Portal:Europe

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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.

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Averbode Abbey
Credit: JH-man

Averbode Abbey, founded about 1134–35 by Count Arnold II of Loon, is a Premonstratensian monastery situated in the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels in Belgium. The abbey reached its peak in the 16th and 17th centuries, though over the past hundred years it has been in a state of decline.



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North View of Gibraltar from Spanish Lines by John Mace (1782)
The history of Gibraltar, a small peninsula on the southern Iberian coast near the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea, spans over 2,900 years. The peninsula has evolved from a place of reverence in ancient times into "one of the most densely fortified and fought-over places in Europe", as one historian has put it. Gibraltar's location has given it an outsized significance in the history of Europe and its fortified town, established in medieval times, has hosted garrisons that sustained numerous sieges and battles over the centuries.

Gibraltar was first inhabited over 50,000 years ago by Neanderthals and may have been one of their last places of habitation before they died out around 24,000 years ago. Gibraltar's recorded history began around 950 BC with the Phoenicians, who lived nearby, the Carthaginians and Romans later worshipped Hercules in shrines said to have been built on the Rock of Gibraltar, which they called Mons Calpe,the "Hollow Mountain", and which they regarded as one of the twin Pillars of Hercules.


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A 1783 portrait of Maria I of Portugal. First known as Maria the Pious, then Maria the Mad, she was Queen of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves, though in the last years of her life the governance was handled by others, including her son John. Maria fled to Brazil during the Napoleonic wars, and remained there after Napoleon's defeat, this portrait dates to a few years before her mental disease was noticed.
Credit: Attributed to Giuseppe Troni

Dona Maria I (1734 –1816) was Queen of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves. Known as Maria the Pious (in Portugal), or Maria the Mad (in Brazil), she was the first undisputed Queen regnant of Portugal. With Napoleon's European conquests, her court, then under the direction of Prince Dom João, the Prince Regent, moved to Brazil, then a Portuguese colony. Later on, Brazil would be elevated from the rank of a colony to that of a kingdom, with the consequential formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.

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Dynjandi, a series of waterfalls located in the Westfjords (Vestfirðir), Iceland
Credit: Diego Delso

Dynjandi is a series of waterfalls located in the Westfjords (Vestfirðir), Iceland. The waterfalls have a cumulative height of 100 metres (330 ft).

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

Flag of Germany
Germany is a federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe. It includes 16 constituent states, covers an area of 357,021 square kilometres (137,847 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With about 82 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous member state of the European Union, after the United States, it is the second most popular immigration destination in the world. Germany's capital and largest metropolis is Berlin. Major urban areas include Ruhr, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf.

Various Germanic tribes have occupied the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity. A region named Germania was documented before 100 AD. During the Migration Period the Germanic tribes expanded southward. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire, during the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation.


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