European Union (EU) is an economic and political union
of 27 member states, located primarily in Europe.
It was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on
1 November 1993 upon the foundations of the pre-existing
European Economic Community. With almost 500 million
citizens, the EU combined generates an estimated 30%
share (US$16.8 trillion in 2007) of the nominal gross
The EU has developed a single market through a standardised
system of laws which apply in all member states, guaranteeing
the freedom of movement of people, goods, services
and capital. It maintains a common trade policy, agricultural
and fisheries policies, and a regional development
policy.Sixteen member states have adopted a common
currency, the euro. It has developed a role in foreign
policy, representing its members in the World Trade
Organisation, at G8 summits, and at the United Nations.
Twenty-one EU countries are members of NATO. The EU
has developed a role in justice and home affairs,
including the abolition of passport controls between
many member states under the Schengen Agreement, which
incorporates also non-EU states.
The EU operates through a hybrid system of intergovernmentalism
and supranationalism. In certain areas it depends
upon agreement between the member states. However,
it also has supranational bodies, able to make decisions
without unanimity between all national governments.
Important institutions and bodies of the EU include
the European Commission, the European Parliament,
the Council of the European Union, the European Council,
the European Court of Justice and the European Central
Bank. EU citizens elect the Parliament every five
The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and
Steel Community formed among six countries in 1951
and the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Since then the union
has grown in size through the accession of new countries,
and new policy areas have been added to the remit
of the EU institutions.
its origin, the EU has established a single economic
market across the territory of all its members. Currently,
a single currency is in use between the 16 members
of the eurozone. Considered as a single economy, the
EU generated an estimated nominal gross domestic product
(GDP) of US$16.83 trillion in 2007, amounting to 31%
of the world's total economic output, which makes
it the largest economy in the world by nominal GDP
and the second largest trade bloc economy in the world
by PPP valuation of GDP. It is also the largest exporter
of goods, the second largest importer, and the biggest
trading partner to several large countries such as
India, and China.
170 of the top 500 largest corporations measured by
revenue (Fortune Global 500) have their headquarters
in the EU. In May 2007 unemployment in the EU stood
at 7% while investment was at 21.4% of GDP, inflation
at 2.2% and public deficit at -0.9% of GDP. There
is a great deal of variance for annual per capita
income within individual EU states, these range from
US$7,000 to US$69,000.
is one of the seven traditional continents of the
Earth. Physically and geologically, Europe is the
westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, west of Asia. Europe
is bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the
west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Mediterranean
Sea, to the southeast by the Caucasus Mountains and
the Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black
Sea to the Mediterranean. To the east, Europe is generally
divided from Asia by the water divide of the Ural
Mountains, the Ural River, and by the Caspian Sea.
is the world's second-smallest continent in terms
of area, covering about 10,180,000 square kilometres
(3,930,000 sq mi) or 2.0% of the Earth's surface.
The only continent smaller than Europe is Australia.
It is the third most populous continent (after Asia
and Africa) with a population of 710,000,000 or about
11% of the world's population. However, the term continent
can refer to a cultural and political distinction
or a physiographic one, leading to various perspectives
about Europe's precise borders, area and population.
Of Europe's 48 countries, Russia is the largest by
area and population, while the Vatican is the smallest.
is the birthplace of Western culture. European nations
played a predominant role in global affairs from the
16th century onwards, especially after the beginning
of colonization. By the 17th and 18th centuries European
nations controlled most of Africa, the Americas and
large portions of Asia. World War I and World War
II led to a decline in European dominance in world
affairs as the United States and Soviet Union took
preeminence. The Cold War between those two superpowers
divided Europe along the Iron Curtain. European integration
led to the formation of the Council of Europe and
the European Union in Western Europe, both of which
eventually expanded to include Central and Eastern
Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
term 'Europe' has multiple uses. Its principle ones
are political and geographical.
* Politically, Europe comprises those countries in
the European Union, but may at times be used more
casually to refer to both the EU together with other
non-EU countries generally, in the same region.
* Physically and geographically, Europe is the westmost
peninsula of the continent of Eurasia; its limits
are well defined by sea to the North, South and West,
and by a slightly arbitrary boundary discussed below
on the east and south-eastern side. The Ural mountains
are usually taken as the eastern limit of Europe;
certainly points beyond are not usually considered
to be part of the continent.
addition, people in countries such as Great Britain,
Scandinavia and the Mediterranean islands, may routinely
refer to "continental" or "mainland"
Europe (or simply "the Continent"), as a
term for the main land mass containing countries such
ancient Greek mythology, Europa was a Phoenician princess
who was abducted by Zeus in bull form and taken to
the island of Crete, where she gave birth to Minos,
Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon. For Homer, Europe (Greek:
????p? Eur?pe; see also List of traditional Greek
place names) was this mythological queen of Crete,
not a geographical designation. Later Europa stood
for mainland Greece, and by 500 BC its meaning had
been extended to lands to the north.
etymology one theory suggests the name Europe is derived
from the Greek words meaning broad (eurys) and face
(opsis)—broad having been an epithet of Earth
itself in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion;
see Prithvi (Plataia). A minority, however, suggest
this Greek popular etymology is really based on a
Semitic word such as the Akkadian erebu meaning "to
go down, set", cognate to Phoenician 'ereb
"evening; west" and Arabic Maghreb, Hebrew
ma'ariv. (see also Erebus).
majority of major world languages use words derived
from "Europa" to refer to the continent—e.g.
Chinese uses the word Ouzhou (??), which is an abbreviation
of the transliterated name Ouluóba zhou (????).
However, for centuries, the Turks used the term Frengistan
(land of the Franks) in referring to Europe.
History of Europe
georgicus, which lived roughly 1.8 million years ago
in Georgia, is the first hominid to have so far 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.
of complex society
terms of human society, Prehistoric Europe was inhabited
by nomadic bands and (subsequently) tribal cultures.
Early city-states and states spread broadly from the
Fertile Crescent (~ 5000 BC) outward, leading to the
various Persian empires (~ 700 BC) and the city-states
of Ancient Greece (~700 BC), followed by the Roman
Republic (founded ~ 500 BC in modern-day Italy) and
subsequent Empire, and the northward spread of organised
states gradually throughout the rest of Europe over
the following millennium.
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 Archimedes.
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
the decline of the Roman Empire, Europe entered a
long period of change arising from what is known in
America as 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
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.
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 Ottoman Empire.
High Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages
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.
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.
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.
The School of Athens by Raphael. Contemporaries such
as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci (centre) are
portrayed as classical scholars.
The School of Athens by Raphael. Contemporaries such
as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci (centre) are
portrayed as classical scholars.
Main article: Early modern period
See also: Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, and
Age of Discovery
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
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 Catholic, Protestant and Calvinist 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 Europe.
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.
and 19th centuries
Main article: Modern History
See also: Industrial Revolution, French Revolution,
and Age of Enlightenment
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.
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 smaller principalities.
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.
century and present
Main articles: Modern History and History of Europe
See also: World War I, Great Depression, World War
II, Cold War, and History of the European Union
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
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 power.
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.
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. Germany was reunited, after the symbolic fall
of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the maps of Eastern
Europe had once more to be completely redrawn.
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 of Europe
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. For detailed description of the boundary between
Asia and Europe see transcontinental nation.
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.
relief in Europe shows great variation within relatively
small areas. The southern regions, however, are more
mountainous, while moving north the terrain descends
from the high Alps, Pyrenees and Carpathians, through
hilly uplands, into broad, low northern plains, which
are vast in the east. This extended lowland is known
as the Great European Plain, and at its heart lies
the North German Plain. An arc of uplands also exists
along the north-western seaboard, which begins in
the western parts of Britain and Ireland, and then
continues along the mountainous, fjord-cut, spine
description is simplified. Sub-regions such as the
Iberian Peninsula and the Italian Peninsula contain
their own complex features, as does mainland Central
urope itself, where the relief contains many plateaus,
river valleys and basins that complicate the general
trend. Sub-regions like Iceland, Britain and Ireland
are special cases. The former is a land unto itself
in the northern ocean which is counted as part of
Europe, while the latter are upland areas that were
once joined to the mainland until rising sea levels
cut them off.
the most powerful waterfall in Europe, is located
in northeastern Iceland.
Glacier, the largest glacier in Continental Europe,
is located in Switzerland
Roca, a cape that forms the westernmost point of mainland
Europe, is located in Portugal
Main article: Geology of Europe
Geology of Europe is hugely varied and complex, and
gives rise to the wide variety of landscapes found
across the continent, from the Scottish Highlands
to the rolling plains of Hungary.
most significant feature is the dichotomy between
highland and mountainous Southern Europe and a vast,
partially underwater, northern plain ranging from
England in the west to Ural Mountains in the east.
These two halves are separated by the mountain chains
of Pyrenees and Alps/Carpathians. The northern plains
are delimited in the west by the Scandinavian Mountains
and the mountainous parts of the British Isles. Major
shallow water bodies submerging parts of the northern
plains are the Celtic Sea the North Sea, the Baltic
Sea complex and Barents Sea.
northern plain contain the old geological continent
of Baltica, and so may be regarded geologically as
the "main continent", while peripheral highlands
and mountainous regions in south and west constitute
fragments from various other geological continents.
Most of the older geology of Western Europe existed
as part of the ancient microcontinent Avalonia.
geological history of Europe traces back to the formation
of the Baltic Shield (Fennoscandia) and the Sarmatian
craton, both around 2250 million years ago, followed
by the Volgo-Uralia shield, the three together leading
to the East European craton (˜ Baltica) which
became a part of the supercontinent Columbia. Around
1100 million years ago, Baltica and Arctica (as part
of the Laurentia block) became joined to Rodinia,
later resplitting around 550 million years ago to
reform as Baltica. Around 440 million years ago Euramerica
was formed from Baltica and Laurentia; a further joining
with Gondwana then leading to the formation of Pangea.
Around 190 million years ago, Gondwana and Laurasia
split apart due to the widening of the Atlantic Ocean.
Finally, and very soon afterwards, Laurasia itself
split up again, into Laurentia (North America) and
an Eurasian continent. The land connection between
the two persisted for a considerable time, via Greenland,
leading to interchange of animal species. From around
50 million years ago, rising and falling sea levels
have determined the actual shape of Europe, and its
connections with continents such as Asia. Europe's
present shape dates to the late Tertiary period about
five million years ago.
See also: Fauna of Europe
regions of Europe (including Asian part of Turkey)
Biogeographic regions of Europe (including Asian part
lived side-by-side with agricultural peoples for millennia,
Europe's animals and plants have been profoundly affected
by the presence and activities of man. With the exception
of Fennoscandia and northern Russia, few areas of
untouched wilderness are currently found in Europe,
except for various national parks.
main natural vegetation cover in Europe is mixed forest.
The conditions for growth are very favourable. In
the north, the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift
warm the continent. Southern Europe could be described
as having a warm, but mild climate. There are frequent
summer droughts in this region. Mountain ridges also
affect the conditions. Some of these (Alps, Pyrenees)
are oriented east-west and allow the wind to carry
large masses of water from the ocean in the interior.
Others are oriented south-north (Scandinavian Mountains,
Dinarides, Carpathians, Apennines) and because the
rain falls primarily on the side of mountains that
is oriented towards sea, forests grow well on this
side, while on the other side, the conditions are
much less favourable. Few corners of mainland Europe
have not been grazed by livestock at some point in
time, and the cutting down of the pre-agricultural
forest habitat caused disruption to the original plant
and animal ecosystems.
to ninety per cent of Europe was once covered by forest.
It stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arctic
Ocean. Though over half of Europe's original forests
disappeared through the centuries of deforestation,
Europe still has over one quarter of its land area
as forest, such as the taiga of Scandinavia and Russia,
mixed rainforests of the Caucasus and the Cork oak
forests in the western Mediterranean. During recent
times, deforestation has been slowed and many trees
have been planted. However, in many cases monoculture
plantations of conifers have replaced the original
mixed natural forest, because these grow quicker.
The plantations now cover vast areas of land, but
offer poorer habitats for many European forest dwelling
species which require a mixture of tree species and
diverse forest structure. The amount of natural forest
in Western Europe is just 2–3% or less, in European
Russia 5–10%. The country with the smallest
percentage of forested area (excluding the micronations)
is Iceland (2%), while the most forested country is
temperate Europe, mixed forest with both broadleaf
and coniferous trees dominate. The most important
species in central and western Europe are beech and
oak. In the north, the taiga is a mixed spruce-pine-birch
forest; further north within Russia and extreme northern
Scandinavia, the taiga gives way to tundra as the
Arctic is approached. In the Mediterranean, many olive
trees have been planted, which are very well adapted
to its arid climate; Mediterranean Cypress isalso
widely planted in southern Europe. The semi-arid Mediterranean
region hosts much scrub forest. A narrow east-west
tongue of Eurasian grassland (the steppe) extends
eastwards from Ukraine and southern Russia and ends
in Hungary and traverses into taiga to the north.
during the most recent ice age and the presence of
man affected the distribution of European fauna. As
for the animals, in many parts of Europe most large
animals and top predator species have been hunted
to extinction. The woolly mammoth was extinct before
the end of the Neolithic period. Today wolves (carnivores)
and bears (omnivores) are endangered. Once they were
found in most parts of Europe. However, deforestation
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 Balkan peninsula, Scandinavia, and Russia;
a small number also persist in other countries across
Europe (Austria, Pyrenees etc.), but in these areas
brown bear populations are fragmented and marginalised
because of the destruction of their habitat. In addition,
polar bears may be found on Svalbard, a Norwegian
archipelago far north of Scandinavia. The wolf, the
second largest predator in Europe after the brown
bear, can be found primarily in Eastern Europe and
in the Balkans, with a handful of packs in pockets
of Western Europe (Scandinavia, Spain, etc.).
important European carnivores are Eurasian lynx, European
wild cat, foxes (especially the red fox), jackal and
different species of martens, hedgehogs, different
species of reptiles snakes (vipers, grass snake…),
different birds (owls, hawks and other birds of prey).
European herbivores are snails, amphibian larvae,
fish, different birds, and mammals, like rodents,
deer and roe deer, boars, and living in the mountains,
marmots, steinbocks, chamois among others.
creatures are also an important part of European flora
and fauna. The sea flora is mainly phytoplankton.
Important animals that live in European seas are zooplankton,
molluscs, echinoderms, different crustaceans, squids
and octopuses, ish, dolphins, and whales.
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.
Main articles: Demographics of Europe, European ethnic
groups, and Aging of Europe
population growth/decline of European countries
the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery, Europe has
had a major nfluence in culture, economics and social
movements in the world. European demographics are
important not only historically, but also in understanding
current international relations and population issues.
current and past issues in European demographics have
included religious emigration, race relations, economic
immigration, a declining birth rate and an aging population.
In some countries, such as the Republic of Ireland
and Poland, access to abortion is currently limited;
in the past, such restrictions and also restrictions
on artificial birth control were commonplace throughout
Europe. Furthermore, three European countries (The
Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland) have allowed
a limited form of voluntary euthanasia for some terminally
2005 the population of Europe was estimated to be
728 million according to the United Nations, which
is slightly more than one-ninth of the world's population.
A century ago Europe had nearly a quarter of the world's
population. The population of Europe has grown in
the past century, but in other areas of the world
(in particular Africa and Asia) the population has
grown far more quickly. According to UN population
projection (medium variant), Europe's share will fall
to 7% in 2050, numbering 653 million. Within this
context, significant disparities exist between religions
in relation to fertility rates. The average number
of children per female of child bearing age is 1.52.
According to some sources, this rate is higher
among Muslims. In 2005 the EU had an overall net gain
from immigration of 1.8 million people, despite having
one of the highest population densities in the world.
This accounted for almost 85% of Europe's total population
See also: Demographics of Europe and List of European
countries by population
of Europe as delineated by the United Nations (other
categorisations may vary): Northern Europe Western
Europe Eastern Europe Southern Europe
Regions of Europe as delineated by the United Nations
(other categorisations mayvary): Northern Europe Western
Europe Eastern Europe Southern Europe
countries in this table are categorised according
to the scheme for geographic subregions used by the
United Nations, and data included are per sources
in cross-referenced articles. Where they differ, provisos
are clearly indicated.
to different definitions, such as consideration of
the concept of Central Europe, the following territories
and regions may be subject to various other categorisations.
Economy of Europe
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.
Thirteen 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.
Main article: Languages of Europe
See also: Eurolinguistics
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.
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 Southeastern Europe.
other languages outside the three main groups are
spoken in Europe. The English language is unique,
as it is a hybrid of the Romance and Germanic languages.
The Celtic language group was once a distinct group
like the Romance, Germanic and Slavic language groups
but has mostly died out, with the exceptions of Welsh
and Gaelic in the British Isles and some speakers
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.
Religion in Europe
most prevalent religions of Europe are the following:
o 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,
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, and
Vatican City. There are also large Catholic minorities
in Great Britain: England, Scotland, Wales and most
o Eastern-Rite Catholicism also known as "Uniatism",
is found in western Ukraine, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece,
Armenia, Hungary, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania,
Serbia and Slovakia, southern Italy (Sardinia and
Sicily) and Corsica, France.
o 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).
o 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, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary,
and Ireland, and a small minority in Poland.
* Islam: Countries with significant Muslim population
are Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria,
Georgia, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, several republics
of Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Crimea in Ukraine, and,
from Western Europe, France.
religions are practiced by smaller groups in Europe,
* Judaism primarily in France, Germany, the United
Kingdom, Russia. 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
* 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.
* Indigenous European pagan traditions and beliefs,
many countries (a fast-growing neopagan movement in
France, Germany, Ireland and United Kingdom is noted),
and one neopagan faith Asatru recognized as a minority
religion in Iceland (since 1973), Norway and Sweden.
* Rastafari, communities in the United Kingdom, France,
Spain, Portugal, Italy and elsewhere.
* 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 France.
* Other religions with few (or under a million) adherents
in Europe: Animism, Christian Scientists, Eco-religion,
Gnosticism, Paganism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mennonites,
Moravian Church, Mormonism or Latter-day Saints, Pantheism,
Polytheism, theological relativism, Scientology, Seventh-day
Adventists, Universal Life Church, Unitarians, Wiccan,
of Europeans profess no religion or are atheist, agnostic
or humanist. The largest non-confessional populations
(as a percentage) are found in the Czech Republic,
Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway,
Sweden and the former soviet countries of Belarus,
Estonia, Russia and Ukraine, although most former
communist countries have significant non-confessional
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
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",
and 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". (Credit:
While the United States has been unable or unwilling
to broach the regulation of the online gaming world,
Europe has - in some cases - ventured into that area.
Countries such as England and Ireland have introduced
regulation of the online poker and gaming worlds with
a great deal of success. Others, however, have attempted
to nationalize this industry rather than welcome worldwide
competition. A recent decision by the European Parliament
demonstrates how divisive the issue has become.
to a report from the European Gaming and Betting Association
(EGBA) on Tuesday, the European Parliament - which
is part of a bicameral legislative body, along with
the Council of the European Union, and is the only
elected body that leads the EU - has introduced a
resolution that looks at “the integrity of online
gambling.” In this resolution, there are many
issues that are brought to light but there is conflict
among the officials in an alternative report that
majority report resolution that was adopted by the
European Parliament states that the European Commission
should “carry out studies and make appropriate
proposals” regarding online gaming while insisting
at the same time on “the Member States’
right to regulate (the online gaming sector) in accordance
with their traditions and cultures”. The minority
report, which is backed by Members of the European
Parliament (MEPs) representing nine of the Member
States and the three main European political parties,
looks to approach online gaming and betting in a more
practical way. It wants to recognize the cross-border
nature of the industry and take into consideration
both the challenges and opportunities offered in this
area by Internet technology.
this means is that, according to the EGBA, that there
will be no agreement in the near future for the European
Union to coordinate the world of online gaming and
poker. The Secretary General of the EGBA, Sigrid Ligné,
admitted this when she said, “Today’s
vote shows that we cannot expect an EU harmonized
legislation to be adopted in the near future. It clearly
means that it is the rules of the Treaty and the case
law of the Court of Justice that continue to apply
and that will prevail for our sector in the years
the mid-point of this decade, the European Union has
wrestled over the questions that continue to plague
the online gaming and poker industry. While regulation
has been accepted in some countries, other countries
have attempted to nationalize the operations for the
benefit of their own countries and prevent the freedom
of trade in online gaming. France, Sweden, Germany,
Denmark and Spain have been the major players in this
nationalization effort, but some of those countries
have changed their minds in the face of potential
penalties or restrictions by the European Union through
the Treaty of Commerce that all member nations have
France announced that they would begin accepting applications
for companies to legally accept French action in 2010;
Sweden will start the same program next year, while
Spain has already implemented a regulatory agency.
Until all nations of the European Union can come to
an agreement, there will still be stormy conditions
for the online gaming and poker worlds in the future.