Europe

Europe, is a continent whose boundaries are the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Ural Mountains and Ural River in the east, the Caspian Sea, Caucasus mountains and Black Sea in the southeast and the Mediterranean Sea as the southern boundary. With Asia, Europe forms the supercontinent Eurasia: Europe is the western fifth of the Eurasian landmass. In tems of size, Europe is the world's second smallest continent, being slightly larger than Oceania. In terms of population it is the second biggest continent after Asia.

Political map in 2003 -
See also: World map

Table of contents
1 Etymology
2 History
3 Extent
4 Countries
5 Notes
6 Names of parts of Europe
7 Satellite image
8 See also
9 External links

Etymology

The name Europe possibly stems from a female character in Greek Mythology named Europa who was abducted by a bull-shaped Zeus. There is some trouble with this, though--the myth has nothing to do with Europe. A more prosaic explanation holds that it is derived from the word ereb from a Semitic language, meaning "sunset." From the point of view from the Middle East, the sun would appear to set beyond the lands to the west. In this regard it may be significant that Eurus is also a Latin term for the East Wind. This may even provide the (albeit noncausal) connection with Europa, as she was originally from Phoenicia and so, from the Greeks' point of view, was a woman of the East.

History

Main article: History of Europe

Europe has a long history of great cultural and economic achievement, starting as far back as the Bronze Age. The origin of Western culture is generally attributed to the ancient Greeks, and the Roman Empire spanned the entire continent for many centuries. Following the decline of the Roman Empire, Europe entered a long period of stasis, generally known as the Dark Ages, which came to an end with the Renaissance and the New Monarchs, marking the start of a period of discovery, exploration, and increase in scientific knowledge. From the 15th century European nations, particularly Spain, Portugal, France, and Britain, built large colonial empires, with vast holdings in Africa, the Americas, and Asia. The Industrial Revolution started in Europe in the 18th century, leading to much greater general prosperity and a corresponding increase in population. After World War II, and until the end of the Cold War, Europe was divided into two major political and economic blocks: Communist nations in Eastern Europe and capitalistic countries in Western Europe. Around 1990 the Eastern block broke up.

Extent

Often other borders of Europe are drawn, based on political, economical, cultural or practical considerations. This has led to there being several different "Europes" that are not always identical in size, including or excluding countries dependent on the definition of "Europe" used.

Increasingly, the word "Europe" is primarily being used as a synonym for the members of the European Union (EU). Fifteen European states are currently members of the EU, with 10 more due to join by mid-2004, a few more negotiating for membership and several more expected to commence negotiations at some stage in the future. Almost all European states are members of the Council of Europe; the sole exceptions are Belarus and the Vatican City.

Countries

Currently, geographic Europe comprises the following 45 countries (in alphabetical order):

See Past European Countries

Notes

  1. Cyprus is not shown in the above map. It is an independent island which is currently de facto divided between the primarily ethnically-Greek Republic Of Cyprus in the southern 2/3rds of the island, and an internationally-unrecognised Turkish statelette in the northern 1/3rd, the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". The island of Cyprus is located to the east of southern Greece.
  2. Denmark has two dependent territories: the Faeroe Islands in Europe, and the self-governing island of Greenland, which is considered part of North America. .
  3. France distinguishes overseas departments (such as French Guiana), overseas territories (such as French Polynesia) and territorial collectivities (such as Mayotte); they are all located outside of Europe.
  4. The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of The Netherlands itself and two overseas territories in the Caribbean, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles.
  5. Portugal also includes the Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean.
  6. Russia extends far across Asia, but only the area westward of the Ural Mountains is considered to be within continental Europe.
  7. Spain also includes the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla in the north of Africa.
  8. Turkey is for the most part on continental Asia, only the area west of the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmara is in Europe.
  9. The United Kingdom consists of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and dependent territories, of which the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar lie within Europe.

Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, three CIS republics in the Transcaucasus, are geographically part of continental Asia, but are frequently associated with Europe. Whether or not Armenia and Georgia are considered to be European countries usually depends on whether one defines Europe as being primarily an ethnic / linguistic entity, or primarily a political / geographic entity, and what one considers those definitions to be.

Names of parts of Europe

Satellite image

Satellite image -

See also

External links


Africa | Antarctica | Asia | North America | Oceania | South America

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