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.

Featured panorama

View from a ridge between Segla and Hesten, Senja, Norway
Credit: Simo Räsänen

Senja is the second largest island in Norway (not counting Svalbard).Senja is located along the Troms county coastline with Finnsnes as the closest town. Senja is connected to the mainland by the Gisund Bridge, the municipalities located on Senja are Lenvik (part of which is on the mainland), Berg, Torsken, and Tranøy. Senja had 7782 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008.



Featured article

"The Silent Highwayman" (1858). Death rows on the Thames, claiming the lives of victims who have not paid to have the river cleaned up.
The Great Stink was an event in central London in July and August 1858 during which the hot weather exacerbated the smell of untreated human waste and industrial effluent that was present on the banks of the River Thames. The problem had been mounting for some years, with an ageing and inadequate sewer system that emptied directly into the Thames, the miasma from the effluent was thought to transmit contagious diseases, and three outbreaks of cholera prior to the Great Stink were blamed on the ongoing problems with the river.

The smell, and people's fears of its possible effects, prompted action from the local and national administrators who had been considering possible solutions for the problem, the authorities accepted a proposal from the civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette to move the effluent eastwards along a series of interconnecting sewers that sloped towards outfalls beyond the metropolitan area. Work on high-, mid- and low-level systems for the new Northern and Southern Outfall Sewers started at the beginning of 1859 and lasted until 1875. To aid the drainage, pumping stations were placed to lift the sewage from lower levels into higher pipes. Two of the more ornate stations, Abbey Mills in Stratford and Crossness on the Erith Marshes, are listed for protection by English Heritage. Bazalgette's plan introduced the three embankments to London in which the sewers ran—the Victoria, Chelsea and Albert Embankments.


Featured portrait

Portrait of Elizabeth Farren, c.1790,  by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Credit: Sir Thomas Lawrence

Elizabeth Farren (c. 1759 – 1829) was an English actress of the late 18th century. She made her premiere in a performance of She Stoops to Conquer in 1777, retiring over twenty years later. Horace Walpole described her as the "most perfect actress" he had ever seen.

Featured picture

Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling
Credit: Holger Motzkau

The royal wedding between Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and Daniel Westling took place on 19 June 2010 in Stockholm Cathedral. Westling—now known as Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland—became the first commoner to obtain a new title or rank as the spouse of a Swedish princess since the Middle Ages, he is the first Swedish man to use his wife's ducal title.

Featured biography

Portrait of Kepler by an unknown artist, 1610
Johannes Kepler was a German Lutheran mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, and a key figure in the 17th century astronomical revolution. He is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican Astronomy. Before Kepler, planets' paths were computed by combinations of the circular motions of the celestial orbs, after Kepler, astronomers shifted their attention from orbs to orbits—paths that could be represented mathematically as an ellipse. Kepler's laws also provided one of the foundations for Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation, during his career Kepler was a mathematics teacher at a Graz seminary school, an assistant to Tycho Brahe, the court mathematician to Emperor Rudolf II, a mathematics teacher in Linz, Austria, and an adviser to General Wallenstein. He also did fundamental work in the field of optics and helped to legitimize the telescopic discoveries of his contemporary Galileo Galilei.


Featured location

Flag of Belarus
Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk, over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its strongest economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing, until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk (11th to 14th centuries), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.

In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, which was conquered by Soviet Russia as the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia, which became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Byelorussian SSR). Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919-1921. Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, and were finalized after World War II.