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Paris - Seine River - Notre Dame -- Galen Frysinger Photo

Map of Europe

Physical Geography
The continent of Europe is really a giant peninsula extending west from Asia -- some Geographers prefer to call the entire landmass Eurasia.  Europe has a long irregular coastline which has influenced the region in several ways.  Many peninsulas and islands are surrounded by various seas.  This has the effect of allowing air masses from the Atlantic to penetrate well into the interior and encourages use of the sea as a transportation highway.
 The land of Europe consists of plains through the center of the landmass with mountains to the north and the south.  The mountains to the north are the Scandinavian Highlands -- a shield area, rich in mineral wealth.  To the south are the various ranges of the Alpine System stretching from Spain to the Balkan Peninsula.  The mountains of the Alpine System have been produced as Africa shoves northward and collides with the Mediterranean sea floor and Europe.
The mountains and Marine climate of Europe produce many rivers that serve as important transportation routes throughout the landmass.  Many of the rivers have been linked with canals making it possible to ship via water routes to most places within the landmass.  Rivers also link interior areas with coastal ports -- Europe has many ports, some among the world's largest.  The Rhine, Danube, and Rhone-Saone corridors are among the most important -- for transportation on the river and for land transportation systems following the valleys.
The varied geology of Europe provides mineral resources.  Europe has major coal, oil, and natural gas deposits -- metal ores are found in the mountains and shield areas.

Landscape Map of Europe

Nighttime Lights of Europe

Warm ocean currents and westerlie winds cause Europe to be much warmer than other areas at the same latitude.  A warm current orginating in the Gulf of Mexico is propelled northeastward across the Atlantic by the Prevailing Westerlies -- this current divides into several branches off the coast of Europe and spreads its warmth throughout many of the seas and bays.  Westerlie winds crossing this area of warm water pick up the warmth and humidity and spread this marine effect well into the landmass.  The mountains of Europe generally trend in an east-west direction and do not interfere with the marine penetration of the landmass.
Much of Europe has a Marine West Coast climate -- temperatures are moderate in both summer and winter and precipitation is adequate throughout the year.
In the north of Scandinavia, Subarctic climate is found -- with transitions to Tundra along the Arctic Coast.
To the south of the Marine zone is Mediterranean climate.  This is the type region that defines Mediterranean climate thoughout the world. Summers are hot and dry owing to the influence of a zone of subtropical high pressure.  In the winter, the subtropical high moves southward and allows moisture bearing storms entry to the Mediterranean Basin.
The eastern area of Western Europe sees the development of Continental climate as the marine air masses lose their identity and begin to acquire characteristics of the land.  There is much greater seasonal variation in temperature in this area.  Precipitation remains adequate for agriculture.

Gulf Stream/North Atlantic Drift

Precipitation Map

Animated Climate Map

Weather Satellite

Population Patterns
Europe has a diverse population caused by the migrations of various groups of people over the centuries.  The plains and river corridors made travel into the region relatively easy.
Population is concentrated on the plains and along various river valleys -- good agricultural possibilites and transportation and trade routes.
Europe was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and owing to the importance of manufacturing it is not surprizing to find 75% of Europeans living in or near large cities.
Europeans have made major contributions to the world -- including the ideas of Greece and Rome that served as models for the Western World.  Scientific discoveries in Europe allowed the exploration of the rest of the world and the spread of European culture worldwide through colonization and immigration.  Today, Europe is unifying economically into a single market/trading block.
At the close of WW 2 the countries of Eastern Europe became controlled by Communist Governments -- today, these countries are making the transition to democratic governments, and free market economies.
Most governments play a major role in the welfare of their citizens, and in many cases play a major role in their nations economies.  They may operate the transportation and communication systems and other public services.

Population Distribution

Agriculture and Industry
Europe is ideally suited for agriculture and has advantages many other areas of the world do not enjoy.  A mild climate and adequate precipitation promote some of the most productive farms in the world.  European farms tend to be small in size, but production per acre is among the highest in the world.
European farmers were among the first to use scientific methods and farm machinery.  More Europeans earn a living from farming than any other single economic activity.  Percentage of farm workers varies considerably from country to country.  In Eastern and Southern Europe the percentage of farmers is considerably higher than Western Europe.
Europe is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700's.
Industrialization has led to some of the highest living standards in the world.
Europe leads the world in production of barley, oats, potatoes, rye, and sugar beets.   Wheat is a major crop grown in most countries.  Southern European nations grow citrus fruit, dates, and figs.  Olives and grapes are important Mediterranean climate crops.
Dairying is widespread -- especially important in Denmark, United Kingdom, and Netherlands.  Livestock is important in most countries and some of the world's finest breeds of domestic animals were developed in Europe.
Fishing supplies a large part of the food supply -- particularly important to Denmark and Norway as well as serveral other countries.
Most farms in Europe are mixed farms which produce several kinds crops and livestock.
Leaders in manufacturing include United Kingdom, Italy, France, Poland, and Germany -- these countries are among the leading producers of steel and automobiles in the world.
International Banking and insurance rank among Europe's leading service industries.  Tourism is also an important service industry -- several European countries rank high on the list of destinations.

Bulgaria Attar of Roses -- Tundzha Valley

Land Use Map (small)

Transportation and Communication
Most of Europe's transportation and communication industries are government owned.  These systems are among the best in the world.
A vast network of highways link the region together -- both for private passenger cars and freight carried by truck.  A recently completed rail link below the English Channel speeds connection between the British Isles and the mainland.
Railroad passenger is unparalled in all the world, trains run fast and on time. Rail handles a great deal of freight among the nations as well.
Europe has a vast number of airports -- many of which are among the largest in the world.
Communication systems link Europe with the rest of the world instantaneously.
International Broadcasts from Europe are tuned in by people the world over.

Geography 101 -- Europe

Europe -- Infoplease

CIA World Factbook

Ports of Europe

Transportation Map

Navigate to Flags and Facts -- Europe

Channel Tunnel

Agriculture and Food Issues

Rhine River

Alps Mountains

Galen Frysinger Photos

City Guides -- (Photos!)

Spanish Olives

Athens -- Sites and Monuments

Malta -- (photos)

Carpathian Mountain Photos

Map and Discussion

Russia and the Former Soviet Republics