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UN M49 code150 – Europe
  • a. ^ Figures include only European portions of transcontinental countries.[n]
  • b. ^ Includes Asian population. Istanbul is a transcontinental city which straddles both Asia and Europe.
  • c. ^
"Europe" as defined by the International Monetary Fund.

Europe is a

separated from Asia by the watershed of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, the Greater Caucasus, the Black Sea, and the waterway of the Bosporus Strait.[12]

Europe covers about 10.18 million km2 (3.93 million sq mi), or 2% of Earth's surface (6.8% of land area), making it the second-smallest continent (using the seven-continent model). Politically, Europe is divided into about fifty sovereign states, of which Russia is the largest and most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population. Europe had a total population of about 745 million (about 10% of the world population) in 2021; the third-largest after Asia and Africa.[2][3] The European climate is affected by warm Atlantic currents, such as the Gulf Stream, which produce a temperate climate, tempering winters and summers, on much of the continent. Further from the sea, seasonal differences are more noticeable producing more continental climates.

post-classical Middle Ages. The Renaissance, radiating from Florence, spread to the rest of the continent a new humanist interest in art and science which led to the modern era. Since the Age of Discovery, led by Spain and Portugal
, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs with multiple explorations and conquests around the world. Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European powers colonised at various times the Americas, almost all of Africa and Oceania, and the majority of Asia.

The Age of Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars shaped the continent culturally, politically and economically from the end of the 17th century until the first half of the 19th century. The Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain at the end of the 18th century, gave rise to radical economic, cultural and social change in Western Europe and eventually the wider world. Both world wars began and were fought to a great extent in Europe, contributing to a decline in Western European dominance in world affairs by the mid-20th century as the Soviet Union and the United States took prominence and competed over dominance in Europe and globally.[15] The resulting Cold War divided Europe along the Iron Curtain, with NATO in the West and the Warsaw Pact in the East. This divide ended with the Revolutions of 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which allowed European integration to advance significantly.

European integration is being advanced institutionally since 1948 with the founding of the

European treaties.[17] The EU originated in Western Europe but has been expanding eastward since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. A majority of its members have adopted a common currency, the euro, and participate in the European single market and a customs union. A large bloc of countries, the Schengen Area, have also abolished internal border and immigration controls. Regular popular elections take place every five years within the EU; they are considered to be the second-largest democratic elections in the world after India's
. The EU is the third-largest economy in the world.


Reconstruction of an early world map made by Anaximander of the 6th century BCE, dividing the known world into three large landmasses, one of which was named Europe

The place name Evros was first used by the ancient Greeks to refer to their northernmost province, which bears the same name today. The principal river there – Evros (today's Maritsa) – flows through the fertile valleys of Thrace,[18] which itself was also called Europe, before the term meant the continent.[19]

In classical

Ancient Greek: Εὐρώπη, Eurṓpē) was a Phoenician princess. One view is that her name derives from the Ancient Greek elements εὐρύς (eurús) 'wide, broad', and ὤψ (ōps, gen. ὠπός, ōpós) 'eye, face, countenance', hence their composite Eurṓpē would mean 'wide-gazing' or 'broad of aspect'.[20][21][22][23] Broad has been an epithet of Earth herself in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion and the poetry devoted to it.[20] An alternative view is that of Robert Beekes, who has argued in favour of a pre-Indo-European origin for the name, explaining that a derivation from eurus would yield a different toponym than Europa. Beekes has located toponyms related to that of Europa in the territory of ancient Greece, and localities such as that of Europos in ancient Macedonia.[24]

There have been attempts to connect Eurṓpē to a Semitic term for west, this being either Akkadian erebu meaning 'to go down, set' (said of the sun) or Phoenician 'ereb 'evening, west',[25] which is at the origin of Arabic maghreb and Hebrew ma'arav. Martin Litchfield West stated that "phonologically, the match between Europa's name and any form of the Semitic word is very poor",[26] while Beekes considers a connection to Semitic languages improbable.[24]

Most major world languages use words derived from Eurṓpē or Europa to refer to the continent. Chinese, for example, uses the word Ōuzhōu (歐洲/欧洲), which is an abbreviation of the transliterated name Ōuluóbā zhōu (歐羅巴洲) (zhōu means "continent"); a similar Chinese-derived term Ōshū (欧州) is also sometimes used in Japanese such as in the Japanese name of the European Union, Ōshū Rengō (欧州連合), despite the katakana Yōroppa (ヨーロッパ) being more commonly used. In some Turkic languages, the originally Persian name Frangistan ("land of the Franks") is used casually in referring to much of Europe, besides official names such as Avrupa or Evropa.[27]


Contemporary definition

The prevalent definition of Europe as a geographical term has been in use since the mid-19th century. Europe is taken to be bounded by large bodies of water to the north, west and south; Europe's limits to the east and north-east are usually taken to be the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, and the Caspian Sea; to the south-east, the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea, and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.[28]

Definitions used for the boundary between Asia and Europe in different periods of history.
A medieval T and O map printed by Günther Zainer in 1472, showing the three continents as domains of the sons of Noah – Asia to Sem (Shem), Europe to Iafeth (Japheth) and Africa to Cham (Ham)

Islands are generally grouped with the nearest continental landmass, hence Iceland is considered to be part of Europe, while the nearby island of Greenland is usually assigned to North America, although politically belonging to Denmark. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions based on sociopolitical and cultural differences. Cyprus is closest to Anatolia (or Asia Minor), but is considered part of Europe politically and it is a member state of the EU. Malta was considered an island of North-western Africa for centuries, but now it is considered to be part of Europe as well.[29] "Europe", as used specifically in British English, may also refer to Continental Europe exclusively.[30]

The term "continent" usually implies the

Ob River and the Arctic Ocean
. In contrast, the present eastern boundary of Europe partially adheres to the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, which is somewhat arbitrary and inconsistent compared to any clear-cut definition of the term "continent".

The current division of Eurasia into two continents now reflects

continents separated from Europe by large bodies of water. Spain, for example, has territories south of the Mediterranean Sea—namely, Ceuta and Melilla—which are parts of Africa
and share a border with Morocco. According to the current convention, Georgia and Azerbaijan are transcontinental countries where waterways have been completely replaced by mountains as the divide between continents.

History of the concept

Early history

Depiction of Europa regina ('Queen Europe') in 1582

The first recorded usage of Eurṓpē as a geographic term is in the

Northwest Africa, to the Don, separating it from Asia.[34]

The convention received by the

Roman era used by Roman-era authors such as Posidonius,[35] Strabo,[36] and Ptolemy,[37]
who took the Tanais (the modern Don River) as the boundary.

The Roman Empire did not attach a strong identity to the concept of continental divisions. However, following the fall of the

Islamic world

A cultural definition of Europe as the lands of

Iberia, the British Isles, France, Christianised western Germany, the Alpine regions and northern and central Italy.[39][40] The concept is one of the lasting legacies of the Carolingian Renaissance: Europa often[dubiousdiscuss] figures in the letters of Charlemagne's court scholar, Alcuin.[41] The transition of Europe to being a cultural term as well as a geographic one led to the borders of Europe being affected by cultural considerations in the East, especially relating to areas under Byzantine, Ottoman, and Russian influence. Such questions were affected by the positive connotations associated with the term Europe by its users. Such cultural considerations were not applied to the Americas, despite their conquest and settlement by European states. Instead, the concept of "Western civilization" emerged as a way of grouping together Europe and these colonies.[42]

Modern definitions

A New Map of Europe According to the Newest Observations (1721) by Hermann Moll draws the eastern boundary of Europe along the Don River flowing south-west and the Tobol, Irtysh and Ob rivers flowing north.
1916 political map of Europe showing most of Moll's waterways replaced by von Strahlenberg's Ural Mountains and Freshfield's Caucasus crest, land features of a type that normally defines a subcontinent

The question of defining a precise eastern boundary of Europe arises in the Early Modern period, as the eastern extension of

Don (ancient Tanais). But maps produced during the 16th to 18th centuries tended to differ in how to continue the boundary beyond the Don bend at Kalach-na-Donu (where it is closest to the Volga, now joined with it by the Volga–Don Canal
), into territory not described in any detail by the ancient geographers.

Around 1715,

Irtysh River
, a major tributary of the Ob, as components of a series of partly-joined waterways taking the boundary between Europe and Asia from the Turkish Straits, and the Don River all the way to the Arctic Ocean. In 1721, he produced a more up to date map that was easier to read. However, his proposal to adhere to major rivers as the line of demarcation was never taken up by other geographers who were beginning to move away from the idea of water boundaries as the only legitimate divides between Europe and Asia.

Four years later, in 1725,

Ural Rivers), then north and east along the latter waterway to its source in the Ural Mountains. At this point he proposed that mountain ranges could be included as boundaries between continents as alternatives to nearby waterways. Accordingly, he drew the new boundary north along Ural Mountains rather than the nearby and parallel running Ob and Irtysh rivers.[43] This was endorsed by the Russian Empire and introduced the convention that would eventually become commonly accepted. However, this did not come without criticism. Voltaire, writing in 1760 about Peter the Great's efforts to make Russia more European, ignored the whole boundary question with his claim that neither Russia, Scandinavia, northern Germany, nor Poland were fully part of Europe.[38] Since then, many modern analytical geographers like Halford Mackinder have declared that they see little validity in the Ural Mountains as a boundary between continents.[44]

The mapmakers continued to differ on the boundary between the lower Don and Samara well into the 19th century. The 1745 atlas published by the Russian Academy of Sciences has the boundary follow the Don beyond Kalach as far as Serafimovich before cutting north towards Arkhangelsk, while other 18th- to 19th-century mapmakers such as John Cary followed Strahlenberg's prescription. To the south, the Kuma–Manych Depression was identified c. 1773 by a German naturalist, Peter Simon Pallas, as a valley that once connected the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea,[45][46] and subsequently was proposed as a natural boundary between continents.

By the mid-19th century, there were three main conventions, one following the Don, the

Greater Caucasus watershed to the Caspian. The question was still treated as a "controversy" in geographical literature of the 1860s, with Douglas Freshfield advocating the Caucasus crest boundary as the "best possible", citing support from various "modern geographers".[47]


Emba River; and Kuma–Manych Depression,[49] thus placing the Caucasus entirely in Asia and the Urals entirely in Europe.[50] The Flora Europaea adopted a boundary along the Terek and Kuban rivers, so southwards from the Kuma and the Manych, but still with the Caucasus entirely in Asia.[51][52] However, most geographers in the Soviet Union favoured the boundary along the Caucasus crest,[53]
and this became the common convention in the later 20th century, although the Kuma–Manych boundary remained in use in some 20th-century maps.

Some view the separation of Eurasia into Asia and Europe as a residue of Eurocentrism: "In physical, cultural and historical diversity, China and India are comparable to the entire European landmass, not to a single European country. [...]."[54]



Last Glacial Maximum refugia, c. 20,000 years ago
  Solutrean culture
  Epigravettian culture[55]
Paleolithic cave paintings from Lascaux in France (c. 15,000 BCE)
Stonehenge in the United Kingdom (Late Neolithic from 3000 to 2000 BCE)

During the 2.5 million years of the

last glacial period ended about 10,000 years ago.[56] Earth is currently in an interglacial period of the Quaternary, called the Holocene.[57]


megalithic monuments, such as the Megalithic Temples of Malta and Stonehenge, were constructed throughout Western and Southern Europe.[68][69]

The modern native populations of Europe largely descend from three distinct lineages:

Iron Age Italy and Greece from around the 8th century BCE gradually gave rise to historical Classical antiquity, whose beginning is sometimes dated to 776 BCE, the year of the first Olympic Games.[75]

Classical antiquity

The Parthenon in Athens (432 BCE)

Ancient Greece was the founding culture of Western civilisation. Western

city states would ultimately check the Achaemenid Persian advance in Europe through the Greco-Persian Wars, considered a pivotal moment in world history,[82] as the 50 years of peace that followed are known as Golden Age of Athens
, the seminal period of ancient Greece that laid many of the foundations of Western civilisation.

Animation showing the growth and division of Ancient Rome (years CE)

Greece was followed by

architecture, government and many more key aspects in western civilisation.[76] By 200 BCE, Rome had conquered Italy and over the following two centuries it conquered Greece and Hispania (Spain and Portugal), the North African coast, much of the Middle East, Gaul (France and Belgium) and Britannia (England and Wales

Expanding from their base in central Italy beginning in the third century BCE, the Romans gradually expanded to eventually rule the entire Mediterranean Basin and Western Europe by the turn of the millennium. The

imperial persecution. Constantine also permanently moved the capital of the empire from Rome to the city of Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul) which was renamed Constantinople in his honour in 330 CE. Christianity became the sole official religion of the empire in 380 CE and in 391–392 CE, the emperor Theodosius outlawed pagan religions.[86] This is sometimes considered to mark the end of antiquity; alternatively antiquity is considered to end with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE; the closure of the pagan Platonic Academy of Athens in 529 CE;[87] or the rise of Islam in the early 7th century CE. During most of its existence, the Byzantine Empire was one of the most powerful economic, cultural, and military forces in Europe.[88]

Early Middle Ages

Europe c. 650
Charlemagne's empire in 814:      Francia,      Tributaries

During the

Magyars.[83] Renaissance thinkers such as Petrarch would later refer to this as the "Dark Ages".[89]

Isolated monastic communities were the only places to safeguard and compile written knowledge accumulated previously; apart from this very few written records survive and much literature, philosophy, mathematics and other thinking from the classical period disappeared from Western Europe, though they were preserved in the east, in the Byzantine Empire.[90]

While the Roman empire in the west continued to decline, Roman traditions and the Roman state remained strong in the predominantly Greek-speaking

Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. During most of its existence, the Byzantine Empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. Emperor Justinian I presided over Constantinople's first golden age: he established a legal code that forms the basis of many modern legal systems, funded the construction of the Hagia Sophia and brought the Christian church under state control.[91]

From the 7th century onwards, as the Byzantines and neighbouring

Leon and Galicia were laid and from where the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula would start. However, no coordinated attempt would be made to drive the Moors out. The Christian kingdoms were mainly focused on their own internal power struggles. As a result, the Reconquista
took the greater part of eight hundred years, in which period a long list of Alfonsos, Sanchos, Ordoños, Ramiros, Fernandos and Bermudos would be fighting their Christian rivals as much as the Muslim invaders.

Viking raids and division of the Frankish Empire at the Treaty of Verdun
in 843

During the Dark Ages, the

Carolingian dynasty who had conquered most of Western Europe, was anointed "Holy Roman Emperor" by the Pope in 800. This led in 962 to the founding of the Holy Roman Empire, which eventually became centred in the German principalities of central Europe.[96]

Kiev to become the largest state in Europe by the 10th century. In 988, Vladimir the Great adopted Orthodox Christianity as the religion of state.[97][98] Further East, Volga Bulgaria became an Islamic state in the 10th century, but was eventually absorbed into Russia several centuries later.[99]

High and Late Middle Ages

The maritime republics of medieval Italy reestablished contacts between Europe, Asia and Africa with extensive trade networks and colonies across the Mediterranean, and had an essential role in the Crusades.[100][101]

The period between the year 1000 and 1250 is known as the High Middle Ages, followed by the Late Middle Ages until c. 1500.

During the High Middle Ages the population of Europe experienced significant growth, culminating in the

Maritime Republics
a leading role in the European scene.

The Middle Ages on the mainland were dominated by the two upper echelons of the social structure: the nobility and the clergy.

Roman Catholic Church. Through monasteries and cathedral schools, the Church was responsible for education in much of Europe.[102]



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.[104] In Europe itself, the Church organised the Inquisition against heretics. In the Iberian Peninsula, the Reconquista concluded with the fall of Granada in 1492, ending over seven centuries of Islamic rule in the south-western peninsula.[105]

In the east, a resurgent Byzantine Empire recaptured Crete and Cyprus from the Muslims, and reconquered the Balkans. Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe from the 9th to the 12th centuries, with a population of approximately 400,000.

The sacking of Suzdal by Batu Khan in 1238, during the Mongol invasion of Europe (1220s–1240s)

In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic

Ivan III the Great and Ivan the Terrible
, steadily expanding to the east and south over the next centuries.


crisis that would strike Europe in the late Middle Ages.[124] The period between 1348 and 1420 witnessed the heaviest loss. The population of France was reduced by half.[125][126] Medieval Britain was afflicted by 95 famines,[127] and France suffered the effects of 75 or more in the same period.[128] Europe was devastated in the mid-14th century by the Black Death, one of the most deadly pandemics in human history which killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe alone—a third of the European population at the time.[129]

The plague had a devastating effect on Europe's social structure; it induced people to live for the moment as illustrated by

epidemics swept across Europe.[132]

Early modern period

The School of Athens by Raphael (1511): Contemporaries, such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci (centre), are portrayed as classical scholars of the Renaissance

The Renaissance was a period of cultural change originating in

Medici family of Florentine bankers and the Popes in Rome, funded prolific quattrocento and cinquecento artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.[139][140]

Political intrigue within the Church in the mid-14th century caused the

Spanish armada failed to invade England. A year later England tried unsuccessfully to invade Spain, allowing Philip II of Spain to maintain his dominant war capacity in Europe. This English disaster also allowed the Spanish fleet to retain its capability to wage war for the next decades. However, two more Spanish armadas failed to invade England (2nd Spanish Armada and 3rd Spanish Armada).[145][146][147][148]

Habsburg dominions in the centuries following their partition by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The principal military base of Philip II in Europe was the Spanish road stretching from the Netherlands to the Duchy of Milan.[149]

The Church's power was further weakened by the

Germany, killing between 25 and 40 percent of its population.[153] In the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia, France rose to predominance within Europe.[154] The defeat of the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 marked the historic end of Ottoman expansion into Europe.[155]

The 17th century in Central and parts of Eastern Europe was a period of general

Deluge) and subsequent conflicts;[158] the state itself was partitioned and ceased to exist at the end of the 18th century.[159]

From the 15th to 18th centuries, when the disintegrating khanates of the

raided Eastern Slavic lands to capture slaves.[160] Further east, the Nogai Horde and Kazakh Khanate
frequently raided the Slavic-speaking areas of contemporary Russia and Ukraine for hundreds of years, until the Russian expansion and conquest of most of northern Eurasia (i.e. Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Siberia).

The Renaissance and the

Galileo and Isaac Newton.[162] According to Peter Barrett, "It is widely accepted that 'modern science' arose in the Europe of the 17th century (towards the end of the Renaissance), introducing a new understanding of the natural world."[133]

18th and 19th centuries

The national boundaries within Europe set by the Congress of Vienna

The Seven Years' War brought to an end the "Old System" of alliances in Europe. Consequently, when the American Revolutionary War turned into a global war between 1778 and 1783, Britain found itself opposed by a strong coalition of European powers, and lacking any substantial ally.[163]

The Age of Enlightenment was a powerful intellectual movement during the 18th century promoting scientific and reason-based thoughts.

Italy and Germany as nation-states from smaller principalities.[175]

In parallel, the

Great Powers struggled to safeguard their strategic and commercial interests in the Ottoman domains. The Russian Empire stood to benefit from the decline, whereas the Habsburg Empire and Britain perceived the preservation of the Ottoman Empire to be in their best interests. Meanwhile, the Serbian Revolution (1804) and Greek War of Independence (1821) marked the beginning of the end of Ottoman rule in the Balkans, which ended with the Balkan Wars in 1912–1913.[176] Formal recognition of the de facto independent principalities of Montenegro, Serbia and Romania ensued at the Congress of Berlin
in 1878.

Marshall's Temple Works (1840); the Industrial Revolution started in Great Britain.


Public Health Act of 1875 was passed, which significantly improved living conditions in many British cities.[180] Europe's population increased from about 100 million in 1700 to 400 million by 1900.[181] The last major famine recorded in Western Europe, the Great Famine of Ireland, caused death and mass emigration of millions of Irish people.[182] In the 19th century, 70 million people left Europe in migrations to various European colonies abroad and to the United States.[183] The industrial revolution also led to large population growth, and the share of the world population living in Europe reached a peak of slightly above 25% around the year 1913.[184][185]

20th century to the present

Map of European colonial empires throughout the world in 1914

Two world wars and an economic depression dominated the first half of the 20th century. The First World War was fought between 1914 and 1918. It started when

Entente Powers (France, Belgium, Serbia, Portugal, Russia, the United Kingdom, and later Italy, Greece, Romania, and the United States) and the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire). The war left more than 16 million civilians and military dead.[188] Over 60 million European soldiers were mobilised from 1914 to 1918.[189]

First World War
in 1914–1918

Russia was plunged into the

forced labour. Stalin was also responsible for the Great Purge of 1937–38 in which the NKVD executed 681,692 people;[195] millions of people were deported and exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union.[196]

Serbian war efforts (1914–1918) cost the country one quarter of its population.[197][198][199][200][201]
Nazi Germany began the devastating Second World War in Europe by its leader, Adolf Hitler. Here Hitler, on the right, with his closest ally, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, in 1940.


Atatürk's Turkish Republic, adopting the Western alphabet and state secularism
. Economic instability, caused in part by debts incurred in the First World War and 'loans' to Germany played havoc in Europe in the late 1920s and 1930s. This, and the Wall Street Crash of 1929, brought about the worldwide Great Depression. Helped by the economic crisis, social instability and the threat of communism, fascist movements developed throughout Europe placing Adolf Hitler in power of what became Nazi Germany.[202][203]

In 1933, Hitler became the leader of Germany and began to work towards his goal of building Greater Germany. Germany re-expanded and took back the Saarland and Rhineland in 1935 and 1936. In 1938, Austria became a part of Germany following the Anschluss. Later that year, following the Munich Agreement signed by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, Germany annexed the Sudetenland, which was a part of Czechoslovakia inhabited by ethnic Germans, and in early 1939, the remainder of Czechoslovakia was split into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, controlled by Germany and the Slovak Republic. At the time, the United Kingdom and France preferred a policy of appeasement.

With tensions mounting between Germany and

European Theatre of the Second World War.[204][205][206] The Soviet invasion of Poland started on 17 September and Poland fell soon thereafter. On 24 September, the Soviet Union attacked the Baltic countries and, on 30 November, Finland, the latter of which was followed by the devastating Winter War for the Red Army.[207] The British hoped to land at Narvik and send troops to aid Finland, but their primary objective in the landing was to encircle Germany and cut the Germans off from Scandinavian resources. Around the same time, Germany moved troops into Denmark. The Phoney War

In May 1940, Germany attacked France through the Low Countries. France capitulated in June 1940. By August, Germany had begun a bombing offensive against the United Kingdom but failed to convince the Britons to give up.[208] In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.[209] On 7 December 1941 Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into the conflict as allies of the British Empire, and other allied forces.[210][211]

The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference in 1945; seated (from the left): Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin

After the staggering Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, the German offensive in the Soviet Union turned into a continual fallback. The Battle of Kursk, which involved the largest tank battle in history, was the last major German offensive on the Eastern Front. In June 1944, British and American forces invaded France in the D-Day landings, opening a new front against Germany. Berlin finally fell in 1945, ending the Second World War in Europe. The war was the largest and most destructive in human history, with 60 million dead across the world.[212] More than 40 million people in Europe had died as a result of the Second World War,[213] including between 11 and 17 million people who perished during the Holocaust.[214] The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people (mostly civilians) during the war, about half of all Second World War casualties.[215] By the end of the Second World War, Europe had more than 40 million refugees.[216][217][218] Several post-war expulsions in Central and Eastern Europe displaced a total of about 20 million people.[219]

The First World War, and especially the Second World War, diminished the eminence of Western Europe in world affairs. After the Second World War the map of Europe was redrawn at the

Berlin blockade in 1948 and 1949 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 were one of the great international crises of the Cold War.[221][222][223]

The two new

decolonisation, which had already started after the First World War, gradually resulted in the independence of most of the European colonies in Asia and Africa.[15]

Flag of Europe, adopted by the Council of Europe in 1955 as the flag for the whole of Europe[224]

In the 1980s the

Eastern bloc, the Warsaw Pact and other communist states collapsed, and the Cold War ended.[225][226][227] Germany was reunited, after the symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the maps of Central and Eastern Europe were redrawn once more.[228] This made old previously interrupted cultural and economic relationships possible, and previously isolated cities such as Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Trieste were now again in the centre of Europe.[202][229][230][231]

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.[234] Between 2004 and 2013, more Central European countries began joining, expanding the EU to 28 European countries and once more making Europe a major economical and political centre of power.[235] However, the United Kingdom withdrew from the EU on 31 January 2020, as a result of a June 2016 referendum on EU membership.[236] The Russo-Ukrainian conflict, which has been ongoing since 2014, steeply escalated when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, marking the largest humanitarian and refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War[237] and the Yugoslav Wars.[238]


Map of populous Europe and surrounding regions showing physical, political and population characteristics, as per 2018

Europe makes up the western fifth of the Eurasian landmass.[28] It has a higher ratio of coast to landmass than any other continent or subcontinent.[239] Its maritime borders consist of the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas to the south.[240] Land relief in Europe shows great variation within relatively small areas. The southern regions are more mountainous, while moving north the terrain descends from the high

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 the islands of Britain and Ireland, and then continues along the mountainous, fjord
-cut spine of Norway.

This description is simplified. Subregions such as the Iberian Peninsula and the Italian Peninsula contain their own complex features, as does mainland Central Europe 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 that 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.


dry steppe

Europe lies mainly in the

Atlantic ocean to Europe.[241]
The Gulf Stream is nicknamed "Europe's central heating", because it makes Europe's climate warmer and wetter than it would otherwise be. The Gulf Stream not only carries warm water to Europe's coast but also warms up the prevailing westerly winds that blow across the continent from the Atlantic Ocean.

Therefore, the average temperature throughout the year of Aveiro is 16 °C (61 °F), while it is only 13 °C (55 °F) in New York City which is almost on the same latitude, bordering the same ocean. Berlin, Germany; Calgary, Canada; and Irkutsk, in far south-eastern Russia, lie on around the same latitude; January temperatures in Berlin average around 8 °C (14 °F) higher than those in Calgary and they are almost 22 °C (40 °F) higher than average temperatures in Irkutsk.[241]

The large water masses of the

Sahara desert to the Alpine arc in its northernmost part of the Adriatic Sea near Trieste.[242]

In general, Europe is not just colder towards the north compared to the south, but it also gets colder from the west towards the east. The climate is more oceanic in the west and less so in the east. This can be illustrated by the following table of average temperatures at locations roughly following the 64th, 60th, 55th, 50th, 45th and 40th

. None of them is located at high altitude; most of them are close to the sea.

Köppen-Geiger climate classification map for Europe[243]
Temperatures in °C
Location Latitude Longitude Coldest
Reykjavík 64 N 22 W 0.1 11.2 4.7
Umeå 64 N 20 E −6.2 16.0 3.9
Oulu 65 N 25.5 E −9.6 16.5 2.7
Arkhangelsk 64.5 N 40.5 E −12.7 16.3 1.3
Lerwick 60 N 1 W 3.5 12.4 7.4
Stockholm 59.5 N 19 E −1.7 18.4 7.4
Helsinki 60 N 25 E −4.7 17.8 5.9
Saint Petersburg 60 N 30 E −5.8 18.8 5.8
Edinburgh 55.5 N 3 W 4.2 15.3 9.3
Copenhagen 55.5 N 12 E 1.4 18.1 9.1
Klaipėda 55.5 N 21 E −1.3 17.9 8.0
Moscow 55.5 N 30 E −6.5 19.2 5.8
Isles of Scilly 50 N 6 W 7.9 16.9 11.8
Brussels 50.5 N 4 E 3.3 18.4 10.5
Kraków 50 N 20 E −2.0 19.2 8.7
Kyiv 50.5 N 30 E −3.5 20.5 8.4
Bordeaux 45 N 0 6.6 21.4 13.8
Venice 45.5 N 12 E 3.3 23.0 13.0
Belgrade 45 N 20 E 1.4 23.0 12.5
Astrakhan 46 N 48 E −3.7 25.6 10.5
Coimbra 40 N 8 W 9.9 21.9 16.0
Valencia 39.5 N 0 11.9 26.1 18.3
Naples 40.5 N 14 E 8.7 24.9 15.9
Istanbul 41 N 29 E 5.5 23.4 13.9

[244] It is notable how the average temperatures for the coldest month, as well as the annual average temperatures, drop from the west to the east. For instance, Edinburgh is warmer than Belgrade during the coldest month of the year, although Belgrade is around 10° of latitude farther south.

Climate change

°C to prevent the most dangerous consequences of climate change; without reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, this could happen before 2050.[247][248] Climate change
has implications for all regions of Europe, with the extent and nature of impacts varying across the continent. Impacts on European countries include warmer weather and increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather such as heat waves, bringing health risks and impacts on ecosystems. European countries are major contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, although the European Union and governments of several countries have outlined plans to implement climate change mitigation and an energy transition in the 21st century, the European Green Deal being one of these. The European Union commissioner of climate action is Frans Timmermans since 1 December 2019.[249]


Surficial geology of Europe

The geological history of Europe traces back to the formation of the

late Tertiary period about five million years ago.[250]

The 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.[251] Europe's most significant feature is the dichotomy between highland and mountainous Southern Europe and a vast, partially underwater, northern plain ranging from Ireland in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east. These two halves are separated by the mountain chains of the 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.

The northern plain contains the old geological continent of

microcontinent Avalonia


Land use map of Europe with arable farmland (yellow), forest (dark green), pasture (light green) and tundra, or bogs, in the north (dark yellow)

Having lived side by side with agricultural peoples for millennia, Europe's animals and plants have been profoundly affected by the presence and activities of humans. With the exception of Fennoscandia and northern Russia, few areas of untouched wilderness are currently found in Europe, except for various national parks.

The 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 has a warm but mild climate. There are frequent summer droughts in this region. Mountain ridges also affect the conditions. Some of these, such as the Alps and the 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 the 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 preagricultural forest habitat caused disruption to the original plant and animal ecosystems.

Floristic regions of Europe and neighbouring areas, according to Wolfgang Frey and Rainer Lösch

Possibly 80 to 90 percent of Europe was once covered by forest.

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, while in its Western Russia its 5–10%. The European country with the smallest percentage of forested area is Iceland (1%), while the most forested country is Finland (77%).[253]

In 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 sprucepinebirch 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 is also 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 westwards from Ukraine and southern Russia and ends in Hungary and traverses into taiga to the north.


Biogeographic regions of Europe and bordering regions

Glaciation during 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 Central and Eastern Europe and in the Balkans, with a handful of packs in pockets of Western Europe
(Scandinavia, Spain, etc.).

Once roaming the great temperate forests of Eurasia, European bison now live in nature preserves in Białowieża Forest, on the border between Poland and Belarus.[254][255]

Other carnivores include the European wildcat, red fox and arctic fox, the golden jackal, different species of martens, the European hedgehog, different species of reptiles (like snakes such as vipers and grass snakes) and amphibians, as well as different birds (owls, hawks and other birds of prey).

Important European herbivores are snails, larvae, fish, different birds and mammals, like rodents, deer and roe deer, boars and living in the mountains, marmots, steinbocks, chamois among others. A number of insects, such as the small tortoiseshell butterfly, add to the biodiversity.[256]

Sea creatures are also an important part of European flora and fauna. The sea flora is mainly


Biodiversity is protected in Europe through the Council of Europe's

European Community
as well as non-European states.


European Political CommunitySchengen AreaCouncil of EuropeEuropean UnionEuropean Economic AreaEurozoneEuropean Union Customs UnionEuropean Free Trade AssociationNordic CouncilVisegrád GroupBaltic AssemblyBeneluxGUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic DevelopmentCentral European Free Trade AgreementOrganization of the Black Sea Economic CooperationUnion StateCommon Travel AreaInternational status and usage of the euro#Sovereign statesSwitzerlandLiechtensteinIcelandNorwaySwedenDenmarkFinlandPolandCzech RepublicHungarySlovakiaBulgariaRomaniaGreeceEstoniaLatviaLithuaniaBelgiumNetherlandsLuxembourgItalyFranceSpainAustriaGermanyPortugalSloveniaMaltaCroatiaCyprusRepublic of IrelandUnited KingdomTurkeyMonacoAndorraSan MarinoVatican CityGeorgia (country)UkraineAzerbaijanMoldovaBosnia and HerzegovinaArmeniaMontenegroNorth MacedoniaAlbaniaSerbiaKosovoRussiaBelarus
A clickable Euler diagram[file] showing the relationships between various multinational European organisations and agreements

The political map of Europe is substantially derived from the re-organisation of Europe following the

parliamentary democracy, in most cases in the form of Republic; in 1815, the prevalent form of government was still the Monarchy. Europe's remaining eleven monarchies[257] are constitutional

Second World War. The European Union has been the focus of economic integration on the continent since its foundation in 1993. More recently, the Eurasian Economic Union
has been established as a counterpart comprising former Soviet states.

27 European states are members of the politico-economic European Union, 26 of the border-free Schengen Area and 20 of the monetary union Eurozone. Among the smaller European organisations are the Nordic Council, the Benelux, the Baltic Assembly and the Visegrád Group.

The least

V-Dem Democracy indices.[258]

List of states and territories

This list includes all internationally recognised sovereign countries falling even partially under any common geographical or political definitions of Europe.

Arms Flag Name



(per km2)
Capital Name(s) in official language(s)
Albania Albania Albania 28,748 2,876,591 98.5 Tirana Shqipëria
Andorra Andorra Andorra 468 77,281 179.8 Andorra la Vella Andorra
Armenia Armenia Armenia[j] 29,743 2,924,816 101.5 Yerevan Հայաստան (Hayastan)
Austria Austria Austria 83,858 8,823,054 104 Vienna Österreich
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Azerbaijan[k] 86,600 9,911,646 113 Baku Azərbaycan
Belarus Belarus Belarus 207,560 9,504,700 45.8 Minsk Беларусь (Belaruś)
Belgium Belgium Belgium 30,528 11,358,357 372.06 Brussels België/Belgique/Belgien
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 51,129 3,531,159 68.97 Sarajevo Bosna i Hercegovina/Боснa и Херцеговина
Bulgaria Bulgaria Bulgaria 110,910 7,101,859 64.9 Sofia България (Bǎlgariya)
Croatia Croatia Croatia 56,594 3,871,833 68.4 Zagreb Hrvatska
Cyprus Cyprus Cyprus[d] 9,251 1,170,125 123.4 Nicosia Κύπρος (Kýpros)/Kıbrıs
Czech Republic Czech Republic Czech Republic 78,866 10,610,947 134 Prague Česko
Denmark Denmark Denmark 43,094 5,748,796 133.9 Copenhagen Danmark
Estonia Estonia Estonia 45,226 1,328,439 30.5 Tallinn Eesti
Finland Finland Finland 338,455 5,509,717 16 Helsinki Suomi/Finland
France France France[g] 547,030 67,348,000 116 Paris France
Georgia (country) Georgia (country) Georgia[l] 69,700 3,718,200 53.5 Tbilisi საქართველო (Sakartvelo)
Germany Germany Germany 357,168 82,800,000 232 Berlin Deutschland
Greece Greece Greece 131,957 10,297,760 82 Athens Ελλάδα (Elláda)
Hungary Hungary Hungary 93,030 9,797,561 105.3 Budapest Magyarország
Iceland Iceland Iceland 103,000 350,710 3.2 Reykjavík Ísland
Ireland Republic of Ireland Ireland 70,280 4,761,865 67.7 Dublin Éire/Ireland
Italy Italy Italy 301,338 60,589,445 201.3 Rome Italia
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Kazakhstan[i] 148,000 17,987,736 6.49 Astana Қазақстан/Казахстан (Qazaqstan/Kazakhstan)
Latvia Latvia Latvia 64,589 1,907,675 29 Riga Latvija
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Liechtenstein 160 38,111 227 Vaduz Liechtenstein
Lithuania Lithuania Lithuania 65,300 2,800,667 45.8 Vilnius Lietuva
Luxembourg Luxembourg Luxembourg 2,586 602,005 233.7 Luxembourg City Lëtzebuerg/Luxemburg/Luxembourg
Malta Malta Malta 316 445,426 1,410 Valletta Malta
Moldova Moldova Moldova[a] 33,846 3,434,547 101.5 Chișinău Moldova
Monaco Monaco Monaco 2.020 38,400 18,713 Monaco Monaco
Montenegro Montenegro Montenegro 13,812 642,550 45.0 Podgorica Crna Gora/Црна Гора
Netherlands Netherlands Netherlands[h] 41,543 17,271,990 414.9 Amsterdam Nederland
North Macedonia North Macedonia North Macedonia 25,713 2,103,721 80.1 Skopje Северна Македонија (Severna Makedonija)
Norway Norway Norway 385,203 5,295,619 15.8 Oslo Norge/Noreg/Norga
Poland Poland Poland 312,685 38,422,346 123.5 Warsaw Polska
Portugal Portugal Portugal[e] 92,212 10,379,537 115 Lisbon Portugal
Romania Romania Romania 238,397 18,999,642 84.4 Bucharest România
Russia Russia Russia[b] 3,969,100 144,526,636 8.4 Moscow Россия (Rossiya)
San Marino San Marino San Marino 61.2 33,285 520 San Marino San Marino
Serbia Serbia Serbia[f] 88,361 7,040,272 91.1 Belgrade Srbija/Србија
Slovakia Slovakia Slovakia 49,035 5,435,343 111.0 Bratislava Slovensko
Slovenia Slovenia Slovenia 20,273 2,066,880 101.8 Ljubljana Slovenija
Spain Spain Spain 505,990 48,692,804 97 Madrid España
Sweden Sweden Sweden 450,295 10,151,588 22.5 Stockholm Sverige
Switzerland Switzerland Switzerland 41,285 8,401,120 202 Bern Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera/Svizra
Turkey Turkey[m] 23,764 84,680,273 106.7 Ankara Türkiye
Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine[s] 603,628 42,418,235 73.8 Kyiv Україна (Ukraina)
United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom 244,820 66,040,229 270.7 London United Kingdom
Vatican City Vatican City Vatican City 0.44 1,000 2,272 Vatican City Città del Vaticano/Civitas Vaticana
Total 50 10,180,000[n] 743,000,000[n] 73

Within the above-mentioned states are several de facto independent countries with limited to no international recognition. None of them are members of the UN:

Symbol Flag Name


Population density

(per km2)
Abkhazia Abkhazia Abkhazia[p] 8,660 243,206 28 Sukhumi
Kosovo Kosovo Kosovo[o] 10,908 1,920,079 159 Pristina
Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus[d] 3,355 313,626 93 Nicosia (northern part)
South Ossetia South Ossetia South Ossetia[p] 3,900 53,532 13.7 Tskhinvali
Transnistria Transnistria Transnistria[a] 4,163 475,665 114 Tiraspol

Several dependencies and similar territories with broad autonomy are also found within or close to Europe. This includes

autonomous county of Finland), two autonomous territories of the Kingdom of Denmark (other than Denmark proper), three Crown Dependencies and two British Overseas Territories. Svalbard is also included due to its unique status within Norway, although it is not autonomous. Not included are the three countries of the United Kingdom with devolved powers and the two Autonomous Regions of Portugal, which despite having a unique degree of autonomy, are not largely self-governing in matters other than international affairs. Areas with little more than a unique tax status, such as the Canary Islands and Heligoland
, are also not included for this reason.

Symbol Flag Name Sovereign


(per km2)
Akrotiri and Dhekelia Akrotiri and Dhekelia UK 255 7,700 30.2 Episkopi Cantonment
Åland Åland Åland Finland 1,580 29,489 18.36 Mariehamn
Bailiwick of Guernsey Bailiwick of Guernsey[c] UK 78 65,849 844.0
St. Peter Port
Jersey Jersey Bailiwick of Jersey[c] UK 118.2 100,080 819
Saint Helier
Faroe Islands Faroe Islands Faroe Islands Denmark 1,399 50,778 35.2 Tórshavn
Gibraltar Gibraltar Gibraltar UK 6.7 32,194 4,328 Gibraltar
Greenland Greenland Greenland Denmark[r] 2,166,086 55,877 0.028 Nuuk
Isle of Man Isle of Man Isle of Man[c] UK 572 83,314 148 Douglas
Svalbard Svalbard Norway 61,022 2,667


GDP (PPP) per capita of European countries in 2024
     >$60,000      $50,000 – $60,000
     $40,000 – $50,000      $30,000 – $40,000
     $20,000 – $30,000      $10,000 – $20,000

As a continent, the economy of Europe is currently the largest on Earth and it is the richest region as measured by assets under management with over $32.7 trillion compared to North America's $27.1 trillion in 2008.

collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia

The model of the Blue Banana was designed as an economic geographic representation of the respective economic power of the regions, which was further developed into the Golden Banana or Blue Star. The trade between East and West, as well as towards Asia, which had been disrupted for a long time by the two world wars, new borders and the Cold War, increased sharply after 1989. In addition, there is new impetus from the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative across the Suez Canal towards Africa and Asia.[261]

The European Union, a political entity composed of 27 European states, comprises the largest single economic area in the world. Nineteen EU countries share the euro as a common currency. Five European countries rank in the top ten of the world's largest national economies in GDP (PPP). This includes (ranks according to the CIA): Germany (6), Russia (7), the United Kingdom (10), France (11) and Italy (13).[262]

Some European countries are much richer than others. The richest in terms of nominal GDP is Monaco with its US$185,829 per capita (2018) and the poorest is Ukraine with its US$3,659 per capita (2019).[263]

As a whole, Europe's GDP per capita is US$21,767 according to a 2016 International Monetary Fund assessment.[264]

Rank Country
GDP (nominal, Peak Year)
millions of USD
Peak Year
 European Union[265] 19,226,235 2008
1  Germany 4,591,100 2024
2  United Kingdom 3,495,261 2024
3  France 3,130,014 2024
4  Italy[266] 2,408,655 2008
5  Russia[267] 2,292,470 2013
6  Spain 1,647,114 2024
7  Netherlands 1,142,513 2024
8  Turkey 1,113,561 2024
9   Switzerland 938,458 2024
10  Poland 44,623 2024
Rank Country GDP (PPP, Peak Year)
millions of USD
Peak Year
 European Union[268] 26,308,203 2024
1  Germany 5,686,531 2024
2  Russia 5,472,880 2024
3  United Kingdom 4,029,438 2024
4  France 3,987,911 2024
5  Turkey 3,831,533 2024
6  Italy 3,347,103 2024
7  Spain 2,516,376 2024
8  Poland 1,800,540 2024
9  Netherlands 1,329,039 2024
10  Romania 823,586 2022

Economic history

Industrial growth (1760–1945)

Capitalism has been dominant in the Western world since the end of feudalism.[269] From Britain, it gradually spread throughout Europe.[270] The Industrial Revolution started in Europe, specifically the United Kingdom in the late 18th century,[271] and the 19th century saw Western Europe industrialise. Economies were disrupted by the First World War, but by the beginning of the Second World War, they had recovered and were having to compete with the growing economic strength of the United States. The Second World War, again, damaged much of Europe's industries.

Cold War (1945–1991)
Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
Eurozone (blue colour)

After the Second World War the economy of the UK was in a state of ruin,

Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON).[276]

The states which retained a

European Community
was expanded from 6 founding members to 12. The emphasis placed on resurrecting the West German economy led to it overtaking the UK as Europe's largest economy.

Reunification (1991–present)
One of Kosovo's main economical sources is mining, because it has large reserves of lead, zinc, silver, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron and bauxite.[278] Miners at the Trepča Mines in Mitrovica, Kosovo in 2011.

With the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1991, the post-socialist states underwent shock therapy measures to liberalise their economies and implement free market reforms.

After East and West Germany were reunited in 1990, the economy of West Germany struggled as it had to support and largely rebuild the infrastructure of East Germany, while the latter experienced sudden mass unemployment and plummeting of industrial production.

By the millennium change, the EU dominated the economy of Europe, comprising the five largest European economies of the time: Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain. In 1999, 12 of the 15 members of the EU joined the Eurozone, replacing their national currencies by the euro.

Figures released by

sovereign debt crisis[281] developed concerning some countries in Europe, especially Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal.[282] As a result, measures were taken, especially for Greece, by the leading countries of the Eurozone.[283] The EU-27 unemployment rate was 10.3% in 2012. For those aged 15–24 it was 22.4%.[284]


Population growth in and around Europe in 2021[285]

The population of Europe was about 742 million in 2023 according to UN estimates.[2][3] This is slightly more than one ninth of the world's population.[v] The population density of Europe (the number of people per area) is the second highest of any continent, behind Asia. The population of Europe is currently slowly decreasing, by about 0.2% per year,[286] because there are fewer births than deaths. This natural decrease in population is reduced by the fact that more people migrate to Europe from other continents than vice versa.

Southern Europe and Western Europe are the regions with the highest average number of elderly people in the world. In 2021, the percentage of people over 65 years old was 21% in Western Europe and Southern Europe, compared to 19% in all of Europe and 10% in the world.[287] Projections suggest that by 2050 Europe will reach 30%.[288] This is caused by the fact that the population has been having children below replacement level since the 1970s. The United Nations predicts that Europe will decline its population between 2022 and 2050 by −7 per cent, without changing immigration movements.[289]

According to a population projection of the UN Population Division, Europe's population may fall to between 680 and 720 million people by 2050, which would be 7% of the world population at that time.

children per female of child-bearing age is 1.52, far below the replacement rate.[291] The UN predicts a steady population decline in Central and Eastern Europe as a result of emigration and low birth rates.[292]

Ethnic groups

Pan and Pfeil (2004) count 87 distinct "peoples of Europe", of which 33 form the majority population in at least one sovereign state, while the remaining 54 constitute

ethnic minorities.[293]


Map showing areas of European settlement (people who claim full European descent)

Europe is home to the highest number of migrants of all global regions at nearly 87 million people in 2020, according to the

International Organisation for Migration.[294] In 2005, the EU had an overall net gain from immigration of 1.8 million people. This accounted for almost 85% of Europe's total population growth.[295] In 2021, 827,000 persons were given citizenship of an EU member state, an increase of about 14% compared with 2020.[296] 2.3 million immigrants from non-EU countries entered the EU in 2021.[296]

Early modern

emigration from Europe began with Spanish and Portuguese settlers in the 16th century,[297][298] and French and English settlers in the 17th century.[299] But numbers remained relatively small until waves of mass emigration in the 19th century, when millions of poor families left Europe.[300]


population of European origins). Australia and New Zealand have large European-derived populations. Africa has no countries with European-derived majorities (or with the exception of Cape Verde and probably São Tomé and Príncipe, depending on context), but there are significant minorities, such as the White South Africans in South Africa. In Asia, European-derived populations, specifically Russians, predominate in North Asia and some parts of Northern Kazakhstan.[301] Also in Asia, Europeans, especially the Spanish are an influential minority population in the Philippines.[302][303]


List of European languages by number of speakers

Europe has about 225 indigenous languages,

English, for example). Other Indo-European languages outside the three main groups include the Baltic group (Latvian and Lithuanian), the Celtic group (Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton[250]), Greek, Armenian and Albanian

A distinct non-Indo-European family of

Semitic language that is official within the EU, while Basque is the only European language isolate

Multilingualism and the protection of regional and minority languages are recognised 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 according to the Global Religious Landscape survey by the Pew Forum, 2016[8]

  Christianity (76.2%)
  No religion (18.3%)
  Islam (4.9%)
  Buddhism (0.2%)
  Hinduism (0.2%)
  Folk religion (0.1%)
  Other religions (0.1%)

The largest religion in Europe is

identity.[307][308][309] Today, a bit over 25% of the world's Christians live in Europe.[310]

Balkan peninsula in Southeastern Europe, Islam instead of Christianity is the majority religion. This is also the case in Turkey and in certain parts of Russia, as well as in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, all of which are at the border to Asia.[311] Many countries in Europe are home to a sizeable Muslim minority, and immigration to Europe
has increased the number of Muslim people in Europe in recent years.


Jewish population in Europe, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany and Russia.[8]

Other religions practiced in Europe include

Republic of Kalmykia
, where Tibetan Buddhism is the majority religion.

A large and increasing number of people in Europe are irreligious, atheist and agnostic. They are estimated to make up about 18.3% of Europe's population currently.[8]

Major cities and urban areas

The three largest urban areas of Europe are Moscow, London and Paris. All have over 10 million residents,[317] and as such have been described as megacities.[318] While Istanbul has the highest total city population, it lies partly in Asia. 64.9% of the residents live on the European side and 35.1% on the Asian side. The next largest cities in order of population are Madrid, Saint Petersburg, Milan, Barcelona, Berlin, and Rome each having over three million residents.[317]

When considering the commuter belts or metropolitan areas within Europe (for which comparable data is available), Moscow covers the largest population, followed in order by Istanbul, London, Paris, Madrid, Milan, Ruhr Area, Saint Petersburg, Rhein-Süd, Barcelona and Berlin.[319]


Map purportedly displaying the European continent split along cultural and state borders as proposed by the German organisation Ständiger Ausschuss für geographische Namen (StAGN)

"Europe" as a cultural concept is substantially derived from the shared heritage of

Latin Christendom), as established or defended throughout the medieval and early modern history of Europe, especially against Islam, as in the Reconquista and the Ottoman wars in Europe.[320]

This shared cultural heritage is combined by overlapping indigenous national cultures and folklores, roughly divided into

Celtic). Historically, special examples with overlapping cultures are Strasbourg with Latin (Romance) and Germanic, or Trieste
with Latin, Slavic and Germanic roots. Cultural contacts and mixtures shape a large part of the regional cultures of Europe. Europe is often described as "maximum cultural diversity with minimal geographical distances".

Different cultural events are organised in Europe, with the aim of bringing different cultures closer together and raising awareness of their importance, such as the European Capital of Culture, the European Region of Gastronomy, the European Youth Capital and the European Capital of Sport.


Football is by far the most popular sport in Europe. This picture shows Camp Nou in Barcelona before the 2023 renovation works started.

Sport in Europe tends to be highly organized with many sports having professional leagues.

The origins of many of the world's most popular sports today lie in the codification of many traditional games, especially in the United Kingdom. However, a paradoxical feature of European sport is the extent to which local, regional and national variations continue to exist, and even in some instances to predominate.[321]

Social dimension

In Europe many people are unable to access basic social conditions, which makes it harder for them to thrive and flourish. Access to basic necessities can be compromised, for example 10% of Europeans spend at least 40% of household income on housing. 75 million Europeans feel

essential workers.[322]

See also


  1. ^ a b
    Transnistria, internationally recognised as being a legal part of the Republic of Moldova, although de facto control is exercised by its internationally unrecognised government which declared independence from Moldova in 1990.
  2. ^
    Russia is a transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. The vast majority of its population (80%) lives within its European part.[323] However, only the population figure includes the entire state.
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^
    Western Asia; it has strong historical and sociopolitical connections with Europe. The population and area figures refer to the entire state, including the de facto independent part Northern Cyprus
    which is not recognised as a sovereign nation by the vast majority of sovereign nations, nor the UN.
  • Northern Atlantic
  • ^
    Area figure for Serbia includes Kosovo, a province that unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, and whose sovereign status is unclear. Population and density figures are from the first results of 2011 census and are given without the disputed territory of Kosovo.
  • ^
    Figures for France include only metropolitan France: some politically integral parts of France are geographically located outside Europe.
  • ^
    Netherlands population for November 2014. Population and area details include European portion only: Netherlands and three entities outside Europe (Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, in the Caribbean) constitute the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is the official capital, while The Hague is the administrative seat.
  • Ural River
    . However, only the population figure refers to the entire country.
  • Western Asia
    ; it has strong historical and sociopolitical connections with Europe. The population and area figures include the entire state, respectively.
  • achieved, independence. Nevertheless, it is not recognised de jure by sovereign states
  • ^
    Georgia can be considered part of Eastern Europe or West Asia; it has strong historical and sociopolitical connections with Europe.[325] The population and area figures include Georgian estimates for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two regions that have declared and de facto achieved independence. International recognition, however, is limited.
  • ^
    Turkey is physiographically considered a transcontinental country, mostly in Western Asia (the Middle East). Turkey has a small part of its territory (3%) in Southeast Europe called Turkish Thrace.[326] However, only the population figure includes the entire state.
  • ^ a b c d
    The total figures for area and population include only European portions of transcontinental countries. The precision of these figures is compromised by the ambiguous geographical extent of Europe and the lack of references for European portions of transcontinental countries.
  • unclear
    . Its population is July 2009 CIA estimate.
  • ^ a b
    Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which can be considered part of Eastern Europe or West Asia[327] unilaterally declared their independence from Georgia on 25 August 1990 and 28 November 1991, respectively. Their status as sovereign nations is not recognised by a vast majority of sovereign nations, nor the UN. Population figures stated as of 2003 census and 2000 estimates, respectively.
  • ^
    Nagorno-Karabakh, which can be considered part of Eastern Europe or West Asia, unilaterally declared its independence from Azerbaijan on 6 January 1992. Its status as a sovereign nation is not recognised by any sovereign nation, nor the UN. Population figures stated as of 2003 census and 2000 estimates, respectively.
  • ^
    Greenland, an autonomous constituent country within the Danish Realm, is geographically a part of the continent of North America, but has been politically and culturally associated with Europe.
  • ^ a b
    The Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic are internationally recognised as being a legal part of Ukraine, although de facto control is exercised by governments which declared independence from Ukraine in 2014.
  • ^
    Europe is normally considered its own continent in the English-speaking world, which uses the seven continent model.[328][329] Other models consider Europe as part of a Eurasian or Afro-Eurasian continent. See Continent § Number for more information.
  • territories lying geographically outside Europe
    , but which are nevertheless considered integral parts of that country.
  • ^
    This number includes Siberia, (about 38 million people) but excludes European Turkey (about 12 million)
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