Europe is traditionally counted as one of the world’s seven continents as well as one of five continents. It is the second smallest continent to surface, but the third largest to population.
Countries of Europe
According to Countryaah, Europe has about 50 countries, of which 27 (2008) are part of the EU, the European Union. Countries vary widely in size. Here you will find everything from vast Russia, the world’s largest land area and Europe’s largest population (142 million 2008), to the small Vatican City, the world’s smallest state with about 800 inhabitants (2008) and less than half a square kilometer.
Here you will also find several states that have had a significant influence on the world, not least through extensive colonial empires, such as the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Portugal, Greece and our own Nordic countries, where of course Sweden is included!
Geography of Europe
Europe is characterized by several peninsulas, where the continental peninsula and the Scandinavian are the two largest.
Europe is the westernmost part of the huge Euroasian land mass. It is bounded by the Mediterranean in the south, the Atlantic in the west and the Northern Arctic Ocean in the north. The boundary to the east is not as definitive, but the classic boundary is from the Ural Mountains to the Caspian Sea via the Ural River.
Europe is mainly in the temperate climate zone, despite its relatively northern position. This is largely due to the Gulf Stream, which takes heat from the equator and transports it up to us.
Religions of Europe
The majority of Europe’s countries have a Christian majority, but some southeastern countries are Muslim. Christianity plays a very large part in the history of Europe and the shaping of its culture, but today it is declining in influence in large parts of Western Europe.
Islam has also become a major religion in many of the western European countries through immigration. Islam has played an important role in Western European culture over a long historical period.
Other major religions are Hinduism and Buddhism. Judaism has also played a major role in European culture, but the number of Jews has declined sharply over the last century, mainly due to persecution of Jews and pogroms, culminating in the Holocaust, and the creation of the State of Israel.
History of Europe
People have lived in Europe for tens of thousands of years, but Europe’s history is considered by many to begin with the Greek states.
Here the first European civilizations were founded, around 700 BC, and they would make incredibly important contributions to Europe’s future culture, not least through the philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (Around 400 – 300 BC).
Another important contribution to Europe’s culture was the translation of the Jewish religious texts as well as the writing of the Gospels and Acts, which would later become the Christian Bible.
The other important ancient state was Rome, which began to grow as a republic and then became an imperial dictatorship. This happened around the year 0, and the Roman Empire then stretched across the Mediterranean, France, the Balkans, Turkey, England, large parts of Germany, Spain, Egypt and large parts of the Middle East.
The Roman Empire split at the end of the 400s and the western part fell shortly thereafter. This is usually seen as the beginning of the Middle Ages in Europe.
The Middle Ages were first characterized by economic and cultural decline and the spread of the Christian faith. However, Europe recovered and around the 1100s arose what is usually called the High Middle Ages.
However, this came to a tragic end when Digger’s death hit Europe, which is still regarded as one of the, if not the, worst disasters in human history.
However, Europe rose again. During the 1400s, the Renaissance spread in Europe.
During this period much of the knowledge of antiquity was rediscovered, and new knowledge came from the Islamic world, among other things. modern day numbers. However, it would not be long before Europe itself began to drive scientific progress in what has come to be called the scientific revolution.
This new knowledge and a large European explorer allowed the European states to establish world-wide colonial empires. At the end of the 18th century comes the next great wave of change.
Two major revolutions, the French and the industrial, came to forever change our view of the world and how we live in it. A struggle for democracy begins among the people, while the new factories made Europe even more powerful and richer.
Towards the end of the 19th century, European empires or European spin-off states (such as the United States) controlled almost the entire world, with Japan as an important exception.
However, the twentieth century became a tragedy for Europe where two world wars came to severely damage both the economy, the population and its reputation. When the Second World War ended in 1945, the two leading states were Soviet and the United States and the European colonial empires were dismantled.
Europe was divided into an eastern and western block of the Soviet Union and the US and little contact between the two sides occurred. In Western Europe, however, the economy quickly began to flourish again and a collaboration was initiated to prevent a repeat of the world wars. This cooperation would eventually become what is today called the EU, which includes 27 (2008) states (including Sweden).
In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, a wall that divided the city of Berlin into two parts and this is seen as a symbol that the division between East and West was over. Today, more and more eastern states are included in the EU and economic and cultural differences are beginning to diminish.
Europe is a very rich continent that, despite major differences between the east and the west, largely lacks really poor countries compared to other continents.
Virtually all European countries are industrialized, and people generally have a relatively high standard of living. On the other hand, the difference is great between East and West, where West belongs to the richest countries on earth while East belongs to middle countries.
However, membership in the EU and democratization has allowed the economies of several Eastern European countries to grow rapidly and some so-called “eastern states”, including Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Estonia, today have a level similar to that of poorer western states.
Even in Western Europe there are some differences where the northern countries can generally be said to have a somewhat higher standard of living than the southern ones. Financial centers are primarily London, but also Moscow, Frankfurt and Paris have important financial functions.