Jeopardy! category: WORLD FACTS (8-6-2015)
$800 clue: Portugal is the smaller of the 2 countries that occupy this peninsula
The gist: Portugal gets crowded into the corner. The Iberian Peninsula is home to, from west to east, Portugal, Spain, and, depending on who you ask, the tiny micro-state of Andorra, nestled on the border between Spain and France. Water-wise, it’s surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Bay of Biscay to the north, and the Alboran Sea (the westermost arm of the Mediterranean) to the south, where it just about touches Morocco at Gibraltar. Its principal rivers are the Ebro, Tagus, and Guadalquivir, and its best-known mountain range is the Pyrenees, which form the natural cutoff of the Peninsula itself.
It’s been inhabited by hominids for at least a whopping million years, by Neandertals from around 200,000 years ago, and by Homo sapiens about 40,000 years ago. From the Bronze Age, it’s supported large towns of a thousand or more people, and probably some time in the early first millennium, the region’s best-known culture, the Celts, took up residence. The Celts would fight, trade, and generally converse with loads of Mediterranean peoples who had their time in the Iberian sun, including Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans. In fact, three Roman emperors hailed from the Peninsula: Trajan and Hadrian, an adoptive father-son combo in the early second century CE, and Theodosius I at the end of the fourth century. Another 300-odd years later, in 711, the Muslim conquest of the Peninsula began, beginning almost 700 years of Islamic rule, as well as a golden age of philosophy, art, science, and architecture, that included not only Muslim scholars but also Jews and Christians. The late fifteenth century saw a collection of Christian nobles, led by Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, defeat the Muslims in long series of battles and re-establish Christianity as the official religion, expelling, killing, torturing, and forcibly converting thousands of Muslims and Jews in the process. They also, in 1492, let Columbus sail the ocean blue.
Portugal, by the way, became independent from the Moors in the twelfth century, and grew to be, arguably, the most powerful naval empire ever by the 16th century.
The clue: Precious little to discuss here. Portugal and a peninsula – there’s only one choice.
In Jeopardy!: The Iberian Peninsula has 39 clue to its name in the J!Archive. Surprisingly, Spain and Portugal are each in just five of those – I would have expected them to be among the most common. Portuguese and Spanish cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Leon, and Lisbon are in eight more, and the Tagus river, which runs along the border between the two countries, is in four. And really, there’s not much more in the way of themes; the Iberian Peninsula is a varied topic when it comes to Jeopardy!. You can take a look at its clues, and you can read up on it, too.