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

Flakstadøya
Credit: Simo Räsänen

A mountain massif on Flakstadøya Island overlooking Norwegian County Road 807 to Nusfjord, Lofoten, Nordland, as seen in September 2010. On either side of the road, coastal conifer forests can be seen.



Featured article

Coat of arms of the Gediminids dynasty
The family of Gediminas is a group of family members of Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania (ca. 1275–1341), who interacted in the 14th century. The family included the siblings, children, and grandchildren of the Grand Duke and played the pivotal role in the history of Lithuania for the period as the Lithuanian nobility had not yet acquired its influence. Gediminas was also the forefather of the Gediminid dynasty, which ruled the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1310s or 1280s to 1572.

Gediminas' origins are unclear, but recent research suggests that Skalmantas, an otherwise unknown historical figure, was Gediminas' grandfather or father and could be considered the dynasty's founder, because none of his brothers or sisters had known heirs, Gediminas, who sired at least twelve children, had the advantage in establishing sovereignty over his siblings. Known for his diplomatic skills, Gediminas arranged his children's marriages to suit the goals of his foreign policy: his sons consolidated Lithuanian power within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, while his daughters established or strengthened alliances with the rulers of areas in modern-day Russia, Ukraine and Poland.


Featured portrait

Peter Levy
Credit: John Byford

Peter Levy (b. 1955) is a British television and radio presenter, currently host of the BBC regional news programme Look North, broadcast from Hull to East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. He also hosts The Peter Levy Show on BBC Radio Humberside. Born in South West England, Levy moved to Yorkshire in his teens, after a stint in London as an actor, during which time he appeared on Man About the House, he returned to Yorkshire in 1975 to become a disc jockey before joining Look North in 1987.

Featured picture

Limburger cheese
Credit: John Sullivan

Limburger is a cheese that originated during the 19th century in the historical Duchy of Limburg, which is now divided between Belgium, Germany, and Netherlands. The cheese is especially known for its strong smell caused by the bacterium Brevibacterium linens.

Featured biography

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie (c. 1797)
Mary Wollstonecraft (27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing, after two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay (by whom she had a daughter, Fanny Imlay), Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. Wollstonecraft died at the age of 38, eleven days after giving birth to her second daughter, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts, this daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, became an accomplished writer herself, as Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

After Wollstonecraft's death, her widower published a Memoir (1798) of her life, revealing her unorthodox lifestyle, which inadvertently destroyed her reputation for almost a century. However, with the emergence of the feminist movement at the turn of the twentieth century, Wollstonecraft's advocacy of women's equality and critiques of conventional femininity became increasingly important. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and work as important influences.


Featured location

Clockwise from top: cityscape, Beetham Tower, Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Midland Hotel, One Angel Square, Manchester Town Hall
Manchester is a major city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 514,414 as of 2013. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.55 million. Manchester is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation, the local authority is Manchester City Council.

The recorded history of Manchester began with the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium or Mancunium, which was established in about 79 AD on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell. It was historically a part of Lancashire, although areas of Cheshire south of the River Mersey were incorporated during the 20th century. Throughout the Middle Ages Manchester remained a manorial township but began to expand "at an astonishing rate" around the turn of the 19th century. Manchester's unplanned urbanisation was brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, and resulted in it becoming the world's first industrialised city.


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