Tagus River, Portuguese Rio Tejo, Spanish Río Tajo, longest waterway of the Iberian Peninsula. It rises in the Sierra de Albarracín of eastern Spain, at a point about 90 miles (150 km) from the Mediterranean coast, and flows westward across Spain and Portugal for 626 miles (1,007 km) to empty into the Atlantic Ocean near Portugal capital city Lisbon. Its drainage basin of 31,505 square miles (81,600 square km) is only exceeded on the peninsula by that of the Ebro River, to the northeast. The Tagus covers the heart of Portugal and Spain and has been of vital importance to the modern economic development of the two nations.

The Tagus flows mostly through semiarid lands, and government efforts have been dedicated to increasing land irrigation and creating hydroelectric power in its basin. Major efforts to harness the Tagus and its tributaries for these purposes were undertaken from the 1960s, and by 1980 more than 60 dams had been built with a total installed power capacity of more than 1,200,000 kilowatts. In the highlands of the Tagus basin, coniferous trees are numerous, supporting a well-developed timber industry. About one-third of the basin’s cultivated land is devoted to cereal farming, and everywhere are olive trees and vineyards. In Extremadura, in western Spain, only oaks and cork trees break the monotony of a rolling and rocky landscape.

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