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Portal:Europe

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Main   Geography   Projects


Europe is a continent that comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia. Europe is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. To the east and southeast, Europe is generally considered as separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways of the Turkish Straits. Yet the non-oceanic borders of Europe—a concept dating back to classical antiquity—are arbitrary. The primarily physiographic term "continent" as applied to Europe also incorporates cultural and political elements whose discontinuities are not always reflected by the continent's current overland boundaries.

Europe covers about 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 sq mi), or 2% of the Earth's surface (6.8% of land area). Politically, Europe is divided into about fifty sovereign states of which the Russian Federation is the largest and most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population. Europe had a total population of about 740 million (about 11% of world population) as of 2012.


The history of Europe covers the peoples inhabiting the European continent from prehistory to the present. Some of the best-known civilizations of prehistoric Europe were the Minoan and the Mycenaean, which flourished during the Bronze Age until they collapsed in a short period of time around 1200 BC. The period known as classical antiquity began with the emergence of the city-states of Ancient Greece. After ultimately checking the Persian advance in Europe through the Greco-Persian Wars in the 5th century BC, Greek influence reached its zenith under the expansive empire of Alexander the Great, spreading throughout Asia, Africa, and other parts of Europe. The Roman Empire came to dominate the entire Mediterranean basin in a vast empire based on Roman law. By 300 AD the Roman Empire was divided into the Western and Eastern empires. During the 4th and 5th centuries, the Germanic peoples of northern Europe grew in strength and repeated attacks led to the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. AD 476 traditionally marks the end of the classical period and the start of the Middle Ages.

The culture of Europe is rooted in the art, architecture, music, literature, and philosophy that originated from the European cultural region. European culture is largely rooted in what is often referred to as its "common cultural heritage".

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. In 2009 Europe remained the wealthiest region. Its $37.1 trillion in assets under management represented one-third of the world's wealth. It was one of several regions where wealth surpassed its precrisis year-end peak. As with other continents, Europe has a large variation of wealth among its countries. The richer states tend to be in the West; some of the Central and Eastern European economies are still emerging from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Featured panorama

Jökulsárlón, Iceland
Credit: Ira Goldstein

Jökulsárlón is a large glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland, on the borders of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of Breiðamerkurjökull, it evolved into a lagoon after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It now stands 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi). It recently became the deepest lake in Iceland at over 248 metres (814 ft) depth as glacial retreat extended its boundaries.



Featured article

A bowl of borscht garnished with dill and a dollop of smetana (sour cream)
Borscht is a sour soup popular in several Eastern European cuisines, including Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Belarusian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian, and Ashkenazi Jewish cuisines. The variety most commonly associated with the name in English is of Ukrainian origin and includes beetroots as one of the main ingredients, which gives the dish a distinctive red color. It shares the name, however, with a wide selection of sour-tasting soups without beetroots, such as sorrel-based green borscht, rye-based white borscht and cabbage borscht.

Borscht derives from an ancient soup originally cooked from pickled stems, leaves and umbels of common hogweed, a herbaceous plant growing in damp meadows, which lent the dish its Slavic name. With time, it evolved into a diverse array of tart soups, among which the beet-based red borscht has become the most popular. It is typically made by combining meat or bone stock with sautéed vegetables, which – as well as beetroots – usually include cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. Depending on the recipe, borscht may include meat or fish, or be purely vegetarian; it may be served either hot or cold; and it may range from a hearty one-pot meal to a clear broth or a smooth drink. It is often served with smetana or sour cream, hard-boiled eggs or potatoes, but there exists an ample choice of more involved garnishes and side dishes, such as uszka or pampushky, that can be served with the soup.


Featured portrait

Spanish football player David Villa celebrating after scoring a goal for Atlético de Madrid.
Credit: Carlos Delgado

David Villa is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a striker and also serves as captain for American club New York City FC. Before transferring to the United States, Villa played for a number of Spanish teams, including FC Barcelona, with whom he won his first La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles, Valencia CF, and Atlético de Madrid, shown here after scoring a goal.

Featured picture

An aerial view of the fortress
Credit: Godot13

The Peter and Paul Fortress (located on and fully occupying Zayachy Island), Saint Petersburg, Russia. Designed by Domenico Trezzini, the fortress was constructed from 1703–40. It is home to the Peter and Paul Cathedral and burial place of many of the Russian tsars.

Featured biography

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, c. 1914
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia (November 15 [O.S. November 3] 1895 – July 17, 1918) was the eldest daughter of the last Tsar of the Russian Empire, Emperor Nicholas II, and of Empress Alexandra of Russia.

During her lifetime, Olga's future marriage was the subject of great speculation within Russia. Matches were rumored with Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, Crown Prince Carol of Romania, Edward, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Britain's George V, and with Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia. Olga herself wanted to marry a Russian and remain in her home country. During World War I, Olga nursed wounded soldiers in a military hospital until her own nerves gave out and, thereafter, oversaw administrative duties at the hospital.

Olga's murder following the Russian Revolution of 1917 resulted in her canonization as a passion bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church. In later years, when dozens of people made claims to be surviving members of the imperial family, a woman named Marga Boodts claimed to be Grand Duchess Olga, but her claim was not taken seriously. Olga was assassinated along with her family at Yekaterinburg. Her remains were identified through DNA testing and were buried during a funeral ceremony in 1998 at Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg along with those of her parents and two of her sisters.


Featured location

World largest Orthodox Church located in Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. Its name translates to "White city". The urban area of the City of Belgrade has a population of 1.34 million, while over 1.65 million people live within its administrative limits. One of the most important prehistoric cultures of Europe, the Vinča culture, evolved within the Belgrade area in the 6th millennium BC. In antiquity, Thraco-Dacians inhabited the region, and after 279 BC Celts conquered the city, naming it Singidūn.It was conquered by the Romans during the reign of Augustus, and awarded city rights in the mid-2nd century. It was settled by the Slavs in the 520s, and changed hands several times between the Byzantine Empire, Frankish Empire, Bulgarian Empire and Kingdom of Hungary before it became the capital of Serbian king Stephen Dragutin (1282–1316). In 1521, Belgrade was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and became the seat of the Sanjak of Smederevo.It frequently passed from Ottoman to Habsburg rule, which saw the destruction of most of the city during the Austro-Ottoman wars. Belgrade was again named the capital of Serbia in 1841. Northern Belgrade remained the southernmost Habsburg post until 1918, when the city was reunited. As a strategic location, the city was battled over in 115 wars and razed to the ground 44 times.


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