Portal:Europe

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Introduction

Europe orthographic Caucasus Urals boundary (with borders).svg
Subregions of Europe - CIA World Factbook
  Northern Europe
  Western Europe
  Central Europe
  Southern Europe
  Southeastern Europe
  Southwestern Europe
  Eastern Europe

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly 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 commonly 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, linguistic and ethnic differences which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The geographic border also does not follow political boundaries, with Turkey, Russia and Kazakhstan being transcontinental countries. A strict application of the Caucasus Mountains boundary also places two comparatively small countries, Azerbaijan and Georgia, in both continents.

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 741 million (about 11% of the world population) , the European climate is largely affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent, even 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.

Featured panorama

Albert Bridge at night, looking south across the Thames to Battersea, a suburb in South West London.
Credit: David Iliff

The Albert Bridge is a road bridge over the River Thames in West London, connecting Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea on the south bank. Designed and built by Rowland Mason Ordish in 1873 as an Ordish–Lefeuvre system modified cable-stayed bridge, it proved to be structurally unsound, so between 1884 and 1887 Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated some of the design elements of a suspension bridge. In 1973 the Greater London Council added two concrete piers, which transformed the central span into a simple beam bridge, as a result, today the bridge is an unusual hybrid of three different design styles. It is an English Heritage Grade II* listed building.



Selected article

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, oil on oak panels, 220 cm × 389 cm (87 in × 153 in), Museo del Prado, Madrid
The Garden of Earthly Delights is the modern title given to a triptych painted by the Early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch, housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1939. It dates from between 1490 and 1510, when Bosch was between about 40 and 60 years old, and is his best-known and most ambitious surviving work.

The triptych is painted in oil on oak and is composed of a square middle panel flanked by two other oak rectangular wings that close over the center as shutters, the outer wings, when folded, show a grisaille painting of the earth during the biblical narrative of Creation. The three scenes of the inner triptych are probably (but not necessarily) intended to be read chronologically from left to right, the left panel depicts God presenting Eve to Adam, the central panel is a broad panorama of socially engaged nude figures, fantastical animals, oversized fruit and hybrid stone formations. The right panel is a hellscape and portrays the torments of damnation.Art historians frequently interpret the painting as a didactic warning on the perils of life's temptations.However, the intricacy of its symbolism, particularly that of the central panel, has led to a wide range of scholarly interpretations over the centuries.Twentieth-century art historians are divided as to whether the triptych's central panel is a moral warning or a panorama of paradise lost.


Featured portrait

Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Credit: א (Aleph)

Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, in 2009. Born in 1955, Henri is the eldest son of Grand Duke Jean and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium. He took the throne after his father's abdication in 2000.

Selected image

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.

Selected biography

Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. The novel sequence La Comédie Humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is generally viewed as his magnum opus.

Owing to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature, he is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous writers, including the novelists Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Jack Kerouac, Akira Kurosawa and Henry James, as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.

An enthusiastic reader and independent thinker as a child, Balzac had trouble adapting to the teaching style of his grammar school, his willful nature caused trouble throughout his life and frustrated his ambitions to succeed in the world of business. When he finished school, Balzac was apprenticed in a law office, but he turned his back on the study of law after wearying of its inhumanity and banal routine, before and during his career as a writer, he attempted to be a publisher, printer, businessman, critic, and politician; he failed in all of these efforts. La Comédie Humaine reflects his real-life difficulties, and includes scenes from his own experience.


Featured location

The Mendip Hills from Crook Peak, near Compton Bishop
The Mendip Hills is a range of limestone hills to the south of Bristol and Bath in Somerset, England. Running east to west between Weston-super-Mare and Frome, the hills overlook the Somerset Levels to the south and the Chew Valley and other tributaries of the Avon to the north. The hills give their name to the local government district of Mendip, which administers most of the area, the higher, western part of the hills, covering 198 km2 (76 sq mi) has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which gives it a level of protection comparable to a national park.

The hills are largely formed from Carboniferous Limestone, which is quarried at several sites. Three nationally important semi-natural habitats are characteristic of the area: ashmaple woodland, calcareous grassland and mesotrophic grassland. With their temperate climate these support a range of flora and fauna including birds, butterflies and small mammals, the dry stone walls that divide the pasture into fields are of botanical importance as they support important populations of the nationally scarce wall whitlowgrass (Draba muralis).


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