FACTS ABOUT EUROPE
Europe is the world’s second-smallest continent but has the second-largest population. The landscape ranges from the frozen tundra and forests of the north to the hot, dry hills of the Mediterranean region. Vast fertile grasslands stretch between the mountains of the Alps in the west and the Ural Mountains in the east, which separate Europe from Asia. Europe is a crowded continent, with over 40 different countries, and international conflicts in the past century have often erupted into war. Today, the majority of people live in cities and many enjoy a high standard of living, thanks to their countries’ abundant natural resources, successful agriculture, and modern industries.
Europe is where some of the world’s greatest cultures and civilizations originated. It is a diverse and interesting place; with many of its mysteries still being discovered by modern day historians and archeologists. If you’re a Europhile who wants to know more about your favorite continent, then read the fun, yet interestingly amazing Europe facts below.
Interesting About Europe:
- With a land area of only 4,000,000 square miles, Europe is the second smallest continent in the world, just behind Australia.
- Despite its relatively small size, Europe is quite populous. It comes right after Asia and Africa in terms of population.
- It might be the second smallest continent, but Europe is home to the largest country in the world. Russia is so big, in fact, that it takes up forty percent of Europe’s land area.
- Europe was the main location of several historical periods that made a huge impact on the world like the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution.
- When it comes to land area, Europe is only two percent bigger than Canada.
- The etymology for the word “Europe” is uncertain up to the present time. Some people like to think that it came from Europa, one of Zeus’s many wives in Greek mythology.
- The name “Europe” might have originated from the Greek word “eurus,” meaning wide or broad.
- Aside from “eurus,” the Greek word for wide, Europe might have also come from the ancient Syrian word for sunset, “ereb.”
- The first historians who first used “Europe” (or an ancient variant of the name thereof) as a geographical term was Hecataeus and Anaximander.
- The boundary between Asia and Europe changed a lot during the course of history. Anaximander and Herodotus placed the boundary near the Phasis (modern day Rioni) river, while Roman era historians like Ptolemy and Strabo placed it near Tanais (modern day Don) river.
- Europe is also called as Frangistan or “the land of the Franks” in the vernacular of some Turkic languages.
- Some of the world’s greatest empires were founded on European land. This includes the ancient Roman Empire (the cradle of modern civilization, according to some historians), and then later on, the British, Spanish, and Russian Empires.
- Aside from having the largest country in the world, Europe also has the smallest! The Vatican has a land area of only 0.44 square kilometers.
- There are more than 250 distinct languages spoken in Europe.
- The largest city in Europe is Istanbul, if transcontinental countries that straddle both Europe and Asia (like Turkey) is counted. Otherwise, Moscow is the largest, followed by Paris and London.
- Europe is part of Eurasia, a giant continental landmass consisting both of Europe and mainland Asia.
- Europe has many geopolitical divisions, some of which includes many countries that are more proximate to other continents. For example, Cyprus (which is nearer to West Asia) is considered as European. Sometimes, Israel can also be considered as part of geopolitical Europe as well.
- While Greenland is closer to North America, it is still considered as part of Europe because it is a dependent territory of Denmark.
- Transcontinental countries (i.e. countries that straddle both Asia and Europe), include Georgia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey.
- The entirety of Portugal is in Europe, but it has an autonomous region (Madeira) near Africa, and another (Azores) near North America. This would make Portugal a tricontinental country since it has territories in three continents
- Total land area: 4,053,309 sq miles (10,498,000 sq km)
- Total population: 696 million
- Number of countries: 43
- Largest country: Russian Federation (European section) 1,527,341 sq miles (3,955,818 sq km)
- Smallest country: Vatican City 0.17 sq miles (0.44 sq km)
- Largest country population: Russian Federation (whole country) 143 million
- Largest lake: Ladoga, Russian Federation 7,100 sq miles (18,390 sq km)
- Longest river: Volga, Russian Federation 2,290 miles (3,688 km)
- Highest point: El’brus, Caucasus Mountains, Russian Federation 18,510 ft (5,642 m)
The climate of Europe can be broadly divided into five different climate types:Deciduous forest – Four distinct seasons with warm summers and cold, wet winters. The trees shed their leaves in autumn.Coniferous forest – Also known as Taiga, cold and dry with snowy winters and warmer summers.Mediterranean – Warm to high temperatures with rainfall in the autumn and winter months.Grassland – Hot summers and cold winters with above average rainfall.Tundra – This area is characterised by a layer of permafrost (soil that has remained below freezing for at least two years. Winters are very cold, summers are warm and there is little rainfall.
There are 47 countries in Europe including Turkey and Russia which lie in both Europe and Asia.
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican City.
The plant life of Europe is characterised according to climatic region.
The deciduous forest region has a wealth of plant life and includes tall and short trees, shrubs, small plants and mosses. The picture (left) shows a deciduous forest region of Hungary.
The coniferous forest region contains trees such as pine, fir and spruce.
Due to the cold during the winter months, only short grasses and shrubs can survive in the tundra region.
The grassland region is characterised by large open areas of tall or short grass.
Plants found in the Mediterranean region have adapted to the differences in rainfall and temperature between winter and summer and include, palm trees, citrus trees, forest and scrub
Due to the density of population in Europe there are few areas of natural habitat remaining and many indigenous animals are now extinct or in danger of extinction.
Brown bears and wolves can be found in the northern coniferous forest regions.
Deer, foxes, hedgehogs, snakes and wild cats can be found in the deciduous forest regions.
Important Events and Dates in Modern European History
1341 (April 6) Petrarch crowned Poet Laureate. The Renaissance begins.
1397: Giovanni de Medici Moves to Florence: Giovanni de Medici, the papal banker, settles in
Florence and becomes a patron of the arts, beginning the Medici rule over Florence.
1401: Ghiberti awarded the Right to Sculpt the Doors of The Baptistry in Florence: It takes him
28 years to sculpt the bronze doors. The doors are one of the great treasures of the Renaissance.
1415 (About): The first known perspective picture was made by Brunelleschi with the help of a mirror. (Lost)
1420: The Papacy Returns to Rome from Avignon, France.
1425 or 1428: Masaccio completes “The Holy Trinity."
1429 Cosimo de Medici Takes Over Family Business: Cosimo takes complete control over Florence.
1447 Pope Nicholas V Ascends to the Throne: Becomes a great patron of the arts. Rome becomes a
1452 Leonardo Born near the town of Vinci, Italy.
1453 Gutenberg’s printing press.
1464 Lorenzo de Medici Ascends to Power in Florence: Rules until 1491. Florence reaches its greatest heights.
1471 Sixtus IV Becomes Pope: Undertakes successful projects; Known for corruption and nepotism.
1475 Michelangelo born in Caprese, Italy.
1478 The Spanish Inquisition begins.
1483 Raphael born in Urbino, Italy.
1486 Pico Della Mirandola publishes His Collection of 900 Treatises in which he expounds his belief in the
free will of man and the fact that individuals can commune with God without the need of priests.
1492: Rodrigo Borgia becomes Pope Alexander VI: Corrupt and manipulative. Nepotism rampant.
1492 Columbus encounters the Americas. Spain taken back from the Muslims.
1498 Leonardo completes The Last Supper.
1502 Leonardo completes the Mona Lisa.
1503 Pope Julius II: The Roman Golden Age begins. Addresses the moral degradation in the Papacy and
1504 Michelangelo’s David completed.
1508-1512 Michelangelo completes the Sistine Chapel Ceiling.
1510 – 1511 Raphael completes The School of Athens
1513 Pope Leo X: Son of Lorenzo de Medici, continues the Golden Age. A gifted administrator and patron of
1513 Niccolo Machiavelli Publishes The Prince: Considered by some the most influential political book of all
1517 Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses. The Reformation begins.
1520 Diet of Worms declares Martin Luther an outlaw.
1523 Pope Clement VII: He is an incompetent politician; His poor decisions lead to the sack of Rome.
1527 The Sack of Rome. The Renaissance ends.
1534 Act of Supremacy passed in England. Henry VIII becomes head of the Anglican Church
1545 Council of Trent begins. The Counter Reformation.
1588 Spanish Armada destroyed by the English. England moves toward supremacy.
1618-1648 The Thirty Years’ War (Protestants vs. Catholics) (Treaty of Westphalia ends the war)
1688-1689 Glorious Revolution in England. William and Mary of Orange replace James II and sign the English Bill of Rights
1643-1715 Era of Louis XIV, The Sun King.
1689-1725 Reign of Peter the Great in Russia
1690–1789 Age of Enlightenment
1756-1763 The Seven Years’ War – Treaty of Paris 1763
1775–1783 American Revolution (Declaration of Independence = 1776)
1760–1850 Era of the Industrial Revolution
1789 Ratification of the U. S. Constitution & start of George Washington’s presidency
1789-1799 Era of the French Revolution (Radical Stage = late 1792-1795)
1799 Napoleon comes to power
1805-1815 Napoleonic Wars are waged
1814-1815 The Congress of Vienna meets
1848 Revolutions break out across Western Europe (France, Austria, Italy & Germany)
1859 Darwin’s Origin of the Species
1861 – 1870 Italian Unification
1867 Creation of the Dual Monarchy of Austria – Hungary
1870-1871 Germany Unification & creation of Second Reich
1884-1885 Berlin Conference: Africa divided among European powers. (“Scramble for Africa”)
1894 Tsar Nicholas II comes to power in Russia; the last of the Romanov Emperors
1905 Sunday Bloody Revolution in Russia
1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated. WWI starts
1917 Bolshevik Revolutions in Russia
1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed (Russia withdraws from WW1)
1918 WWI ends
1919 Treaty of Versailles is signed
1918-1921 Russian Civil War (Reds vs. Whites)
1922 Mussolini comes to power in Italy and establishes the 1st Fascist government
1922 Russia officially becomes known as the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)
1923 Adolf Hitler leads the Beer Hall Putsch in Germany
1924 Lenin dies
1928 Stalin is firmly entrenched as the leader of USSR; begins the first of several 5 year plans
1929 Stock Market Crash in the US. The Great Depression begins
1933 Hitler comes to power in Germany
1938 Munich Conference (Peace in our time. . Neville Chamberlain)
1939 World War II starts with Germany’s invasion of Poland
1945 World War II ends (V-E Day, May 8, 1945 & V-J Day, August 15, 1945)
1945 First session of the United Nations is held
1945-1989 Cold War (U.S. vs. S.U. -begins and begins to end in Poland)
POST WW II Decolonization: European colonies become independent
1946 Winston Churchill gives the Iron Curtain speech
1948-1949 The Berlin Airlift
1949 USSR successfully tests its first atomic bomb
1953 Stalin dies and is succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev
1956 Hungarian revolt against the Soviet Union; it is crushed by the Soviets
1957 Rome Treaty is signed. The European Economic Community (EEC) is created
1957 Sputnik is launched by the Soviet Union; the first space satellite
1961 Berlin Wall built — dividing East and West Berlin
1961 Soviet Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space
1962 Cuban Missile Crisis — 90 miles off the coast of Florida
1963 Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is published
1964 Leonid Brezhnev becomes leader of the Soviet Union
1968 Prague Spring occurs in Czechoslovakia; it is crushed by the Soviets
1978 Pole Karol Wojtyla elected Pope
1979 Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister of England (The Iron Lady.)
1979 The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan (eventually becomes their own little Vietnam.)
1980 1st independent labor union in the Soviet Bloc (Solidarity — led by Lech Walesa of Poland)
1980 Ronald Reagan elected President of the US (calls the Soviet Union an evil empire.)
1985 Gorbachev becomes Soviet leader (implements policies of perestroika and glasnost)
1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident in the Soviet Union (specifically the Ukraine)
1989 Berlin Wall comes down
1989 The Velvet Revolution occurs in Czechoslovakia. Vaclav Havel becomes President
1989 The Soviet Union withdraws its forces from Afghanistan
1989 Romanian leader Nicolai Ceausescu is overthrown and killed
1990 Lech Walesa becomes President of Poland
1990 East Germany and West Germany reunify into one Germany
1991 Attempted coup attempt in the Soviet Union – The Soviet Union begins to disintegrate
1991 Boris Yeltsin becomes President of Russia
1991 Yugoslavia begins to break apart
1992 Maastricht Treaty signed
1999 Eurodollar becomes the single currency of the European Union (EU)
2001 Attack on the World Trade Center in NYC and the Pentagon