The province of Salamanca is situated in the South-west corner of Castilla y León on the borders with Extremadura and Portugal, and covers an area of around 12,000 square kilometres (4,750 square miles). Around 350,000 people (2004) live in the province, 45% of whom live in the capital, Salamanca. There are 362 municipalities in the province, of which more than half are villages with under 300 people.
Salamanca lies on Spain's Northern Plateau (meseta), and forms part of the Duero river system where the Paleozonic soils, poorly suited to cultivation, have resulted in a landscape of pastures, dotted with trees and bushy undergrowth. Winters are long and summers short, and temperatures range from 6ºC to around 20ºC.
Salamanca is not a particularly wet province (annual rainfall: 300-600 mm/11-23 inches), except in the Southern mountain ranges which receive over 1,000 mm (39 inches) of rain a year. This difference means that the province has a great diversity of plant life, with oaks on the flat lands, bushes in the foothills and large swathes of forest in the sierra (mountains).
Along with Valladolid, inhabitants of Salamanca have the reputation of speaking the purest form of Castilian (Castellano) Spanish in Spain. For this reason Salamanca is enormously popular with people all over the world who want to learn Spanish.