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.
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.
Sir Noël Coward (1899–1973) was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer. Coward published more than 50 plays, many of which have remained in the regular theatre repertoire. He composed hundreds of songs, well over a dozen musical theatre works, screenplays, poetry, several volumes of short stories, a novel, and a three-volume autobiography.
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.
is a landlocked country
in Eastern Europe
bordered by Russia
to the northeast, Ukraine
to the south, Poland
to the west, and Lithuania
to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk
. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its strongest economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk
(11th to 14th centuries), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
, and the Russian Empire
In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, which was conquered by Soviet Russia as the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia, which became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Byelorussian SSR). Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919-1921. Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, and were finalized after World War II.