The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that has six strings. It is played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger/fingernails of one hand, while fretting with the fingers of the other hand; the sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker. The guitar is a type of chordophone, traditionally constructed from wood and strung with either gut, nylon or steel strings and distinguished from other chordophones by its construction and tuning; the modern guitar was preceded by the gittern, the vihuela, the four-course Renaissance guitar, the five-course baroque guitar, all of which contributed to the development of the modern six-string instrument. There are three main types of modern acoustic guitar: the classical guitar, the steel-string acoustic guitar, the archtop guitar, sometimes called a "jazz guitar"; the tone of an acoustic guitar is produced by the strings' vibration, amplified by the hollow body of the guitar, which acts as a resonating chamber.
The classical guitar is played as a solo instrument using a comprehensive finger-picking technique where each string is plucked individually by the player's fingers, as opposed to being strummed. The term "finger-picking" can refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues and country guitar playing in the United States; the acoustic bass guitar is a low-pitched instrument, one octave below a regular guitar. Electric guitars, introduced in the 1930s, use an amplifier and a loudspeaker that both makes the sound of the instrument loud enough for the performers and audience to hear, given that it produces an electric signal when played, that can electronically manipulate and shape the tone using an equalizer and a huge variety of electronic effects units, the most used ones being distortion and reverb. Early amplified guitars employed a hollow body, but solid wood guitars began to dominate during the 1960s and 1970s, as they are less prone to unwanted acoustic feedback "howls"; as with acoustic guitars, there are a number of types of electric guitars, including hollowbody guitars, archtop guitars and solid-body guitars, which are used in rock music.
The loud, amplified sound and sonic power of the electric guitar played through a guitar amp has played a key role in the development of blues and rock music, both as an accompaniment instrument and performing guitar solos, in many rock subgenres, notably heavy metal music and punk rock. The electric guitar has had a major influence on popular culture; the guitar is used in a wide variety of musical genres worldwide. It is recognized as a primary instrument in genres such as blues, country, folk, jota, metal, reggae, rock and many forms of pop. Before the development of the electric guitar and the use of synthetic materials, a guitar was defined as being an instrument having "a long, fretted neck, flat wooden soundboard, a flat back, most with incurved sides." The term is used to refer to a number of chordophones that were developed and used across Europe, beginning in the 12th century and in the Americas. A 3,300-year-old stone carving of a Hittite bard playing a stringed instrument is the oldest iconographic representation of a chordophone and clay plaques from Babylonia show people playing an instrument that has a strong resemblance to the guitar, indicating a possible Babylonian origin for the guitar.
The modern word guitar, its antecedents, has been applied to a wide variety of chordophones since classical times and as such causes confusion. The English word guitar, the German Gitarre, the French guitare were all adopted from the Spanish guitarra, which comes from the Andalusian Arabic قيثارة and the Latin cithara, which in turn came from the Ancient Greek κιθάρα. Which comes from the Persian word "sihtar"; this pattern of naming is visible in setar and sitar. The word "tar" at the end of all of these words is a Persian word that means "string". Many influences are cited as antecedents to the modern guitar. Although the development of the earliest "guitars" is lost in the history of medieval Spain, two instruments are cited as their most influential predecessors, the European lute and its cousin, the four-string oud. At least two instruments called "guitars" were in use in Spain by 1200: the guitarra latina and the so-called guitarra morisca; the guitarra morisca had a rounded back, wide fingerboard, several sound holes.
The guitarra Latina had a narrower neck. By the 14th century the qualifiers "moresca" or "morisca" and "latina" had been dropped, these two cordophones were referred to as guitars; the Spanish vihuela, called in Italian the "viola da mano", a guitar-like instrument of the 15th and 16th centuries, is considered to have been the single most important influence in the development of the baroque guitar. It had six courses, lute-like tuning in fourths and a guitar-like body, although early representations reveal an instrument with a cut waist, it was larger than the contemporary four-course guitars. By the 16th century, the vihuela's construction had more in common with the modern guitar, with its curved one-piece ribs, than with the viols, more like a larger version of the contemporary four-course guita
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when the performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner. Musicians play some string instruments by plucking the strings with their fingers or a plectrum—and others by hitting the strings with a light wooden hammer or by rubbing the strings with a bow. In some keyboard instruments, such as the harpsichord, the musician presses a key that plucks the string. With bowed instruments, the player pulls a rosined horsehair bow across the strings, causing them to vibrate. With a hurdy-gurdy, the musician cranks. Bowed instruments include the string section instruments of the Classical music orchestra and a number of other instruments. All of the bowed string instruments can be plucked with the fingers, a technique called "pizzicato". A wide variety of techniques are used to sound notes on the electric guitar, including plucking with the fingernails or a plectrum, strumming and "tapping" on the fingerboard and using feedback from a loud, distorted guitar amplifier to produce a sustained sound.
Some types of string instrument are plucked, such as the harp and the electric bass. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, string instruments are called chordophones. Other examples include the sitar, banjo, mandolin and bouzouki. In most string instruments, the vibrations are transmitted to the body of the instrument, which incorporates some sort of hollow or enclosed area; the body of the instrument vibrates, along with the air inside it. The vibration of the body of the instrument and the enclosed hollow or chamber make the vibration of the string more audible to the performer and audience; the body of most string instruments is hollow. Some, however—such as electric guitar and other instruments that rely on electronic amplification—may have a solid wood body. Dating to around c. 13,000 BC, a cave painting in the Trois Frères cave in France depicts what some believe is a musical bow, a hunting bow used as a single-stringed musical instrument.
From the musical bow, families of stringed instruments developed. In turn, this led to being able to play chords. Another innovation occurred when the bow harp was straightened out and a bridge used to lift the strings off the stick-neck, creating the lute; this picture of musical bow to harp bow has been contested. In 1965 Franz Jahnel wrote his criticism stating that the early ancestors of plucked instruments are not known, he felt that the harp bow was a long cry from the sophistication of the 4th-century BC civilization that took the primitive technology and created "technically and artistically well-made harps, lyres and lutes."Archaeological digs have identified some of the earliest stringed instruments in Ancient Mesopotamian sites, like the lyres of Ur, which include artifacts over three thousand years old. The development of lyre instruments required the technology to create a tuning mechanism to tighten and loosen the string tension. Lyres with wooden bodies and strings used for plucking or playing with a bow represent key instruments that point towards harps and violin-type instruments.
Musicologists have put forth examples of that 4th-century BC technology, looking at engraved images that have survived. The earliest image showing a lute-like instrument came from Mesopotamia prior to 3000 BC. A cylinder seal from c. 3100 BC or earlier shows. From the surviving images, theororists have categorized the Mesopotamian lutes, showing that they developed into a long variety and a short; the line of long lutes may have developed into pandura. The line of short lutes was further developed to the east of Mesopotamia, in Bactria and Northwest India, shown in sculpture from the 2nd century BC through the 4th or 5th centuries AD. During the medieval era, instrument development varied from country to country. Middle Eastern rebecs represented breakthroughs in terms of shape and strings, with a half a pear shape using three strings. Early versions of the violin and fiddle, by comparison, emerged in Europe through instruments such as the gittern, a four-stringed precursor to the guitar, basic lutes.
These instruments used catgut and other materials, including silk, for their strings. String instrument design refined during the Renaissance and into the Baroque period of musical history. Violins and guitars became more consistent in design and were similar to what we use in the 2000s and into the present day; the violins of the Renaissance featured intricate woodwork and stringing, while more elaborate bass instruments such as the bandora were produced alongside quill-plucked citterns, Spanish body guitars. In the 19th century, string instruments were made more available through mass production, with wood string instruments a key part of orchestras – cellos and upright basses, for example, were now standard instruments for chamber ensembles and smaller orchestras. At the same time, the 19th-century guitar became more associated with six string models, rather than traditional five string versions. Major changes to string instruments in the 20th century involved innovations in electro
Lap steel guitar
The lap steel guitar is a type of steel guitar, played with the instrument in a horizontal position on the performer's lap or otherwise supported. The performer changes pitch by pressing a metal or glass bar against the strings as opposed to a traditional guitar where the performer's fingertips press the strings against frets; the bar placed against the strings is called a "steel" or "tone bar". There are three types of lap steel guitars: Acoustic lap steel guitar: The body resembles a traditional Spanish guitar; these were called "Hawaiian guitars", after the "slack-key" playing technique was popularized there in the late 1800s. These instruments are designed to be played horizontally. Traditional guitars can be modified to play this way by using a "nut extender", a device to raise the strings. National or Dobro-type guitars, which have reinforced square necks and feature a large aluminum cone, called a "resonator", to increase volume. Electric lap steel guitars: These guitars are designed to be played horizontally and feature an electric pickup so they do not require any resonant chamber.
Guitars in this category may differ markedly in external appearance and include instruments made from a rectangular solid block of wood. In addition to the lap-played model, a related version called a "console steel" guitar featured more than one neck which made it too heavy to be played on the performer's lap, it is supported on legs. Electric lap steels have six, eight or up to ten strings. A lap steel guitar's strings are raised at both the nut and bridge ends of the fingerboard to about half an inch; the strings are too high to contact the surface of the neck, so frets, if present, are only for reference and are replaced by markers. Some lap steel guitars can be converted between lap and fretted playing, or are modified versions of conventional guitars—the only difference is string height. Round-necked resonator guitars set up for steel playing fall into this category. Instruments designed as lap steel guitars have modified necks that make fretted playing impossible; the hollow neck acoustic lap steel, developed by Chris Knutsen and popularized by Weissenborn, extends the body cavity behind the neck all the way to the head.
The square-necked resonator guitar has a strengthened square profile neck, allowing heavier string gauges and/or higher tunings that would be considered impossible on a conventional guitar. The electric lap steel guitar incorporates the entire neck into the solid body of the guitar, again providing extra strength to allow a greater variety of string gauges and tunings. Console steel guitars with more than six strings and/or multiple necks, are played in lap steel fashion, but are referred to as lap steel guitars by many makers and authorities. See table steel guitar; the lap steel guitar is placed on the player's lap, or on a stool in front of the seated player. When playing with stand-up musicians, such as in a bluegrass band, it has become an alternative for the player to play standing up. Unlike a conventional guitar, the strings are not pressed to a fret; this method of playing restricts the number of chords available, so lap steel music features melodies, a restricted set of harmonies, or another single part.
The steel guitar, when played in Hawaiian, Bluegrass, or Western Swing styles, is always plucked using a plastic thumbpick affixed to the right hand's thumb, metal or plastic "fingerpicks" fitted to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or all 4 fingers of the right hand. This allows; some Blues players those who use a round-neck resonator guitar played upright, conventional-guitar-style, with a bottleneck or hollow metal slide on one left-hand finger, forgo the fingerpicks and thumbpicks, use their bare fingers and thumb instead. On the other hand, a minority of Blues players, many Rock players, use a conventional flatpick. Tut Taylor is one of the few Dobro players, it is reported that the lap steel guitar was invented by a man named Joseph Kekuku in 1885. It is said that, at the age of 7, Kekuku was walking along a railroad track and picked up a metal bolt, slid the metal along the strings of his guitar and was intrigued by the sound, he taught himself to play using this method with the back of a knife blade.
Various other people have been credited with the innovation. The instrument became a major fad in the United States during the 1930s; the instrument became popular in Hawaii, as musicians played in tent-rep shows. It was electrified in the early 1930s, in 1932 the first production electric guitar was introduced, the aluminum Ro-Pat-In A22 "Frying Pan" lap steel; this made the so-called "Hawaiian" guitar the first electric stringed instrument. The earliest documented performance with an electrically amplified guitar was in 1932
The Sudetenland is the historical German name for the northern and western areas of former Czechoslovakia which were inhabited by Sudeten Germans. These German speakers had predominated in the border districts of Bohemia and Czech Silesia from the time of the Austrian Empire; the word "Sudetenland" did not come into being until the early part of the 20th century and did not come to prominence until over a decade into the century, after the First World War, when the German-dominated Austria-Hungary was dismembered and the Sudeten Germans found themselves living in the new country of Czechoslovakia. The Sudeten crisis of 1938 was provoked by the Pan-Germanist demands of Germany that the Sudetenland be annexed to Germany, which happened after the Munich Agreement. Part of the borderland was annexed by Poland; when Czechoslovakia was reconstituted after the Second World War, the Sudeten Germans were expelled and the region today is inhabited exclusively by Czech speakers. The word Sudetenland is a German compound of Land, meaning "country", Sudeten, the name of the Sudeten Mountains, which run along the northern Czech border and Lower Silesia.
The Sudetenland encompassed areas well beyond those mountains, however. Parts of the now Czech regions of Karlovy Vary, Olomouc, Moravia-Silesia, Ústí nad Labem are within the area called Sudetenland; the areas known as the Sudetenland never formed a single historical region, which makes it difficult to distinguish the history of the Sudetenland apart from that of Bohemia, until the advent of nationalism in the 19th century. The Celtic and Boii tribes settled there and the region was first mentioned on the map of Ptolemaios in the 2nd century AD; the Germanic tribe of the Marcomanni dominated the entire core of the region in centuries. Those tribes built cities like Brno, but moved west during the Migration Period. In the 7th century AD Slavic people were united under Samo's realm. In the High Middle Ages Germans settled into the less populated border region. In the Middle Ages the regions situated on the mountainous border of the Duchy and the Kingdom of Bohemia had since the Migration Period been settled by western Slavic Czechs.
Along the Bohemian Forest in the west, the Czech lands bordered on the German Slavic tribes stem duchies of Bavaria and Franconia. In the course of the Ostsiedlung German settlement from the 13th century onwards continued to move into the Upper Lusatia region and the duchies of Silesia north of the Sudetes mountain range. From as early as the second half of the 13th century onwards these Bohemian border regions were settled by ethnic Germans, who were invited by the Přemyslid Bohemian kings — by Ottokar II and Wenceslaus II. After the extinction of the Přemyslid dynasty in 1306, the Bohemian nobility backed John of Luxembourg as king against his rival Duke Henry of Carinthia. In 1322 King John of Bohemia acquired the Imperial Egerland region in the west and was able to vassalize most of the Piast Silesian duchies, acknowledged by King Casimir III of Poland by the 1335 Treaty of Trentschin, his son, Bohemian King Charles IV, was elected King of the Romans in 1346 and crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1355.
He added the Lusatias to the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, which comprised large territories with a significant German population. In the hilly border regions German settlers established major manufactures of forest glass; the situation of the German population was aggravated by the Hussite Wars, though there were some Germans among the Hussite insurgents. By Germans settled the hilly Bohemian border regions as well as the cities of the lowlands; the city of Prague had a German-speaking majority from the last third of the 17th century until 1860, but after 1910 the proportion of German speakers had decreased to 6.7% of the population. From the Luxembourgs, the rule over Bohemia passed through George of Podiebrad to the Jagiellon dynasty and to the House of Habsburg in 1526. Both Czech and German Bohemians suffered in the Thirty Years War. Bohemia lost 70% of its population. From the defeat of the Bohemian Revolt that collapsed at the 1620 Battle of White Mountain, the Habsburgs integrated the Kingdom of Bohemia into their monarchy.
During the subsequent Counter-Reformation, less populated areas were resettled with Catholic Germans from the Austrian lands. From 1627 the Habsburgs enforced the so-called Verneuerte Landesordnung and one of its consequences was that German according to mother tongue became the primary and official language while Czech declined to a secondary role in the Empire. In 1749 Austrian Empire enforced German as the official language again. Emperor Joseph II in 1780 renounced the coronation ceremony as Bohemian king and unsuccessfully tried to push German through as sole official language in all Habsburg lands. German cultural in
An "archtop guitar" is a hollow steel-stringed acoustic or semiacoustic guitar with a full body and a distinctive arched top, whose sound is popular with jazz, blues and psychobilly guitarists. An archtop guitar has: 6 strings An arched top and back, not a flat top and back A hollow body Moveable adjustable bridge F-holes similar to members of the violin family Rear mounted tailpiece, stoptail bridge, or Bigsby vibrato tailpiece 14th-fret neck join The archtop guitar is credited to Orville Gibson, whose innovative designs led to the formation of the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co, Ltd in 1902, his 1898 patent for a mandolin, applicable to guitars according to the specifications, was intended to enhance "power and quality of tone." Among the features of this instrument were a violin-style arched top and back, each carved from a single piece of wood, thicker in the middle than at the sides. But Gibson was not the first to apply violin design principles to the guitar. Guitar maker A. H. Merrill, for example, patented in 1896 a modern looking instrument "of the guitar and mandolin type... with egg-shaped hoop or sides and a graduated convex back and top."
The instrument featured a metal tailpiece and teardrop shaped "f-holes," and resembled the archtop guitars of the 1930s. James S. Back obtained patent #508,858 in 1893 for a guitar that among other features included an arched top, which were produced under the Howe Orme name. Another transitional design is the parlor guitar fitted with tailpiece; these inexpensive instruments, manufactured by companies such as Stella and Harmony, are associated with early blues musicians. The earliest Gibson designs introduced the arched top and increasing body sizes, but still had round or oval sound holes. In 1922, Lloyd Loar was hired by the Gibson Company to redesign their instrument line in an effort to counter flagging sales, in that same year the Gibson L5 was released to his design. Although the new instrument models flopped commercially and Loar left Gibson after only a couple of years, Gibson instruments signed by Loar now are among the most prized and celebrated in stringed-instrument history; the most revered instrument from this period is the F5 mandolin, but the more broadly influential was the L5 guitar, which remains in production to this day.
The mature Gibson archtop guitar and its imitators are regarded as the quintessential "jazzbox." Archtop guitars were subsequently made by many top American luthiers, notably John D'Angelico of New York and Jimmy D'Aquisto, William Wilkanowski, Charles Stromberg and Son in Boston, by other major manufacturers, notably Gretsch and Epiphone. In Europe, companies such as Framus, Höfner, Hagström took up the manufacture of archtops. Archtop guitars were adopted by both jazz and country musicians, in big bands and swing bands. Gibson's ES-150 guitar is recognized as the world's first commercially successful Spanish-style electric guitar; the ES stands for Electric Spanish, it was designated 150 because it cost $150, along with an EH-150 amplifier and a cable. After its introduction in 1936, it became popular in jazz orchestras of the period. Unlike the usual acoustic guitars utilized in jazz, it was loud enough to take a more prominent position in ensembles. Jazz guitarist Eddie Durham is credited with making the first electric guitar solo, but it was ES-150 player Charlie Christian who popularized the jazz guitar as a solo, not just a rhythm, instrument.
The ES-150's top was not carved on the underside. In 1951, Gibson released the L5CES, an L5 with a single cutaway body and two electric pickups playable as either an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar; this innovation was popular, while purely acoustic archtop guitars such as the Gibson L-7C remain available to this day, they have become the exception. In 1958, the L5CES was redesigned with humbucking pickups; the electric archtop was popular with jazz musicians Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel and Johnny Smith. Other manufacturers introduced electric archtop guitars, notable examples including the Gretsch White Falcon and various Chet Atkins models; some of these instruments have a distinctive "twangy" sound and were taken up by country music and early rock and roll artists such as Duane Eddy and Eddie Cochran. Similar models remain popular in rockabilly. Gibson's last innovation in archtop design was the creation, in late 1950s, of "thinline" models with a reduced body depth, notably the Gibson ES-335 and Epiphone Casino.
These were easier to play standing up. They are classed as semiacoustic guitars. Thinlines became popular with mainstream rock artists during the 1960s; the 335 and similar guitars were taken up by, remain steadfastly popular with, electric blues players. The 1970s and 1980s were a low point of interest in archtops, with many rock and pop players switching to solid body guitars. Interest in archtops was revived in the 1990s. Archtops had long been expensive instruments, with a level of ornament to match. Boutique luthiers such as Roger Borys and Bob Benedetto brought the aesthetics of the instrument to greater heights, making them attractive to co
Europe is a continent located in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, it comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia. Since around 1850, Europe is most considered to be 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. Although the term "continent" implies physical geography, the land border is somewhat arbitrary and has been redefined several times since its first conception in classical antiquity; the division of Eurasia into two continents reflects East-West cultural and ethnic differences which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The geographic border does not follow political boundaries, with Turkey and Kazakhstan being transcontinental countries. A strict application of the Caucasus Mountains boundary places two comparatively small countries and Georgia, in both continents.
Europe covers 2 % of the Earth's surface. 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 741 million as of 2016; the European climate is affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent at latitudes along which the climate in Asia and North America is severe. Further from the sea, seasonal differences are more noticeable than close to the coast. Europe, in particular ancient Greece, was the birthplace of Western civilization; the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD and the subsequent Migration Period marked the end of ancient history and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Renaissance humanism, exploration and science led to the modern era. Since the Age of Discovery started by Portugal and Spain, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs. Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European powers controlled at various times the Americas all of Africa and Oceania and the majority of Asia.
The Age of Enlightenment, the subsequent French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars shaped the continent culturally 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 and social change in Western Europe and the wider world. Both world wars took place for the most part 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. During the Cold War, Europe was divided along the Iron Curtain between NATO in the West and the Warsaw Pact in the East, until the revolutions of 1989 and fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1949 the Council of Europe was founded, following a speech by Sir Winston Churchill, with the idea of unifying Europe to achieve common goals, it includes all European states except for Belarus and Vatican City. Further European integration by some states led to the formation of the European Union, a separate political entity that lies between a confederation and a federation.
The EU originated in Western Europe but has been expanding eastward since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The currency of most countries of the European Union, the euro, is the most used among Europeans. In classical Greek mythology, Europa was a Phoenician princess; the word Europe is derived from her name. The name contains the elements εὐρύς, "wide, broad" and ὤψ "eye, countenance", hence their composite Eurṓpē would mean "wide-gazing" or "broad of aspect". Broad has been an epithet of Earth herself in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion and the poetry devoted to it. There have been attempts to connect Eurṓpē to a Semitic term for "west", this being either Akkadian erebu meaning "to go down, set" or Phoenician'ereb "evening, west", at the origin of Arabic Maghreb and Hebrew ma'arav. Michael A. Barry, professor in Princeton University's Near Eastern Studies Department, finds the mention of the word Ereb on an Assyrian stele with the meaning of "night, sunset", in opposition to Asu " sunrise", i.e. Asia.
The same naming motive according to "cartographic convention" appears in Greek Ἀνατολή. Martin Litchfield West stated that "phonologically, the match between Europa's name and any form of the Semitic word is poor." Next to these hypotheses there is a Proto-Indo-European root *h1regʷos, meaning "darkness", which produced Greek Erebus. Most major world languages use words derived from Europa to refer to the continent. Chinese, for example, uses the word Ōuzhōu. In some Turkic languages the Persian name Frangistan is used casually in referring to much of Europe, besides official names such as Avrupa or Evropa; 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