Europe at A Glance

Europe isn’t a continent on its own but is attached to the western end of Asia. It is usually said to end at the Ural and Caucasus Mountains in Russia. Europe is the second smallest continent (only Australia is smaller continent). It occupies just 7 per cent of the Earth’s surface, but contains 25 per cent of the world’s population. There are 44 countries in the Europe today.



Total land area: 10,245,000 sq km (3,956,000 sq miles)

Biggest country: (European) Russia 4,294,400 sq km (1,658,000 sq miles)

Smallest country: Vatican City 0.4 sq km (0.2 sq miles)

Highest mountain: Mount Elbrus, Russia 5,642 m (18,510 ft)

Longest river: Volga, Russia 3,700 km (2,299 miles)

Biggest lake: Lake Ladoga, Russia 17,700 sq km (6,834 sq miles)

Most populated city: Moscow, Russia 10,500,000 people

Tallest building: Naberezhnaya Tower, Moscow 268 m (881 ft)

Your royal highness…

These European countries still have monarohies. In most, the monarch has no political powers but is the official head of state.

Royal crown
Photo credit: Alexandr Synytsa
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK
Big Ben, London, UK
Big Ben, London, UK. Photo credit: Marcin Nowak

Cross countries

The River Danube flows through four capital cities – Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade – on its journey from central Germany to the Black Sea.

Danube river, Budapest
Danube river, Budapest. Photo credit: Yu Siang Teo

Despite its name. you’ll never run out of hot water in Iceland! This volcanically active island has many geysers and hot springs, including the Strokkur geyser, which spouts boiling water high into the sky.

Eiffel tower Paris, France
Eiffel tower Paris, France. Photo credit: pixabay

Record breakers

Mont Blanc, 4,807 m (15,771 ft), is the highest peak in the Alps, Europe’s greatest mountain range and home to some of the world’s top ski resorts.

The longest tunnel in Europe is the Channel Tunnel linking England and France, which stretches 50 km (31 miles). The Gotthard Base Tunnel under the Alps (due for completion in 2012) will be 57 km (35 miles).

What’s in a name?

The Iron Curtain was a widely used term for the political division of Europe during the Cold War (1948—1989). It was coined by British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.

Membership of the European Union (EU) going up…

The EU works for greater economic, political, and social cooperation between its member-states.

6 in 1958
Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands.

9 in 1973
Denmark, Ireland, and UK join.

10 in 1981
Greece joins.

12 in 1986
Portugal and Spain join.

15 in 1995
Austria, Finland. and Sweden join.

25 in 2005
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia join.

27 in 2007
Bulgaria and Romania join.

Blasts from the past

3000 BCE
Prehistoric stone monuments such as England’s stonehenge built.

776 BCE
First Olympic Games held in Ancient Greece.

334 BCE
Macedonian leader Alexander the Great sets out to conquer Persians.

63 BCE
Augustus becomes the first emperor of Ancient Rome.

313 BCE
Roman emperor Constantine allows Christianity throughout the Empire.

End of Roman Empire in western Europe.

Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

Black Death plague devastates Europe, killing a third of the population.

Christopher Columbus crosses the Atlantic.

English playwright William Shakespeare writes Romeo and Juliet.

French Revolution.

World War I.

Communist revolution in Russia.

World War ll.

Formation of European Union.

Fall of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe; end of the Cold War.

St. Basil's Cathedral Moscow, Russia
St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia. Photo credit: pixabay

Five most populated countries in Europe

145.9 million people

83.8 million people

84.4 million people

65.2 million people

67.8 million people

Europe’s newest countries

After the Cold War ended, many regions declared independence and formed their own nations,

Belarus: Established 1991, was part of Soviet Russia.

Estonia: Established 1991, was part of Soviet Russia.

Latvia: Established 1991, was part of Soviet Russia.

Lithuania: Established 1991. was part of Soviet Russia.

Moldova: Established 1991, was part of Soviet Russia.

Ukraine: Established 1991, was part of Soviet Russia.

Croatia: Established 1991, was part of Yugoslavia.

Serbia: Established 1991 , was part of Yugoslavia.

Slovenia: Established 1992, was part of Yugoslavia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Established 1992, was part of Yugoslavia.

Czech Republic: Established 1993, was part of Czechoslovakia.

Slovakia: Established 1993, was part of Czechoslovakia.

Macedonia: Established 1993, was part of Yugoslavia.

Montenegro: Established 2006, was part of Yugoslavia.

You won’t believe it!

Air Guitar World Championships
Air Guitar World Championships. Photo credit: Aleksi Ollila

The town of Oulu in Finland hosts the annual Air Guitar World Championships. Competitors from all over the world pretend to play rock guitars, and marks are given for technical merit, stage presence, and “airness” (artistic interpretation).