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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

A panoramic view of Rüdesheim am Rhein, looking towards east.
Credit: DXR

Rüdesheim am Rhein is a winemaking town in the Rhine Gorge and thereby part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It lies in the Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis district in the Regierungsbezirk of Darmstadt in Hesse, Germany. It is officially known as Rüdesheim am Rhein, which distinguishes it from Rüdesheim an der Nahe.



Featured 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

Aviator Hélène Dutrieu seated in her airplane
Credit: Bain News Service

Hélène Dutrieu, shown here in her aeroplane ca. 1911, was the fourth woman in the world (the first from Belgium) to earn a pilot's license and reputedly the first woman to carry passengers and to fly a seaplane. Besides being a pilot, she was a cycling world champion, stunt cyclist, stunt motorcyclist, automobile racer, wartime ambulance driver, and director of a military hospital.

Featured picture

Panel of glazed tiles from Jorge Colaço (1922) representing an episode of the battle of Aljubarrota (1385) between the Portuguese and Castillian armies.
Credit: Joaquim Alves Gaspar

Panel of azulejo (Portuguese blue glazed tiles) by artist Jorge Colaço (1922) representing an episode of the Battle of Aljubarrota (1385) between the Portuguese and Castilian armies. The Ala dos Namorados ("Wing of the fiancés") depicted in this scene was the left wing of the Portuguese defense formation.

Featured biography

Anne Frank pictured in 1940
Annelies Marie Frank ( 12 June 1929 – February or March 1945) was a German-born diarist and writer. One of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, she gained fame posthumously following the publication of her diary, The Diary of a Young Girl (originally Het Achterhuis; [The Secret Annex] error: {{lang-xx}}: text has italic markup (help)), which documents her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. It is one of the world's most widely known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam, Netherlands, having moved there with her family at the age of four-and-a-half when the Nazis gained control over Germany. Born a German national, Frank lost her citizenship in 1941 and thus became stateless. By May 1940, the Franks were trapped in Amsterdam by the German occupation of the Netherlands. As persecutions of the Jewish population increased in July 1942, the family went into hiding in some concealed rooms behind a bookcase in the building where Anne's father worked. From then until the family's arrest by the Gestapo in August 1944, Anne kept a diary she had received as a birthday present, and wrote in it regularly. Following their arrest, the Franks were transported to concentration camps. In October or November 1944, Anne and her sister, Margot, were transferred to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from Auschwitz, where they died (probably of typhus) a few months later. They were originally estimated by the Red Cross to have died in March, with Dutch authorities setting 31 March as their official date of death, but research by the Anne Frank House in 2015 suggests they more likely died in February.


Featured location

The Royal Crescent in Bath
Bath is a city in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England, known for its Roman-built baths. In 2011, the population was 88,859. Bath is in the valley of the River Avon, 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 11 miles (18 km) south-east of Bristol. The city became a World Heritage Site in 1987.

The city became a spa with the Latin name Aquæ Sulis ("the waters of Sulis") c. AD 60 when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although hot springs were known even before then. Bath Abbey was founded in the 7th century and became a religious centre; the building was rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries. In the 17th century, claims were made for the curative properties of water from the springs, and Bath became popular as a spa town in the Georgian era. Georgian architecture, crafted from Bath stone, includes the Royal Crescent, Circus, Pump Room and Assembly Rooms where Beau Nash presided over the city's social life from 1705 until his death in 1761. Many of the streets and squares were laid out by John Wood, the Elder, and in the 18th century the city became fashionable and the population grew. Jane Austen lived in Bath in the early 19th century. Further building was undertaken in the 19th century and following the Bath Blitz in World War II.


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