Portal:Europe

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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.

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Book title page
Title page of volume 1

A History of the Birds of Europe, Including all the Species Inhabiting the Western Palearctic Region is a nine-volume ornithological book published in parts between 1871 and 1882. It is mainly written by Henry Eeles Dresser, although Richard Bowdler Sharpe co-authored the earlier volumes. It describes all the bird species reliably recorded in the wild in Europe and adjacent geographical areas with similar fauna, giving their worldwide distribution, variations in appearance and migratory movements.

The pioneering ornithological work of John Ray and Francis Willughby in the seventeenth century had introduced an effective classification system based on anatomical features, and a dichotomous key to help readers identify birds. This was followed by other English-language ornithologies, notably John Gould's five-volume Birds of Europe published between 1832 and 1837. Sharpe, then librarian of the Zoological Society of London, had worked closely with Gould and wanted to expand on his work by including all species reliably recorded in Europe, North Africa, parts of the Middle East and the Atlantic archipelagos of Madeira, the Canary Islands and the Azores. He lacked the resources to undertake this task on his own, so he proposed to Dresser that they work together on this encyclopaedia, using Dresser's extensive collection of birds and their eggs and network of contacts. Read more...

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Overview of Village Bay, St Kilda

St Kilda (Scottish Gaelic: Hiort) is an isolated archipelago situated 40 miles (64 km) west-northwest of North Uist in the North Atlantic Ocean. It contains the westernmost islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The largest island is Hirta, whose sea cliffs are the highest in the United Kingdom. Three other islands (Dùn, Soay and Boreray) were also used for grazing and seabird hunting. The islands are administratively a part of the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar local authority area.

The origin of the name St Kilda is a matter of conjecture. The islands' human heritage includes numerous unique architectural features from the historic and prehistoric periods, although the earliest written records of island life date from the Late Middle Ages. The medieval village on Hirta was rebuilt in the 19th century, but illnesses brought by increased external contacts through tourism and the upheaval of the First World War contributed to the island's evacuation in 1930. The story of St Kilda has attracted artistic interpretations, including Michael Powell's film The Edge of the World and an opera. Read more...

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Portrait of Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos
Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1744–1811) was a Spanish author and philosopher who played a major role in the Age of Enlightenment in Spain. Born in Asturias, he greatly promoted the culture of his homeland.

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Photograph showing the head and shoulders of a man in a suit and tie

Niels Henrik David Bohr (Danish: [ˈne̝ls ˈpoɐ̯ˀ]; 7 October 1885 – 18 November 1962) was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr was also a philosopher and a promoter of scientific research.

Bohr developed the Bohr model of the atom, in which he proposed that energy levels of electrons are discrete and that the electrons revolve in stable orbits around the atomic nucleus but can jump from one energy level (or orbit) to another. Although the Bohr model has been supplanted by other models, its underlying principles remain valid. He conceived the principle of complementarity: that items could be separately analysed in terms of contradictory properties, like behaving as a wave or a stream of particles. The notion of complementarity dominated Bohr's thinking in both science and philosophy. Read more...

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The European Parliament in February 2014 during a plenary session in Strasbourg, France.
Credit: Diliff
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union (EU). Together with the Council of the European Union (the Council) and the European Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU.

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A Panorama of Toledo as seen from Parador Hotel
Credit: David Iliff
The skyline of Toledo, Spain, at sunset, with the Alcázar on the left and Cathedral on the right. The city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the capital of the province of Toledo and of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. It is one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and a place of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures.

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