Europe is the continent that covers the westernmost peninsula of the large landmass of Eurasia. The watershed divides of the Caucasus and the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Black and Caspian Seas, and the waterway between the Aegean and Black Seas divide Europe from the continent of Asia.
To the north of Europe is the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean is to the west, the Black Sea and the connected waterways are located to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea is to the south of the continent. Even with these demarcations, the borders of Europe are not very clearly defined. It is mainly the cultural and political elements that divide Europe and Asia.
Europe covers about 10,180,000 square kilometers, which accounts for about 2% of the surface of the earth, and a 6.8% of the total land area on the earth. This makes it the second smallest continent as per the surface area. Russia is the largest country in Europe in terms of the population as well as the area. It takes up around 40% of the total area of the continent, even though it has got territory in the continent of Asia also. The Vatican City is the smallest country in Europe. After Asia and Africa, Europe is the third most populated continent. It accounts for about 11% of the total population of the world. Euro is the common currency of the countries in Europe.
Europe has got a major role to play in the field of culture. Ancient Greece is the birthplace of Western culture. From the 15th century, Europe played a major role in the affairs of the world. This was more prominent after the era of colonialism began. From the 16th century to the 20th century, most of the nations of Europe controlled many other American, African, and even Asian countries. In the end of the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain, which gave way to a whole lot of changes, economical, social, and cultural, in Western Europe. There was such a demographic growth that Europe account for about 25% of the world’s population by 1900.
Both the world wars had their prime focus on Europe, and that caused the decline in the dominance of Western Europe in world affairs by the middle of the 20the century. The Warsaw Pact in the east and the NATO in the west divided Europe along the Iron Curtain. The Council of Europe and the European Union in Western Europe were formed with the integration of Europe. Many European countries are also members of the Schengen Area. It abolishes border and immigration controls among the member countries.
The peninsula of Europe makes up the western part of the whole of Eurasia. The ratio of coast to landmass for Europe is higher than that of any other continent or sub-continent. The continent is bordered by the Arctic Ocean on the north, the Atlantic Ocean on the west, and the Caspian, Mediterranean, and Black Seas to the south. There are great variations in the land relief of Europe within relatively small areas. While the southern regions are found to be mountainous, the terrain can be seen to descend from the high Alps, Carpathians, and Pyrenees, all through the hilly uplands, and the finally in to broad and low northern plains as one moves from the south to north. The plains are really vast towards the east. This lowland is named the Great European Plain. The North German Plain lies at the heart of this huge plain. Along the north-western seaboard an arc of uplands can be found. It runs right from the western side of the Ireland and Britain, and all along Norway.
Most Populated Countries in Europe
Europe is subjected to the prevailing westerlies as it lies mainly in the temperate climate zones. When compared to the other areas lying on the same latitude, the climate here is milder because of the influence of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is what makes Europe warmer and wetter. Hence, it is aptly called “Europe’s central heating”. It warms up the westerlies that blow here, and also carries warm water to the coast of Europe.
The economy of the continent of Europe is the largest on the Earth. The latest numbers declare it as the richest continent. It represented a third of the world’s wealth in 2009. The richer states are located towards the west. The central areas and the eastern economies are just catching up. The European Union is the largest single economic area in the world. Euro is the common currency for 18 EU countries. Germany, UK, Russia, France, and Italy are included in the top ten largest national economies in GDP in the world. Monaco is the richest country in the world in terms of the GDP per capita.
Europe has had a major influence on all the political, social, cultural, and economic movements in the world since the period of Renaissance. Europe has given birth to most of the major inventions in the world. There have been several past issues like race relations, religious emigration, economic immigration, and also a decline in the birth rate and an ageing population during the past in Europe.
Europe has the highest number of migrants of all regions in the world. The EU has shown a total gain from immigration of around 1.8 million people. This is about 85% of the population growth of Europe. Mass emigration was seen from Europe in the 19th century. Millions of poor families left the continent at this time. On every continent of the world, one can find large populations of Europeans.
In North America, European ancestry can be seen to predominate. This is to a lesser degree in South America, especially in the countries of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil. The Latin American countries have a much larger population of Europeans. New Zealand and Australia can be seen to have quite a large number of people from European descent.
The European culture can be seen as a series of overlapping cultures. There are a lot of cultural mixes found all across the continent. There are movements and innovations related to culture as such, there is no such thing as a common culture or common values. There are around 160 culturally distinct groups in the continent. This includes the groups in the Caucasus region as well. They have similarities with the countries in Asia.
The Europeans get a lot of foreign exchange through the incredible growth of tourism in the continent. This is supplemented by the professional, business, and student travel. The Mediterranean countries have the highest profit. They have the beaches, scenery, amazing sunshine, and historical monuments to attract tourists. Among the top ten tourist destinations of the world, one can always find European countries to be quite consistent. Visitors come from inside Europe and from other countries outside as well.