Different methods can be used to define Southern Europe, including its political, economic, and cultural attributes. Southern Europe can also be defined by its natural features — its geography, climate, and flora.
Geographically, Southern Europe is the southern half of the landmass of Europe. This definition is relative, although largely based in history, culture, climate, and flora which is shared across the region. It includes southwestern Europe: the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) and southern France, including the minor territories of Andorra, Gibraltar, and Monaco. It also includes Italy in South-Central and the micro-states of San Marino and the Vatican City. It includes mostly just Greece in Southeastern Europe. However, Albania, Montenegro, the coast of Croatia and the southern tips of Bosnia and Herzegovina and East Thrace in European Turkey can be considered part of southern Europe according to some authors.
Southern Europe's most emblematic climate is that of the Mediterranean climate , which has become a typically known characteristic of the area, which is due to the large subtropical semi-permanent centre of high atmospheric pressure found, not in the Mediterranean itself, but in the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores High. The Mediterranean climate covers much of Portugal, Spain, Southeast France, Italy, Albania, Greece, the Western and Southern coastal regions of Turkey as well as the Mediterranean islands. Those areas of Mediterranean climate present similar vegetations and landscapes throughout, including dry hills, small plains, pine forests and olive trees.
Cooler climates can be found in certain parts of Southern European countries, for example within the mountain ranges of Spain and Italy. Additionally, the north coast of Spain experiences a wetter Atlantic climate.