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Europe is a
continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smallest, these seven regions are: ...
located entirely in the
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of the Earth that is north of the Equator. For other planets in the Solar System, north is defined as being in the same celestial hemisphere relative to the invariable plane of the solar system as Earth's N ...
and mostly in the
Eastern Hemisphere 250px|Eastern Hemisphere The Eastern Hemisphere is a geographical term for the half of Earth which is east of the prime meridian (which crosses Greenwich, London, United Kingdom) and west of the antimeridian (which crosses the Pacific Ocean and re ...
. It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the continental landmass of
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Arctic Ocean to th ...
, and is bordered by the
Arctic Ocean The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceans. It spans an area of approximately and is also known as the coldest of all the oceans. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) recognizes it as an oce ...

Arctic Ocean
to the north, the
Atlantic Ocean#REDIRECT Atlantic Ocean#REDIRECT Atlantic Ocean {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Atlantic Ocean
to the west, the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the east ...
to the south, and
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with b ...
to the east. Europe is commonly considered to be
separated from Asia
separated from Asia
by the
watershed Watershed is a hydrological term, which has been adopted in other fields in a more or less figurative sense. It may refer to: Hydrology * Drainage divide, the line that separates neighbouring drainage basins ** European watershed * Drainage basin, ...

watershed
of the
Ural Mountains The Ural Mountains (; rus|Ура́льские го́ры|r=Uralskiye gory|p=ʊˈralʲskʲɪjə ˈgorɨ; ba|Урал тауҙары, ''Ural tauźarı'') or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south throu ...

Ural Mountains
, the
Ural River The Ural (russian: Урал, ), known as Yaik (russian: Яик, ba|Яйыҡ|translit=Yayıq, ; kk|Жайық|translit=Jayıq, جايىق, ) before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan in the continental border between Europe ...

Ural River
, the
Caspian Sea#REDIRECT Caspian Sea#REDIRECT Caspian Sea {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Caspian Sea, the
Greater Caucasus The Greater Caucasus ( az|Böyük Qafqaz, Бөјүк Гафгаз, بيوک قافقاز; ka|დიდი კავკასიონი, ''Didi K’avk’asioni''; russian: Большой Кавказ, ''Bolshoy Kavkaz'', sometimes translated ...

Greater Caucasus
, the
Black Sea#REDIRECT Black Sea#REDIRECT Black Sea {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Black Sea, and the waterways of the
Turkish Straits 300px|View of the Dardanelles, taken from the
._"Europe"_(pp._68–69);_"Asia"_(pp._90–91):_"A_commonly_accepted_division_between_Asia_and_Europe ..._is_formed_by_the_Ural_Mountains,_Ural_River,_Caspian_Sea,_Caucasus_Mountains,_and_the_Black_Sea_with_its_outlets,_the_Bosporus_and_Dardanelles."_Although_much_of_this_border_is_over_land,_Europe_is_generally_accorded_the_status_of_a_full_continent_because_of_its_great_physical_size_and_the_weight_of_its_history_and_traditions. Europe_covers_about_,_or_2%_of_the_Earth's_surface_(6.8%_of_land_area),_making_it_the_second_smallest_continent_(using_the_
._"Europe"_(pp._68–69);_"Asia"_(pp._90–91):_"A_commonly_accepted_division_between_Asia_and_Europe ..._is_formed_by_the_Ural_Mountains,_Ural_River,_Caspian_Sea,_Caucasus_Mountains,_and_the_Black_Sea_with_its_outlets,_the_Bosporus_and_Dardanelles."_Although_much_of_this_border_is_over_land,_Europe_is_generally_accorded_the_status_of_a_full_continent_because_of_its_great_physical_size_and_the_weight_of_its_history_and_traditions. Europe_covers_about_,_or_2%_of_the_Earth's_surface_(6.8%_of_land_area),_making_it_the_second_smallest_continent_(using_the_[[Continent#Number">seven-continent_model
)._Politically,_Europe_is_divided_into_about_[[List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_territories_in_Europe.html" "title="Continent#Number.html" "title="Landsat 7 satellite in September 2006. The body of water at the upper left is the [[Aegean Sea, while the one on the upper right is the [[Sea of Marmara. The long, narrow upper peninsula is [[Gallip ...

Turkish Straits. "Europe" (pp. 68–69); "Asia" (pp. 90–91): "A commonly accepted division between Asia and Europe ... is formed by the Ural Mountains, Ural River, Caspian Sea, Caucasus Mountains, and the Black Sea with its outlets, the Bosporus and Dardanelles." Although much of this border is over land, Europe is generally accorded the status of a full continent because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe covers about , or 2% of the Earth's surface (6.8% of land area), making it the second smallest continent (using the [[Continent#Number">seven-continent model
seven-continent model
). Politically, Europe is divided into about [[List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Europe">fifty sovereign states
fifty sovereign states
, of which [[Russia is the [[List of European countries by area|largest and [[European countries by population|most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population. Europe had a [[Demographics of Europe|total population of about 741 million (about 11% of the
world population upright=1.3|Population growth graph In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living, and was estimated to have reached 7,800,000,000 people . It took over 2 million years of human prehistory and history for ...

world population
) . The
European climate
European climate
is largely affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent, even at
latitudes In geography, latitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the north–south position of a point on the Earth's surface. Latitude is an angle (defined below) which ranges from 0° at the Equator to 90° (North or South) at the poles. Lines ...

latitudes
along which the climate in Asia and
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
is severe. Further from the sea, seasonal differences are more noticeable than close to the coast. European culture is the root of
Western civilization Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is the heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political sy ...

Western civilization
, which traces its lineage back to
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el|Ἑλλάς|Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity ( AD 600). This era was immediately followed by the Early Middle ...

ancient Greece
and
ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC–509 BC), Rom ...

ancient Rome
. The
fall of the Western Roman Empire The fall of the Western Roman Empire (also called the fall of the Roman Empire or the fall of Rome), c. 376-476, was the process of decline in the Western Roman Empire in which the Empire failed to enforce its rule, and its vast territory was ...

fall of the Western Roman Empire
in 476 AD and the subsequent
Migration Period The Migration Period or better known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective) was a period in the history of Europe, during and after the decline of the Western Roman Empire, during which there were invasions by peoples, ...

Migration Period
marked the end of Europe's
ancient history Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0
"History"
from t ...

ancient history
and the beginning of the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages i ...

Middle Ages
.
Renaissance humanism Renaissance humanism was a revival in the study of classical antiquity, at first in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. During the period, the term ''humanist'' ( it|umanista) referred to teachers ...

Renaissance humanism
,
exploration Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery of information or resources. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans. In human history, its most dramatic rise was during the Age of Discovery when ...

exploration
,
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of what constitutes art, and ideas ...

art
and
science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as w ...

science
led to the
modern era Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology, anthropology, genetics, linguistics, and other disciplines; and, for periods since the invention of writing, by recorded histor ...

modern era
. Since the
Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), is an informal and loosely defined term for the early modern period approximately from the 15th century to the 18th century ...

Age of Discovery
, started by
Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt|República Portuguesa|links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state in mainland Europe, being bordered to the wes ...

Portugal
and
Spain , * gl|Reino de España, * oc|Reiaume d'Espanha, | | image_flag = Bandera de España.svg | image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg | national_motto = | national_anthem = | image_map = | map_caption = | image_map2 = | ...

Spain
, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs. Between the 16th and 20th centuries,
European powers colonized
European powers colonized
at various times the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with their associated i ...

Americas
, almost all of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of it ...

Africa
and
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, Oceania has a land area of and a population of over 41 million. When compared to continents, ...

Oceania
, and the majority of
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with b ...

Asia
. The
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment); ger|Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it|L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl|Oświecenie , "Enlightenment"; pt|Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es|link=no|La ...

Age of Enlightenment
, the subsequent
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended in November 1799 with the formation of the French Consulate. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles of Western liberal de ...

French Revolution
and the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions. It produced a brief period of French ...

Napoleonic Wars
shaped the continent culturally, politically and economically from the end of the 17th century until the first half of the 19th century. The
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machin ...

Industrial Revolution
, which began in
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. The isl ...

Great Britain
at the end of the 18th century, gave rise to radical economic, cultural and social change in
Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe farthest from Asia, with the countries and territories included varying depending on context. After the beginning of foreign exploration in the Age of Discovery, roughly from the 15th century, the concept ...

Western Europe
and eventually the wider world. Both
world war#REDIRECT world war {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from ambiguous term {{R from other capitalisation ...

world war
s took place for the most part in Europe, contributing to a decline in Western European dominance in world affairs by the mid-20th century as the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its governmen ...

Soviet Union
and the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...

United States
took prominence.National Geographic, 534. During the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II. Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the per ...

Cold War
, Europe was divided along the
Iron Curtain The Iron Curtain was a political boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolizes the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its sate ...

Iron Curtain
between
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. The ...

NATO
in the West and the
Warsaw Pact The Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, commonly known as the Warsaw Pact (WP), was a collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland between the Soviet Union and seven o ...

Warsaw Pact
in the East, until the
revolutions of 1989 The Revolutions of 1989 formed part of a revolutionary wave in the late 1980s and early 1990s that resulted at the end of communist rule throughout the world, including in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. The period is often also called th ...

revolutions of 1989
and
fall of the Berlin Wall The fall of the Berlin Wall (german: Mauerfall) on 9 November 1989 was a pivotal event in world history which marked the falling of the Iron Curtain and the start of the fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe. The fall of the inner Germa ...

fall of the Berlin Wall
. In 1949, the [[Council of Europe was founded with the idea of unifying Europe to achieve common goals and prevent future wars. Further [[European integration by some states led to the formation of the [[European Union (EU), a separate political entity that lies between a [[confederation and a [[federation. The EU originated in Western Europe but has been [[Enlargement of the European Union|expanding eastward since the [[Dissolution of the Soviet Union|fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The currency of most countries of the European Union, the [[euro, is the most commonly used among Europeans; and the EU's [[Schengen Area abolishes border and immigration controls between most of its member states and some non-members states. There exists a political movement favoring the evolution of the European Union into a [[United States of Europe|single federation encompassing much of the continent.


Name

In classical [[Greek mythology, [[Europa (consort of Zeus)|Europa ( grc|Εὐρώπη, ''Eurṓpē'') was a [[Phoenician princess. One view is that her name derives from the [[Greek language|ancient Greek elements εὐρύς (''eurús''), "wide, broad" and ὤψ (''ōps'', gen. ὠπός, ''ōpós'') "eye, face, countenance", hence their composite ''Eurṓpē'' would mean "wide-gazing" or "broad of aspect". ''Broad'' has been an [[epithet of Earth herself in the reconstructed [[Proto-Indo-European religion and the poetry devoted to it. An alternative view is that of [[R.S.P. Beekes who has argued in favor of a Pre-Indo-European origin for the name, explaining that a derivation from ancient Greek ''eurus'' would yield a different toponym than Europa. Beekes has located toponyms related to that of Europa in the territory of ancient Greece and localities like that of [[Europus (Almopia)|Europos in [[Macedonia (ancient kingdom)|ancient Macedonia. There have been attempts to connect ''Eurṓpē'' to a Semitic term for "west", this being either [[Akkadian language|Akkadian ''erebu'' meaning "to go down, set" (said of the sun) or [[Phoenician language|Phoenician '' 'ereb'' "evening, west", which is at the origin of Arabic [[Maghreb and Hebrew ''ma'arav''. [[Michael A. Barry finds the mention of the word ''Ereb'' on an [[Assyrian [[stele with the meaning of "night, [the country of] sunset", in opposition to ''Asu'' "[the country of] sunrise", i.e. Asia. The same naming motive according to "cartographic convention" appears in Greek Ἀνατολή (''Anatolḗ'' "[sun] rise", "east", hence [[Anatolia). [[Martin Litchfield West stated that "phonologically, the match between Europa's name and any form of the Semitic word is very poor", while Beekes considers a connection to Semitic languages improbable. Next to these hypotheses there is also a [[Proto-Indo-European language|Proto-Indo-European root ''*h1regʷos'', meaning "darkness", which also produced Greek ''[[Erebus''. Most major world languages use words derived from ''Eurṓpē'' or ''Europa'' to refer to the continent. Chinese, for example, uses the word ''Ōuzhōu'' (歐洲/欧洲), which is an abbreviation of the transliterated name ''Ōuluóbā zhōu'' (歐羅巴洲) (''zhōu'' means "continent"); a similar Chinese-derived term is also sometimes used in Japanese such as in the Japanese name of the European Union, , despite the [[katakana being more commonly used. In some Turkic languages, the originally Persian name ''[[Frangistan'' ("land of the [[Franks") is used casually in referring to much of Europe, besides official names such as ''Avrupa'' or ''Evropa''.


Definition


Contemporary definition

Clickable map of Europe, showing one of the most commonly used [[Boundaries between the continents of Earth|continental boundaries
Key: blue: [[List of transcontinental countries|states which straddle the border between Europe and Asia; green: countries not geographically in Europe, but closely associated with the continent
The prevalent definition of Europe as a geographical term has been in use since the mid-19th century. Europe is taken to be bounded by large bodies of water to the north, west and south; Europe's limits to the east and northeast are usually taken to be the
Ural Mountains The Ural Mountains (; rus|Ура́льские го́ры|r=Uralskiye gory|p=ʊˈralʲskʲɪjə ˈgorɨ; ba|Урал тауҙары, ''Ural tauźarı'') or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south throu ...

Ural Mountains
, the [[Ural River, and the
Caspian Sea#REDIRECT Caspian Sea#REDIRECT Caspian Sea {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Caspian Sea; to the southeast, the [[Caucasus Mountains, the
Black Sea#REDIRECT Black Sea#REDIRECT Black Sea {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Islands are generally grouped with the nearest continental landmass, hence [[Iceland is considered to be part of Europe, while the nearby island of [[Greenland is usually assigned to
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
, although politically belonging to [[Denmark. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions based on sociopolitical and cultural differences. [[Cyprus is closest to [[Anatolia|Anatolia (or Asia Minor), but is considered part of Europe politically and it is a member state of the EU. [[Malta was considered an island of [[Northwest Africa for centuries, but now it is considered to be part of Europe as well. "Europe" as used specifically in [[British English may also refer to [[Continental Europe exclusively. The term "continent" usually implies the [[physical geography of a large land mass completely or almost completely surrounded by water at its borders. However the Europe-Asia part of the border is somewhat arbitrary and inconsistent with this definition because of its partial adherence to the Ural and Caucasus Mountains rather than a series of partly joined waterways suggested by cartographer [[Herman Moll in 1715. These water divides extend with a few relatively small interruptions (compared to the aforementioned mountain ranges) from the Turkish straits running into the Mediterranean Sea to the upper part of the [[Ob River that drains into the [[Arctic Ocean. Prior to the adoption of the current convention that includes mountain divides, the border between Europe and Asia had been redefined several times since its first conception in [[classical antiquity, but always as a series of rivers, seas, and straits that were believed to extend an unknown distance east and north from the Mediterranean Sea without the inclusion of any mountain ranges. The current division of Eurasia into two continents now reflects [[East–West dichotomy|East-West cultural, linguistic and ethnic differences which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The geographic border between Europe and Asia does not follow any state boundaries and now only follows a few bodies of water. [[Turkey is generally considered a [[List of transcontinental countries|transcontinental country divided entirely by water, while [[Russia and [[Kazakhstan are only partly divided by waterways. [[France, the [[Netherlands,
Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt|República Portuguesa|links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state in mainland Europe, being bordered to the wes ...

Portugal
,
Spain , * gl|Reino de España, * oc|Reiaume d'Espanha, | | image_flag = Bandera de España.svg | image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg | national_motto = | national_anthem = | image_map = | map_caption = | image_map2 = | ...

Spain
, and the [[United Kingdom are also transcontinental (or more properly, intercontinental, when oceans or large seas are involved) in that their main land areas are in Europe while pockets of their territories are located on other [[continents separated from Europe by large bodies of water.
Spain , * gl|Reino de España, * oc|Reiaume d'Espanha, | | image_flag = Bandera de España.svg | image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg | national_motto = | national_anthem = | image_map = | map_caption = | image_map2 = | ...

Spain
, for example, has territories south of the [[Mediterranean Sea namely [[Ceuta and [[Melilla which are parts of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of it ...

Africa
and share a border with [[Morocco. According to the current convention, [[Georgia (country)|Georgia and [[Azerbaijan are transcontinental countries where waterways have been completely replaced by mountains as the divide between continents.


History of the concept


Early history

The first recorded usage of ''Eurṓpē'' as a geographic term is in the [[Homeric Hymn to [[Delian Apollo, in reference to the western shore of the [[Aegean Sea. As a name for a part of the known world, it is first used in the 6th century BC by [[Anaximander and [[Hecataeus of Miletus|Hecataeus. Anaximander placed the boundary between Asia and Europe along the Phasis River (the modern [[Rioni River on the territory of [[Georgia (country)|Georgia) in the Caucasus, a convention still followed by [[Herodotus in the 5th century BC. Herodotus mentioned that the world had been divided by unknown persons into three parts, Europe, Asia, and Libya (Africa), with the [[Nile and the Phasis forming their boundaries—though he also states that some considered the [[Don River (Russia)|River Don, rather than the Phasis, as the boundary between Europe and Asia. Europe's eastern frontier was defined in the 1st century by geographer [[Strabo at the River Don. The ''[[Jubilees|Book of Jubilees'' described the continents as the lands given by [[Noah to his three sons; Europe was defined as stretching from the [[Pillars of Hercules at the [[Strait of Gibraltar, separating it from [[Northwest Africa, to the Don, separating it from Asia. The convention received by the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages i ...

Middle Ages
and surviving into modern usage is that of the [[Roman era used by Roman era authors such as [[Posidonius, [[Strabo and [[Ptolemy, who took the Tanais (the modern Don River) as the boundary. The term "Europe" is first used for a cultural sphere in the [[Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century. From that time, the term designated the sphere of influence of the [[Western Church, as opposed to both the [[Eastern Orthodox churches and to the [[Islamic world. A cultural definition of Europe as the lands of [[Christendom|Latin Christendom coalesced in the 8th century, signifying the new cultural condominium created through the confluence of Germanic traditions and Christian-Latin culture, defined partly in contrast with [[Byzantium and [[Islam, and limited to northern [[Iberia, the British Isles, France, Christianised western Germany, the Alpine regions and northern and central Italy. The concept is one of the lasting legacies of the [[Carolingian Renaissance: ''Europa'' often figures in the letters of Charlemagne's court scholar, [[Alcuin.


Modern definitions

The question of defining a precise eastern boundary of Europe arises in the Early Modern period, as the eastern extension of [[Muscovy began to include [[North Asia. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the 18th century, the traditional division of the landmass of [[Eurasia into two continents, Europe and Asia, followed Ptolemy, with the boundary following the
Turkish Straits 300px|View of the Dardanelles, taken from the [[Landsat 7 satellite in September 2006. The body of water at the upper left is the [[Aegean Sea, while the one on the upper right is the [[Sea of Marmara. The long, narrow upper peninsula is [[Gallip ...

Turkish Straits
, the
Black Sea#REDIRECT Black Sea#REDIRECT Black Sea {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Black Sea, the [[Kerch Strait, the [[Sea of Azov and the [[Don River (Russia)|Don (ancient [[Tanais). But maps produced during the 16th to 18th centuries tended to differ in how to continue the boundary beyond the Don bend at [[Kalach-na-Donu (where it is closest to the Volga, now joined with it by the [[Volga–Don Canal), into territory not described in any detail by the ancient geographers. Around 1715, [[Herman Moll produced a map showing the northern part of the [[Ob River and the [[Irtysh River, a major tributary of the former, as components of a series of partly-joined waterways taking the boundary between Europe and Asia from the Turkish Straits and the Don River all the way to the Arctic Ocean. In 1721, he produced a more up to date map that was easier to read. However, his idea to use major rivers almost exclusively as the line of demarcation was never taken up by other geographers. Four years later, in 1725, [[Philip Johan von Strahlenberg was the first to depart from the classical Don boundary by proposing that mountain ranges could be included as boundaries between continents whenever there were deemed to be no suitable waterways, the Ob and Irtysh Rivers notwithstanding. He drew a new line along the [[Volga River|Volga, following the Volga north until the [[Samara Bend, along [[Obshchy Syrt (the [[drainage divide between Volga and [[Ural River|Ural) and then north along
Ural Mountains The Ural Mountains (; rus|Ура́льские го́ры|r=Uralskiye gory|p=ʊˈralʲskʲɪjə ˈgorɨ; ba|Урал тауҙары, ''Ural tauźarı'') or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south throu ...

Ural Mountains
. This was endorsed by the Russian Empire, and introduced the convention that would eventually become commonly accepted, but not without criticism by many modern analytical geographers like [[Halford Mackinder who saw little validity in the Ural Mountains as a boundary between continents. The mapmakers continued to differ on the boundary between the lower Don and Samara well into the 19th century. The [[:commons:Category:Atlas of Russian Empire. 1745 year|1745 atlas published by the [[Russian Academy of Sciences has the boundary follow the Don beyond Kalach as far as [[Serafimovich (town)|Serafimovich before cutting north towards [[Arkhangelsk, while other 18th- to 19th-century mapmakers such as [[John Cary followed Strahlenberg's prescription. To the south, the [[Kuma–Manych Depression was identified circa 1773 by a German naturalist, [[Peter Simon Pallas, as a valley that once connected the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and subsequently was proposed as a natural boundary between continents. By the mid-19th century, there were three main conventions, one following the Don, the [[Volga–Don Canal and the Volga, the other following the Kuma–Manych Depression to the Caspian and then the Ural River, and the third abandoning the Don altogether, following the [[Greater Caucasus watershed to the Caspian. The question was still treated as a "controversy" in geographical literature of the 1860s, with [[Douglas Freshfield advocating the Caucasus crest boundary as the "best possible", citing support from various "modern geographers". In [[Russia and the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its governmen ...

Soviet Union
, the boundary along the Kuma–Manych Depression was the most commonly used as early as 1906. In 1958, the Soviet Geographical Society formally recommended that the boundary between the Europe and Asia be drawn in textbooks from [[Baydaratskaya Bay, on the [[Kara Sea, along the eastern foot of Ural Mountains, then following the [[Ural River until the [[Mugodzhar Hills, and then the [[Emba River; and Kuma–Manych Depression, thus placing the Caucasus entirely in Asia and the Urals entirely in Europe. However, most geographers in the Soviet Union favoured the boundary along the Caucasus crest and this became the common convention in the later 20th century, although the Kuma–Manych boundary remained in use in some 20th-century maps.


History


Prehistory

''[[Homo erectus georgicus'', which lived roughly 1.8 million years ago in [[Georgia (country)|Georgia, is the earliest [[Hominini|hominin to have been discovered in Europe. [[Homo antecessor|Other hominin remains, dating back roughly 1 million years, have been discovered in [[Archaeological Site of Atapuerca|Atapuerca,
Spain , * gl|Reino de España, * oc|Reiaume d'Espanha, | | image_flag = Bandera de España.svg | image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg | national_motto = | national_anthem = | image_map = | map_caption = | image_map2 = | ...

Spain
. [[Neanderthal man (named after the [[Neandertal valley in [[Germany) appeared in Europe 150,000 years ago (115,000 years ago it is found already in the territory of present-day [[Poland) and disappeared from the fossil record about 28,000 years ago, with their final refuge being present-day
Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt|República Portuguesa|links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state in mainland Europe, being bordered to the wes ...

Portugal
. The Neanderthals were supplanted by modern humans ([[Cro-Magnons), who appeared in Europe around 43,000 to 40,000 years ago.National Geographic, 21. The earliest sites in Europe dated 48,000 years ago are [[Riparo Mochi (Italy), [[Geissenklösterle (Germany), and [[Isturitz (France) The [[European Neolithic period—marked by the cultivation of crops and the raising of livestock, increased numbers of settlements and the widespread use of pottery—began around 7000 BCE in [[Greece and the [[Balkans, probably influenced by earlier farming practices in [[Anatolia and the [[Near East. It spread from the Balkans along the valleys of the [[Danube and the [[Rhine ([[Linear Pottery culture) and along the [[Mediterranean coast ([[Cardial Ware|Cardial culture). Between 4500 and 3000 BC, these central European neolithic cultures developed further to the west and the north, transmitting newly acquired skills in producing copper artifacts. In Western Europe the Neolithic period was characterised not by large agricultural settlements but by field monuments, such as [[causewayed enclosures, [[burial mounds and [[megalithic tombs. The [[Corded Ware cultural horizon flourished at the transition from the Neolithic to the [[Chalcolithic. During this period giant [[megalithic monuments, such as the [[Megalithic Temples of Malta and [[Stonehenge, were constructed throughout Western and Southern Europe. The [[European Bronze Age began c. 3200 BCE in Greece with the [[Minoan civilization|Minoan civilisation on [[Crete, the first advanced civilisation in Europe. The Minoans were followed by the [[Mycenean Greece|Myceneans, who collapsed suddenly around 1200 BCE, ushering the [[European Iron Age. Iron Age colonisation by the [[Greeks and [[Phoenicians gave rise to early [[Mediterranean basin|Mediterranean cities. Early [[Iron Age Italy and [[Archaic Greece|Greece from around the 8th century BCE gradually gave rise to historical Classical antiquity, whose beginning is sometimes dated to 776 BCE, the year the first [[ancient Olympic Games|Olympic Games.


Classical antiquity

Ancient Greece was the founding culture of Western civilisation. Western [[democracy|democratic and [[rationalism|rationalist culture are often attributed to Ancient Greece. The Greek city-state, the [[polis, was the fundamental political unit of classical Greece. In 508 BCE, [[Cleisthenes instituted the world's first [[Athenian democracy|democratic system of government in [[Athens. The Greek political ideals were rediscovered in the late 18th century by European philosophers and idealists. Greece also generated many cultural contributions: in [[philosophy, [[humanism and [[rationalism under [[Aristotle, [[Socrates and [[Plato; in [[historiography|history with [[Herodotus and [[Thucydides; in dramatic and narrative verse, starting with the epic poems of [[Homer;National Geographic, 76. in drama with [[Sophocles and [[Euripides, in medicine with [[Hippocrates and [[Galen; and in science with [[Pythagoras, [[Euclid and [[Archimedes. In the course of the 5th century BC, several of the Greek [[city states would ultimately check the [[Achaemenid Empire|Achaemenid Persian advance in Europe through the [[Greco-Persian Wars, considered a pivotal moment in world history, as the 50 years of peace that followed are known as [[Fifth-century Athens|Golden Age of Athens, the seminal period of ancient Greece that laid many of the foundations of Western civilisation. Greece was followed by [[Ancient Rome|Rome, which left its mark on [[Roman law|law, [[politics, [[Latin|language, [[Roman engineering|engineering, [[Roman architecture|architecture, [[Centralized government|government and many more key aspects in western civilisation. By 200 BCE, Rome had conquered [[Roman Italy|Italy, and over the following two centuries it conquered [[Ancient Greece|Greece and [[Hispania (
Spain , * gl|Reino de España, * oc|Reiaume d'Espanha, | | image_flag = Bandera de España.svg | image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg | national_motto = | national_anthem = | image_map = | map_caption = | image_map2 = | ...

Spain
and
Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt|República Portuguesa|links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state in mainland Europe, being bordered to the wes ...

Portugal
), the [[North African coast, much of the [[Middle East, [[Gaul ([[France and [[Belgium), and [[Roman Britain|Britannia ([[England and [[Wales). Expanding from their base in central Italy beginning in the third century BCE, the Romans gradually expanded to eventually rule the entire Mediterranean Basin and Western Europe by the turn of the millennium. The [[Roman Republic ended in 27 BCE, when [[Augustus proclaimed the [[Roman Empire. The two centuries that followed are known as the ''[[pax romana'', a period of unprecedented peace, prosperity, and political stability in most of Europe. The empire continued to expand under emperors such as [[Antoninus Pius and [[Marcus Aurelius, who spent time on the Empire's northern border fighting [[Germanic peoples|Germanic, [[Picts|Pictish and [[Scottish people|Scottish tribes.National Geographic, 123. [[Christianity was [[Constantine the Great and Christianity|legalised by [[Constantine I in 313 CE after three centuries of [[Persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire|imperial persecution. Constantine also permanently moved the capital of the empire from Rome to the city of [[Byzantium, which was renamed [[Constantinople in his honour (modern-day [[Istanbul) in 330 CE. Christianity became the sole official religion of the empire in 380 CE, and in 391–392 CE, the emperor [[Theodosius I|Theodosius outlawed pagan religions. This is sometimes considered to mark the end of antiquity; alternatively antiquity is considered to end with the
fall of the Western Roman Empire The fall of the Western Roman Empire (also called the fall of the Roman Empire or the fall of Rome), c. 376-476, was the process of decline in the Western Roman Empire in which the Empire failed to enforce its rule, and its vast territory was ...

fall of the Western Roman Empire
in 476 CE; the closure of the pagan [[Platonic Academy|Platonic Academy of Athens in 529 CE; or the rise of Islam in the early 7th century CE.


Early Middle Ages

During the [[decline of the Roman Empire, Europe entered a long period of change arising from what historians call the "[[Age of Migrations". There were numerous invasions and migrations amongst the [[Ostrogoths, [[Visigoths, [[Goths, [[Vandals, [[Huns, [[Franks, [[Angles, [[Saxons, [[Slavs, [[Pannonian Avars|Avars, [[Bulgars and, later on, the [[Vikings, [[Pechenegs, [[Cumans and [[Magyars. [[Renaissance thinkers such as [[Petrarch would later refer to this as the "Dark Ages". Isolated monastic communities were the only places to safeguard and compile written knowledge accumulated previously; apart from this very few written records survive and much literature, philosophy, mathematics, and other thinking from the classical period disappeared from Western Europe though they were preserved in the east, in the Byzantine Empire. While the Roman empire in the west continued to decline, Roman traditions and the Roman state remained strong in the predominantly Greek-speaking [[Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the [[Byzantine Empire. During most of its existence, the Byzantine Empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Emperor [[Justinian I presided over Constantinople's first golden age: he established a [[Code of Justinian|legal code that forms the basis of many modern legal systems, funded the construction of the [[Hagia Sophia, and brought the Christian church under state control.National Geographic, 135. From the 7th century onwards, as the Byzantines and neighbouring [[Sasanids|Sasanid Persians were severely weakened due to the protracted, centuries-lasting and frequent [[Byzantine–Sasanian wars, the Muslim Arabs began to make inroads into historically Roman territory, taking the Levant and North Africa and making inroads into [[Asia Minor. In the mid 7th century CE, following the [[Muslim conquest of Persia, Islam penetrated into the [[Caucasus region. Over the next centuries Muslim forces took [[Cyprus in the Middle Ages|Cyprus, [[Malta, [[Emirate of Crete|Crete, [[Emirate of Sicily|Sicily and [[history of Islam in southern Italy|parts of southern Italy. Between 711 and 720, most of the lands of the [[Visigothic Kingdom of [[Iberian Peninsula|Iberia was brought under [[Muslim rule — save for small areas in the northwest ([[Asturias) and largely [[Basque people|Basque regions in the [[Pyrenees. This territory, under the Arabic name [[Al-Andalus, became part of the expanding [[Umayyad Caliphate. The unsuccessful [[Siege of Constantinople (717–718)|second siege of Constantinople (717) weakened the [[Umayyad|Umayyad dynasty and reduced their prestige. The Umayyads were then defeated by the [[Frankish Empire|Frankish leader [[Charles Martel at the [[Battle of Tours|Battle of Poitiers in 732, which ended their northward advance. In the remote regions of north-western Iberia and the middle [[Pyrenees the power of the Muslims in the south was scarcely felt. It was here that the foundations of the Christian kingdoms of [[Kingdom of Asturias|Asturias, [[Kingdom of Leon|Leon and [[Kingdom of Galicia|Galicia were laid and from where the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula would start. However, no coordinated attempt would be made to drive the [[Moors out. The Christian kingdoms were mainly focussed on their own internal power struggles. As a result, the [[Reconquista took the greater part of eight hundred years, in which period a long list of Alfonsos, Sanchos, Ordoños, Ramiros, Fernandos and Bermudos would be fighting their Christian rivals as much as the Muslim invaders. During the Dark Ages, the [[Western Roman Empire fell under the control of various tribes. The Germanic and Slav tribes established their domains over Western and Eastern Europe respectively.National Geographic, 143–145. Eventually the Frankish tribes were united under [[Clovis I.National Geographic, 162. [[Charlemagne, a Frankish king of the [[Carolingian dynasty who had conquered most of Western Europe, was anointed "[[Holy Roman Emperor" by the Pope in 800. This led in 962 to the founding of the [[Holy Roman Empire, which eventually became centred in the German principalities of central Europe.National Geographic, 166. [[East Central Europe saw the creation of the first Slavic states and the adoption of [[Christianity (circa 1000 CE). The powerful [[West Slavs|West Slavic state of [[Great Moravia spread its territory all the way south to the Balkans, reaching its largest territorial extent under [[Svatopluk I of Moravia|Svatopluk I and causing a series of armed conflicts with [[East Francia. Further south, the first [[South Slavs|South Slavic states emerged in the late 7th and 8th century and adopted [[Christianity: the [[First Bulgarian Empire, the [[Principality of Serbia (early medieval)|Serbian Principality (later [[Kingdom of Serbia (medieval)|Kingdom and [[Serbian Empire|Empire), and the [[Duchy of Croatia (later [[Kingdom of Croatia (925–1102)|Kingdom of Croatia). To the East, the [[Kievan Rus expanded from its capital in [[Kyiv to become the largest state in Europe by the 10th century. In 988, [[Vladimir the Great adopted [[Russian Orthodox Church|Orthodox Christianity as the religion of state. Further East, [[Volga Bulgaria became an Islamic state in the 10th century, but was eventually absorbed into Russia several centuries later.


High and Late Middle Ages

The period between the year 1000 and 1250 is known as the [[High Middle Ages, followed by the [[Late Middle Ages until c. 1500. During the High Middle Ages the population of Europe experienced significant growth, culminating in the [[Renaissance of the 12th century. Economic growth, together with the lack of safety on the mainland trading routes, made possible the development of major commercial routes along the coast of the [[Mediterranean Sea|Mediterranean and [[Baltic Seas. The growing wealth and independence acquired by some coastal cities gave the [[Maritime Republics a leading role in the European scene. The Middle Ages on the mainland were dominated by the two upper echelons of the social structure: the nobility and the clergy. [[Feudalism developed in [[France in the Early Middle Ages and soon spread throughout Europe.National Geographic, 158. A struggle for influence between the [[nobility and the [[monarchy in England led to the writing of the [[Magna Carta and the establishment of a [[parliament.National Geographic, 186. The primary source of culture in this period came from the [[Roman Catholic Church. Through monasteries and cathedral schools, the Church was responsible for education in much of Europe. The [[Papacy reached the height of its power during the High Middle Ages. An [[East-West Schism in 1054 split the former Roman Empire religiously, with the [[Eastern Orthodox Church in the [[Byzantine Empire and the Roman Catholic Church in the former Western Roman Empire. In 1095 [[Pope Urban II called for a [[Crusades|crusade against [[Muslims occupying [[Jerusalem and the [[Holy Land.National Geographic, 192. In Europe itself, the Church organised the [[Inquisition against heretics. In the [[Iberian Peninsula, the [[Reconquista concluded with the [[Granada War#Last stand at Granada|fall of Granada in 1492, ending over seven centuries of Islamic rule in the south-western peninsula.National Geographic, 199. In the east a resurgent Byzantine Empire recaptured Crete and Cyprus from the Muslims and reconquered the Balkans. Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe from the 9th to the 12th centuries, with a population of approximately 400,000. The Empire was weakened following the defeat at [[Battle of Manzikert|Manzikert and was weakened considerably by the [[Siege of Constantinople (1204)|sack of Constantinople in 1204, during the [[Fourth Crusade. Although it would recover Constantinople in 1261, [[Byzantine Empire|Byzantium [[Fall of Constantinople|fell in 1453 when [[Fall of Constantinople|Constantinople was taken by the [[Ottoman Empire.National Geographic, 211. In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic [[Turkic peoples|Turkic tribes, such as the [[Pechenegs and the [[Cuman-Kipchak Confederation|Cuman-Kipchaks, caused a massive migration of [[Slavic peoples|Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north and temporarily halted the expansion of the Rus' state to the south and east. Like many other parts of [[Eurasia, these territories were [[Mongol invasion of Rus|overrun by the Mongols. The invaders, who became known as [[Tatars, were mostly Turkic-speaking peoples under Mongol suzerainty. They established the state of the [[Golden Horde with headquarters in Crimea, which later adopted Islam as a religion and ruled over modern-day southern and central Russia for more than three centuries. After the collapse of Mongol dominions, the first Romanian states (principalities) emerged in the 14th century: [[Moldavia and [[Walachia. Previously, these territories were under the successive control of Pechenegs and Cumans. From the 12th to the 15th centuries, the [[Grand Duchy of Moscow grew from a small principality under Mongol rule to the largest state in Europe, overthrowing the Mongols in 1480 and eventually becoming the [[Tsardom of Russia. The state was consolidated under [[Ivan III the Great and [[Ivan the Terrible, steadily expanding to the east and south over the next centuries. The [[Great Famine of 1315–1317 was the first [[Crisis of the Late Middle Ages|crisis that would strike Europe in the late Middle Ages. The period between 1348 and 1420 witnessed the heaviest loss. The population of [[France in the Middle Ages|France was reduced by half. Medieval Britain was afflicted by 95 famines, and France suffered the effects of 75 or more in the same period. Europe was devastated in the mid-14th century by the [[Black Death, one of the most deadly [[pandemics in human history which killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe alone—a third of the [[Medieval demography|European population at the time. The plague had a devastating effect on Europe's social structure; it induced people to live for the moment as illustrated by [[Giovanni Boccaccio in ''[[The Decameron'' (1353). It was a serious blow to the Roman Catholic Church and led to increased [[persecution of Jews, [[beggars, and [[lepers.National Geographic, 223. The plague is thought to have returned every generation with varying [[virulence and mortalities until the 18th century. During this period, more than 100 plague [[List of epidemics|epidemics swept across Europe.


Early modern period

The Renaissance was a period of cultural change originating in [[Florence and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The rise of a [[Renaissance humanism|new humanism was accompanied by the recovery of forgotten [[Classical Greece|classical Greek and Arabic knowledge from [[Monasticism|monastic libraries, often translated from Arabic into [[Latin language|Latin. The Renaissance spread across Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries: it saw the flowering of
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of what constitutes art, and ideas ...

art
, [[philosophy, [[music, and the [[History of science in the Renaissance|sciences, under the joint patronage of [[Royal family|royalty, the nobility, the [[Roman Catholic Church, and an emerging merchant class.National Geographic, 254. Patrons in Italy, including the [[Medici family of Florentine bankers and the [[Popes in [[Rome, funded prolific [[quattrocento and [[cinquecento artists such as [[Raphael, [[Michelangelo, and [[Leonardo da Vinci.National Geographic, 292. Political intrigue within the Church in the mid-14th century caused the [[Western Schism. During this forty-year period, two popes—one in [[Avignon and one in Rome—claimed rulership over the Church. Although the schism was eventually healed in 1417, the papacy's spiritual authority had suffered greatly.National Geographic, 193. In the 15th century, Europe started to extend itself beyond its geographic frontiers. Spain and Portugal, the greatest naval powers of the time, took the lead in exploring the world.National Geographic, 296. Exploration reached the [[Southern Hemisphere in the Atlantic and the Southern tip of Africa. [[Christopher Columbus reached the [[New World in 1492, and [[Vasco da Gama opened the ocean route to the [[Orient|East linking the Atlantic and [[Indian Oceans in 1498. [[Ferdinand Magellan reached Asia westward across the Atlantic and the [[Pacific Oceans in the Spanish expedition of Magellan-Elcano, resulting in the first [[Timeline of Magellan's circumnavigation|circumnavigation of the globe, completed by [[Juan Sebastián Elcano (1519–1522). Soon after, the Spanish and Portuguese began establishing large global empires in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania.National Geographic, 338. France, the [[Netherlands and England soon followed in building large colonial empires with vast holdings in Africa, the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with their associated i ...

Americas
, and Asia. A year later [[English Armada|England tried unsuccessfully to invade Spain, allowing [[Philip II of Spain to maintain his dominant war capacity in Europe. This English decisive disaster also allowed the Spanish fleet to retain its capability to wage war for the next decades. The Church's power was further weakened by the [[Protestant reformation|Protestant Reformation in 1517 when German theologian [[Martin Luther nailed his ''[[Ninety-five Theses'' criticising the selling of indulgences to the church door. He was subsequently excommunicated in the papal bull ''[[Exsurge Domine'' in 1520, and his followers were condemned in the 1521 [[Diet of Worms, which divided German princes between [[Protestant and Roman Catholic faiths.National Geographic, 256–257. [[European wars of religion|Religious fighting and warfare spread with Protestantism. The plunder of the empires of the Americas allowed Spain to finance [[Spanish Inquisition|religious persecution in Europe for over a century. The [[Thirty Years War (1618–1648) crippled the Holy Roman Empire and devastated much of [[Early Modern history of Germany|Germany, killing between 25 and 40 percent of its population. In the aftermath of the [[Peace of Westphalia, France rose to predominance within Europe.National Geographic, 269. The 17th century in central and parts of eastern Europe was a period of general [[The General Crisis|decline; the region experienced more than 150 famines in a 200-year period between 1501 and 1700. From the [[Union of Krewo (1385) east-central Europe was dominated by the [[Kingdom of Poland (1385–1569)|Kingdom of Poland and the [[Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The [[hegemony of the vast [[Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth had ended with the devastation brought by the [[Second Northern War ([[Swedish Deluge|Deluge) and subsequent conflicts; the state itself was [[Partitions of Poland|partitioned and ceased to exist at the end of the 18th century. From the 15th to 18th centuries, when the disintegrating khanates of the [[Golden Horde were conquered by Russia, [[Crimean Tatars|Tatars from the [[Crimean Khanate frequently [[Crimean-Nogai raids into East Slavic lands|raided Eastern Slavic lands to [[Slavery in the Ottoman Empire|capture slaves. Further east, the [[Nogai Horde and [[Kazakh Khanate frequently raided the Slavic-speaking areas of contemporary Russia and Ukraine for hundreds of years, until the Russian expansion and conquest of most of northern Eurasia (i.e. Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Siberia). The Renaissance and the [[New Monarchs marked the start of an Age of Discovery, a period of exploration, invention, and scientific development. Among the great figures of the Western [[scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries were [[Copernicus, [[Kepler, [[Galileo, and [[Isaac Newton. According to Peter Barrett, "It is widely accepted that 'modern science' arose in the Europe of the 17th century (towards the end of the Renaissance), introducing a new understanding of the natural world."Peter Barrett (2004),
Science and Theology Since Copernicus: The Search for Understanding
', pp. 14–18, [[Continuum International Publishing Group,


18th and 19th centuries

The Age of Enlightenment was a powerful intellectual movement during the 18th century promoting scientific and reason-based thoughts.National Geographic, 255. Discontent with the aristocracy and clergy's monopoly on political power in France resulted in the French Revolution and the establishment of the [[French First Republic|First Republic as a result of which the monarchy and many of the nobility perished during the initial [[Reign of Terror|reign of terror. [[Napoleon|Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power in the aftermath of the French Revolution and established the [[First French Empire that, during the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions. It produced a brief period of French ...

Napoleonic Wars
, grew to encompass large parts of Europe before collapsing in 1815 with the [[Battle of Waterloo.National Geographic, 360. [[Napoleonic Empire|Napoleonic rule resulted in the further dissemination of the ideals of the French Revolution, including that of the [[nation state|nation-state, as well as the widespread adoption of the French models of [[centralised government|administration, [[Napoleonic code|law, and [[Education in France|education.National Geographic, 350. The [[Congress of Vienna, convened after Napoleon's downfall, established a new [[balance of power (international relations)|balance of power in Europe centred on the five "[[Great Powers": the UK, France, [[Prussia, [[Austrian Empire|Austria, and Russia.National Geographic, 367. This balance would remain in place until the [[Revolutions of 1848, during which liberal uprisings affected all of Europe except for Russia and the UK. These revolutions were eventually put down by conservative elements and few reforms resulted.National Geographic, 371–373. The year 1859 saw the unification of Romania, as a nation-state, from smaller principalities. In 1867, the [[Austro-Hungarian empire was [[Ausgleich|formed; and 1871 saw the unifications of both [[Italian unification|Italy and [[Unification of Germany|Germany as [[nation-states from smaller principalities. In parallel, the [[Eastern Question grew more complex ever since the Ottoman defeat in the [[Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774). As the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire seemed imminent, the [[Great Powers struggled to safeguard their strategic and commercial interests in the Ottoman domains. The [[Russian Empire stood to benefit from the decline, whereas the [[Habsburg Monarchy|Habsburg Empire and [[United Kingdom|Britain perceived the preservation of the Ottoman Empire to be in their best interests. Meanwhile, the [[Serbian revolution (1804) and [[Greek War of Independence (1821) marked the beginning of the end of Ottoman rule in the [[Balkans, which ended with the [[Balkan Wars in 1912–1913. Formal recognition of the ''de facto'' independent principalities of [[Montenegro, [[Principality of Serbia|Serbia and [[Romania ensued at the [[Congress of Berlin in 1878. The
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machin ...

Industrial Revolution
started in
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. The isl ...

Great Britain
in the last part of the 18th century and spread throughout Europe. The invention and implementation of new technologies resulted in rapid urban growth, mass employment, and the rise of a new working class. Reforms in social and economic spheres followed, including the [[Factory Acts|first laws on [[child labour, the legalisation of [[trade unions, and the [[abolitionism in the United Kingdom|abolition of slavery. In Britain, the [[Public Health Act of 1875 was passed, which significantly improved living conditions in many British cities. Europe's population increased from about 100 million in 1700 to 400 million by 1900. The last major famine recorded in Western Europe, the [[Great Famine (Ireland)|Great Famine of Ireland, caused death and mass emigration of millions of Irish people. In the 19th century, 70 million people left Europe in migrations to various European colonies abroad and to the United States. Demographic growth meant that, by 1900, Europe's share of the world's population was 25%.


20th century to the present

Two world wars and an economic depression dominated the first half of the 20th century. World War I was fought between 1914 and 1918. It started when [[Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by the [[Yugoslav nationalism|Yugoslav nationalist [[Gavrilo Princip.National Geographic, 407. Most European nations were drawn into the war, which was fought between the [[Entente Powers ([[French Third Republic|France, [[Belgium, [[Serbia, Portugal, [[Russian Empire|Russia, the United Kingdom, and later [[Italy, [[Greece, [[Romania, and the United States) and the [[Central Powers ([[Austria-Hungary, [[German Empire|Germany, [[Bulgaria, and the [[Ottoman Empire). The war left more than 16 million civilians and military dead.''National Geographic'', 440. Over 60 million European soldiers were mobilised from 1914 to 1918. Russia was plunged into the [[Russian Revolution, which threw down the [[Russian Empire|Tsarist monarchy and replaced it with the [[communist
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its governmen ...

Soviet Union
.National Geographic, 480. [[Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire collapsed and broke up into separate nations, and many other nations had their borders redrawn. The [[Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended World War I in 1919, was harsh towards Germany, upon whom it placed full responsibility for the war and imposed heavy sanctions.''National Geographic'', 443. Excess deaths in Russia over the course of World War I and the [[Russian Civil War (including the postwar [[Russian famine of 1921|famine) amounted to a combined total of 18 million. In 1932–1933, under [[Stalin's leadership, confiscations of grain by the Soviet authorities contributed to the [[Soviet famine of 1932-1933|second Soviet famine which caused millions of deaths; surviving [[kulaks were persecuted and many sent to [[Gulags to do [[Unfree labour|forced labour. Stalin was also responsible for the [[Great Purge of 1937–38 in which the [[NKVD executed 681,692 people; millions of people were [[population transfer in the Soviet Union|deported and exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union. [[File:Mussolini and Hitler 1940 (retouched).jpg|left|[[Nazi Germany began a devastating World War II in Europe by its leader, [[Adolf Hitler. Here Hitler, on the right, with his closest ally, the Italian dictator [[Benito Mussolini, in 1940 The [[social revolutions sweeping through Russia also affected other European nations following [[The Great War: in 1919, with the [[Weimar Republic in Germany, and the [[First Austrian Republic; in 1922, with [[Benito Mussolini|Mussolini's one party [[Fascism|fascist government in the [[Kingdom of Italy, and in [[Mustafa Kemal Atatürk|Atatürk's [[Turkey|Turkish Republic, adopting the Western alphabet, and state [[secularism. Economic instability, caused in part by debts incurred in the First World War and 'loans' to Germany played havoc in Europe in the late 1920s and 1930s. This and the [[Wall Street Crash of 1929 brought about the worldwide [[Great Depression. Helped by the economic crisis, social instability and the threat of communism, [[Fascism|fascist movements developed throughout Europe placing [[Adolf Hitler in power of what became [[Nazi Germany.''National Geographic'', 438. In 1933, Hitler became the leader of Germany and began to work towards his goal of building Greater Germany. Germany re-expanded and took back the [[Saarland and [[Rhineland in 1935 and 1936. In 1938, [[Austria became a part of Germany following the [[Anschluss. Later that year, following the [[Munich Agreement signed by Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy, Germany annexed the [[Sudetenland, which was a part of [[Czechoslovakia inhabited by ethnic Germans, and in early 1939, the remainder of Czechoslovakia was split into the [[Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, controlled by Germany, and the [[Slovak Republic (1939–1945)|Slovak Republic. At the time, Britain and France preferred a policy of [[appeasement. With tensions mounting between Germany and [[Second Polish Republic|Poland over the future of [[Gdańsk|Danzig, the Germans turned to the Soviets, and signed the [[Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which allowed the Soviets to invade the Baltic states and parts of Poland and Romania. Germany [[Invasion of Poland|invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, prompting France and the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany on 3 September, opening the [[European Theatre of World War II.National Geographic, 465. The [[Soviet invasion of Poland started on 17 September and Poland fell soon thereafter. On 24 September, the Soviet Union attacked the [[Soviet occupation of the Baltic states (1940)|Baltic countries and later, Finland. The British hoped to land at [[Battles of Narvik|Narvik and send troops to aid Finland, but their primary objective in the landing was to encircle Germany and cut the Germans off from Scandinavian resources. Around the same time, Germany moved troops into Denmark. The [[Phoney War continued. In May 1940, Germany [[Battle of France|attacked France through the Low Countries. France capitulated in June 1940. By August, Germany began a [[Battle of Britain|bombing offensive on Britain, but failed to convince the Britons to give up.''National Geographic'', 510. In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union in [[Operation Barbarossa.''National Geographic'', 532. On 7 December 1941 [[Empire of Japan|Japan's [[attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into the conflict as allies of the [[British Empire and other [[Allies of World War II|allied forces.''National Geographic'', 511.''National Geographic'', 519. After the staggering [[Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, the German offensive in the Soviet Union turned into a continual fallback. The [[Battle of Kursk, which involved the largest [[Battle of Prokhorovka|tank battle in history, was the last major German offensive on the [[Eastern Front (World War II)|Eastern Front. In June 1944, British and American forces invaded France in the [[Normandy landings|D-Day landings, opening a new front against Germany. Berlin finally [[Battle of Berlin|fell in 1945, ending World War II in Europe. The war was the largest and most destructive in human history, with [[World War II casualties|60 million dead across the world.''National Geographic'', 439. More than 40 million people in Europe had died as a result of World War II, including between 11 and 17 million people who perished during [[the Holocaust. The Soviet Union [[World War II casualties of the Soviet Union|lost around 27 million people (mostly civilians) during the war, about half of all World War II casualties. By the end of World War II, Europe had more than 40 million [[refugees. Several [[World War II evacuation and expulsion|post-war expulsions in Central and Eastern Europe displaced a total of about 20 million people, in particular, [[Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–1950)|German-speakers from all over Eastern Europe. World War I and especially World War II diminished the eminence of Western Europe in world affairs. After World War II the map of Europe was redrawn at the [[Yalta Conference and divided into two blocs, the Western countries and the communist Eastern bloc, separated by what was later called by [[Winston Churchill an "
Iron Curtain The Iron Curtain was a political boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolizes the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its sate ...

Iron Curtain
". The United States and Western Europe established the
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. The ...

NATO
alliance and later the Soviet Union and Central Europe established the
Warsaw Pact The Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, commonly known as the Warsaw Pact (WP), was a collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland between the Soviet Union and seven o ...

Warsaw Pact
.National Geographic, 530. Particular hot spots after the Second World War were [[Berlin and [[Trieste, whereby the [[Free Territory of Trieste, founded in 1947 with the UN, was dissolved in 1954 and 1975 respectively. The [[Berlin blockade in 1948 and 1949 and the construction of the [[Berlin Wall in 1961 were one of the great international crises of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II. Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the per ...

Cold War
. The two new [[superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, became locked in a fifty-year-long Cold War, centred on [[nuclear proliferation. At the same time [[decolonisation, which had already started after World War I, gradually resulted in the independence of most of the European colonies in Asia and Africa. In the 1980s the [[glasnost|reforms of [[Mikhail Gorbachev and the [[Solidarity (Polish trade union)|Solidarity movement in Poland weakened the previously rigid communist system. The opening of the
Iron Curtain The Iron Curtain was a political boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolizes the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its sate ...

Iron Curtain
at the [[Pan-European Picnic then set in motion a peaceful chain reaction, at the end of which the [[Eastern bloc, the
Warsaw Pact The Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, commonly known as the Warsaw Pact (WP), was a collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland between the Soviet Union and seven o ...

Warsaw Pact
and [[communism collapsed and the Cold War ended. Germany was reunited, after the symbolic
fall of the Berlin Wall The fall of the Berlin Wall (german: Mauerfall) on 9 November 1989 was a pivotal event in world history which marked the falling of the Iron Curtain and the start of the fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe. The fall of the inner Germa ...

fall of the Berlin Wall
in 1989, and the maps of Central and Eastern Europe were redrawn once more. This made old previously interrupted cultural and economic relationships possible and previously isolated cities such as [[Berlin, [[Prague, [[Vienna, [[Budapest and [[Trieste were now again in the center of Europe. [[European integration also grew after World War II. In 1949 the [[Council of Europe was founded, following a speech by Sir [[Winston Churchill, with the idea of unifying Europe to achieve common goals. It includes all European states except for [[Belarus and [[Vatican City. The [[Treaty of Rome in 1957 established the [[European Economic Community between six Western European states with the goal of a unified economic policy and common market.National Geographic, 536. In 1967 the EEC, [[European Coal and Steel Community and [[Euratom formed the [[European Community, which in 1993 became the [[European Union. The EU established a [[European Parliament|parliament, [[European Court of Justice|court and [[European Central Bank|central bank and introduced the [[euro as a unified currency.National Geographic, 537. Between 2004 and 2013, more Central and Eastern European countries began joining, [[Enlargement of the European Union|expanding the EU to 28 European countries, and once more making Europe a major economical and political centre of power.National Geographic, 535. However, the United Kingdom withdrew from the EU on 31 January 2020, as a result of a [[2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum|June 2016 referendum on EU membership.


Geography

Europe makes up the western fifth of the [[Eurasian landmass. It has a higher ratio of coast to landmass than any other continent or subcontinent. Its maritime borders consist of the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Seas to the south. Land relief in Europe shows great variation within relatively small areas. The southern regions are more mountainous, while moving north the terrain descends from the high [[Alps, [[Pyrenees, and [[Carpathian Mountains|Carpathians, through hilly uplands, into broad, low northern plains, which are vast in the east. This extended lowland is known as the [[Great European Plain, and at its heart lies the [[North German Plain. An arc of uplands also exists along the north-western seaboard, which begins in the western parts of the islands of Britain and Ireland, and then continues along the mountainous, fjord-cut spine of Norway. This description is simplified. Sub-regions such as the [[Iberian Peninsula and the [[Italian Peninsula contain their own complex features, as does mainland Central Europe itself, where the relief contains many plateaus, river valleys and basins that complicate the general trend. Sub-regions like [[Iceland, Britain, and Ireland are special cases. The former is a land unto itself in the northern ocean which is counted as part of Europe, while the latter are upland areas that were once joined to the mainland until [[sea level rise|rising sea levels cut them off.


Climate

Europe lies mainly in the [[temperate climate zones, being subjected to [[prevailing westerlies. The climate is milder in comparison to other areas of the same latitude around the globe due to the influence of the [[Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is nicknamed "Europe's central heating", because it makes Europe's climate warmer and wetter than it would otherwise be. The Gulf Stream not only carries warm water to Europe's coast but also warms up the prevailing westerly winds that blow across the continent from the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, the average temperature throughout the year of [[Aveiro, Portugal|Aveiro is , while it is only in [[New York City which is almost on the same latitude, bordering the same ocean. Berlin, Germany; Calgary, Canada; and Irkutsk, in far southeastern Russia, lie on around the same latitude; January temperatures in Berlin average around higher than those in Calgary, and they are almost higher than average temperatures in Irkutsk. Similarly, northern parts of Scotland have a temperate marine climate. The yearly average temperature in city of Inverness is . However, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, is on roughly the same latitude and has an average temperature of , giving it a nearly subarctic climate. The large water masses of the [[Mediterranean Sea, which equalize the temperatures on an annual and daily average, are also of particular importance. The water of the Mediterranean extends from the [[Sahara desert to the Alpine arc in its northernmost part of the [[Adriatic Sea near [[Trieste. In general, Europe is not just colder towards the north compared to the south, but it also gets colder from the west towards the east. The climate is more oceanic in the west, and less so in the east. This can be illustrated by the following table of average temperatures at locations roughly following the 60th, 55th, 50th, 45th and 40th
latitudes In geography, latitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the north–south position of a point on the Earth's surface. Latitude is an angle (defined below) which ranges from 0° at the Equator to 90° (North or South) at the poles. Lines ...

latitudes
. None of them is located at high altitude; most of them are close to the sea. (location, approximate latitude and longitude, coldest month average, hottest month average and annual average temperatures in degrees C) It is notable how the average temperatures for the coldest month, as well as the annual average temperatures, drop from the west to the east. For instance, Edinburgh is warmer than Belgrade during the coldest month of the year, although Belgrade is around 10° of latitude farther south.


Geology

The geological history of Europe traces back to the formation of the [[Baltic Shield (Fennoscandia) and the [[Sarmatian craton, both around 2.25 billion years ago, followed by the [[Volgo–Uralia shield, the three together leading to the [[East European craton (≈ [[Baltica) which became a part of the [[supercontinent [[Columbia (supercontinent)|Columbia. Around 1.1 billion years ago, Baltica and Arctica (as part of the [[Laurentia block) became joined to [[Rodinia, later resplitting around 550 million years ago to reform as Baltica. Around 440 million years ago [[Euramerica was formed from Baltica and Laurentia; a further joining with [[Gondwana then leading to the formation of [[Pangea. Around 190 million years ago, Gondwana and [[Laurasia split apart due to the widening of the Atlantic Ocean. Finally, and very soon afterwards, Laurasia itself split up again, into Laurentia (North America) and the Eurasian continent. The land connection between the two persisted for a considerable time, via [[Greenland, leading to interchange of animal species. From around 50 million years ago, rising and falling sea levels have determined the actual shape of Europe, and its connections with continents such as Asia. Europe's present shape dates to the late [[Tertiary period about five million years ago. The geology of Europe is hugely varied and complex, and gives rise to the wide variety of landscapes found across the continent, from the [[Scottish Highlands to the rolling [[plains of Hungary. Europe's most significant feature is the dichotomy between highland and mountainous [[Southern Europe and a vast, partially underwater, northern plain ranging from Ireland in the west to the
Ural Mountains The Ural Mountains (; rus|Ура́льские го́ры|r=Uralskiye gory|p=ʊˈralʲskʲɪjə ˈgorɨ; ba|Урал тауҙары, ''Ural tauźarı'') or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south throu ...

Ural Mountains
in the east. These two halves are separated by the mountain chains of the [[Pyrenees and [[Alps/[[Carpathian Mountains|Carpathians. The northern plains are delimited in the west by the [[Scandinavian Mountains and the mountainous parts of the British Isles. Major shallow water bodies submerging parts of the northern plains are the [[Celtic Sea, the [[North Sea, the [[Baltic Sea complex and [[Barents Sea. The northern plain contains the old geological continent of [[Baltica, and so may be regarded geologically as the "main continent", while peripheral highlands and mountainous regions in the south and west constitute fragments from various other geological continents. Most of the older geology of western Europe existed as part of the ancient [[microcontinent [[Avalonia.


Flora

Having lived side by side with agricultural peoples for millennia, Europe's animals and plants have been profoundly affected by the presence and activities of man. With the exception of [[Fennoscandia and northern Russia, few areas of untouched wilderness are currently found in Europe, except for various [[national parks. The main natural vegetation cover in Europe is mixed [[forest. The conditions for growth are very favourable. In the north, the [[Gulf Stream and [[North Atlantic Current|North Atlantic Drift warm the continent. Southern Europe could be described as having a warm, but mild climate. There are frequent summer droughts in this region. Mountain ridges also affect the conditions. Some of these ([[Alps, [[Pyrenees) are oriented east–west and allow the wind to carry large masses of water from the ocean in the interior. Others are oriented south–north ([[Scandinavian Mountains, [[Dinaric Alps|Dinarides, [[Carpathian Mountains|Carpathians, [[Apennine Mountains|Apennines) and because the rain falls primarily on the side of mountains that is oriented towards the sea, forests grow well on this side, while on the other side, the conditions are much less favourable. Few corners of mainland Europe have not been grazed by [[livestock at some point in time, and the cutting down of the pre-agricultural forest habitat caused disruption to the original plant and animal ecosystems. Probably 80 to 90 percent of Europe was once covered by forest. It stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arctic Ocean. Although over half of Europe's original forests disappeared through the centuries of [[deforestation, Europe still has over one quarter of its land area as forest, such as the [[Temperate broadleaf and mixed forest|broadleaf and mixed forests, [[taiga of Scandinavia and Russia, mixed [[rainforests of the Caucasus and the [[Cork oak forests in the western Mediterranean. During recent times, deforestation has been slowed and many trees have been planted. However, in many cases monoculture [[plantations of [[Pinophyta|conifers have replaced the original mixed natural forest, because these grow quicker. The plantations now cover vast areas of land, but offer poorer habitats for many European forest dwelling species which require a mixture of tree species and diverse forest structure. The amount of natural forest in Western Europe is just 2–3% or less, in European Russia 5–10%. The country with the smallest percentage of forested area is [[Iceland (1%), while the most forested country is Finland (77%). In temperate Europe, mixed forest with both [[flowering plant|broadleaf and coniferous trees dominate. The most important species in central and western Europe are [[beech and [[oak. In the north, the taiga is a mixed [[spruce–[[pine–[[birch forest; further north within Russia and extreme northern Scandinavia, the taiga gives way to [[tundra as the Arctic is approached. In the Mediterranean, many [[olive trees have been planted, which are very well adapted to its arid climate; [[Cupressus sempervirens|Mediterranean Cypress is also widely planted in southern Europe. The semi-arid Mediterranean region hosts much scrub forest. A narrow east–west tongue of Eurasian [[grassland (the [[steppe) extends westwards from [[Ukraine and southern Russia and ends in Hungary and traverses into taiga to the north.


Fauna

Glaciation during the [[Quaternary glaciation|most recent ice age and the presence of man affected the distribution of [[Fauna of Europe|European fauna. As for the animals, in many parts of Europe most large animals and top [[predator species have been hunted to extinction. The [[woolly mammoth was extinct before the end of the [[Neolithic period. Today [[wolf|wolves ([[carnivores) and [[bears ([[omnivores) are endangered. Once they were found in most parts of Europe. However, deforestation and hunting caused these animals to withdraw further and further. By the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages i ...

Middle Ages
the bears' habitats were limited to more or less inaccessible mountains with sufficient forest cover. Today, the [[European brown bear|brown bear lives primarily in the [[Balkan|Balkan peninsula, Scandinavia, and Russia; a small number also persist in other countries across Europe (Austria, Pyrenees etc.), but in these areas brown bear populations are fragmented and marginalised because of the destruction of their habitat. In addition, [[polar bears may be found on [[Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago far north of Scandinavia. The [[Eurasian wolf|wolf, the second largest predator in Europe after the brown bear, can be found primarily in [[Central and Eastern Europe and in the Balkans, with a handful of packs in pockets of
Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe farthest from Asia, with the countries and territories included varying depending on context. After the beginning of foreign exploration in the Age of Discovery, roughly from the 15th century, the concept ...

Western Europe
(Scandinavia, Spain, etc.). European wild cat, foxes (especially the red fox), jackal and different species of martens, hedgehogs, different species of reptiles (like snakes such as vipers and grass snakes) and amphibians, different birds (owls, hawks and other birds of prey). Important European herbivores are snails, larvae, fish, different birds, and mammals, like rodents, deer and roe deer, boars, and living in the mountains, marmots, steinbocks, chamois among others. A number of insects, such as the [[small tortoiseshell butterfly, add to the biodiversity. The extinction of the [[Cretan Dwarf Hippopotamus|dwarf hippos and [[dwarf elephants has been linked to the earliest arrival of humans on the islands of the [[Mediterranean. Sea creatures are also an important part of European flora and fauna. The sea flora is mainly [[phytoplankton. Important animals that live in European seas are [[zooplankton, [[molluscs, [[echinoderms, different [[crustaceans, [[squids and [[octopuses, fish, [[dolphins, and [[whales. Biodiversity is protected in Europe through the Council of Europe's [[Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats|Bern Convention, which has also been signed by the [[European Community as well as non-European states.


Politics

The political map of Europe is substantially derived from the re-organisation of Europe following the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions. It produced a brief period of French ...

Napoleonic Wars
in 1815. The prevalent form of government in Europe is [[parliamentary democracy, in most cases in the form of [[Republic; in 1815, the prevalent form of government was still the [[Monarchies in Europe|Monarchy. Europe's remaining eleven monarchies are [[constitutional monarchy|constitutional. [[European integration is the process of political, legal, economic (and in some cases social and cultural) integration of European states as it has been pursued by the powers sponsoring the [[Council of Europe since the end of [[World War II The [[European Union has been the focus of economic integration on the continent since its foundation in 1993. More recently, the [[Eurasian Economic Union has been established as a counterpart comprising former Soviet states. 27 European states are members of the politico-economic European Union, 26 of the border-free [[Schengen Area and 19 of the monetary union [[Eurozone. Among the smaller European organisations are the [[Nordic Council, the [[Benelux, the [[Baltic Assembly and the [[Visegrád Group.


List of states and territories

The list below includes all entities falling even partially under any of the [[Geopolitical divisions of Europe|various common definitions of Europe, geographic or political. Within the above-mentioned states are several [[de facto independent countries with [[List of states with limited recognition|limited to no international recognition. None of them are members of the UN: Several dependencies and similar territories with broad autonomy are also found within or in close proximity to Europe. This includes Åland (a [[region of Finland), two constituent countries of the Kingdom of Denmark (other than Denmark itself), three [[Crown dependencies, and two [[British Overseas Territories. Svalbard is also included due to its unique status within Norway, although it is not autonomous. Not included are the three [[countries of the United Kingdom with devolved powers and the two [[Autonomous Regions of Portugal, which despite having a unique degree of autonomy, are not largely self-governing in matters other than international affairs. Areas with little more than a unique tax status, such as [[Heligoland and the [[Canary Islands, are also not included for this reason.


Economy

As a continent, the economy of Europe is currently the largest on Earth and it is the richest region as measured by assets under management with over $32.7 trillion compared to North America's $27.1 trillion in 2008. In 2009 Europe remained the wealthiest region. Its $37.1 trillion in assets under management represented one-third of the world's wealth. It was one of several regions where wealth surpassed its precrisis year-end peak. As with other continents, Europe has a large variation of wealth among its countries. The richer states tend to be in the [[Western Europe|West; some of the [[Central and Eastern European economies are still emerging from the [[collapse of the Soviet Union and the [[breakup of Yugoslavia. The model of the [[Blue Banana was designed as an economic geographic representation of the respective economic power of the regions, which was further developed into the [[Golden Banana or Blue Star. The trade between East and West, as well as towards Asia, which had been disrupted for a long time by the two world wars, new borders and the Cold War, increased sharply after 1989. In addition, there is new impetus from the Chinese [[Belt and Road Initiative across the [[Suez Canal towards Africa and Asia. The European Union, a political entity composed of 27 European states, comprises the [[List of countries by GDP (nominal)|largest single economic area in the world. 19 EU [[Eurozone|countries share the [[euro as a common currency. Five European countries rank in the top ten of the world's largest [[List of countries by GDP (PPP)|national economies in GDP (PPP). This includes (ranks according to the [[The CIA World Factbook|CIA): Germany (6), Russia (7), the United Kingdom (10), France (11), and Italy (13). There is huge disparity between many European countries in terms of their income. The richest in terms of nominal GDP is [[Monaco with its US$185,829 per capita (2018) and the poorest is [[Ukraine with its US$3,659 per capita (2019). Monaco is the richest country in terms of GDP per capita in the world according to the World Bank report. As a whole, Europe's GDP per capita is US$21,767 according to a 2016 International Monetary Fund assessment.


Economic history

;Industrial growth (1760–1945) Capitalism has been dominant in the Western world since the end of feudalism. From Britain, it gradually spread throughout Europe. The
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machin ...

Industrial Revolution
started in Europe, specifically the United Kingdom in the late 18th century, and the 19th century saw Western Europe industrialise. Economies were disrupted by World War I but by the beginning of World War II they had recovered and were having to compete with the growing economic strength of the United States. World War II, again, damaged much of Europe's industries. ;Cold War (1945–1991) After World War II the economy of the UK was in a state of ruin, and continued to suffer relative economic decline in the following decades. Italy was also in a poor economic condition but regained a high level of growth by the 1950s. West Germany [[Wirtschaftswunder|recovered quickly and had doubled production from pre-war levels by the 1950s. France also staged a remarkable comeback enjoying rapid growth and modernisation; later on Spain, under the leadership of [[Francisco Franco|Franco, also recovered, and the nation recorded huge unprecedented economic growth beginning in the 1960s in what is called the [[Spanish miracle. The majority of [[Central and Eastern European states came under the control of the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its governmen ...

Soviet Union
and thus were members of the [[Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON)."Germany (East)", Library of Congress Country Study
Appendix B: The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance
/ref> The states which retained a [[free-market system were given a large amount of aid by the United States under the [[Marshall Plan. The western states moved to link their economies together, providing the basis for the EU and increasing cross border trade. This helped them to enjoy rapidly improving economies, while those states in COMECON were struggling in a large part due to the cost of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II. Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the per ...

Cold War
. Until 1990, the [[European Community was expanded from 6 founding members to 12. The emphasis placed on resurrecting the West German economy led to it overtaking the UK as Europe's largest economy. ;Reunification (1991–present) With the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1991, the post-socialist states began free market reforms. After [[East Germany|East and West Germany were reunited in 1990, the economy of West Germany struggled as it had to support and largely rebuild the infrastructure of East Germany. By the millennium change, the EU dominated the economy of Europe comprising the five largest European economies of the time namely Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain. In 1999, 12 of the 15 members of the EU joined the [[Eurozone replacing their former national currencies by the common euro. The three who chose to remain outside the Eurozone were: the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden. The European Union is now the largest economy in the world. Figures released by [[Eurostat in 2009 confirmed that the Eurozone had gone into [[Late 2000s recession in Europe|recession in 2008. It impacted much of the region. In 2010, fears of a [[European sovereign-debt crisis|sovereign debt crisis developed concerning some countries in Europe, especially Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal. As a result, measures were taken, especially for Greece, by the leading countries of the Eurozone. The [[European Union|EU-27 unemployment rate was 10.3% in 2012. For those aged 15–24 it was 22.4%.Unemployment statistics
. [[Eurostat. April 2012.


Demographics

In 2017, the population of Europe was estimated to be 742 million according to , which is slightly more than one-ninth of the world's population. This number includes Siberia, (about 38 million people) but excludes European Turkey (about 12 million). A century ago, Europe had nearly a quarter of the [[world population|world's population.World Population Growth, 1950–2050
Population Reference Bureau.
The population of Europe has grown in the past century, but in other areas of the world (in particular Africa and Asia) the population has grown far more quickly. Among the continents, Europe has a relatively high [[population density, second only to Asia. Most of Europe is in a mode of [[Sub-replacement fertility, which means that each new(-born) generation is being less populous than the older. The most densely populated country in Europe (and in the world) is the [[microstate of [[Monaco.


Ethnic groups

Pan and Pfeil (2004) count 87 distinct "peoples of Europe", of which 33 form the majority population in at least one sovereign state, while the remaining 54 constitute [[ethnic minority|ethnic minorities. According to UN population projection, Europe's population may fall to about 7% of world population by 2050, or 653 million people (medium variant, 556 to 777 million in low and high variants, respectively). Within this context, significant disparities exist between regions in relation to [[fertility rates. The average number of [[List of countries and territories by fertility rate|children per female of child-bearing age is 1.52. According to some sources, this rate is higher among [[Islam in Europe|Muslims in Europe. The UN predicts a steady [[population decline in [[Central and Eastern Europe as a result of emigration and low birth rates.


Migration

Europe is home to the highest number of migrants of all global regions at 70.6 million people, the [[International Organisation for Migration|IOM's report said. In 2005, the EU had an overall net gain from [[immigration of 1.8 million people. This accounted for almost 85% of Europe's total [[population growth. In 2008, 696,000 persons were given citizenship of an EU27 member state, a decrease from 707,000 the previous year. In 2017, approximately 825,000 persons acquired [[Citizenship of the European Union|citizenship of an EU28 member state. 2.4 million immigrants from non-EU countries entered the EU in 2017. Early modern [[emigration from Europe began with Spanish and Portuguese settlers in the 16th century, and French and English settlers in the 17th century. But numbers remained relatively small until waves of mass emigration in the 19th century, when millions of poor families left Europe. Today, [[European diaspora|large populations of European descent are found on every continent. European ancestry predominates in North America, and to a lesser degree in South America (particularly in [[Uruguay, [[Argentina, [[Chile and [[Brazil, while most of the other [[Latin American countries also have a considerable [[White Latin American|population of European origins). [[Australia and [[New Zealand have large European derived populations. Africa has no countries with European-derived majorities (or with the exception of [[Cape Verde and probably [[São Tomé and Príncipe, depending on context), but there are significant minorities, such as the [[White South Africans in [[South Africa. In Asia, European-derived populations, (specifically [[Russians), predominate in [[North Asia and some parts of Northern [[Kazakhstan.


Languages

Europe has about 225 indigenous languages, mostly falling within three [[Indo-European languages|Indo-European language groups: the [[Romance languages, derived from the [[Latin language|Latin of the [[Roman Empire; the [[Germanic languages, whose ancestor language came from southern Scandinavia; and the [[Slavic languages. Slavic languages are mostly spoken in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe. Romance languages are spoken primarily in Western and Southern Europe, as well as in [[Switzerland in Central Europe and [[Romania and [[Moldova in Eastern Europe. Germanic languages are spoken in Western, Northern and Central Europe as well as in [[Gibraltar and [[Malta in Southern Europe. Languages in adjacent areas show significant overlaps (such as in [[English (language)|English, for example). Other Indo-European languages outside the three main groups include the [[Baltic languages|Baltic group ([[Latvian language|Latvian and [[Lithuanian language|Lithuanian), the [[Celtic languages|Celtic group ([[Irish language|Irish, [[Scots Gaelic language|Scottish Gaelic, [[Manx language|Manx, [[Welsh language|Welsh, [[Cornish language|Cornish, and [[Breton language|Breton), [[Greek language|Greek, [[Armenian language|Armenian, and [[Albanian language|Albanian. A distinct non-Indo-European family of [[Uralic languages ([[Estonian language|Estonian, [[Finnish language|Finnish, [[Hungarian language|Hungarian, [[Erzya language|Erzya, [[Komi language|Komi, [[Mari language|Mari, [[Moksha language|Moksha, and [[Udmurt language|Udmurt) is spoken mainly in [[Estonia, [[Finland, [[Hungary, and parts of Russia. [[Turkic languages include [[Azerbaijani language|Azerbaijani, [[Kazakh language|Kazakh and [[Turkish language|Turkish, in addition to smaller languages in Eastern and Southeast Europe ([[Balkan Gagauz Turkish, [[Bashkir language|Bashkir, [[Chuvash language|Chuvash, [[Crimean Tatar language|Crimean Tatar, [[Karachay-Balkar language|Karachay-Balkar, [[Kumyk language|Kumyk, [[Nogai language|Nogai, and [[Tatar language|Tatar). [[Kartvelian languages ([[Georgian language|Georgian, [[Mingrelian language|Mingrelian, and [[Svan language|Svan) are spoken primarily in [[Georgia (country)|Georgia. Two other language families reside in the North Caucasus (termed [[Northeast Caucasian languages|Northeast Caucasian, most notably including [[Chechen language|Chechen, [[Avar language|Avar, and [[Lezgian language|Lezgin; and [[Northwest Caucasian languages|Northwest Caucasian, most notably including [[Adyghe language|Adyghe). [[Maltese language|Maltese is the only [[Semitic language that is official within the EU, while [[Basque language|Basque is the only European [[language isolate. Multilingualism and the protection of regional and minority languages are recognised political goals in Europe today. The [[Council of Europe [[Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Council of Europe's [[European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages set up a legal framework for language rights in Europe.


Major cities and urban areas

The four largest [[List of urban areas in Europe|urban areas of Europe are [[Istanbul, [[Moscow, [[Paris and [[London. All have over 10 million residents, and as such have been described as [[megacity|megacities. While Istanbul has the highest total city population, it lies partly in Asia, making Moscow the [[List of European cities by population within city limits|largest city entirely in Europe. The next largest cities in order of population are [[Saint Petersburg, [[Madrid, [[Berlin and [[Rome, each having over 3 million residents. When considering the commuter belts or [[List of metropolitan areas in Europe|metropolitan areas, within the EU (for which comparable data is available) Moscow covers the largest population, followed in order by Istanbul, London, Paris, Madrid, Milan, Ruhr Area, Saint Petersburg, Rhein-Süd, Barcelona and Berlin.


Culture

"Europe" as a cultural concept is substantially derived from the shared heritage of
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el|Ἑλλάς|Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity ( AD 600). This era was immediately followed by the Early Middle ...

ancient Greece
and the [[Roman Empire and its cultures. The boundaries of Europe were historically understood as those of [[Christendom (or more specifically [[Latin Christendom), as established or defended throughout the medieval and early modern history of Europe, especially [[Islamic conquests|against Islam, as in the [[Reconquista and the [[Ottoman wars in Europe.This shared cultural heritage is combined by overlapping indigenous national cultures and folklores, roughly divided into [[Slavic Europe|Slavic, [[Romance-speaking Europe|Latin (Romance) and [[Germanic Europe|Germanic, but with several components not part of either of these group (notably [[Greek culture|Greek, [[Basque culture|Basque and [[Celtic Europe|Celtic). Historically, special examples with overlapping cultures are [[Strasbourg with Latin (Romance) and Germanic or [[Trieste with Latin, Slavic and Germanic roots. Cultural contacts and mixtures shape a large part of the regional cultures of Europe. It is often described as "maximum cultural diversity with minimal geographical distances". Different cultural events are organised in Europe, with the aim of bringing different cultures closer together and raising awareness of their importance, such as the [[European Capital of Culture, the [[European Region of Gastronomy, the [[European Youth Capital and the [[European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation|European Capital of Sport.


Religion

[[history of religion|Historically, religion in Europe has been a major influence on [[Western art history|European art, [[culture of Europe|culture, [[Western philosophy|philosophy and [[European Union law|law. There are six patron saints of Europe venerated in Roman Catholicism, five of them so declared by Pope John Paul II between 1980 and 1999: Saints Cyril and Methodius, Saint Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena and Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). The exception is Benedict of Nursia, who had already been declared "Patron Saint of all Europe" by Pope Paul VI in 1964.The largest religion in Europe is [[Christianity, with 76.2% of Europeans considering themselves [[Christians, including [[Catholic, [[Eastern Orthodox Church|Eastern Orthodox and various [[Protestant denominations. Among Protestants, the most popular are historically state-supported European denominations such as [[Lutheranism, [[Anglicanism and the [[Reformed faith. Other Protestant denominations such as historically significant ones like [[Anabaptists were never supported by any state and thus are not so widespread, as well as these newly arriving from the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...

United States
such as [[Pentecostalism, [[Adventism, [[Methodism, [[Baptists and various [[Evangelical Protestants; although Methodism and Baptists both have European origins. The notion of "Europe" and the "[[Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "[[Christendom|Christianity and Christendom"; many even attribute Christianity for being the link that created a unified [[European identity. [[Christianity, including the Roman [[Catholic Church, has played a prominent role in the shaping of [[Western civilisation since at least the 4th century,Caltron J.H Hayas, ''Christianity and Western Civilization'' (1953), Stanford University Press, p. 2: That certain distinctive features of our Western civilization — the civilization of western Europe and of America— have been shaped chiefly by Judaeo – Graeco – Christianity, Catholic and Protestant.Jose Orlandis, 1993, "A Short History of the Catholic Church," 2nd edn. (Michael Adams, Trans.), Dublin:Four Courts Press, , preface, se

accessed 8 December 2014.
Thomas E. Woods and Antonio Canizares, 2012, "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization," Reprint edn., Washington, DC: Regnery History, , se
accessed 8 December 2014. p. 1: "Western civilization owes far more to Catholic Church than most people – Catholic included – often realize. The Church in fact built Western civilization."
/ref> and for at least a millennium and a half, Europe has been nearly equivalent to [[Christian culture, even though the religion was inherited from the [[Middle East. [[Christian culture was the predominant force in [[western civilisation, guiding the course of [[philosophy, [[art, and [[science. In 2012 Europe had the [[Christianity by country|world's largest Christian population. The second most popular religion is [[Islam (6%) concentrated mainly in the Balkans and Eastern Europe ([[Bosnia and Herzegovina, [[Albania, [[Kosovo, [[Kazakhstan, [[TRNC|North Cyprus, [[Turkey, [[Azerbaijan, [[North Caucasus, and the [[Idel-Ural|Volga-Ural region). Other religions, including Judaism, [[Hinduism, and [[Buddhism are minority religions (though Tibetan Buddhism is the majority religion of Russia's [[Republic of Kalmykia). The 20th century saw the revival of [[Neopaganism through movements such as [[Wicca and [[Druidry. Europe has become a relatively [[secular continent, with an increasing number and proportion of [[irreligion|irreligious, [[atheism|atheist and [[agnosticism|agnostic people, who make up about 18.2% of Europe's population, currently the largest secular population in the [[Western religion|Western world. There are a particularly high number of self-described non-religious people in the Czech Republic, [[Estonia, Sweden, former East Germany, and France.


Sport


See also

;History * [[Genetic history of Europe * [[Prehistoric Europe * [[Classical antiquity *
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages i ...

Middle Ages
* [[Early modern Europe * [[Modernity * [[History of Europe ;Politics * [[Eurodistrict * [[Euroregion * [[Flags of Europe * [[List of sovereign states by date of formation * [[Names of European cities in different languages * [[Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe statistics|OSCE countries statistics * [[European Union as a potential superpower ;Demographics * [[Area and population of European countries * [[European Union statistics * [[List of European cities by population within city limits * [[Largest cities of the European Union by population within city limits|Largest cities of the EU * [[Largest urban areas of the European Union * [[List of cities in Europe * [[List of metropolitan areas in Europe * [[List of villages in Europe * [[Pan-European identity ;Economics * [[Economy of the European Union * [[Financial and social rankings of European countries * [[Healthcare in Europe * [[Telecommunications in Europe * [[List of European television stations * [[List of European countries by GDP (nominal) ;Culture * [[European Capital of Culture * [[European Region of Gastronomy * [[European Youth Capital * [[European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation|European Capital of Sport ;Sports *[[European Games


Notes


References


Sources

* [[National Geographic Society (2005). ''National Geographic Visual History of the World''. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society. . * *


External links


Council of Europe

European Union

The Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online
[[Columbia University Press
"Introducing Europe"
fro
Lonely Planet
Travel Guides and Information Historical Maps
Borders in Europe 3000BC to the present
Geacron [[Historical atlas
Online history of Europe in 21 maps
{{Authority control [[Category:Europe| [[Category:Continents