Europe is the second smallest continent in the world by area. Europe is one of the seven continents of the world. There is the North Atlantic Ocean to the west of the continent. It stretches westwards from the Ural Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. The Urals form the border with the continent of Asia which is a part of the same landmass. Europe’s coastline is deeply indented, with many peninsulas, bays, and islands. The largest island is Great Britain, just off its north-west coast.
Most of the northern areas of the continent lie in the cold, snowy wilderness above the Arctic Circle. From there, the great arm of Scandinavia curves southwards around the Baltic Sea. But much of central Europe is an enormous plain, once covered in trees, and now largely cleared for farmland. This plain stretches from Russia across to France and south-eastern England, including the countries of Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Southern Europe is divided from the north of the continent by the towering mountain ranges of the Pyrenees, Alps, and the Carpathians. In the south-west, the Iberian Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. It is separated from North Africa by the narrow Strait of Gibraltar. In the far south-east rise the arid, rugged mountains of Greece, with its many rocky islands.
As for the climate of Europe summers are warm, and winters bitterly cold. In the west, the climate is milder, affected by rain-bearing winds from the Atlantic Ocean, called the North Atlantic Drift. The lands around the Mediterranean Sea enjoy mild winters and warm summers. However, much of the Iberian Peninsula has a hot and dry climate.
Flora and Fauna
Most parts of the continent which were once crowded with wild plants and animals are now narrowing to provide space for human farms, settlements, and industries with urbanisation. Even so, with its various habitats, Europe supports a rich variety of wildlife. The cold lands around the Arctic Circle are the habitation of reindeer, geese, and snow owls.
As for vegetation, olives, oranges, lemons, grapes, cotton and wheat grow well in the areas around the Mediterranean Sea.
Culture and Politics
The vast majority of Europeans are descended from various tribal people who lived in the continent during ancient times. Many of these tribes roamed from place to place and mixed with other groups. For example, the ancestors of the British people included such groups as the Angles, Celts, Danes, Jutes, and Saxons.
Europe has a great influence on world politics. Ancient Greece first created a democracy which is widespread in most of the countries today. During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church held Great political influence across Europe. But by the 1700s power had shifted from the Church into the hands of the government of the nations, such as Spain, Great Britain, etc. They grew rich by exploiting Asia, Africa and earlier America. Many of these European colonies did not achieve their independence until the 20th century.