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Europe is a located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the to the north, the to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and to the east. Europe shares the landmass of with Asia, and of with both Asia and . Europe is commonly considered to be separated from Asia by the of the , the Ural River, the , the , the , and the waterways of the .

(1999). 9780792275282, National Geographic.
"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."

Europe covers about , or 2% of Earth's surface (6.8% of land area), making it the second-smallest continent (using the seven-continent model). Politically, Europe is divided into about fifty sovereign states, of which is the largest and most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population. Europe had a total population of about million (about 10% of the ) in ; the third-largest after and . The European climate is affected by warm Atlantic currents, such as the , which produce a temperate climate, tempering winters and summers, on much of the continent. Further from the sea, seasonal differences are more noticeable producing more continental climates.

consists of a range of national and regional cultures, which form the central roots of the wider , and together commonly reference and , particularly through their Christian successors, as crucial and shared roots.

(2024). 9781429668316, Capstone. .
Beginning with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE, of Europe in the wake of the marked the European . The , radiating from , a new humanist interest in and science. Since the Age of Discovery, led by and Portugal, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs with multiple explorations and conquests around the world. Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European powers colonised at various times the , almost all of Africa and , and the majority of Asia.

The Age of Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the 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, which began in Great Britain at the end of the 18th century, gave rise to radical economic, cultural and social change in and eventually the wider world. Both began and were fought to a great extent in Europe, contributing to a decline in Western European dominance in world affairs by the mid-20th century as the and the took prominence and competed over dominance in Europe and globally.National Geographic, 534. The resulting divided Europe along the , with in the and the in the . This divide ended with the Revolutions of 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which allowed European integration to advance significantly.

European integration is being advanced institutionally since 1948 with the founding of the Council of Europe, and significantly through the realization of the (EU), which represents today the majority of Europe. The European Union is a supranational political entity that lies between a and a and is based on a system of European treaties. The EU originated in but has been expanding eastward since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. A majority of its members have adopted a common currency, the , and participate in the European single market and a customs union. A large bloc of countries, the , have also abolished internal border and immigration controls. Regular popular elections take place every five years within the EU; they are considered to be the second-largest democratic elections in the world after India's. The EU is the third largest economy in the world.

The place name Evros was first used by the ancient Greeks to refer to their northernmost province, which bears the same name today. The principal river there – Evros (today's Maritsa) – flows through the fertile valleys of Thrace.

In classical , Europa (Εὐρώπη, ) was a princess. One view is that her name derives from the elements εὐρύς () 'wide, broad', and ὤψ (, ὠπός, ) 'eye, face, countenance', hence their composite would mean 'wide-gazing' or 'broad of aspect'.

(2024). 9780199280759, OUP Oxford. .
(2024). 9781408192115, Bloomsbury Publishing. .
Broad has been an of Earth herself in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion and the poetry devoted to it. An alternative view is that of Robert Beekes, who has argued in favour of a Pre-Indo-European origin for the name, explaining that a derivation from would yield a different toponym than Europa. Beekes has located toponyms related to that of Europa in the territory of ancient Greece, and localities such as that of Europos in ancient Macedonia.

There have been attempts to connect to a Semitic term for west, this being either Akkadian meaning 'to go down, set' (said of the sun) or Phoenician 'evening, west', "Europe" in the Online Etymology Dictionary. which is at the origin of and . Martin Litchfield West stated that "phonologically, the match between Europa's name and any form of the Semitic word is very poor",

(1997). 9780198152217, Clarendon Press. .
while Beekes considers a connection to Semitic languages improbable.

Most major world languages use words derived from or Europa to refer to the continent. Chinese, for example, uses the word (歐洲/欧洲), which is an abbreviation of the transliterated name (歐羅巴洲) ( means "continent"); a similar Chinese-derived term Ōshū is also sometimes used in Japanese such as in the Japanese name of the European Union, Ōshū Rengō, despite the Yōroppa being more commonly used. In some Turkic languages, the originally Persian name ('land of the ') is used casually in referring to much of Europe, besides official names such as or .


Contemporary definition
Clickable map of Europe, showing one of the most commonly used continental boundaries
Key: blue: 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 north-east are usually taken to be the , the Ural River, and the ; to the south-east, the Caucasus Mountains, the , and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.

Islands are generally grouped with the nearest continental landmass, hence is considered to be part of Europe, while the nearby island of Greenland is usually assigned to , although politically belonging to Denmark. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions based on sociopolitical and cultural differences. Cyprus is closest to (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 for centuries, but now it is considered to be part of Europe as well.Falconer, William; Falconer, Thomas. Dissertation on St. Paul's Voyage , BiblioLife (BiblioBazaar), 1872. (1817.), p. 50, These islands Pliny, as well as Strabo and Ptolemy, included in the African sea "Europe", as used specifically in , 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. 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. Cartographer suggested in 1715 Europe was bounded by a series of partly-joined waterways directed towards the Turkish straits, and the draining into the upper part of the and the . In contrast, the present eastern boundary of Europe partially adheres to the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, which is somewhat arbitrary and inconsistent compared to any clear-cut definition of the term "continent".

The current division of Eurasia into two continents now reflects 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 transcontinental country divided entirely by water, while and are only partly divided by waterways. France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain 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 separated from Europe by large bodies of water. Spain, for example, has territories south of the Mediterranean Sea—namely, and —which are parts of and share a border with Morocco. According to the current convention, 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 to , in reference to the western shore of the . As a name for a part of the known world, it is first used in the 6th century BCE by and Hecataeus. Anaximander placed the boundary between Asia and Europe along the Phasis River (the modern on the territory of Georgia) in the Caucasus, a convention still followed by in the 5th century BCE. Histories 4.38. C.f. James Rennell, The geographical system of Herodotus examined and explained, Volume 1, Rivington 1830, p. 244 Herodotus mentioned that the world had been divided by unknown persons into three parts—Europe, Asia, and Libya (Africa)—with the and the Phasis forming their boundaries—though he also states that some considered the River Don, rather than the Phasis, as the boundary between Europe and Asia.Herodotus, 4:45 Europe's eastern frontier was defined in the 1st century by geographer at the River Don.Strabo Geography 11.1 The described the continents as the lands given by to his three sons; Europe was defined as stretching from the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar, separating it from , to the Don, separating it from Asia.
(1979). 9788876533358, Pontificium Institutum Biblicum.

The convention received by the and surviving into modern usage is that of the used by Roman-era authors such as ,W. Theiler, Posidonios. Die Fragmente, vol. 1. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1982, fragm. 47a. I. G. Kidd (ed.), Posidonius: The commentary, Cambridge University Press, 2004, , p. 738 . and , Geographia 7.5.6 (ed. Nobbe 1845, vol. 2 , p. 178) Καὶ τῇ Εὐρώπῃ δὲ συνάπτει διὰ τοῦ μεταξὺ αὐχένος τῆς τε Μαιώτιδος λίμνης καὶ τοῦ Σαρματικοῦ Ὠκεανοῦ ἐπὶ τῆς διαβάσεως τοῦ Τανάϊδος ποταμοῦ. "And Asia is connected to Europe by the land-strait between Lake Maiotis and the Sarmatian Ocean where the river Tanais crosses through." who took the Tanais (the modern Don River) as the boundary.

The Roman Empire did not attach a strong identity to the concept of continental divisions. However, following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the , linked to Latin and the Catholic church, began to associate itself with the concept of "Europe".

(2024). 9780511496813, Cambridge University Press.
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 , as opposed to both the churches and to the .

A cultural definition of Europe as the lands of 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 and , and limited to northern , the British Isles, France, Christianised western Germany, the Alpine regions and northern and central Italy.Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, 1993, ""Culture and Society in the First Europe", pp185ff.

(1961). 9780813216836, CUA Press.
The concept is one of the lasting legacies of the Carolingian Renaissance: Europa often figures in the letters of Charlemagne's court scholar, .Noted by Cantor, 1993:181. The transition of Europe to being a cultural term as well as a geographic one led to the borders of Europe being affected by cultural considerations in the East, especially relating to areas under Byzantine, Ottoman, and Russian influence. Such questions were affected by the positive connotations associated with the term Europe by its users. Such cultural considerations were not applied to the Americas, despite their conquest and settlement by European states. Instead, the concept of "Western civilization" emerged as a way of grouping together Europe and these colonies.

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 . Throughout the Middle Ages and into the 18th century, the traditional division of the landmass of into two continents, Europe and Asia, followed Ptolemy, with the boundary following the , the , the , the Sea of Azov and the Don (ancient ). But maps produced during the 16th to 18th centuries tended to differ in how to continue the boundary beyond the Don bend at (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, produced a map showing the northern part of the and the , a major tributary of the Ob, 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 proposal to adhere to major rivers as the line of demarcation was never taken up by other geographers who were beginning to move away from the idea of water boundaries as the only legitimate divides between Europe and Asia.

Four years later, in 1725, Philip Johan von Strahlenberg was the first to depart from the classical Don boundary. He drew a new line along the , following the Volga north until the , along (the between the Volga and ), then north and east along the latter waterway to its source in the . At this point he proposed that mountain ranges could be included as boundaries between continents as alternatives to nearby waterways. Accordingly, he drew the new boundary north along rather than the nearby and parallel running Ob and Irtysh rivers. This was endorsed by the Russian Empire and introduced the convention that would eventually become commonly accepted. However, this did not come without criticism. , writing in 1760 about Peter the Great's efforts to make Russia more European, ignored the whole boundary question with his claim that neither Russia, Scandinavia, northern Germany, nor Poland were fully part of Europe. Since then, many modern analytical geographers like Halford Mackinder have declared that they see little validity in the Ural Mountains as a boundary between continents.

(1996). 9780198201717, Oxford University Press. .

The mapmakers continued to differ on the boundary between the lower Don and Samara well into the 19th century. The published by the Russian Academy of Sciences has the boundary follow the Don beyond Kalach as far as Serafimovich before cutting north towards , while other 18th- to 19th-century mapmakers such as followed Strahlenberg's prescription. To the south, the Kuma–Manych Depression was identified by a German naturalist, Peter Simon Pallas, as a valley that once connected the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea,Peter Simon Pallas, Journey through various provinces of the Russian Empire, vol. 3 (1773) 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".Douglas W. Freshfield, " Journey in the Caucasus ", Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, Volumes 13–14, 1869. Cited as de facto convention by Baron von Haxthausen, Transcaucasia (1854); review Dublin University Magazine

In and the , the boundary along the Kuma–Manych Depression was the most commonly used as early as 1906. "Europe", Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, 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 , along the eastern foot of Ural Mountains, then following the until the , and then the ; and Kuma–Manych Depression, thus placing the Caucasus entirely in Asia and the Urals entirely in Europe. The adopted a boundary along the Terek and Kuban rivers, so southwards from the Kuma and the Manych, but still with the Caucasus entirely in Asia.

(1964). 9780521066617, Cambridge University Press.
(1993). 9780521410076, Cambridge University Press.
However, most geographers in the Soviet Union favoured the boundary along the Caucasus crest,E.M. Moores, R.W. Fairbridge, Encyclopedia of European and Asian regional geology, Springer, 1997, , p. 34: "most Soviet geographers took the watershed of the Main Range of the Greater Caucasus as the boundary between Europe and Asia." and this became the common convention in the later 20th century, although the Kuma–Manych boundary remained in use in some 20th-century maps.

Some view the separation of into Asia and Europe as a residue of : "In physical, cultural and historical diversity, and are comparable to the entire European landmass, not to a single European country. ...."


, c. 20,000 years ago

]] During the 2.5 million years of the , numerous cold phases called (Quaternary ice age), or significant advances of continental ice sheets, in Europe and North America, occurred at intervals of approximately 40,000 to 100,000 years. The long glacial periods were separated by more temperate and shorter which lasted about 10,000–15,000 years. The last cold episode of the last glacial period ended about 10,000 years ago. Earth is currently in an interglacial period of the Quaternary, called the .

Homo erectus georgicus, which lived roughly 1.8 million years ago in Georgia, is the earliest to have been discovered in Europe. hominin remains, dating back roughly 1 million years, have been discovered in Atapuerca, . The million year old tooth from Atapuerca, , found in June 2007 (named after the Neandertal valley in ) appeared in Europe 150,000 years ago (115,000 years ago it is found already in the territory of present-day ) and disappeared from the fossil record about 40,000 years ago, with their final refuge being the Iberian Peninsula. The Neanderthals were supplanted by modern humans (), who appeared in Europe around 43,000 to 40,000 years ago.National Geographic, 21. Homo sapiens arrived in Europe around 54,000 years ago, some 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. The earliest sites in Europe dated 48,000 years ago are (Italy), Geissenklösterle (Germany) and (France).42.7–41.5 ka (1σ CI).

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 and the , probably influenced by earlier farming practices in and the . It spread from the Balkans along the valleys of the and the (Linear Pottery culture), and along the Mediterranean coast (). Between 4500 and 3000 BCE, 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, and .

(1996). 9780195076189, Oxford University Press.
The cultural horizon flourished at the transition from the Neolithic to the . During this period giant monuments, such as the Megalithic Temples of Malta and , were constructed throughout Western and Southern Europe.Atkinson, R.J.C., Stonehenge (, 1956)

The modern native populations of Europe largely descend from three distinct lineages: Mesolithic , descended from populations associated with the Paleolithic culture; Neolithic Early European Farmers who migrated from Anatolia during the Neolithic Revolution 9,000 years ago; and Steppe herders who expanded into Europe from the Pontic–Caspian steppe of Ukraine and southern Russia in the context of Indo-European migrations 5,000 years ago. The European Bronze Age began c. 3200 BCE in Greece with the Minoan civilisation on , the first advanced civilisation in Europe. The Minoans were followed by the , who collapsed suddenly around 1200 BCE, ushering the European Iron Age. Iron Age colonisation by the and gave rise to early Mediterranean cities. Early Iron Age Italy and from around the 8th century BCE gradually gave rise to historical Classical antiquity, whose beginning is sometimes dated to 776 BCE, the year of the first Olympic Games.

Classical antiquity
Ancient Greece was the founding culture of Western civilisation. Western and are often attributed to Ancient Greece.
(2024). 9781441118516, A&C Black. .
The Greek city-state, the , was the fundamental political unit of classical Greece. In 508 BCE, instituted the world's first democratic system of government in . The Greek political ideals were rediscovered in the late 18th century by European philosophers and idealists. Greece also generated many cultural contributions: in , and under , and ; in with and ; in dramatic and narrative verse, starting with the epic poems of ;National Geographic, 76. in drama with and ; in medicine with and ; and in science with , and .
(1981). 9780486240732, Dover Publications.
(1981). 9780486240749, Dover publications.
Pedersen, Olaf. Early Physics and Astronomy: A Historical Introduction. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. In the course of the 5th century BCE, several of the Greek would ultimately check the Achaemenid Persian advance in Europe through the Greco-Persian Wars, considered a pivotal moment in world history,
(2024). 9780743274531, Simon and Schuster. .
as the 50 years of peace that followed are known as Golden Age of Athens, the seminal period of ancient Greece that laid many of the foundations of Western civilisation.

Greece was followed by , which left its mark on , , , engineering, architecture, government and many more key aspects in western civilisation. By 200 BCE, Rome had conquered and over the following two centuries it conquered and ( and ), the coast, much of the , ( and ) and ( and ).

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 ended in 27 BCE, when proclaimed the . The two centuries that followed are known as the , a period of unprecedented peace, prosperity and political stability in most of Europe. The empire continued to expand under emperors such as and , who spent time on the Empire's northern border fighting , and tribes.National Geographic, 123.Foster, Sally M., Picts, Gaels, and Scots: Early Historic Scotland. Batsford, London, 2004. was legalised by in 313 CE after three centuries of imperial persecution. Constantine also permanently moved the capital of the empire from Rome to the city of (modern-day ) which was renamed in his honour in 330 CE. Christianity became the sole official religion of the empire in 380 CE and in 391–392 CE, the emperor outlawed pagan religions.

(2024). 9781135782627, Routledge. .
This is sometimes considered to mark the end of antiquity; alternatively antiquity is considered to end with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE; the closure of the pagan in 529 CE;
(2024). 9780231017671, Columbia University Press. .
or the rise of Islam in the early 7th century CE. During most of its existence, the was one of the most powerful economic, cultural, and military forces in Europe.; .

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 , , , , , , Angles, , , , and, later on, the , , and . thinkers such as would later refer to this as the "Dark Ages". Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 4, No. 1. (January 1943), pp. 69–74.

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., The Medieval World 300 to 1300.

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 . During most of its existence, the Byzantine Empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. Emperor presided over Constantinople's first golden age: he established a legal code that forms the basis of many modern legal systems, funded the construction of the and brought the Christian church under state control.National Geographic, 135.

From the 7th century onwards, as the Byzantines and neighbouring 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 . In the mid-7th century, following the Muslim conquest of Persia, Islam penetrated into the region. Over the next centuries Muslim forces took Cyprus, , Crete, Sicily and parts of southern Italy.Kennedy, Hugh (1995). "The Muslims in Europe". In McKitterick, Rosamund, The New Cambridge Medieval History: c. 500 – c. 700, pp. 249–272. Cambridge University Press. 052136292X. Between 711 and 720, most of the lands of the Visigothic Kingdom of Iberia was brought under rule—save for small areas in the north-west () and largely regions in the . This territory, under the Arabic name , became part of the expanding Umayyad Caliphate. The unsuccessful second siege of Constantinople (717) weakened the and reduced their prestige. The Umayyads were then defeated by the leader at the Battle of Poitiers in 732, which ended their northward advance. In the remote regions of north-western Iberia and the middle the power of the Muslims in the south was scarcely felt. It was here that the foundations of the Christian kingdoms of Asturias, Leon and Galicia were laid and from where the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula would start. However, no coordinated attempt would be made to drive the out. The Christian kingdoms were mainly focused on their own internal power struggles. As a result, the 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. , a Frankish king of the 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 (. The powerful state of spread its territory all the way south to the Balkans, reaching its largest territorial extent under Svatopluk I and causing a series of armed conflicts with . Further south, the first emerged in the late 7th and 8th century and adopted : the First Bulgarian Empire, the Serbian Principality (later Kingdom and ) and the Duchy of Croatia (later Kingdom of Croatia). To the East, Kievan Rus' expanded from its capital in to become the largest state in Europe by the 10th century. In 988, Vladimir the Great adopted Orthodox Christianity as the religion of state. Further East, became an Islamic state in the 10th century, but was eventually absorbed into Russia several centuries later.Gerald Mako, "The Islamization of the Volga Bulghars: A Question Reconsidered", Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 18, 2011, 199–223.

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 and . 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. developed in in the Early Middle Ages, and soon spread throughout Europe.National Geographic, 158. A struggle for influence between the and the in England led to the writing of the and the establishment of a .National Geographic, 186. The primary source of culture in this period came from the Roman Catholic Church. Through monasteries and , the Church was responsible for education in much of Europe.

The reached the height of its power during the High Middle Ages. An in 1054 split the former Roman Empire religiously, with the Eastern Orthodox Church in the and the Roman Catholic Church in the former Western Roman Empire. In 1095 Pope Urban II called for a against occupying and the .National Geographic, 192. In Europe itself, the Church organised the against heretics. In the Iberian Peninsula, the concluded with the 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 Manzikert, and was weakened considerably by the sack of Constantinople in 1204, during the .

(2024). 9780495902270, Cengage Learning. .
(2024). 9780262062510, MIT Press. .
(1992). 9780813207544, CUA Press. .
(2024). 9780968987377, Christian History Project. .
(2024). 9789080411449, Go-Bos Press. .
(2024). 9780893560157, Salem Press. .
(2024). 9780567088666, Continuum International Publishing Group. .
(2024). 9781576078006, ABC-CLIO. .
(2024). 9780495902270, Cengage Learning. .
Although it would recover Constantinople in 1261, fell in 1453 when Constantinople was taken by the .National Geographic, 211.
(2024). 9781595230300, Sentinel. .

In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic tribes, such as the and the Cuman-Kipchaks, caused a massive migration of populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north, and temporarily halted the expansion of the Rus' state to the south and east.

(1987). 9785244000726, "Myslʹ. .
Like many other parts of , these territories were overrun by the Mongols. The invaders, who became known as , were mostly Turkic-speaking peoples under Mongol suzerainty. They established the state of the 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." Golden Horde ", in Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007. After the collapse of Mongol dominions, the first Romanian states (principalities) emerged in the 14th century: and . Previously, these territories were under the successive control of Pechenegs and Cumans.Spinei, Victor. The Romanians and the Turkic Nomads North of the Danube Delta from the Tenth to the Mid-Thirteenth Century, Brill, 2009, 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 that would strike Europe in the late Middle Ages. The Late Middle Ages . Oglethorpe University. The period between 1348 and 1420 witnessed the heaviest loss. The population of France was reduced by half.Baumgartner, Frederic J. France in the Sixteenth Century. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1995. .Don O'Reilly. " Hundred Years' War: Joan of Arc and the Siege of Orléans". Medieval Britain was afflicted by 95 famines, Poor studies will always be with us. By James Bartholomew. Telegraph. 7 August. 2004. and France suffered the effects of 75 or more in the same period. Famine . Encyclopædia Britannica. Europe was devastated in the mid-14th century by the , one of the most deadly in human history which killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe alone—a third of the 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 (1353). It was a serious blow to the Roman Catholic Church and led to increased persecution of Jews, and .National Geographic, 223. The plague is thought to have returned every generation with varying and mortalities until the 18th century. During this period, more than 100 plague epidemics swept across Europe.

Early modern period
The Renaissance was a period of cultural change originating in , and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The rise of a new humanism was accompanied by the recovery of forgotten and Arabic knowledge from libraries, often translated from Arabic into . (1969) The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity,
(1990). 9780140445343, Penguin Books. .
The Renaissance spread across Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries: it saw the flowering of , , , and the sciences, under the joint patronage of , the nobility, the Roman Catholic Church and an emerging merchant class.National Geographic, 254.Jensen, De Lamar (1992), Renaissance Europe, Patrons in Italy, including the family of Florentine bankers and the in , funded prolific and artists such as , and Leonardo da Vinci.National Geographic, 292.

Political intrigue within the Church in the mid-14th century caused the . During this forty-year period, two popes—one in 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.

(1997). 9780140265613, Penguin Books. .
National Geographic, 296. Exploration reached the Southern Hemisphere in the Atlantic and the Southern tip of Africa. Christopher Columbus reached the in 1492, and Vasco da Gama opened the ocean route to the linking the Atlantic and in 1498. The Portuguese-born explorer Ferdinand Magellan reached Asia westward across the Atlantic and the in a Spanish expedition, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the globe, completed by the Spaniard Juan Sebastián Elcano (1519–1522). Soon after, the Spanish and Portuguese began establishing large global empires in the , Asia, Africa and Oceania.National Geographic, 338. France, the and England soon followed in building large colonial empires with vast holdings in Africa, the Americas and Asia. In 1588, a failed to invade England. A year later , allowing Philip II of Spain to maintain his dominant war capacity in Europe. This English disaster also allowed the Spanish fleet to retain its capability to wage war for the next decades. However, two more Spanish armadas failed to invade England (2nd Spanish Armada and 3rd Spanish Armada).Elliott p.333Morris, Terence Alan (1998). Europe and England in the sixteenth century. Routledge, p. 335. Rowse, A. L. (1969). Tudor Cornwall: portrait of a society. C. Scribner, p. 400"One decisive action might have forced Philip II to the negotiating table and avoided fourteen years of continuing warfare. Instead the King was able to use the brief respite to rebuild his naval forces and by the end of 1589 Spain once again had an Atlantic fleet strong enough to escort the American treasure ships home." The Mariner's Mirror, Volumes 76–77. Society for Nautical Research., 1990

The Church's power was further weakened by the Protestant Reformation in 1517 when German theologian nailed his Ninety-five Theses criticising the selling of indulgences to the church door. He was subsequently excommunicated in the papal bull in 1520 and his followers were condemned in the 1521 Diet of Worms, which divided German princes between and Roman Catholic faiths.National Geographic, 256–257. Religious fighting and warfare spread with Protestantism. The plunder of the empires of the Americas allowed Spain to finance religious persecution in Europe for over a century. The Thirty Years War (1618–1648) crippled the Holy Roman Empire and devastated much of Germany, killing between 25 and 40 percent of its population. History of Europe – Demographics . Encyclopædia Britannica. In the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia, France rose to predominance within Europe.National Geographic, 269. The defeat of the at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 marked the historic end of Ottoman expansion into Europe.Virginia Aksan, Ottoman Wars, 1700–1860: An Empire Besieged, (Pearson Education Limited, 2007), 28.

The 17th century in Central and parts of Eastern Europe was a period of general decline; the region experienced more than 150 famines in a 200-year period between 1501 and 1700." Food, Famine And Fertilisers ". Seshadri Kannan (2009). APH Publishing. p. 51. From the Union of Krewo (1385) east-central Europe was dominated by the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The of the vast Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth had ended with the devastation brought by the Second Northern War () and subsequent conflicts;

(2024). 9780521544023, University Press. .
the state itself was partitioned and ceased to exist at the end of the 18th century.
(2024). 9781317886945, Taylor & Routledge. .

From the 15th to 18th centuries, when the disintegrating khanates of the were conquered by Russia, from the frequently raided Eastern Slavic lands to capture slaves.W.G. Clarence-Smith (2006). " Islam And The Abolition Of Slavery ". Oxford University Press. p. 13.  – "Lands to the north of the Black Sea probably yielded the most slaves to the Ottomans from 1450. A compilation of estimates indicates that Crimean Tartars seized about 1,750,000 Ukrainians, Poles, and Russians from 1468 to 1694." Further east, the and 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 marked the start of an Age of Discovery, a period of exploration, invention and scientific development.

(2024). 9780765609328, M.E. Sharpe. .
Among the great figures of the Western scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries were , , and . 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 Seven Years' War brought to an end the "Old System" of alliances in Europe. Consequently, when the American Revolutionary War turned into a global war between 1778 and 1783, Britain found itself opposed by a strong coalition of European powers, and lacking any substantial ally.

The Age of Enlightenment was a powerful intellectual movement during the 18th century promoting scientific and reason-based thoughts.

(2024). 9780521374224, Cambridge University Press.
(1979). 9780691019635, Princeton University Press. .
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 First Republic as a result of which the monarchy and many of the nobility perished during the initial reign of terror.
(1989). 9780394559483, Knopf.
rose to power in the aftermath of the French Revolution, and established the First French Empire that, during the , grew to encompass large parts of Europe before collapsing in 1815 with the Battle of Waterloo.National Geographic, 360.
(1972). 9780140511536, Penguin Books.
Napoleonic rule resulted in the further dissemination of the ideals of the French Revolution, including that of the , as well as the widespread adoption of the French models of administration, and education.
(1994). 9780312121235, St. Martin's Press.
(2024). 9780333682753, Palgrave MacMillan.
National Geographic, 350. The Congress of Vienna, convened after Napoleon's downfall, established a new balance of power in Europe centred on the five "": the UK, France, , 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 ; 1871 saw the unifications of both Italy and Germany as nation-states from smaller principalities.
(1996). 9780198201717, Oxford University Press. .

In parallel, the 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 struggled to safeguard their strategic and commercial interests in the Ottoman domains. The stood to benefit from the decline, whereas the Habsburg Empire and 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 , which ended with the in 1912–1913.[19] , Ottoman Empire – 19th century, Historyworld Formal recognition of the de facto independent principalities of , Serbia and ensued at the Congress of Berlin in 1878.

The Industrial Revolution started in 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.

(1988). 9780140102413, Penguin Books. .
Reforms in social and economic spheres followed, including the on , the legalisation of ,
(1976). 9780404068851, AMS Press.
and the abolition of slavery. Slavery , Historical survey – Ways of ending slavery, Encyclopædia Britannica 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. Modernisation – Population Change . Encyclopædia Britannica. The last major famine recorded in Western Europe, the Great Famine of Ireland, caused death and mass emigration of millions of Irish people." The Irish Famine ". BBC – History. In the 19th century, 70 million people left Europe in migrations to various European colonies abroad and to the United States. The Atlantic: Can the US afford immigration? . Migration News. December 1996. The industrial revolution also led to large population growth, and the reached a peak of slightly above 25% around the year 1913. World Population Growth, 1950–2050. Population Reference Bureau.

20th century to the present
Two world wars and an economic depression dominated the first half of the 20th century. The First World War was fought between 1914 and 1918. It started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by the Yugoslav nationalist .National Geographic, 407. Most European nations were drawn into the war, which was fought between the (France, , , Portugal, , the United Kingdom, and later , , , and the United States) and the (, , , and the ). 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 and replaced it with the ,National Geographic, 480. leading also to the independence of many former Russian governorates, such as , , and , as new European countries.

(2024). 9780300204896, Yale University Press.
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 the First World War 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 the First World War and the Russian Civil War (including the postwar famine) amounted to a combined total of 18 million.
(2024). 9780521894241, Cambridge University Press. .
In 1932–1933, under 's leadership, confiscations of grain by the Soviet authorities contributed to the second Soviet famine which caused millions of deaths;" Legacy of famine divides Ukraine ". BBC News. 24 November 2006. surviving were persecuted and many sent to to do . Stalin was also responsible for the of 1937–38 in which the executed 681,692 people;
(2024). 9781405135603, Wiley-Blackwell. .
millions of people were deported and exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union.
(2024). 9780674004733, Harvard University Press. .

The social revolutions sweeping through Russia also affected other European nations following The Great War: in 1919, with the in Germany and the First Austrian Republic; in 1922, with 's one-party government in the Kingdom of Italy and in Atatürk's , adopting the Western alphabet and state . 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 . Helped by the economic crisis, social instability and the threat of communism, developed throughout Europe placing in power of what became .

(1995). 9780679730057, Vintage. .
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 and in 1935 and 1936. In 1938, became a part of Germany following the . Later that year, following the signed by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, Germany annexed the , which was a part of 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. At the time, the United Kingdom and France preferred a policy of .

With tensions mounting between Germany and Poland over the future of 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 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 the Second World War.National Geographic, 465.

(1996). 9780684829470, Simon & Schuster.
The Soviet invasion of Poland started on 17 September and Poland fell soon thereafter. On 24 September, the Soviet Union attacked the Baltic countries and, on 30 November, Finland, the latter of which was followed by the devastating for the Red Army. The British hoped to land at 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 continued.

In May 1940, Germany attacked France through the Low Countries. France capitulated in June 1940. By August, Germany had begun a bombing offensive against the United Kingdom 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 Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into the conflict as allies of the , and other 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 tank battle in history, was the last major German offensive on the Eastern Front. In June 1944, British and American forces invaded France in the D-Day landings, opening a new front against Germany. Berlin finally fell in 1945, ending the Second World War in Europe. The war was the largest and most destructive in human history, with 60 million dead across the world. National Geographic, 439. More than 40 million people in Europe had died as a result of the Second World War," Europe honours war dead on VE Day ". BBC News. 9 May 2005. including between 11 and 17 million people who perished during .Niewyk, Donald L. and Nicosia, Francis R. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust , Columbia University Press, 2000, pp. 45–52. The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people (mostly civilians) during the war, about half of all Second World War casualties. By the end of the Second World War, Europe had more than 40 million ." Refugees: Save Us! Save Us!". Time. 9 July 1979. Several post-war expulsions in Central and Eastern Europe displaced a total of about 20 million people.

The First World War, and especially the Second World War, diminished the eminence of Western Europe in world affairs. After the Second World War the map of Europe was redrawn at the and divided into two blocs, the Western countries and the communist Eastern bloc, separated by what was later called by Winston Churchill an "". The United States and Western Europe established the alliance and, later, the Soviet Union and Central Europe established the .National Geographic, 530. Particular hot spots after the Second World War were and , whereby the Free Territory of Trieste, founded in 1947 with the UN, was dissolved in 1954 and 1975, respectively. The in 1948 and 1949 and the construction of the in 1961 were one of the great international crises of the .Jessica Caus "Am Checkpoint Charlie lebt der Kalte Krieg" In: Die Welt 4 August 2015.Karlo Ruzicic-Kessler "Togliatti, Tito and the Shadow of Moscow 1944/45–1948: Post-War Territorial Disputes and the Communist World", In: Journal of European Integration History, (2/2014).Christian Jennings "Flashpoint Trieste: The First Battle of the Cold War", (2017), pp 244.

The two new , the United States and the Soviet Union, became locked in a fifty-year-long Cold War, centred on nuclear proliferation. At the same time , which had already started after the First World War, gradually resulted in the independence of most of the European colonies in Asia and Africa.

In the 1980s the of Mikhail Gorbachev and the Solidarity movement in Poland weakened the previously rigid communist system. The opening of the at the Pan-European Picnic then set in motion a peaceful chain reaction, at the end of which the , the and other communist states collapsed, and the Cold War ended.Thomas Roser: DDR-Massenflucht: Ein Picknick hebt die Welt aus den Angeln (German – Mass exodus of the GDR: A picnic clears the world) In: Die Presse 16 August 2018.Der 19. August 1989 war ein Test für Gorbatschows" (German – August 19, 1989 was a test for Gorbachev), In: FAZ 19 August 2009.Michael Frank: Paneuropäisches Picknick – Mit dem Picknickkorb in die Freiheit (German: Pan-European picnic – With the picnic basket to freedom), in: Süddeutsche Zeitung 17 May 2010. Germany was reunited, after the symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the maps of Central and Eastern Europe were redrawn once more.Andreas Rödder, Deutschland einig Vaterland – Die Geschichte der Wiedervereinigung (2009). This made old previously interrupted cultural and economic relationships possible, and previously isolated cities such as , , , and were now again in the centre of Europe.Padraic Kenney "A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989" (2002) pp 109.Michael Gehler "Der alte und der neue Kalte Krieg in Europa" In: Die Presse 19.11.2015.Robert Stradling "Teaching 20th-century European history" (2003), pp 61.

European integration also grew after the Second World War. 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 , , and . 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 formed the European Community, which in 1993 became the . The EU established a parliament, court and central bank, and introduced the as a unified currency.National Geographic, 537. Between 2004 and 2013, more Central European countries began joining, 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 June 2016 referendum on EU membership. The Russo-Ukrainian conflict, which has been ongoing since 2014, steeply escalated when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of on 24 February 2022, marking the largest humanitarian and refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War and the .

Europe makes up the western fifth of the 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. Europe . Encyclopædia Britannica. 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 , and , 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, -cut spine of Norway.

This description is simplified. Subregions 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 , Britain and Ireland are special cases. The former is a land unto itself in the northern ocean that is counted as part of Europe, while the latter are upland areas that were once joined to the mainland until rising sea levels cut them off.

of Europe and surrounding regions:


Europe lies mainly in the climate zone of the northern hemisphere, where the prevailing wind direction is from the west. The climate is milder in comparison to other areas of the same latitude around the globe due to the influence of the , an ocean current which carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico across the to Europe. 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 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 south-eastern 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.

The large water masses of the Mediterranean Sea, which equalise the temperatures on an annual and daily average, are also of particular importance. The water of the Mediterranean extends from the to the Alpine arc in its northernmost part of the near .Josef Wasmayer "Wetter- und Meereskunde der Adria" (1976), pp 5.

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 64th, 60th, 55th, 50th, 45th and 40th . None of them is located at high altitude; most of them are close to the sea.

+Temperatures in °C
Climate tables of the articles, where the precise sources can be found 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.

Climate change

The geological history of Europe traces back to the formation of the (Fennoscandia) and the , both around 2.25 billion years ago, followed by the Volgo–Uralia shield, the three together leading to the East European craton (≈ ) which became a part of the Columbia. Around 1.1 billion years ago, Baltica and Arctica (as part of the block) became joined to , later resplitting around 550 million years ago to reform as Baltica. Around 440 million years ago was formed from Baltica and Laurentia; a further joining with then leading to the formation of . Around 190 million years ago, Gondwana and 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 , 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 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 of Hungary. Europe's most significant feature is the dichotomy between highland and mountainous and a vast, partially underwater, northern plain ranging from Ireland in the west to the in the east. These two halves are separated by the mountain chains of the and /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 , the , the complex and .

The northern plain contains the old geological continent of 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 .

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 humans. With the exception of and northern Russia, few areas of untouched wilderness are currently found in Europe, except for various .

The main natural vegetation cover in Europe is mixed . The conditions for growth are very favourable. In the north, the and North Atlantic Drift warm the continent. Southern Europe has a warm but mild climate. There are frequent summer droughts in this region. Mountain ridges also affect the conditions. Some of these, such as the and the , 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, , Carpathians, 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 at some point in time, and the cutting down of the preagricultural forest habitat caused disruption to the original plant and animal ecosystems. Possibly 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 , Europe still has over one quarter of its land area as forest, such as the broadleaf and mixed forests, of Scandinavia and Russia, mixed of the Caucasus and the forests in the western Mediterranean. During recent times, deforestation has been slowed and many trees have been planted. However, in many cases monoculture of 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, while in its Western Russia its 5–10%. The European country with the smallest percentage of forested area is (1%), while the most forested country is Finland (77%).

In temperate Europe, mixed forest with both and coniferous trees dominate. The most important species in central and western Europe are and . In the north, the taiga is a mixed forest; further north within Russia and extreme northern Scandinavia, the taiga gives way to as the Arctic is approached. In the Mediterranean, many trees have been planted, which are very well adapted to its arid climate; 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 (the ) extends westwards from and southern Russia and ends in Hungary and traverses into taiga to the north.

Glaciation during the most recent ice age and the presence of humans affected the distribution of European fauna. As for the animals, in many parts of Europe most large animals and top species have been hunted to extinction. The was extinct before the end of the period. Today () and () 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 the bears' habitats were limited to more or less inaccessible mountains with sufficient forest cover. Today, the brown bear lives primarily in the , 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, may be found on , a Norwegian archipelago far north of Scandinavia. The , 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 (Scandinavia, Spain, etc.).

Other carnivores include the , and , the , different species of , the European hedgehog, different species of reptiles (like snakes such as vipers and grass snakes) and amphibians, as well as different birds (, 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.

Sea creatures are also an important part of European flora and fauna. The sea flora is mainly . Important animals that live in European seas are , , , different , and , fish, and .

Biodiversity is protected in Europe through the Council of Europe's Bern Convention, which has also been signed by the European Community as well as non-European states.

The political map of Europe is substantially derived from the re-organisation of Europe following the in 1815. The prevalent form of government in Europe is parliamentary democracy, in most cases in the form of ; in 1815, the prevalent form of government was still the Monarchy. Europe's remaining eleven monarchiesnot counting the microstate of are 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 the Second World War. The 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 and 20 of the monetary union . Among the smaller European organisations are the , the , the and the Visegrád Group.

List of states and territories
This list includes all internationally recognised sovereign countries falling even partially under any common geographical or political definitions of Europe.

46877,281179.8Andorra la Vellaitalic=no
29,7432,924,816101.5Հայաստան ()
207,5609,504,70045.8Беларусь ()
Bosnia and Herzegovina51,1293,531,15968.97italic=no/Боснa и Херцеговина
110,9107,101,85964.9България ()
9,2511,170,125123.4Κύπρος ()/italic=no
Georgia69,7003,718,20053.5საქართველო ()
131,95710,297,76082Ελλάδα ()
148,00017,987,7366.49Қазақстан/Казахстан (Qazaqstan/)
13,812642,55045.0italic=no/Црна Гора
25,7132,103,72180.1Северна Македонија ()
3,969,100144,526,6368.4Россия ()
61.233,285520San Marinoitalic=no
603,62842,418,23573.8Україна ()
244,82066,040,229270.7United Kingdom

Within the above-mentioned states are several independent countries with limited to no international recognition. None of them are members of the UN:

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! style="line-height:95%; width:2em" class="unsortable" ! Name ! Area
(km2) ! Population
! Population density
(per km2) ! Capital

3,355313,62693 ()

Several dependencies and similar territories with broad autonomy are also found within or close to Europe. This includes Åland (an autonomous county of Finland), two (other than Denmark proper), three Crown Dependencies and two British Overseas Territories. 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 the and , are also not included for this reason.

UK7865,849844.0St. Peter Port

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 among its countries. The richer states tend to be in the Northwest and in general, followed by , while most economies of and Southeastern Europe are still reemerging from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia.

The model of the was designed as an economic geographic representation of the respective economic power of the regions, which was further developed into the 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 towards Africa and Asia.Global shipping and logistic chain reshaped as China's Belt and Road dreams take off in Hellenic Shipping News, 4. December 2018; Wolf D. Hartmann, Wolfgang Maennig, Run Wang: Chinas neue Seidenstraße. (2017), p 59; Jacob Franks "The Blu Banana – the True Heart of Europe" In: Big Think Edge, 31 December 2014; Zacharias Zacharakis: Chinas Anker in Europa in: Die Zeit 8. May 2018; Harry de Wilt: Is One Belt, One Road a China crisis for North Sea main ports? in World Cargo News, 17 December 2019; Hospers, Gert-Jan "Beyond the blue banana? Structural change in Europe's geo-economy." 2002

The European Union, a political entity composed of 27 European states, comprises the largest single economic area in the world. Nineteen EU share the as a common currency. Five European countries rank in the top ten of the world's largest national economies in GDP (PPP). This includes (ranks according to the CIA): Germany (6), Russia (7), the United Kingdom (10), France (11) and Italy (13).

Some European countries are much richer than others. The richest in terms of nominal GDP is with its US$185,829 per capita (2018) and the poorest is with its US$3,659 per capita (2019).

As a whole, Europe's GDP per capita is US$21,767 according to a 2016 International Monetary Fund assessment.Some data refers to IMF staff estimates but some are actual figures for the year 2017, made on 12 April 2017. World Economic Outlook Database–April 2017 , International Monetary Fund. Accessed on 18 April 2017.


Economic history
Industrial growth (1760–1945)
Capitalism has been dominant in the Western world since the end of feudalism. Capitalism . Encyclopædia Britannica. From Britain, it gradually spread throughout Europe. The 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 the First World War, but by the beginning of the Second World War, they had recovered and were having to compete with the growing economic strength of the United States. The Second World War, again, damaged much of Europe's industries.

Cold War (1945–1991)
After the Second World War the economy of the UK was in a state of ruin,Dornbusch, Rudiger; Nölling, Wilhelm P.; Layard, Richard G. Postwar Economic Reconstruction and Lessons for the East Today, p. 117 and continued to suffer relative economic decline in the following decades.
(2024). 9780415195409, Routledge.
Italy was also in a poor economic condition but regained a high level of growth by the 1950s. West Germany recovered quickly and had doubled production from pre-war levels by the 1950s.Dornbusch, Rudiger; Nölling, Wilhelm P.; Layard, Richard G. Postwar Economic Reconstruction and Lessons for the East Today, p. 29 France also staged a remarkable comeback enjoying rapid growth and modernisation; later on Spain, under the leadership of , also recovered and the nation recorded huge unprecedented economic growth beginning in the 1960s in what is called the .Harrop, Martin. Power and Policy in Liberal Democracies, p. 23 The majority of Central and Eastern European states came under the control of the 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

The states which retained a system were given a large amount of aid by the United States under the . 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 . 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 underwent shock therapy measures to liberalise their economies and implement free market reforms.

After 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, while the latter experienced sudden mass unemployment and plummeting of industrial production.

By the millennium change, the EU dominated the economy of Europe, comprising the five largest European economies of the time: Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain. In 1999, 12 of the 15 members of the EU joined the , replacing their national currencies by the .

Figures released by in 2009 confirmed that the Eurozone had gone into recession in 2008. It impacted much of the region. Thanks to the Bank it's a crisis; in the eurozone it's a total catastrophe . Telegraph. 8 March 2009. In 2010, fears of a 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 unemployment rate was 10.3% in 2012. For those aged 15–24 it was 22.4%. Unemployment statistics . . April 2012.

The population of Europe was about 742 million in 2023 according to UN estimates. This is slightly more than one ninth of the world's population. The population density of Europe (the number of people per area) is the second highest of any continent, behind Asia. The population of Europe is currently slowly decreasing, by about 0.2% per year, because there are fewer births than deaths. This natural decrease in population is reduced by the fact that more people migrate to Europe from other continents than vice versa.

Southern Europe and Western Europe are the regions with the highest average number of elderly people in the world. In 2021, the percentage of people over 65 years old was 21% in Western Europe and Southern Europe, compared to 19% in all of Europe and 10% in the world. Projections suggest that by 2050 Europe will reach 30%. This is caused by the fact that the population has been having children below replacement level since the 1970s. The predicts that Europe will decline its population between 2022 and 2050 by −7 per cent, without changing immigration movements.

According to a population projection of the UN Population Division, Europe's population may fall to between 680 and 720 million people by 2050, which would be 7% of the world population at that time. Within this context, significant disparities exist between regions in relation to . The average number of children per female of child-bearing age is 1.52, far below the replacement rate. The UN predicts a steady population decline in Central and Eastern Europe as a result of emigration and low birth rates. UN predicts huge migration to rich countries . Telegraph. 15 March 2007.

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 .Christoph Pan, Beate Sibylle Pfeil, Minderheitenrechte in Europa. Handbuch der europäischen Volksgruppen (2002). , English translation 2004.

Europe is home to the highest number of migrants of all global regions at nearly 87 million people in 2020, according to the International Organisation for Migration. In 2005, the EU had an overall net gain from of 1.8 million people. This accounted for almost 85% of Europe's total population growth. In 2021, 827,000 persons were given citizenship of an EU member state, an increase of about 14% compared with 2020. 2.3 million immigrants from non-EU countries entered the EU in 2021.

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, 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 , , and , while most of the other countries also have a considerable population of European origins). and have large European-derived populations. Africa has no countries with European-derived majorities (or with the exception of and probably São Tomé and Príncipe, depending on context), but there are significant minorities, such as the White South Africans in . In Asia, European-derived populations, specifically , predominate in and some parts of Northern .Robert Greenall, Russians left behind in Central Asia , , 23 November 2005

Europe has about 225 indigenous languages, Language facts – European day of languages , Council of Europe. Retrieved 30 July 2015 mostly falling within three Indo-European language groups: the Romance languages, derived from the of the ; the Germanic languages, whose ancestor language came from southern Scandinavia; and the . 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 in Central Europe and and in Eastern Europe. Germanic languages are spoken in Western, Northern and Central Europe as well as in and in Southern Europe. Languages in adjacent areas show significant overlaps (such as in English, for example). Other Indo-European languages outside the three main groups include the group ( and Lithuanian), the group (, , , , and ), , Armenian and Albanian.

A distinct non-Indo-European family of (Estonian, , Hungarian, , , , and ) is spoken mainly in , , and parts of Russia. include Azerbaijani, and , in addition to smaller languages in Eastern and Southeast Europe (Balkan Gagauz Turkish, , , Crimean Tatar, Karachay-Balkar, , and ). Kartvelian languages (Georgian, Mingrelian and ) are spoken primarily in Georgia. Two other language families reside in the North Caucasus (termed Northeast Caucasian, most notably including , and ; and Northwest Caucasian, most notably including ). is the only that is official within the EU, while is the only European .

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.

The largest religion in Europe is , with 76.2% of Europeans considering themselves , including , Eastern Orthodox and various denominations. Among Protestants, the most popular are , and the . Smaller Protestant denominations include as well as denominations centered in the such as , , and Evangelicalism. Although Christianity originated in the Middle East, its centre of mass shifted to Europe when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the late 4th century. played a prominent role in the development of the and identity.
(2024). 9780521676519, Cambridge University Press.
(2024). 9780857457271, Berghahn Books.
(2024). 9781315297927, Taylor & Francis.
Today, a bit over 25% of the world's Christians live in Europe.

is the second most popular religion in Europe. Over 25 million, or roughly 5% of the population, adhere to it. In and Bosnia and Herzegovina, two countries in the in Southeastern Europe, Islam instead of Christianity is the majority religion. This is also the case in and in certain parts of Russia, as well as in and , all of which are at the border to Asia. Many countries in Europe are home to a sizeable Muslim minority, and immigration to Europe has increased the number of Muslim people in Europe in recent years.

The population in Europe was about 1.4 million people in 2020 (about 0.2% of the population). There is a long history of Jewish life in Europe, beginning in antiquity. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Russian Empire had the majority of the world's Jews living within its borders. The Pittsburgh Press, October 25, 1915, p. 11 In 1897, according to Russian census of 1897, the total Jewish population of Russia was 5.1 million people, which was 4.13% of total population. Of this total, the vast majority lived within the Pale of Settlement. In 1933, there were about 9.5 million Jewish people in Europe, representing 1.7% of the population, but most were killed, and most of the rest displaced, during . In the 21st century, has the largest Jewish population in Europe, followed by the , and .

Other religions practiced in Europe include and , which are minority religions, except in Russia's Republic of Kalmykia, where Tibetan Buddhism is the majority religion.

A large and increasing number of people in Europe are , and . They are estimated to make up about 18.3% of Europe's population currently.

Major cities and urban areas
The three largest urban areas of Europe are , and . All have over 10 million residents, and as such have been described as . While has the highest total city population, it lies partly in . 64.9% of the residents live on the European side and 35.1% on the Asian side. The next largest cities in order of population are , , , , , and each having over three million residents.

When considering the commuter belts or metropolitan areas within Europe (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.

"Europe" as a cultural concept is substantially derived from the shared heritage of and the and its cultures. The boundaries of Europe were historically understood as those of (or more specifically Latin Christendom), as established or defended throughout the medieval and early modern history of Europe, especially against Islam, as in the and the Ottoman wars in Europe., Europe and the Faith , Chapter I

This shared cultural heritage is combined by overlapping indigenous national cultures and folklores, roughly divided into , Latin (Romance) and , but with several components not part of either of these groups (notably , and ). Historically, special examples with overlapping cultures are with Latin (Romance) and Germanic, or with Latin, Slavic and Germanic roots. Cultural contacts and mixtures shape a large part of the regional cultures of Europe. Europe 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 Capital of Sport.


Social dimension
In Europe many people are unable to access basic social conditions, which makes it harder for them to thrive and flourish. Access to basic necessities can be compromised, for example 10% of Europeans spend at least 40% of household income on housing. 75 million Europeans feel . From the 1980s income inequality has been rising and wage shares have been falling. In 2016, the richest 20% of households earned over five times more than the poorest 20%. Many workers experience stagnant and is common even for essential workers.

See also
  • Early modern Europe
  • European Union as a potential superpower
  • Financial and social rankings of sovereign states in Europe
  • Flags of Europe
  • Healthcare in Europe
  • List of sovereign states in Europe by GDP (nominal)
  • List of European television stations
  • List of names of European cities in different languages
  • List of villages in Europe
  • Lists of cities in Europe
  • OSCE countries statistics
  • Pan-European identity


  • National Geographic Society (2005). National Geographic Visual History of the World. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society. .
  • (2024). 9780495913115, Cengage Learning.
  • (2024). 9781604131062, Infobase Publishing.
  • (2024). 9780521849784, Cambridge University Press.
  • (1997). 9780520207431, University of California Press. .
  • (1979). 9780521223799, Cambridge University Press. .

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