the driest in Europe with rainfall below 160 mm per year and average temperatures over 19 Centigrade.
The highest peak in the park, El Fraille, is Spain's largest volcanic rock formation. Its sharp, red and ochre peaks fall steeply to the Mediterranean sea where erosion has created 100 metre high cliffs with narrow gullies leading to white sandy beaches.
Offshore there are dozens of rocky isles and coral reefs teeming with marine life. In 1997 the Cabo de Gata was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In 2001 the area was included among the Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance.
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