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Portal:Europe

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Introduction

Europe orthographic Caucasus Urals boundary (with borders).svg

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 moved since its first conception in classical antiquity. The division of Eurasia into two continents reflects East-West cultural, linguistic and ethnic differences, some of which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The border does not follow political boundaries, with Turkey, Russia and Kazakhstan being transcontinental countries.

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

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

A bowl of borscht garnished with dill and a dollop of smetana (sour cream)
Borscht is a sour soup popular in several Eastern European cuisines, including Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Belarusian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian, and Ashkenazi Jewish cuisines. The variety most commonly associated with the name in English is of Ukrainian origin and includes beetroots as one of the main ingredients, which gives the dish a distinctive red color. It shares the name, however, with a wide selection of sour-tasting soups without beetroots, such as sorrel-based green borscht, rye-based white borscht and cabbage borscht.

Borscht derives from an ancient soup originally cooked from pickled stems, leaves and umbels of common hogweed, a herbaceous plant growing in damp meadows, which lent the dish its Slavic name. With time, it evolved into a diverse array of tart soups, among which the beet-based red borscht has become the most popular. It is typically made by combining meat or bone stock with sautéed vegetables, which – as well as beetroots – usually include cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. Depending on the recipe, borscht may include meat or fish, or be purely vegetarian; it may be served either hot or cold; and it may range from a hearty one-pot meal to a clear broth or a smooth drink. It is often served with smetana or sour cream, hard-boiled eggs or potatoes, but there exists an ample choice of more involved garnishes and side dishes, such as uszka or pampushky, that can be served with the soup.


Featured portrait

Knut Steen
Credit: Nina Aldin Thune

Knut Steen (1924–2011) was a Norwegian sculptor based in Italy. Born in Oslo, Steen is best known for his work on the Norwegian National Academy of Fine Arts with the Danish sculptor Per Palle Storm. There is a museum dedicated to his work located in Sandefjord.

Featured picture

Tower Bridge
Credit: Diliff

The Tower Bridge is a bascule bridge that crosses the River Thames in London, England. It was completed in 1894 and the original hydraulic machinery still opens the bridge, although it has been modernised. The central span of 200 feet (61 m) between the towers is split into two equal bascules or leaves, which can be raised to an angle of 83 degrees to allow river traffic to pass. The high-level walkways between the towers houses an exhibition on the bridge's history.

Featured biography

Photograph of Chopin by Bisson, c. 1849
Frédéric François Chopin (March 1810 – 17 October 1849), born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for the solo piano. He gained and has maintained renown worldwide as a leading musician of his era, whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation." Chopin was born in what was then the Duchy of Warsaw and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less than a month before the outbreak of the November 1830 Uprising.

At 21 he settled in Paris. Thereafter, during the last 18 years of his life, he gave only some 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon. He supported himself by selling his compositions and by teaching piano, for which he was in high demand. Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by many of his musical contemporaries, including Robert Schumann. In 1835 he obtained French citizenship. After a failed engagement to Maria Wodzińska, from 1837 to 1847 he maintained an often troubled relationship with the French woman writer George Sand. A brief and unhappy visit to Majorca with Sand in 1838–39 was one of his most productive periods of composition. In his last years, he was financially supported by his admirer Jane Stirling, who also arranged for him to visit Scotland in 1848. Through most of his life, Chopin suffered from poor health. He died in Paris in 1849, at the age of 39, probably of tuberculosis.


Featured location

Cannon decorate the quayside of Balfour Harbour on Shapinsay, the round tower in the background is The Douche
Shapinsay is one of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. There is one village on the island, Balfour, from which roll-on/roll-off car ferries sail to Kirkwall on the Orkney Mainland. Balfour Castle, built in the Scottish Baronial style, is one of the island's most prominent features, a reminder of the Balfour family's domination of Shapinsay during the 18th and 19th centuries; the Balfours transformed life on the island by introducing new agricultural techniques. Other landmarks include a standing stone, an Iron Age broch, a souterrain and a salt-water shower.

With an area of 29.5 square kilometres (11.4 sq mi), Shapinsay is the eighth largest island in the Orkney archipelago. It is low-lying and fertile, consequently most of the area is given over to farming. Shapinsay has two nature reserves and is notable for its bird life. At the 2011 census, Shapinsay had a population of 307.The economy of the island is primarily based on agriculture with the exception of a few small businesses that are largely tourism-related. Plans for the construction of a wind turbine are under consideration.


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