Several of the oldest cities of Northwestern Europe are highlighted in this astronaut's photograph from 00:25 GMT on 10 August 2011
|Area||10,180,000 km2 (3,930,000 sq mi)[n] (6th)|
|Population||742,452,000[n] (2013; 3rd)|
|Population density||72.9/km2 (188/sq mi) (2nd)|
|Countries||50 sovereign states|
5 with limited recognition
|Time zones||UTC−1 to UTC+5|
Europe is traditionally defined as one of seven continents. Physiographically, it is the northwestern peninsula of the larger landmass known as Eurasia (or the larger Afro-Eurasia); Asia occupies the eastern bulk of this continuous landmass and all share a common continental shelf. Europe's eastern frontier is delineated by the Ural Mountains in Russia. The southeast boundary with Asia is not universally defined, but the modern definition is generally the Ural River or, less commonly, the Emba River. The boundary continues to the Caspian Sea, the crest of the Caucasus Mountains (or, less commonly, the river Kura in the Caucasus), and on to the Black Sea. The Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles conclude the Asian boundary. The Merranean Sea to the south separates Europe from Africa. The western boundary is the Atlantic Ocean. Iceland, though on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and nearer to Greenland (North America) than mainland Europe, is generally included in Europe for cultural reasons and because it is over twice as close to mainland Europe than to mainland North America. There is ongoing debate on where the geographical centre of Europe falls.
Some geographical texts refer to a Eurasian continent given that Europe is not surrounded by sea and its southeastern border has always been variously defined for centuries.
In terms of shape, Europe is a collection of connected peninsulas and nearby islands. The two largest peninsulas are mainland Europe and Scandinavia to the north, divided from each other by the Baltic Sea. Three smaller peninsulas—Iberia, Italy and the Balkans—emerge from the southern margin of the mainland. The Balkan peninsula is separated from Asia by the Black and Aegean Seas. Italy is separated from the Balkans by the Adriatic Sea, and from Iberia by the Merranean Sea, which also separates Europe from Africa. Eastward, mainland Europe widens much like the mouth of a funnel, until the boundary with Asia is reached at the Ural Mountains and Ural River, the Caspian Sea and Caucasus Mountains.
Land relief in Europe shows great variation within relatively small areas. The southern regions are 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. An arc of uplands also exists along the northwestern seaboard, beginning in southwestern Ireland, continuing across through western and northern Great Britain, and up along the mountainous, fjord-cut spine of Norway.
This description is simplified. Sub-regions such as Iberia and Italy contain their own complex features, as does mainland Europe itself, where the relief contains many plateaus, river valleys and basins that complicate the general trend. Iceland and the British Isles are special cases. The former is of North Atlantic volcanic formation, while the latter consist of upland areas once joined to the mainland until cut off by rising sea levels.
Europe is sometimes called a "peninsula of peninsulas", to draw attention to the fact that Europe is a relatively small, elongated appendage to Asia, and that a large part of Europe is made up of peninsulas.
Partial list of European peninsulas
Europe's most significant geological feature is the dichotomy between the highlands and mountains of Southern Europe and a vast, partially underwater, northern plain ranging from Great Britain in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east. These two halves are separated by the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps/Carpathians. The northern plains are delimited in the west by the Scandinavian mountains and the mountainous parts of the British Isles. The major shallow water bodies submerging parts of the northern plains are the Celtic Sea, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea complex, and the Barents Sea.
The northern plain contains the old geological continent of Baltica, and so may be regarded as the "main continent", while peripheral highlands and mountainous regions in south and west constitute fragments from various other geological continents.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2011)
Figures for the population of Europe vary according to which definition of European boundaries is used. The population within the standard physical geographical boundaries was 701 million in 2005 according to the United Nations. In 2000 the population was 857 million, using a definition which includes the whole of the transcontinental countries of Russia and Turkey. Population growth is comparatively slow, and median age comparatively high in relation to the world's other continents.
Iceland, Faroe Islands, Great Britain, Ireland, Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Cyprus, Ionian Islands, Crete, Aegean Islands, Åland Islands, Gotland, Saaremaa, Svalbard, Hinnøya, Senja, Zealand, Fyn and North Jutlandic Island.
Some of Europe's major mountain ranges are:
Land area in different classes of European mountainous terrain (classification from UNEP-WCMC):
|Altitude||Area (km2)||% Area|
|1500-2500m & slope ≥2°||145,838||1.43%|
|1000-1500m & slope ≥5°
or local elevation range >300m
and local elevation range >300m
The high mountainous areas of Europe are colder and have higher precipitation than lower areas, as is true of mountainous areas in general. Europe has less precipitation in the east than in central and western Europe. The temperature difference between summer and winter gradually increases from coastal northwest Europe to southeast inland Europe, ranging from Ireland, with a temperature difference of only 10 °C from the warmest to the coldest month, to the area north of the Caspian Sea, with a temperature difference of 40 °C. January average range from 13 °C in southern Spain and southern Greek islands to -20 °C in the northeastern part of European Russia. Desert climates are found in the European portion of Kazakhstan and South Eastern Spain.
Western Europe and parts of Central Europe generally fall into the temperate maritime climate (Cfb), the southern part is mostly a Merranean climate (mostly Csa, smaller area with Csb), the north-central part and east into central Russia is mostly a humid continental climate (Dfb) and the northern part of the continent is a subarctic climate (Dfc). In the extreme northern part (northernmost Russia; Svalbard), bordering the Arctic Ocean, is tundra climate (Et). Mountain ranges, such as the Alps and the Carpathian mountains, have a highland climate with large variations according to altitude and latitude.
The landlocked countries in Europe are: Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Liechtenstein (which is doubly landlocked), Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Vatican. In addition, the two partly recognized frozen conflict zones of Artsakh and Transnistria are also landlocked.
Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, and Macedonia constitute a contiguous landlocked agglomeration of eight countries in Central Europe and the Balkans, stretching from Geneva all the way to Skopje. The other landlocked countries are "standalone" landlocked, not bordering any other such European one (the emphasis is necessary, since Kazakhstan borders Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, thus forming a vast landlocked expanse in Central Asia)
|Eurasia||Armenia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Cyprus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, Greece (some Aegean islands and Kastelorizo island in southeastern Merranean)|
|Europe-Africa||Malta, Spain (Ceuta, Melilla and Canary Islands), Italy (Lampedusa and Lampione), Portugal (Madeira), France (Réunion and Mayotte)|
|Europe-South America||France (French Guiana)|
|Europe-North America||France (Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Pierre et Miquelon), Denmark (Greenland), Netherlands (Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius), Portugal (Corvo Island, Flores Island)|
|Country||Capital||Largest city or municipality|
|San Marino||San Marino||Serravalle|
Brussels is considered to be the largest city of Belgium, according to the population of the Brussels-Capital Region. The population of the City of Brussels is ~175,000. Antwerp is the biggest city of the country.
|14||Russia (Including Kaliningrad)|
|11||France (Including overseas departments and territories)|
|8||Austria, Serbia, Turkey|
|7||Hungary, Poland, Ukraine|
|5||Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Macedonia, Slovakia, Spain (Including Ceuta and Melilla), Switzerland|
|4||Albania, Armenia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Slovenia|
|3||Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Netherlands (Including Sint Maarten), Norway, Luxembourg|
|2||Andorra, Estonia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Sweden|
|1||Denmark, Ireland, Monaco, Portugal, San Marino, United Kingdom, Vatican City|
|0||Iceland, Cyprus, Malta|