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Countries in Europe:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Czech Republic
San Marino
United Kingdom
Vatican city

Countries that I visited in Europe:

Austria Viena Innsbruck Salzburg

Belgium Brussels Brugges Ghent

Croatia Zagreb

Czech Republic Prague

Denmark Copenhagen

England London Stonehenge BathSalisbury Chichester
Torquay Exeter

Estonia Tallin

Finland Helsinki

France Paris Loira Castles Versailles

Germany Berlin Munich Dresden
Neuschwanstein Castle, Füsen

Hungary Budapest Veszprem
Szekesfehervar Esztergom

Netherland Amsterdam Utrech

Ireland Dublin

Italy Venice Rome Florence Milan Pisa

Latvia Riga Sigulda

Lithuania Trakai Vilnius

Luxembourg Luxembourg

Monaco Montecarlo

Poland Krakow Auschwitz Warsaw
Wroclaw Torun Poznan

Portugal Lisbon Sintra Fatima Estoril
Cascais Batalha

Scotland Edinburgh

Slovakia Bratislava Kosice

Slovenia Ljubljana Maribor Kranj
Bled Celje Ptuj Kamnik


Sweden Stockholm

Switzerland Bern Luzern Zurich

Europe is one of the six traditional continents of Earth. The westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, it is bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea, to the southeast by the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. To the east, Europe is generally divided from Asia by the water divide of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, and by the Caspian Sea.

Europe is the world's second-smallest continent in terms of area, covering about 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 sq mi) or 2% of the Earth's surface and about 6.8% of the planet's total land area. It hosts a large number of sovereign states (ca. 50), whose precise number depends on the underlying definition of Europe's border, as well as on the in- or exclusion of semi-recognized states. Of all European countries, Russia is the largest by both area and population, while the Vatican is the smallest. Europe is the third most populous continent after Asia and Africa with a population of 731,000,000 or about 11% of the world's population. According to UN population projection (medium variant), Europe's share will fall to 7% in 2050, numbering 653 million. However, Europe's borders and population are in dispute, as the term continent can refer to a cultural and political distinction or a physiographic one.

Europe is the birthplace of Western culture. European nations played a predominant role in global affairs from the 16th century onwards, especially after the beginning of colonization. By the 17th and 18th centuries European nations controlled most of Africa, the Americas, and large portions of Asia. World War I and World War II led to a decline in European dominance in world affairs as the United States and Soviet Union took prominence. The Cold War between those two superpowers divided Europe along the Iron Curtain. European integration led to the formation of the Council of Europe and the European Union in Western Europe, both of which have been expanding eastward since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.


Homo georgicus, which lived roughly 1.8 million years ago in Georgia, is the earliest hominid to have been discovered in Europe. Other hominid remains, dating back roughly 1 million years, have been discovered in Atapuerca, Spain. Neanderthal man (named for the Neander Valley in Germany) first migrated to Europe 150,000 years ago and disappeared from the fossil record about 30,000 years ago. The Neanderthals were supplanted by modern humans (Cro-Magnons), who appeared around 40,000 years ago. During the latter part of this era, a period of megalith construction took place, with many megalithic monuments such as Stonehenge being constructed throughout Europe.

In terms of human society, Prehistoric Europe was inhabited first by nomadic bands, subsequently followed by tribal cultures. Early city-states and states spread broadly from the Fertile Crescent outward around 5000 BC. This led to the various Persian empires and the city-states of Ancient Greece around 700 BC

Classical antiquity

Ancient Greece had a profound impact on Western civilization. Western democratic and individualistic culture are often attributed to Ancient Greece. The Greeks invented the polis, or city-state, which played a fundamental role in their concept of identity. These Greek political ideals were rediscovered in the late 18th century by European philosophers and idealists. Greece also generated many cultural contributions: in philosophy, humanism and rationalism under Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato; in history with Herodotus and Thucydides; in dramatic and narrative verse, starting with the epic poems of Homer; and in science with Pythagoras, Euclid, and Archimedes.

Another major influence on Europe came from the Roman Empire which left its mark on law, language, engineering, architecture, and government. During the pax romana, the Roman Empire expanded to encompass the entire Mediterranean Basin and much of Europe. Stoicism influenced emperors such as Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius, who all spent time on the Empire's northern border fighting Germanic, Pictish and Scottish tribes. Christianity was eventually legitimized by Constantine I after three centuries of imperial persecution.

Dark Ages

During the decline of the Roman Empire, Europe entered a long period of change arising from what historians call the "Age of Migrations". There were numerous invasions and migrations amongst the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Goths, Vandals, Huns, Franks, Angles, Saxons, and, later still, the Vikings and Normans. Renaissance thinkers such as Petrarch would later refer to this as the "Dark Ages". 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 Europe.

During the Dark Ages, the Western Roman Empire fell under the control of Celt, Slav and Germanic tribes. The Celtic tribes established their kingdoms in Gaul, the predecessor to the Frankish kingdoms that eventually became France. The Germanic and Slav tribes established their domains over Central and Eastern Europe respectively. Eventually the Frankish tribes were united under Clovis I. Charlemagne, a Frankish king of the Carolingian dynasty who had conquered most of Western Europe, was anointed "Holy Roman Emperor" by the Pope in 800. This led to the founding of the Holy Roman Empire, which eventually became centred in the German principalities of central Europe.

The Eastern Roman Empire became known in the west as the Byzantine Empire. Based in Constantinople, they viewed themselves as the natural successors to the Roman Empire. Emperor Justinian I presided over Constantinople's first golden age: he established a legal code, funded the construction of the Hagia Sophia and brought the Christian church under state control. Fatally weakened by the sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, the Byzantines fell in 1453 when they were conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

Middle Ages

The Middle Ages were dominated by the two upper echelons of the social structure: the nobility and the clergy. Feudalism developed in France in the Early Middle Ages and soon spread throughout Europe. The struggle between the nobility and the monarchy in England led to the writing of the Magna Carta and the establishment of a parliament. The primary source of culture in this period came from the Roman Catholic Church. Through monasteries and cathedral schools, the Church was responsible for education in much of Europe.

The Papacy reached the height of its power during the High Middle Ages. The 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. In Europe itself, the Church organized the Inquisition against heretics. In Spain, the Reconquista concluded with the fall of Granada in 1492, ending over seven centuries of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Kipchaks and the Pechenegs, caused a massive migration of Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north. Like many other parts of Eurasia, these territories were overrun by the Mongols. The invaders, later known as Tatars, formed the state of the Golden Horde, which ruled the southern and central expanses of Russia for over three centuries.

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 50 million people in Europe alone - a third of the European population at the time. This had a devastating effect on Europe's social structure; it induced people to live for the moment as illustrated by Giovanni Boccaccio in The Decameron (1353). It was a serious blow to the Roman Catholic Church and led to increased persecution of Jews, foreigners, beggars and lepers.

Early modern period

The Renaissance was a period of cultural change originating in Italy in the fourteenth century. The rise of a new humanism was accompanied by the recovery of forgotten classical and Arabic knowledge from monastic libraries and the Islamic world. The Renaissance spread across Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries: it saw the flowering of art, philosophy, music, and the sciences, under the joint patronage of royalty, the nobility, the Roman Catholic Church, and an emerging merchant class. Patrons in Italy, including the Medici family of Florentine bankers and the Popes in Rome, funded prolific quattrocento and cinquecento artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Political intrigue within the Church in the mid-14th century caused the Great Schism. During this forty-year period, two popes—one in Avignon and one in Rome—claimed rulership over the Church. Although the schism was eventually healed in 1417, the papacy's spiritual authority had suffered greatly. The Church's power was further weakened by the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther, a result of the lack of reform within the Church. The Reformation also damaged the Holy Roman Empire's power, as German princes became divided between Protestant and Roman Catholic faiths. This eventually led to the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), which crippled the Holy Roman Empire and devastated much of Germany. In the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia, France rose to predominance within Europe.

The Renaissance and the New Monarchs marked the start of an Age of Discovery, a period of exploration, invention, and scientific development. In the 15th century, Portugal and Spain, two of the greatest naval powers of the time, took the lead in exploring the world. Christopher Columbus reached the New World in 1492, and soon after the Spanish and Portuguese began establishing colonial empires in the Americas. France, the Netherlands and England soon followed in building large colonial empires with vast holdings in Africa, the Americas, and Asia.

18th and 19th centuries

The Age of Enlightenment was a powerful intellectual movement of the eighteenth century in which scientific and reason-based thought predominated. Discontent with the aristocracy and clergy's monopoly on political power in France resulted in the French Revolution and the establishment of the First Republic: the monarchy and many of the nobility perished during the initial reign of terror. Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power in the aftermath of the French Revolution and established the First French Empire that, during the Napoleonic Wars, grew to encompass large parts of Europe before collapsing in 1815 with the Battle of Waterloo.

Napoleonic rule resulted in the further dissemination of the ideals of the French Revolution, including that of nation-state, as well as the widespread adoption of the French model for administration, law and education. The Congress of Vienna was convened after Napoleon's downfall. It established a new balance of power in Europe centred on the five "great powers": the United Kingdom, France, Prussia, Habsburg Austria and Russia. This balance would remain in place until the Revolutions of 1848, during which liberal uprisings affected all of Europe except for Russia and Great Britain. The revolutions were eventually put down by more conservative elements and few reforms resulted. In 1867 the Austro-Hungarian empire was formed; and 1871 saw the unification of both Italy and Germany as nation-states from smaller principalities.

The Industrial Revolution started in Great Britain in the last part of the 18th century and spread throughout Europe. The invention and implementation of new technology resulted in rapid urban growth, mass employment and the rise of a new working class. Reforms in social and economic spheres followed, including the first laws on child labour, the legalization of Trade Unions and the abolition of slavery. In Britain the Public Health Act of 1875 was passed, which significantly improved living conditions in many British cities.

20th century to present

Two World Wars and an economic depression dominated the first half of the 20th century. World War I was fought between 1914 and 1918. It started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip. Most European nations were drawn into the war, which was fought between the Entente Powers (consisting of France, Russia and the United Kingdom (and by default its Empire), joined later by Italy and the United States) and the Central Powers (led by Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire). The War left around 40 million civilians and military dead. Over 60 million European soldiers were mobilized from 1914 – 1918. Partly as a result of its defeat Russia was plunged into the Russian Revolution, which threw down the Tsarist monarchy and replaced it with the communist Soviet Union. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire collapsed and broke up into separate nations, and many other nations had their borders redrawn. The Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended World War I in 1919, was harsh towards Germany, upon whom it placed full responsibility for the war and imposed heavy sanctions.

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 Fascist movements developed throughout Europe placing Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany, Francisco Franco of Spain and Benito Mussolini of Italy in power.

Driven by his ideals of war and power, Hitler started expanding Germany steadily after coming to authority in 1933. The Saarland was incorporated in 1935 and Austria with the so-called Anschluss in 1938. Later in 1938 the Sudetenland was annexed in a move that was highly contested by the other powers, but ultimately permitted in hopes of appeasing Hitler. In early 1939, the remainder of Czechoslovakia was split into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, incorporated in Nazi Germany, and the Slovac satellite state. The German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, prompted France and the United Kingdom to declare war to Germany on 3 September. The Soviet invasion of Poland and the Baltic countries started on 17 September. After occupying the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway quickly, Germany forced French capitulation in June 1940. However, the subsequent bombing offensive on Britain determined the first failure to Germany's bellicose operations. In 1941 Germany turned on their former Soviet allies with an ultimately unsuccessful invasion of the Soviet Union. On 7 December 1941 Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into the conflict as allies of the British Empire and other allied forces. After the staggering battle of Stalingrad in 1943, the German offensive on Soviet territory turned into a continual fallback. In 1944 British and American forces invaded France in the D-Day landings opening a second front on Germany. Berlin finally fell in 1945, ending World War II in Europe. The war was the largest and most destructive in human history, with 60 million dead across the world, including between 9 and 11 million people who perished during the Holocaust.

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