Map of Europe Europe and Asia together form one vast land mass called Eurasia. Europe itself lies west of the Ural Mountains, to the north of the Caucasus and on the western bank of the Bosporus strait. A large portion of Russia, the part where most of its people live, and a small area of Turkey both fall within Europe. In the far north, Europe borders the Arctic Ocean. Frozen tundra merges into the vast coniferous forests of Russia and Scandinavia. The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current, gives the northwestern countries of Europe a mild, wet climate. Central Europe and Russia have hot summers but cold winters. To the south, beyond the mountain ranges of the Pyrenees and Alps, lie the sunny Mediterranean lands, with their hot summers and mild winters.
Around 740 million people live in Europe—around one-ninth of the world's population. Its population is particularly dense in the lowlands of western Europe, where industrial cities have grown up close to one another and, in some cases, have even merged with one another. Waterways and road and rail networks link Europe's major cities. Only a few large areas of uninhabited land remain in the far north, in Scandinavia. There are more than 80 native European ethnic groups. Some are descended from a number of peoples. The British, for example, have pre-Celts, Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Norse and Normans as ancestors. The largest ethnic groups in Europe are Russians (95 million) and Germans (82 million).
The Notting Hill Carnival in London, EnglandThe average age of Europe's population is getting higher; by 2050, it is predicted to be 52 years old. This "ageing" is caused by people living longer because of good medical care and diet, and women having fewer children: on average, only 1.5 per European woman. Much of Europe's population growth is caused not by births but by migrants (people who live in a country in which they were not born). Europe is home to the highest number of migrants of all the continents: more than 70 million.
A map of European languagesMost native European languages belong to the Indo-European language family. Languages within the family are descended from one language that was spoken in eastern Europe around 5500 years ago. Within that family, most European languages fall into three groups: Romance languages (such as French, Italian, Spanish or Romanian, which originate from Latin), Germanic languages (such as English, German, Dutch or Swedish) and Slavic (such as, for example, Russian, Polish or Serbo-Croat).
Other native language families in Europe include Uralic (Estonian, Finnish and Hungarian) and Semitic (Maltese). Basque, spoken in the Basque Country of southwestern France and northeastern Spain, does not have a close relationship with any other languages. In addition to the native European languages, hundreds of other languages are spoken in Europe by its many inhabitants who originate from other continents. More than 300 languages are spoken within London alone.
Facts about Europe
- Area 9,700,000 sq km (3,700,000 sq miles)
- Population 739,200,000
- Highest point Elbrus (Russia) 5664 m (18,582 ft)
- Lowest point Caspian Sea (Russia) 28 m (92 ft) below sea level
- Longest river Volga (Russia) 3668 km (2780 miles)
- Largest lake Ladoga (Russia) 17,700 sq km (6800 sq miles)
- Largest country (excluding Russia) Ukraine 603,700 sq km (233,000 sq miles)
- Largest population (excluding Russia) Germany 82,689,000
- Largest city Moscow (Russia) 11,510,000 people
Consultant: Lloyd Jenkins