Area 10,180,000 km² (3,930,000 sq mi)
Density 70/km² (181/sq mi)
History of europe
– Homo georgicus, which lived roughly 1.8 million years ago in Georgia, is the
earliest hominid to have been discovered in Europe. Other hominid remains,
dating back roughly 1 million years, have been discovered in Spain.
Neanderthal man (named for the Neander Valley in Germany) first migrated to
Europe 150,000 years ago and disappeared from the fossil record about 30,000
years ago. The Neanderthals were supplanted by modern humans (Cro-Magnons
), who appeared around 40,000 years ago. During the latter part of this period, a
period of megalith construction took place, with many megalithic monuments
such as Stonehenge being constructed throughout Europe.
– In terms of human society, Prehistoric Europe was inhabited first by nomadic
bands, subsequently followed by tribal cultures. Early city-states and states
spread broadly from the Fertile Crescent outward around 5000 BC. This led to
the various Persian empires and the city-states of Ancient Greece around 700
BC, followed by the Roman Republic that was founded around 500 BC in
modern-day Italy. The Roman Republic evolved into the Roman Empire, whose
fall in 476 AD led to the northward spread of organized states gradually
throughout the rest of Europe over the following millennium.
• The Greek Temple of Apollo, Paestum, Italy
• Ancient Greece had a profound impact on Western civilization. Western
democratic and individualistic culture are often attributed to Ancient
Greece.The Greeks invented the polis, or city-state, which played a
fundamental role in their concept of identity. These Greek political ideals
were rediscovered in the late 18th century by European philosophers and
idealists. Greece also generated many cultural contributions: in philosophy,
humanism and rationalism under Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato; in history
with Herodotus and Thucydides; in dramatic and narrative verse, starting
with the epic poems of Homer; and in science with Pythagoras, Euclid, and
• Another major influence on Europe came from the Roman Empire which left
its mark on law, language, engineering, architecture, and government.
During the pax romana, the Roman Empire expanded to encompass the
entire Mediterranean Basin and much of Europe.Stoicism influenced
emperors such as Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius, who all
spent time on the Empire's northern border fighting Germanic, Pictish and
Scottish tribes. Christianity was eventually legitimized by Constantine I after
three centuries of imperial persecution.
• Roland pledges fealty to Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor
• During the decline of the Roman Empire, Europe entered a long period of change arising
from what historians call the "Age of Migrations". There were numerous invasions and
migrations amongst the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Goths, Vandals, Huns, Franks, Angles,
Saxons, and, later still, the Vikings and Normans. Renaissance thinkers such as Petrarch
would later refer to this as the "Dark Ages". Isolated monastic communities in Ireland,
Scotland and elsewhere carefully safeguarded and compiled written knowledge
accumulated previously; very few written records survive and much literature, philosophy,
mathematics, and other thinking from the classical period disappeared from European
• During the Dark Ages, the Western Roman Empire fell under the control of Celt, Slav and
Germanic tribes. The Celtic tribes established their kingdoms in Gaul, the predecessor to
the Frankish kingdoms that eventually became France. The Germanic and Slav tribes
established their domains over Central and Eastern Europe respectively. Eventually the
Frankish tribes were united under Clovis I. Charlemagne, a Frankish king of the
Carolingian dynasty who had conquered most of Western Europe, was anointed "Holy
Roman Emperor" by the Pope in 800. This led to the founding of the Holy Roman Empire,
which eventually became centered in the German principalities of central Europe. The
Eastern Roman Empire became known in the west as the Byzantine Empire. Based in
Constantinople, they viewed themselves as the natural successors to the Roman Empire.
Emperor Justinian I presided over Constantinople's first golden age: he established a
legal code, funded the construction of the Hagia Sophia and brought the Christian church
under state control. Fatally weakened by the sack of Constantinople during the
Fourth Crusade, the Byzantines fell in 1453 when they were conquered by the
Richard 1 and Philip II, during the Third Crusade
• The Middle Ages were dominated by the two upper echelons of the social
structure: the nobility and the clergy. Feudalism already developed in France
in the Early Middle Ages, but soon spread throughout Europe. The struggle
between the nobility and the monarchy in England led to the writing of the
Magna Carta and the establishment of a parliament. The primary source of
culture in this period came from the Roman Catholic Church. Through
monasteries and cathedral schools, the Church was responsible for
education in much of Europe.
• The Papacy reached the height of its power during the High Middle Ages.
The East-West Schism in 1054 split the former Roman Empire religiously,
with the Eastern Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire and the
Roman Catholic Church in the former Western Roman Empire. In 1095
Pope Urban II called for a crusade against Muslims occupying Jerusalem and
the Holy Land. In Europe itself, the Church organized the Inquisition against
heretics. In Spain, the Reconquista concluded with the fall of Granada in
1492, ending over seven centuries of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula.
• Europe was devastated in the mid-14th century by the Black Death, which
killed an estimated 25 million people - a third of the European population at
the time.Successive epidemics led to increased religious fervor, a result of
which was widespread persecution of Jews.
Early modern period
The School of Athens by Raphael. Contemporaries
such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci
(centre) are portrayed as classical scholars.
Early modern period…
• The Renaissance was a period of cultural change originating in Italy in the
fourteenth century. The rise of a new humanism was accompanied by the
recovery of forgotten classical and Arabic knowledge from monastic libraries
and the Islamic world.The Renaissance spread across Europe between the
14th and 16th centuries: it saw the flowering of art, philosophy, music and the
sciences, under the joint patronage of royalty, the nobility, the Roman
Catholic Church and an emerging merchant class. Patrons in Italy, including
the Medici family of Florentine bankers and the Popes in Rome, funded
prolific quattrocento and cinquecento artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo
and Leonardo da Vinci.
• Political intrigue within the Church in the mid-14th century caused the
Great Schism. During this forty-year period, two popes - one in Avignon and
one in Rome - claimed rulership over the Church. Although the schism was
eventually healed in 1417, the papacy's spiritual authority had suffered
greatly. The Church's power was further weakened by the
Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther, a result of the lack of reform within
the Church. The Reformation also damaged the Holy Roman Empire's power,
as German princes became divided between Protestant and Roman Catholic
faiths. This eventually led to the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), which
crippled the Holy Roman Empire and devastated much of Germany. In the
aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia, France rose to predominance within
Early modern period…
Map of Europe made by Gerardus Mercator
Early modern period…
• The Renaissance and the New Monarchs marked the
start of an Age of Discovery, a period of exploration,
invention, and scientific development. In the 15th
century, Portugal and Spain, two of the greatest naval
powers of the time, took the lead in exploring the world.
Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in the
1498, and soon after the Spanish and Portuguese began
establishing colonial empires in the Americas. France,
the Netherlands and England soon followed in building
large colonial empires with vast holdings in Africa,
the Americas, and Asia.
18th and 19th centuries
• The Age of Enlightenment was a powerful intellectual eighteenth century movement in
which scientific and reason-based thought predominated. 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: the monarchy and
many of the nobility perished during the initial reign of terror. Napoleon Bonaparte rose
to power in the aftermath of the French Revolution and established the
First French Empire that, during the Napoleonic Wars, grew to encompass large parts
of Europe before collapsing in 1815 with the Battle of Waterloo.
• Napoleonic rule resulted in the further dissemination of the ideals of the French
Revolution, including that of nation-state, as well as the widespread adoption of the
French model for administration, law and education. The Congress of Vienna was
convened after Napoleon's downfall. It established a new balance of power in Europe
centered on the five "great powers": the United Kingdom, France, Prussia,
Habsburg Austria and Russia. This balance would remain in place until the
Revolutions of 1848, during which liberal uprisings affected all of Europe except for
Russia and Great Britain. The revolutions were eventually put down by more
conservative elements and few reforms resulted. In 1867 the Austro-Hungarian empire
was formed; and 1871 saw the unification of Italy and Germany as nation-states from
• 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 technology
resulted in rapid urban growth, mass employment and the rise of a new working class.
Reforms in social and economic spheres followed, including the first laws on child labor
, the legalization of Trade Unions and the abolition of slavery. Karl Marx's
Manifesto of the Communist Party was published in London in 1848.
20th century and present
• European military alliances in 1914; Central Powers purplish-red,
Entente Powers grey and neutral countries yellow
• The first half of the 20th century was dominated by two world wars and an
economic depression. World War I was fought between 1914 and 1918. It
started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by
Gavrilo Princip. All European nations were drawn into the war, which was
fought between two series of alliances: the Entente Powers (led by France,
Russia and the United Kingdom, joined later by Italy and the United States)
and the Central Powers (led by Austria-Hungary, Germany and the
Ottoman Empire). The war's casualties, both civilian and military, were
around 40 million. World War I changed the map of Europe. Russia was
plunged into the Russian Revolution, after which the Tsarist monarchy was
replaced by the communist Soviet Union. Austria-Hungary and the
Ottoman Empire collapsed and broke up into separate nations, and many
other nations had their borders redrawn or eliminated altogether. The
Treaty of Versailles was harsh towards Germany, upon whom it placed full
responsibility for the war and imposed heavy sanctions.
• Economic instability, caused in part by debts incurred from the First World
War, brought about the worldwide Great Depression during the 1930s,
precipitated by the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Fascist movements developed
throughout Europe during the economic crisis, placing leaders Adolf Hitler of
Nazi Germany, Francisco Franco of Spain and Benito Mussolini of Italy in
20th century and present
• The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference. Seated are Winston Churchill,
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.
• Hitler began slowly expanding Germany's size after coming to power,
incorporating Austria with the Anschluss in 1938 and later
Czechoslovakia after already annexing the Sudetenland in a move that
was highly contested by the other powers but ultimately permitted in
hopes of appeasing Hitler. His invasion of Poland in 1939,
backed by Soviet troops, prompted France and the United Kingdom to
declare war, starting World War II in Europe. In 1940 Germany quickly
conquered the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway. Aided by their
newly declared allies Italy, they occupied France, but failed in their
bombing offensive on Britain. In 1941 they unexpectedly turned on their
former Soviet allies with an ultimately unsuccessful
invasion of the Soviet Union. Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor
drew the United States into the conflict as allies of the British and
Free French forces. By 1944 the Germans were being attacked on two
fronts: by Soviet forces in the east and by British and U.S. forces in the
west. Berlin finally fell in 1945, ending World War II in Europe. The war
was the largest and most destructive in human history, with 60 million
dead across the world, including between 9 and 11 million people who
perished during the Holocaust.
20th century and present
The flag of Europe used by the Council of Europe and European Union
20th century and present
• World War I and especially World War II ended the pre-eminence of Western Europe
in world affairs. After World War II the map of Europe was redrawn at the
Yalta Conference and divided into two blocs, the Western countries and the
communist Eastern bloc, separated by an "iron curtain". The United States and
Western Europe established the NATO alliance and later the Soviet Union and
Eastern Europe established the Warsaw Pact. The two new superpowers, the
United States and the Soviet Union, became locked in a fifty-year long Cold War,
centered on nuclear proliferation. At the same time decolonization, which had already
started after World War I, gradually resulted in the independence of most of the
European colonies in Asia and Africa. In the 1980s the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev
and the solidarity movement in Poland accelerated the collapse of the Eastern bloc
and the end of the Cold War. German was reunited, after the symbolic
fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the maps of Eastern Europe had once more to be
• European integration also grew in the post-World War II years. 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. In
1967 the EEC, European Coal and Steel Community and Euratom formed the
European Community, which in 1993 became the European Union. The EU
established a parliament, court and central bank and introduced the euro as a unified
currency. Beginning in the 1990s after the end of the Cold War, Eastern European
countries began joining, expanding the EU to its current size of 27 European nations.
Geography and extent
• Physiographically, Europe is the northwestern constituent of the larger landmass known as
Eurasia, or Afro-Eurasia: Asia occupies the eastern bulk of this continuous landmass and
all share a common continental shelf. Europe's eastern frontier is now commonly
delineated by the Ural Mountains in Russia. The first century AD geographer Strabo, took
the Tanais River to be the boundary, as did early Judaic sources. The southeast boundary
with Asia is not universally defined. Most commonly the Ural or, alternatively, the
Emba River serve as possible boundaries. The boundary continues to the Caspian Sea,
the crest of the Caucasus Mountains or, alternatively, the Kura River in the Caucasus, and
on to the Black Sea; the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles conclude the
Asian boundary. The Mediterranean Sea to the south separates Europe from Africa. The
western boundary is the Atlantic Ocean; Iceland, though nearer to Greenland (
North America) than mainland Europe, is generally included in Europe. There is ongoing
debate on where the geographical centre of Europe is.
• Because of sociopolitical and cultural differences, there are various descriptions of
Europe's boundary; in some sources, some territories are not included in Europe, while
other sources include them. For instance, geographers from
Russia and other post-Soviet states generally include the Urals in Europe while including
Caucasia in Asia. Similarly, numerous geographers consider Azerbaijan's and Armenia's
southern border with Iran and Turkey's southern and eastern border with Syria, Iraq and
Iran as the boundary between Asia and Europe because of political and cultural reasons.
In the same way, despite being close to Asia and Africa, the Mediterranean islands of
Cyprus and Malta are considered part of Europe.
• European languages mostly fall within three language groups: the
Romance languages, derived from the Latin language of the Roman Empire;
the Germanic languages, whose ancestor language came from southern
Scandinavia; and the Slavic languages.
• Romance languages are spoken primarily in south-western Europe as well as
Romania and Moldova which are situated in Eastern Europe. Germanic
languages are spoken more or less in north-western Europe and some parts
of central Europe. Slavic languages are spoken in Central, Eastern, and
• Many other languages outside the three main groups are spoken in Europe.
The English language is unique among Germanic languages, having much of
its vocabulary descended from Romance languages. The Celtic language
group is also a distinct group like the Romance, Germanic and Slavic
language groups, and though it has largely disappeared from daily use, there
are still varying numbers of speakers of each of the six Celtic languages: Irish
, Scottish Gaelic and Manx, and Welsh, Cornish and Breton.
• Multilingualism and the protection of regional and minority languages are
recognized 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.
– Roman Catholicism: Countries or areas with significant Catholic populations are
Andorra, Austria, west Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the
Czech Republic, France, south and west Germany, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Italy,
Latgale region in Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, south
Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain, central and south Switzerland, west Ukraine, and Vatican City. There are also
large Catholic minorities in the United Kingdom (especially in Northern Ireland), and
most European countries.
– Eastern-Rite Catholicism also known as "Uniatism", is found in western Ukraine,
Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Armenia, Hungary, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania,
Russia, Serbia and Slovakia, southern Italy (Sardinia and Sicily) and Corsica, France.
– Orthodox Christianity: The countries with significant Orthodox populations are
Greece, Russia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia,
Moldova, Montenegro, Armenia, Serbia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia,
easternmost Hungary, a small minority in Southern Italy, Kazakhstan, sizable
minorities in Albania, Latvia and Lithuania, small minority in Poland, Finland (Karelia).
– Protestantism: Countries with significant Protestant populations include Denmark,
Estonia, Finland, north and east Germany, Iceland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway,
Sweden; east, north and west Switzerland; and the United Kingdom. There are
significant minorities in France, the northwestern Piedmont region of Italy, Slovakia,
the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the Republic of Ireland, and a small minority in
Islam: Countries with significant Muslim
population are Albania, Azerbaijan,
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria,
Greece, Georgia, Kazakhstan,
Montenegro, several republics of Russia,
Serbia, Turkey, Crimea in Ukraine, and,
from Western Europe, France.
• Other religions are practiced by smaller groups in Europe, including:
• Judaism primarily in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and Italy. At one
time Judaism was practiced widely throughout the European continent, though it has
dwindled in numbers since the expulsion, extermination, and exodus of Jews during
the later portion of the second millennium.
• Hinduism mainly among Indian immigrants in the United Kingdom. In 1998 there
were an estimated 1,382,000 Hindu adherents in Europe alone
• Buddhism thinly spread throughout Europe, about 3 million.
• Indigenous European pagan traditions and beliefs, many countries (a fast-growing
neopagan movement in France, Germany, ROI and UK is noted), and one neopagan
faith Asatru recognized as a minority religion in Iceland (since 1973), Norway and
• Rastafari, communities in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and
• Sikhism and Jainism, small membership rolls, both mainly among Indian immigrants
in the United Kingdom.
• Voodoo, mainly among black Caribbean and West African immigrants in the
United Kingdom and France.
• Traditional African Religions (including Muti), mainly in the United Kingdom and
Other religions with few (or under a
million) adherents in Europe: Animism,
Christian Scientists, Eco-religion,
Jehovah's Witnesses, Mennonites,
Moravian Church, Mormonism or
Latter-day Saints, Pantheism, Polytheism,
theological relativism, Scientology,
Universal Life Church, Unitarians, Wiccan,
• A number of countries in Europe have official religions, including
Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, the Vatican City (Catholic), Greece
(Eastern Orthodox), Denmark, Iceland, and Norway (Lutheran). In
Switzerland, some cantons are officially Catholic, others Reformed
Protestant. Some Swiss villages even have their religion as well as
the village name written on the signs at their entrances.
• Georgia has no established church, but the
Georgian Orthodox Church enjoys de facto privileged status. In
Finland, both the Finnish Orthodox Church and the Lutheran Church
are official. England, a part of the UK, has Anglicanism as its official
religion. Scotland, another part of the UK, has Presbyterianism as
its national church, but it is no longer "official". In Sweden, the
national church is Lutheranism, but it is also no longer "official".
Azerbaijan, France, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain and Turkey
are officially "secular".
• As a continent, the economy of Europe is currently the
largest on Earth. The European Union, or EU, an
intergovernmental body composed of most of the
European states, is one of the two largest in the world. Of
the member states in the EU, Germany has the largest
national economy, being 3rd largest globally, and the UK
has the 2nd largest, at 5th place globally. Fifteen EU
countries share a common unit of currency, the euro.
Major economic sectors in Europe include agriculture,
manufacturing, and investment. The majority of the EU's
trade is with the United States, China, India, Russia and
non-member European states.