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Europe (yo͝orˈəp), 6th largest continent, c.4,000,000 sq mi (10,360,000 sq km) including adjacent islands (2015 est. pop. 740,814,000). It is actually a vast peninsula of the great Eurasian land mass. By convention, it is separated from Asia by the Urals and the Ural River in the east; by the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus in the southeast; and by the Black Sea, the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles in the south. The Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar separate it from Africa. Europe is washed in the north by the Arctic Ocean, and in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, with which the North Sea and the Baltic Sea are connected.

Physical Geography

The huge Alpine mountain chain, of which the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Carpathians, the Balkans, and the Caucasus are the principal links, traverses the continent from west to east. The highest points are Mt. Elbrus (18,481 ft/5,633 m) in the Caucasus and Mont Blanc (15,771 ft/4,807 m) in the Alps. Europe's lowest point (92 ft/28 m below sea level) is the surface of the Caspian Sea. Between the mountainous Scandinavian peninsula in the north and the Alpine chain in the south lie the Central European Uplands surrounded by the great European plain, stretching from the Atlantic coast of France to the Urals.

A large part of this plain (which is interrupted by minor mountain groups and hills) has fertile agricultural soil; in the east and north there are vast steppe, forest, lake, and tundra regions. South of the Alpine chain extend the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan peninsulas, which are largely mountainous. The Po plain, between the Alps and the Apennines, and the Alföld plain, between the Carpathians and the Alps, are fertile and much-developed regions. Among the chief river systems of Europe are, from east to west, those of the Volga, the Don, the Dnieper, the Danube, the Vistula, the Oder, the Elbe, the Rhine, the Rhône, the Loire, the Garonne, and the Tagus.


The climate of Europe varies from subtropical to polar. The Mediterranean climate of the south is dry and warm. The western and northwestern parts have a mild, generally humid climate, influenced by the North Atlantic Drift. In central and eastern Europe the climate is of the humid continental-type with cool summers. In the northeast subarctic and tundra climates are found. All of Europe is subject to the moderating influence of prevailing westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean and, consequently, its climates are found at higher latitudes than similar climates on other continents.


Europe can be divided into seven geographic regions: Scandinavia (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark); the British Isles (the United Kingdom and Ireland); W Europe (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Monaco); S Europe (Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Italy, Malta, San Marino, and Vatican City); Central Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary); SE Europe (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and the European part of Turkey); and E Europe (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, the European portion of Russia, and by convention the Transcaucasian countries of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan).


Indo-European languages (see The Indo-European Family of Languages, table) predominate in Europe; others spoken include Basque, Maltese, and the languages classified as Finno-Ugric, Samoyedic, Bulgaric, and Turkic. Roman Catholicism is the chief religion of S and W Europe and the southern part of central Europe; Protestantism is dominant in Great Britain, Scandinavia, and the northern part of Europe; the Orthodox Eastern Church predominates in E and SE Europe; and there are pockets of of Muslim predominance in the Balkan Peninsula and Transcaucasia. With the exception of the northern third of the continent, Europe is densely populated. Eleven cities have populations 04/96exceeding two million inhabitants; London, Moscow, and Paris are the largest cities.

Economy and Transportation

Europe is highly industrialized; the largest industrial areas are found in W central Europe, England, N Italy, Ukraine, and European Russia. Agriculture, forestry (in N Europe), and fishing (along the Atlantic coast) are also important. Europe has a large variety of minerals; coal, iron ore, and salt are abundant. Oil and gas are found in E Europe and beneath the North Sea. Coal is used to produce a significant, but declining amount of Europe's electricity; in Norway and Sweden and in the Alps hydroelectric plants supply a large percentage of the power. More than 25% of Europe's electricity is generated from nuclear power.

The transportation system in Europe is highly developed; interconnecting rivers and canals provide excellent inland water transportation in central and W Europe. The Channel Tunnel connects Great Britain to France. The countries of Europe engage heavily in foreign trade, and some of the world's greatest ports are found there. Rotterdam with the huge new Europort complex, London, Le Havre, Hamburg, Genoa, and Marseilles are the chief ports.

Outline of History

Historical Currents

The beginnings of civilization in Europe can be traced to very ancient times; the necropolis at Varna in Bulgaria and Stonehenge in England are among the remains of early European cultures that are otherwise lost. Greek and Roman cultures subsequently flourished in Europe, and European civilization—language, technology, political concepts, and the Christian religion—have been spread throughout the world by European colonists and immigrants. Throughout history, Europe has been the scene of many great and destructive wars that have ravaged both rural and urban areas. Once embraced by vast and powerful empires and kingdoms, successful nationalistic uprisings (especially in the 19th cent.) divided the continent into many sovereign states. The political fragmentation led to economic competition and political strife among the states.

Modern History

After World War II, Europe became divided into two ideological blocs (Eastern Europe, dominated by the USSR, and Western Europe, dominated by the United States) and became engaged in the cold war. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed as a military deterrent to the spread of Communism and sought to maintain a military balance with its eastern equivalent, the Warsaw Treaty Organization. Cold war tensions eased in the 1960s, and signs of normalization of East-West relations appeared in the 1970s.

In Western Europe, the European Economic Community (Common Market), the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) merged in 1967 to form the European Community. Known since 1993 as the European Union, the organization aims to develop economic and monetary union among its members, ultimately leading to political union. The Eastern European counterpart was the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), which, like the Warsaw Treaty Organization, dissolved with the breakup of the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s.

The loosening of political control sparked a revival of the long pent-up ethnic nationalism and a wave of democratization that led to an overthrow of the Communist governments in Eastern Europe. In the former Yugoslavia, ethnic tensions between Muslims, Croats, and Serbs were unleashed, leading to civil war and massacres of members of ethnic groups, or “ethnic cleansing,” in areas where other groups won military control. During the early and mid-1990s most of the former Soviet bloc countries embarked on economic restructuring programs to transform their centralized economies into market-based ones. The pace of reform varied, especially as the hardships involved became increasingly evident. Meanwhile, in Western Europe the European Union, amid some tensions, continued working toward greater political and economic unity, including the creation of a common European currency.


See S. B. Clough et al., ed., The European Past (2 vol., 1964); Denis de Rougemont, The Idea of Europe (tr. 1966); John Bowle, The Unity of European History: A Political and Cultural Survey (rev. and enl. ed. 1970); Richard Mayne, The Europeans: Who Are We? (1972); Stephen Usherwood, Europe, Century by Century (1973); T. G. Jordan, The European Culture Area (2d ed. 1988); T. Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (2005); M. E. Sarotte, 1989: The Struggle to Create Post–Cold War Europe (2009); B. Simms, Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy from 1453 to the Present (2013); K. H. Jarausch, Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century (2015); I. Kershaw, To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914–1949 (2015).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Greek:Eurōpē, from the Assyrian Ereb , “the West”; in ancient Greece, the name for territories located west of the Aegean Sea), a part of the world; the western part of the continent of Eurasia.

Europe is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean and its seas—the Kara, Barents, White, and Norwegian seas. In the west and south it is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and its seas—the Baltic, North, Irish, Mediterranean, and Black seas and the seas of Marmara and Azov. In the east and southeast the border between Europe and Asia is most commonly accepted as passing through the eastern foothills of the Urals and along the Emba River to the Caspian Sea and along the Kuma and Manych rivers to the mouth of the Don. The extreme continental points of Europe are in the north, North Cape, 71°08’ N lat., in the south, Point Marroqui, 36° N lat, in the west, Capa da Roca, 9°34’ W long., and in the east, the eastern foothills of the polar Urals near Baidaratak Bay, 67°20’ E long. Europe also has islands and archipelagoes, the largest of which are Novaia Zemlia, Franz Josef Land (Cape Fligeli on Rodol’f Island is the northernmost point of Europe, at 81°49’ N lat.), Svalbard, Iceland, the British Isles, Zeeland, the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and Crete. Within the borders defined above, the area of Europe, including its islands, is approximately 10 million sq km. The area of the islands alone is approximately 730,000 sq km.

In some geographic as well as statistical and economic works, the Caucasus (including Ciscaucasia and Transcaucasia as far as the state borders of the USSR) are treated as part of Europe.

It is a commonly accepted practice to divide Europe into two major parts: Eastern Europe (most of the European territory of the USSR) and Western Europe (most of the non-Soviet area of Europe).

Coastline. Compared to other parts of the world, Europe is outstanding for the great diversity of its coastline: for every 1 km of coastline there is about 246 sq km of territory. The total length of the coastline is approximately 38,000 km, and the maximum distance of the interior regions of Europe from the sea is 1,600 km. Peninsulas account for about 25 percent of Europe’s area. The major peninsulas are the Kanin, Kola, Scandinavian, Iberian, Italian, Balkan, and Crimean peninsulas, Jutland, and Brittany.

Smooth, regular, eroded coasts prevail, formed primarily by the wave action of the sea (for example, the eastern shores of the White Sea and the southeastern shores of the Barents Sea, the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, the western coast of the North Sea, the eastern coast of the Bay of Biscay, and much of the coastlines of the Mediterranean and Black seas). The southern and southeastern shores of the North Sea and parts of the southern shore of the Barents Sea are marshy, formed by the action of the tides on lowland’s.

In the remaining regions of the continent, relatively high, extremely dissected tectonic shores prevail, such as the faulted coasts of the Kola Peninsula and the folded coasts in the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula. The fiord and cliff coasts of the Norwegian Sea, the northern part of the Baltic Sea, and the shores of Scotland and Iceland were formed by glaciers. A number of European coasts were changed by intrusions of the sea (the ria coasts of the peninsulas of Brittany, Wales, and western Ireland, the northwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula, and the Dalmatian coast in the western Balkan Peninsula).

Basic orography. In its average elevation (about 300 m) and its maximum elevation (4,807 m, Mont Blanc, the Alps), Europe lags behind the other continents, with the exception of Australia. Approximately 60 percent of Europe’s surface is located at an elevation of less than 200 m. (In many instances, the surface of the continent is below sea level. The shores of the Caspian Sea are at −28 m, and several portions of the shores of the North and Baltic seas are below sea level.) Of the remaining surface, 24 percent is from 200 to 500m above sea level, 10 percent is from 500 to 1,000m, and 6 percent is at elevations of more than 1,000 m (including 1.5 percent at elevations higher than 2,000 m).

The distribution of surface elevations indicates the prevalence of plains in Europe. Almost all of Eastern Europe and the northern part of Central Europe are occupied by the Eastern European (Russian) Plain and its extension in the west—the Central European Plain. A considerable portion of Fennoscandia is also occupied by plains, and in the remaining regions of the continent, plains are scattered between the mountains (for example, the Central Danubian and Lower Danubian plains).

In the extreme east lie the Ural Mountains, and in the northwest, the Scandinavian uplands. The southern part of Central Europe is ringed by belts of mountains that are small in area and low in elevation: the French Massif Central, the Vosges, the Black Forest, and the Rhenish Slate Mountains. From the south these belts are framed by the highest mountains in Europe—the Alps—as well as by the Carpathians. Mountainous relief prevails in southern Europe: the Pyrenees, the Andalusian Mountains, the Apennines, the Stara Planina (Balkan Mountains), and the Dinaric, Rhodope, and Pindus mountains.

Origin and development of topography. The predominance in Europe of platform structures is manifested in the wide distribution of plains, which are especially characteristic of Eastern Europe. Located in the northwestern part of the Eastern European Platform are the socle plains of Fennoscandia, which were formed as a result of a prolonged denudation (beginning in the Paleozoic period) of the surface of the Baltic Shield. During the Pleistocene epoch the Fennoscandian terrain was made more complex by the action of glaciers that covered the area. Socle plains are also found in the southern and eastern parts of Scandinavia, Finland, the Kola Peninsula, and Karelia. Low plains (elevations up to 100–150 m) prevail, with thick but shallow tectonic dissection, frequent drops in elevation, and widely distributed morainic ridges, eskers, kames, and depressions, many of which are filled with lakes.

Individual uplands and ridges (Småland, Suomenselkä, Maanselkä, and Western Karelian highlands, the Vetrenyi Poias, and the Keivy) and low and medium-height hills (the Lovozerok Tundras and the Khibiny) correspond to the zones of the greatest tectonic uplifts or to outcroppings of very dense rocks. There are stratified and accumulation plains on the European Platform and on the syneclises of the Epipaleozoic platforms adjacent to it (in the south, the Scythian Plain, and in the west, the Western European Plain). These plains were formed by the prolonged accumulation of sedimentary rocks of the platform bed, whose stratification is primarily horizontal or monoclinal (the latter type is found chiefly in the northwest).

In addition to overall flatness and low average elevation (approximately 170 m), the surface of Europe is characterized by a combination of uplands up to 300–400 m (the Central Russian Valdai, Volga Region, Verkhniaia Kama, Bugul’-ma-Belebei, and Severnye Uvaly uplands) and lowlands (the Oka-Don Plain, the Black Sea Region, the Pechora, and the Caspian Lowland, as well as the Trans-Volga Region and the Central European Plain). The tectonic diversity of the platform’s base and the varying direction and scope of neotectonic movements are reflected in the combination of uplands and lowlands.

The northern regions of the stratified plains, which were altered by Pleistocene glaciers, have numerous glacial and aqueoglacial plains and glacial forms of terrain that were laid down on the preglacial surface of ancient river valleys, water divides, and cuesta ridges. In general, fewer glacial forms are encountered as one moves south toward the boundaries of maximum glaciation (Dnieper glaciation). Glacial terrain is especially well preserved in the regions of the most recent (Valdai) glaciation, which are characterized by recent morainic ridges (for example, the Baltic ridges of the Valdai Hills), basal morainic hills, and glacial lake lowlands. Plains that lie between the boundaries of the maximal and the most recent glaciation have a glacial terrain that has been extensively reworked by erosion and denudation. In these areas gently rolling morainic plains and almost flat, sandy outwash plains prevail (Poles’e, the Oka-Don Plain, and the southern regions of the Central European Plain). The remnants of ancient morainic ridges are also found in northern Byelorussia and on the Smolensk-Moscow Upland.

Most of the nonglaciated regions of Europe are occupied by stratified plains, with water-eroded reliefs characterized by mature, broad, terraced, asymmetrical river valleys, as well as by ravines, gullies, and comparatively flat water divides. Particularly deep dissection caused by erosion characterizes the Central Russian, Volga Region, Podolian, and Dnieper Region uplands, most of which are covered by a thick layer of loess and loessial loams. The Trans-Volga Region, considerable areas of which lack loose top soil deposits, are less dissected. Associated with the geologic youth, low absolute elevation, and arid climate of the Caspian Lowland (a marine accumulation plain that recently emerged from below sea level) are predominantly flat surfaces. Small sinkholes (1–5 m deep) and hollows are encountered in the north. In the south, the terrain is more complex, with clays and low sandy ridges (2–8 m high) and hillocks. Located among the stratified plains of the Donetsk, Timansk, and Chernyshev ridges are eroded and denuded uplands, which are related to outcrops of the folded base. The Dnieper and Azov uplands are socle plains partially buried under a sedimentary cover.

Located in the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, framing the Fennoscandian socle plains, are the regenerated folded block and block Scandinavian mountains, which were formed on the site of the structures of the Caledonian Region and (in the south and southeast) the Baltic Shield, which were uplifed and became peneplains during the Cenozoic era. Flat-topped massifs— fjelds— prevail, dissected by deep, trough-shaped valleys with steep western and more gently sloping eastern sides. Topographical features formed by glacial exaration are widespread on the Scandinavian Peninsula. The highest peaks have an alpine relief. The lower mountains in the northern part of Great Britain have similar characteristics (the Scottish Highlands and the Southern Uplands of Scotland).

Regions where Hercynian folded structures are widespread have primarily rejuvenated, folded block mountains of medium elevation. The best example of this type of terrain is the Ural Mountains. Located in the Ural-Tien-Shan folded region, they are a system of parallel ranges extending meridionally and divided by longitudinal and lateral depressions, which are occupied by river valleys. Prolonged, intensive denudation resulted in the formation of a series of pene-plains in the Urals, and only neotectonic movements have rejuvenated the mountainous terrain. Mountain ranges of low and medium elevations prevail, with flat or domed peaks and gently contoured slopes. The polar Urals and the Urals below the arctic circle have mountain-glacial forms of terrain and small glaciers.

In the Western European Hercynian Zone the low and medium-height folded-block and block mountains and uplands, which correspond to the anteclises of the folded foundation (for example, the Massif Central of France, the Armorican Massif, the Cambrian Mountains, the Vosges, the Black Forest, the Rhenish Slate Mountains, the Bohemian Massif, including the Ore Mountains, the Sudetes, and the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands) underwent intensive tectonic disintegration. In many places, these mountains alternate with plains on grabens (the Upper Rhine and Rhone lowlands) and with stratified, stepped cuesta plains, which are primarily related to syneclises of a folded foundation (the Paris, London, and Thuringian basins and the Swabian-Franconian Plain).

A diverse topography distinguishes the Alpine geosynclinal folded region, whose mountainous relief is characterized by folded and block-folded, alpine, medium-height and high, linearly extended or arch-shaped curved mountain ranges, with sharp watershed crests and well-developed slopes and foothills. The highest of these mountains are the Alps, whose orographic continuation in the northwest is the Jura and in the northeast, the Carpathians, which subsequently form a transition to the Stara Planina. In the south-east the Alps run into the Dinaric and Pindus mountains and the mountains of the Peloponnese and the island of Crete, and in the south, they join the Apennine Mountains. Also included in this type of mountainous relief are the Pyrenees and the Andalusian and Crimean mountains. Water erosion, the development of karst, and other geologic processes played a considerable role in forming the terrain of these mountains. A number of Pleistocene glaciers affected the terrain of the highest mountains, and glaciers still cause significant changes in the Alps. Karst forms are most typical in the limestone regions of the Alps, the Jura, and the Dinaric and Crimean mountains.

Also characteristic of European orography are regions of medium-height and low block ranges and plateaus, which are confined to the intermediate massifs of the Paleozoic era and have a relatively level peak surface, deep tectonic dissection, and steep slopes. (Examples of this type of relief include the Rhodope and Rila mountains, the mountains of Macedonia and eastern Greece, the Calabrian Apennines, most of the mountains of Corsica and Sardinia, the Sierra de Credos and Sierra de Guadarrama of the Iberian Peninsula, and the Cantabrian Mountains.)

A considerable part of Europe is occupied by stratified and accumulation plains and plateaus of intermontane and piedmont downwarps, in which geologic forms caused by water erosion and accumulation prevail (the Central Danubian, Lower Danubian, Padanus, Andalusian, and Portuguese plains and the plateaus of New and Old Castile). Karst relief is frequently encountered on these types of plains and plateaus (the Karst and Dobruja plateaus).

The topography of Iceland is unique, characterized by a series of basalt plateaus of varying elevations, which are topped by the domes and cones of extinct and active volcanoes, often buried under glaciers. Glacial forms of terrain are widespread.


Geologic structure and minerals. Europe is distinguished by the high level and great complexity of the studies on its geologic structure. It is located within the boundaries of the Eastern European (Russian) or European Platform, which has a folded foundation dating from the Precambrian era. In the east (within the area of the Russian Platform), where it is deeply submerged, and in the eastern part of the Baltic Shield, where it protrudes on the surface, the foundation is composed of Archean and early Proterozoic rocks. In the west (southern Scandinavia, Denmark, and Great Britain) late Proterozoic metamorphic rocks are widely developed.

After the consolidation of the foundation, which occurred during the last 1.2–1.6 billion years, individual sections of the platform were covered for long periods by seas and lagoons. This led to the formation of a thick platform sheath, which consists of sedimentary series from the end of the Proterozoic era (Jotnian and Riphean), sandy clay strata of the Cambrian and Ordovician periods and Silurian limestones. Other components of the sheath include red saliferous and limestone rocks of the Devonian period and thick continental strata (with coal-bearing series) from the Carboniferous, Permian, and Triassic periods. The late Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous deposits, as well as the Paleocene and Neocene deposits that fill the deep depressions, usually to the edges of the platform, are sometimes several kilometers thick. (The Hamburg Depression is approximately 6 km thick.)

During specific tectonically active epochs (the Wendian Devonian, Permian, and part of the Jurassic), volcanic activity occurred on the Eastern European Platform, causing the formation of basalts and other eruptive rocks. The Precambrian platform of the Barents Sea lies north of the Eastern European Platform, occupying the northern shelf of the continent from Franz Josef Land to the Pechora Lowland. Analogous to the Barents platform is the ancient platform (Eria), which forms the edge of the shelf north of the British Isles. Iceland and the island of Jan Mayen are heterogeneous volcanic uplifts that originated during the Cenozoic era on top of the northern part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The northeastern part of Europe (the Timansk Ridge, the Pechora Lowland, and the northern framework of the Kola Peninsula), which is made up of Riphean schistose series, belongs to the region of Baikal folding.

Extending through the northwestern part of the continent (from Svalbard through Bear Island, the Scandinavian mountains, and the northern and western islands of Great Britain and Ireland) is the Caledonian folded system, which originated from deep geosynclinal downwarps during the early Paleozoic and Prepaleozoic eras. Within this system thick volcanogenic and sedimentary Cambrian, Ordovician, and Silurian strata developed, whose cross-section is topped by thick red Devonian molasse. The system is characterized by complex folding and an abundance of magmatic formations. Scotland and Norway have well-known overthrust sheets with a horizontal displacement as high as 100–120 km. In Scotland the overthrusts extend toward the northwest, in the direction of the Eria Platform, whereas in Norway they stretch to the southwest toward the Baltic Shield.

South of the Caledonian folded system extend the Hercynian folded structures, which are partly covered by a sheath of slightly faulted Mesozoic and Cenozoic strata. The Hercynian structures protrude on the surface of the Iberian Peninsula, as well as in the Massif Central and the Armorican Massif in France, the mountains of southern Wales, the Ardennes, the Vosges, the Black Forest, the Harz and Ore mountains, the Bohemian Massif, the Sudetes, the Silesian mountains, and the Svientokrzyz Mountains. A great number of massifs are located within the Hercynian zone, including the Bohemian Massif and the Massif Central. They consist primarily of Precambrian metamorphic strata. Around these ancient nuclei extend thick eugeosynclinal and miogeosynclinal zones. In areas of Variscan folding there are large horizontal and sloping overthrust sheets (the Ardennes and the Iberian Peninsula), as well as complex dome-shaped (sometimes fan-shaped) folds.

Also part of the Hercynian zone consists of the folded structures of the Urals and Novaia Zemlia, which adjoin the European Platform from the east. The Paleozoic folded strata of the Urals extend toward the west. In the east they are penetrated by thick intrusions of ultrabasites and granitoids. The Ural folded system consists of a number of parallel anticlinal uplifts and synclinal downwarps. The structure of the eastern parts of this mountain area are eugeosynclinal, whereas the western regions are miogeosynclinal.

As a rule, foredeeps extend along the boundaries of the ancient platforms (for example, the “coal channel” between France and Belgium and the Cisural downwarp). They are filled with coal-bearing, petroleum-bearing, and saliferous molasse. The Eastern European Platform is bounded on the east by the Paleozoic folded region of the Urals.

The mountain structures in southern Europe (the Andalusian Mountains, the Apennines, the Alps, the Carpathians, and the mountains of the Balkan Peninsula and the Crimea) belong to the Alpine geosynclinal (folded) region. The northern part of the Alpine geosynclinal downwarps was formed on the Paleozoic folded structures of Western and Southern Europe. In these zones were formed primarily schistose, flysch, and thick carbonaceous series, which make up the Alps and Carpathians. Very little magmatism occurred in the region. A thick cover and foredeeps originated during the Alpine tectonic period. The southern part of the Alpine folded region arose on the site of the Epibaikal Platform, which had disintegrated as a result of alpine movements. During the Paleozoic the Epibaikal Platform encircled the Precambrian African-Arabian Platform from the north in the form of an extended mobile shelf. In this region many stable, ancient blocks have been preserved—intermediate massifs and traces of extensive alpine magmatism (in the form of ultrabasites).

Within the Alpine folded system unique depressions originated, characterized by an earth-crust structure that resembles the ocean’s (for example, part of the depression of the southern Caspian, the Black Sea, and the Tyrrhenian Sea). According to data from geophysical investigations the “granitic” stratum in these areas is either sharply reduced or absent, and the earth’s crust is generally 20–30 km thick.

The mineral resources of Europe include petroleum and natural gas deposits, which are confined to the platform’s Paleozoic and Mesozoic deposits (the Volga-Ural petroleum and gas region, the Northern Caspian, the Dnieper-Donets avlakogene, deposits in Poland, the Federal Republic of Germany [FRG], the Netherlands, and Great Britain, the Paris and Aquitanian basins, and the underwater deposits of the North Sea). A number of the petroleum deposits are related to Neocene deposits in the piedmont and inter-montane downwarps of the Alpine folded region in countries such as Rumania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Italy. Among the deposits of anthracite and bituminous coals that are being worked are the Donets, L’vov-Volynsk, Moscow, and Pechora basins in the USSR, the Upper Silesian Basin (Poland), basins in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the FRG (the Ruhr, Aachen, and the Saar), Belgium, and Great Britain (Wales and Newcastle).

Thick deposits of iron ores are being mined in the USSR in the Urals, the Ukraine, and Voronezh and Kursk oblasts and on Kola Peninsula. In Western Europe the iron deposits of Sweden are very important, as well as the Jurassic sedimentary oolitic ores of the Lorraine basin in France and Luxemburg. A major deposit of manganese ore is located in the Ukrainian SSR (Nikopol’ Raion). Bauxite deposits have been found in the Urals as well as in other regions of the Eastern European Platform and in Hungary, France, Yugoslavia, Italy, and Greece. Nonferrous metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt, lead, and silver are distributed primarily in the Hercynian zone in the GDR, the FRG, Spain, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria and in the Upper Silesian Basin in Poland. Deposits of rock salt and potash salts are widespread in the Devonian and Permian sediments of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Caspian region, and the foothills of the Urals. Rich deposits of apatite-nepheline ores are mined on the Kola Peninsula. Major saliferous deposits dating from the Permian and Triassic ages are confined to the territories of Denmark, the FRG, the GDR, and Poland. Also of great importance are the potash salt deposits in the GDR, the FRG, and France.


Climate. The geography of Europe determines the predominance in it of a temperate climate, but the westward movement of air from the Atlantic over the continent results in the prevalence of a marine climate, as well as climates that are transitional between marine and continental. The average annual magnitudes of the radiation balance are positive everywhere and increase from north to south. On the arctic islands they are approximately 10, near the 50th parallel, approximately 40, and in the southern regions of Europe, up to 250–290 kilojoules per cm2 (kJ/cm2) (60–70 kilocalories per cm2 [kcal/cm2]). In January the entire continent, with the exception of the Mediterranean Sea and most of France, has a radiation balance that varies from −17 to −4.2 kJ/cm− (between −4 and −1 kcal/cm2). In July the variations between the northern and southern regions is practically eliminated, because the days become longer in the north in summer. The radiation balance in most of Europe in July is about 34 kJ/cm2 (8 kcal/cm2).

The displacement of air masses in the system of atmospheric circulation causes the redistribution of heat, especially during the winter. The thawing effect of the west-ward shift of air, which is intensified by the warm North Atlantic Drift, is manifested in the divergence of the winter isotherms from the latitudinal direction and in the significant amount by which average winter temperatures in most of Europe (except the southeast) exceed average latitudinal temperatures. (Examples include the positive anomaly of January temperatures on Novaia Zemlia, the Kola Peninsula, Svalbard, and the British Isles, which is 8°–18°C, and that of temperatures in western Scandinavia and Iceland, which is 18°–24°C.)

Radiation and circulation, which affect the formation of the European climate, undergo sharp seasonal changes. During the winter the lowest atmospheric pressure occurs over the North Atlantic, where the Icelandic depression is located. From there the pressure increases toward the east and south-east up to the Caspian region and the Southern Urals, to which a branch of the Asian anticyclone extends. The westward shift in the air mass is extremely intense over the western part of the Mediterranean Sea, which is located within the zone affected by the Azores anticyclone. In this system, cyclones that originate on the atmospheric fronts move from west to east, swerving toward the higher latitudes. Polar air masses prevail over almost all of Europe, and bursts of arctic air masses may reach the Alps, the Balkan Peninsula, and the Crimea. In the Mediterranean region polar air is sometimes replaced by tropical air.

The winter isotherms generally pass from northwest to southeast. The highest average monthly temperatures in January (10°–12°C) are encountered in the Mediterranean region, as well as in the maritime regions of Europe, where the 0°C isotherm extends to 70° N lat. The lowest average monthly temperatures occur in the northeastern regions of Europe, reaching −24°C in Franz Josef Land and −20°C in the Pechora basin, where the minimum absolute temperature in Europe has been recorded (−52°C). In general, Western Europe has mild winters, whereas Eastern Europe has freezing winters with a constant snow cover and a duration ranging from one month in the south to seven to nine months in the north.

During the summer the pressure gradients decrease. In July the pressure remains low near Iceland as well as over most of Eastern Europe. The highest pressure occurs in the region of the Azores anticyclone, which affects the entire Mediterranean region and parts of Central Europe. Cyclonic activity is less intense in summer than in winter. Tropical air prevails in the Mediterranean region, arctic air over the arctic regions, and polar air over the remaining regions. The sea air that comes from the Atlantic has a lower temperature than the continental air. Thus, maritime areas are generally somewhat cooler in the summer than areas located inland at the same latitudes. Although the July isotherms run approximately in a latitudinal direction, as they approach the Atlantic Ocean they bend toward the south, and in the east, they bend to the north. The average July temperature is highest along the Mediterranean (28°–30°C) and in the Caspian region (24°–26°C). The lowest average July temperatures have been recorded on the arctic islands (2°–4°C). A maximum absolute temperature of 48°C was recorded on the Iberian Peninsula.

In general, the total annual atmospheric precipitation decreases from west to east. The Atlantic regions and the windward slopes of the mountains receive 1,000–2,000 mm of precipitation per year. (Individual stations located in the maritime regions of Yugoslavia have recorded a total annual precipitation of more than 4,000 mm.) In Eastern Europe, particularly in the southeastern and southern regions, the total annual precipitation decreases to 300–500 mm per year, and in the Caspian region it is usually 200 mm or less. Most of the arctic islands and the southern shore of the Barents Sea receive 300–400 mm of precipitation per year. Data on total annual precipitation in the Mediterranean region and on the southern coast of the Crimea clearly show that maximum precipitation occurs in the winter and minimum precipitation in the summer. The Atlantic regions of Central and Northern Europe have a rather even seasonal distribution of precipitation; nonetheless, the maximum figure is likely to occur in the winter. Inland the maximum precipitation figures occur during the summer.

Throughout most of Europe the total annual precipitation exceeds the total annual evaporation. Hence, there is sufficient or even excessive moisture. In the southern and southeastern regions of Eastern Europe as well as in a number of intermontane depressions in Western Europe, the annual precipitation does not compensate for the annual evaporation, resulting in insufficient moisture. In the Mediterranean area there is an acute deficiency of moisture during the summer. Where precipitation does not compensate for evaporation, irrigation is necessary.

Europe encompasses the arctic, subarctic, temperate, and subtropical climate belts. In the arctic belt, which includes the islands in the European part of the Arctic Ocean, the climate is severe, with a long, freezing winter, frequent storms and blizzards, and a brief, cold summer (as a rule, the average July temperature, does not rise above 5°C). The chief form of precipitation is snow, and there is little evaporation. In the subarctic belt (Iceland, northern Fennoscandia, and the East European Plain), the summer is longer and warmer than in the arctic belt (up to 10° or 12°C in July). The winter is mild in the western regions and freezing in the east. The total annual precipitation is 1,000 mm in the west and 400 mm in the east, and evaporation is less than precipitation.

The temperate belt (the remaining regions of Europe, with the exception of the Mediterranean region and the southern

Table 1. Basic climatic indexes of Europe
Type of climate and
point of observation
above sea level
Average temperatures (°C) and total precipitation (mm)’
1 Upper row, temperatures; lower row, precipitation
Arctic. Green Harbor, 78· N lat.,
14·10′W long.
Subarctic marine.
63·24′ N lat.,
20·17′ E long.
Subarctic moderate
continental. Khibiny.
67·44′ N lat.,
33·24′ E long
Temperate marine (boreal).
Bergen, 60·23′ N lat.,
5·21′E long
Temperate moderate
continental (boreal).
Kargopol’, 61·30′ N lat.,
38·57′ E long
Temperate marine
(subboreal). Falmouth,
50·09′ N lat., 5·05′ W long.
Temperate moderate
continental (subboreal).
Akhtuba, 48·18′ N lat.,
46·09′ E long
Subtropical marine
Kerkira, 39·38′ N lat.,
19·55′ E long
Subtropical continental
Mediterranean. Yalta,
44·30′ N lat., 34·11′ E long.

shore of the Crimea) has a cold, boreal climate in the north and a warmer, subboreal climate in the south. Moreover, the western portion of the temperate belt has a marine climate, with a narrow annual temperature range, warm summers in the south and cool summers in the north, and on the plains, mild winters with intermittent snow cover. There is abundant precipitation throughout the year, particularly during the winter, and there is sufficient or even excessive moisture. In the east the climate is moderate continental, with a freezing, snowy winter (except in the southern regions), cool summers in the north, warm summers in the center, hot summers in the south, and a wide annual temperature range. The total annual precipitation exceeds the total annual evaporation in the north, is almost equal to it in the center, and is less than it in the south.

The subtropical belt has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, warm, rainy winters (January temperature, 4°–12°C), changeable weather, and dry, hot, or (in the west) warm summers. The areas west of the Iberian Peninsula, the Apennine Mountains, and areas west and northwest of the Balkan Peninsula have a marine Mediterranean climate, with an abbreviated period of summer dryness and a larger total annual precipitation. The remaining portions of the Iberian, Balkan, and Italian peninsulas and the southern coast of the Crimea have a continental Mediterranean climate.

Rivers and lakes. Europe is second to South America in magnitude of water flow (approximately 295 mm). However, because of its relatively small land mass, it surpasses only Australia and Antarctica in volume of flow (approximately 2,850 cu km per year). The flow is unevenly distributed over the territory of Europe. With respect to the degree of moisture, it decreases from west to east and from north to south. Most of Europe belongs to the basin of the Atlantic Ocean and its seas, but smaller parts of the continent are included in the Arctic basin and the inland Caspian basin.

The major rivers are concentrated on the plains of Eastern Europe. The Volga (with its principal tributaries, the Kama and Oka) is first in length (3,530 km), basin area (1.36 million sq km), and average annual discharge (more than 8,000 cu m per sec). After the Volga, the longest rivers in Eastern Europe are the Ural, Dnieper, Don, Pechora, Dnestr, and Severnaia Dvina, and in Western Europe, the Danube (length, 2,850 km; basin area, 817,000 sq km), Rhine, Elbe, Vistula, Loire, Tajo, and Oder.

On the plains of Eastern Europe slow-moving rivers with broad, terraced valleys prevail. They are fed by snow and partly by rain, and their principal flow occurs during the spring and early summer. Because the snow melts later on the northern part of the plain, the maximum flow occurs there in the summer. During the winter the ice cover lasts from 1½ to three months in the south and as long as seven to 7½ months in the north. The construction of large reservoirs on such rivers as the Volga, Dnieper, and Don has made their flow cycles more even and increased their importance for transportation.

In Fennoscandia most of the rivers are short, with rapids and poorly developed valleys that have many broad stretches resembling lakes. On the plains the rivers are fed primarily by snow. The maximum flow occurs during the spring, but as a result of the regulating role of the lakes and the large forests in the basins, the water content is also great in the summer and autumn. In the mountainous regions of Fennoscandia there are waterfalls. The ice cover lasts from two to three months in the central regions and as long as seven to 7½ months in the north.

In the plains regions of Central Europe the rivers are fed basically by rain. The rivers either do not freeze over or have brief, intermittent ice covers. In France, the British Isles, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the FRG the rivers have an even flow that increases somewhat during the winter and decreases during the summer. By contrast, on the eastern plains of Central Europe the rivers are fed by snow as well as by rain in the spring so that the maximum flow shifts to the spring, and the summer low-water period is longer and lower than elsewhere in Central Europe. In medium-height mountains such as the Carpathians, which are covered by snow in the winter, there are spring freshets. The rivers of the high-mountain regions of the Alps (the upper courses of the Rhine and the Rhone, the left tributaries of the Po, and the right tributaries of the Danube) are fed by glaciers as well as by snow and rain. High-water periods are characteristic of the summer months, whereas the flow is very small or disappears during the winter. Typical of the Mediterranean rivers are considerable increases in the water level during the autumn and winter, and in some places, during the winter and spring. Low water occurs during the summer, when small rivers become extremely shallow or dry up completely. The winter discharge of some rivers exceeds the summer discharge by tens of times. The more regular flow of rivers in karst regions of the Mediterranean is explained by the considerable role of groundwater in feeding them. Entire sections of some Mediterranean rivers flow underground.

Lakes are very unevenly distributed over the territory of Europe. The largest groups are found on the plains and in mountains that underwent Pleistocene glaciation (the Northern and Northwestern European USSR, Fennoscandia, the British Isles, the Alps and Alpine regions, and the plains of Poland and the GDR). Most of the lakes in these regions are related to tectonic subsidences, such as hollows and grabens, which were eroded by glaciers and partly surrounded by glacial deposits. Characteristic of these lakes are heavily indented shorelines, considerable depth, and glacial topographic forms that extend along the longitudinal axis of the tectonic movements or in the direction of the movement of the glaciers. Lakes of this type include plains lakes (Ladoga, Onega, Vanern, Vattern, Malaren, and Imandra) and piedmont lakes (for example, Geneva, Maggiore, Como, and Garda). Widely distributed on morainic plains are relatively small lakes of intermorainic subsidences or lakes formed in ancient troughs by the flow of preglacial waters. (The latter type is found especially on the plains of the Soviet Baltic region, Poland, the GDR, and Finland.) The Alps, the mountains of Scandinavia and the British Isles, the higher Carpathians, and the Northern Urals have small tarns in cirques.

Outside of the glacial regions there are no significant groups of lakes. Among the most common types are old lakes on the floodplains of rivers located in the plains regions, delta lakes in the lower reaches of the Volga, Dnieper, Danube, and Po, lagoon lakes along the shore of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and tectonic lakes, such as Scutari and Ohrid on the Balkan Peninsula and Balaton in Hungary. Also typical are volcanic lakes on the Italian Peninsula and in Iceland, and sink lakes in the eastern part of the Eastern European Plain and on the Balkan and Italian peninsulas.

Most of the lakes in Europe are freshwater bodies that have a continuous outflow. In the arid southeastern regions there are drainless, saline, heavily mineralized lakes, such as El’ton and Baskunchak. On the border of Asia is located the world’s largest lake—the Caspian Sea.

Europe has considerable hydroelectric power resources, particularly in the mountainous regions of Scandinavia, the Alps, and the medium mountains of Central Europe. High-capacity hydroelectric power plants have been built on the large rivers of Eastern Europe in the USSR (the Volga, Kama, and Dnieper). In 1972 construction was proceeding on a major hydroelectric power plant on the Danube (Djerdapthe Iron Gate). Economically important for transportation and for floating timber are rivers and the system of canals connecting the basins of many rivers in Eastern and Western Europe and joining the rivers to the seas (for example, the White Sea-Baltic Canal, the Lenin Volga-Don Shipping Canal, and the Lenin Volga-Baltic Water Route in the USSR, the Gota canal system in Sweden, the Mittelland Kanal and other canals in the GDR and the FRG, and the Canal du Midi in France). The Volga, Dnieper, Danube, Vistula, Rhine, Thames, Seine, and Oder are among the rivers that have been transformed into major transportation arteries with heavy traffic in freight and passengers. Lakes play a great role in water supply, and their shores are often developed as areas for rest, recreation, and medical treatment. There are deposits of mineral salts in Lakes El’ton and Baskunchak.

Glaciers. The total area of present-day glaciers in Europe exceeds 116,000 sq km. Most of the glaciers are concentrated in Svalbard (58,000 km), Novaia Zemlia, Franz Josef Land, Iceland, and the Scandinavian mountains, where dome and shield glaciers prevail. There are also corrie and piedmont glaciers. The ice is often 400–600 m thick, and in some cases, up to 1,000 m thick. Some glaciers in the arctic islands descend to the sea, where they give rise to icebergs. In the continental part of Europe glaciers are found in the Alps, the Northern Urals, the Pyrenees, and the mountains of the Sierra Nevada (the site of Europe’s southernmost glacier). Corrie and valley glaciers prevail in continental Europe.

Soils. In general, soils are zonally distributed in Europe. There are four belts of soil formation: arctic (polar), boreal, subboreal, and subtropical. The soils of the boreal and subboreal belts occupy the greatest area. In structure of soil zones and types of soils, a distinction may be drawn between Western Europe, with its moist oceanic climate, and Eastern Europe, with its continental climate.

Arctic and tundra soils are found in the arctic belt. Arctic soils—extremely shallow soils with poorly differentiated genetic soil horizons—are found on Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, and northern Novaia Zemlia. Tundra soils are wide-spread in northern Fennoscandia and southern Novaia Zemlia and on the Eastern European Plain north of the arctic circle. They are usually oversaturated with moisture, poorly aerated, and primarily acidic, with a shallow humus horizon that serves as the transition to a dove-colored gley horizon. Organic remains decompose very slowly in tundra soils. In submerged, poorly drained places (especially in the basin of the lower course of the Pechora River), tundra soils are mixed with tundra swamp soils.

The boreal belt encompasses Iceland, most of Fennoscandia, the British Isles, the Northern European Plain, and Eastern Europe north of the L’vov-Kiev-Kursk-Perm’-Sverdlovsk line. In regions of this belt that have a continental climate, a number of soil types alternate sequentially with each other. The first type in the sequence is gley-podzolic soil of the northern taiga. Because of the excessively moist surface and the formation of podzol, this type of soil is characterized by gleying and by the slow decomposition of organic remains. The typical podzolic soils of the central taiga have a clearly manifested leaching cycle, which removes a considerable portion of the products of decay from the upper layers of soil. The soddy-podzolic soils of the southern taiga are associated with mixed broad-leaved-coniferous forests in which podzol is formed and an accumulation of humus has developed. In the extreme southern part of the boreal belt in Eastern Europe gray forest soils are widespread under broad-leaved forests. They support an active peat-forming process and have a readily identifiable humus horizon and a significant humus content (3–8 percent).

In regions of the boreal belt that have a maritime climate, the soil types include peaty-soddy soils, which are found under the subarctic meadows and sparse forests of Iceland, northwestern Scandinavia, and the Faeroes and Hebrides and are characterized by a high content of coarse humus. Highly leached, soddy pale podzols occur in southern Scandinavia and Finland, northern Great Britain, and the Central European Plain, alternating in places with acid neopodzolic forest soils, which are formed on richer parent rocks. Among the intrazonal soils that are characteristic of the boreal belt are alluvial soils (including the marshy soils on flat shorelines, peaty-carbonate soils (rendzinas), which develop only on parent rocks rich in carbonate, and peaty-gley soils, which develop on gently rolling meadow plains of the taiga, where the groundwater is shallow, and peaty bog soils found on sands with poor drainage and clay deposits close to the surface. Mountain-tundra soils have developed in the mountainous regions of the boreal belt. In the Urals there are also mountain, soddy-podzol, and mountain gray forest soils, and there are mountain podzolic soils in Scotland and the medium-elevation mountains of Scandinavia.

In the subboreal belt the variations in the zonal structure of the soil covers of the marine and moderate continental climatic regions are even greater. In the moderate continental steppe regions chernozems and chestnut soils have formed on parent loess rocks. In the forest steppe and northern steppe regions there are podzolized, leached, and typical chernozems, which are characterized by a thick black humus horizon, a high humus content (8 percent or more), and a carbonate illuvial horizon. The drier steppe regions have light- and medium-humus common and southern chernozems, with a humus content of 4–8 percent and a dense carbonate horizon. On marls and limestones in Moldavia and the adjacent regions of Rumania, in the Eastern Azov Lowland, and on the plains of the Crimea there are common and southern micellary carbonate light- and medium-humus soils, with a high carbonate content throughout their profile. In the more arid steppes of the Southern Ukraine, the Lower Volga Region, and the Caspian region, a nonleaching cycle has given rise to chestnut soils with a shallow humus horizon and a very dense carbonate horizon. In the Caspian region chestnut soils are frequently mixed with solonets, the formation of which is usually associated with the salinity of the parent rocks. In the most arid parts of the Caspian region, where there is semisteppe vegetation, brown semidesert soils alternate with considerable accumulations of sands.

In regions that have a marine climate, brown forest soils have developed under broad-leaved trees. They have a poorly differentiated cross section and a thick brown illuvial horizon associated with the intensive formation of clayey materials and leaching of carbonates. As a result of the considerable dissection of their surface and their lithologically mixed quality, brown forest soils are leached and podzolized to varying degrees. They frequently alternate with podzolic bog soils and brown rendzinas. In the intermontane plains, with their more continental climate, brown forest soils are replaced by primarily shallow, typical and common chernozems and meadow chernozems, whose basic zones extend to the Danubian Plain. In the depressions on the intermontane plains solonchak and solonets are found. On most of the medium-elevation mountains mountain brown forest soils have developed. In the Carpathians, Pyrenees, and Alps mountain podzols are found at elevations of 1,000–1,600 m, alternating at higher altitudes with mountain-meadow soils.

In the subtropical soil formation belt of Southern Europe and the southern coast of the Crimea, cinnamonic soils are typical under evergreen xerophytic forests and bushes. They have a considerable humus content (4–7 percent) and a high carbonate content throughout their profile. In moist regions leaching has caused the carbonates in cinnamonic soils to filter down to great depths. In the western Balkan Peninsula, the southeastern Italian Peninsula, and other regions where terra rossa (the product of wind-eroded carbonate rocks) has become widespread, highly carbonate red rendzinas have formed. In the most arid regions of the Mediterranean grayish cinnamonic soils are associated with underbrush. From the products of wind-eroded basic crystalline rocks in the Balkan Peninsula, very dense, light-humus smolnitz soils have developed, which are blackened by undissolved organic substances. The mountains of the Mediterranean have mountain cinnamonic soils that alternate with high-mountain brown forest soils.

The soils of Europe are used extensively in agriculture. The most arable regions are those with chernozems, brown and gray forest soils, or cinnamonic soils. Tundra and brown semidesert soils are very seldom used in agriculture, and arctic soils are not used at all.

Flora. In terms of its floral composition, Europe belongs to the Holarctic region. Because of the ancient and contemporary links between various continents, a large number of European floral families, genera, and species are the same as those of Asia, Africa, and North America, and there is a relatively small number of endemic varieties. The botanical-geographic subdivisions of Europe are characterized not only by a specific floral composition but also by specific types of vegetation. Among the types of vegetation found in Europe are tundra, boreal (taiga), and forest, including broad-leaved and mixed forests as well as the underbrush and grasses associated with them. Additional types of vegetation are steppe, desert, and subtropical brushwood. The forest types of vegetation are the most widespread, whereas the least common are the tundra and desert types. In the arctic, sub-arctic, and boreal latitudes there are only slight differences between the zonal types of vegetation in regions with a marine climate and regions with a continental climate. In lower latitudes the differences in zonal vegetation are clearly manifested. In maritime regions south of the taiga forests, mixed coniferous and broad-leaved forests are found, as well as a wide band of broad-leaved forests, which are replaced by xerophilous evergreen and mixed evergreen-deciduous forests and shrubs in subtropical regions. In the moderate continental regions south of the taiga, there are narrow bands of broad-leaved and mixed coniferous and broad-leaved forests, which give way to forest steppes, steppes, semideserts, and deserts as one moves south and southeast. (On the southern shore of the Crimea there is some subtropical vegetation.)

On the territory of present-day Europe natural landscapes are almost entirely lacking: They have been replaced by manmade ones. Tundra and mountain landscapes and fauna have undergone the least change. At one time the forests of Europe formed an almost uninterrupted zone, consisting primarily of oaks and other broad-leaved species, which have been replaced in the north by conifers and in the south by sparse Mediterranean forests. The destruction of the forests began in Greece as long ago as the fifth century B.C. Later, the forests of other regions of Southern and Central Europe were badly damaged. The systematic elimination of the forest cover, which violated the integrity of the natural biotopes, was accompanied by a number of other pernicious consequences for the fauna and flora of Europe.

Arctic tundras and deserts are widespread in Svalbard (Spitsbergen), Franz Josef Land, and Novaia Zemlia. Vegetation includes lichens and mosses, a few species of grasses (for example, saxifrage and geranium), and shrubs (for example, Dry as and polar willow). Considerable areas—the arctic deserts—are composed of rocky surfaces devoid of vegetation. Typical tundras, which developed along the northern continental shore and on the coasts of Novaia Zemlia, have a greater number of species and a more complete plant cover. On mossy-lichen tundras, the predominant vegetation is brown and green mosses, reindeer moss and other lichens, several grasses (whitlow grass, fescue, galagoes, and saxifrage), shrubs (crowberry and Korean rhododendron), and low shrubs (dwarf birch and polar and round-leaved willow). Bogs (primarily low ones) are found in the excessively moist depressions on the surface of typical tundras. In the mountains of Iceland, Scandinavia, and the Urals mountain tundras are widespread, forming a vegetation belt at elevations of more than 300–500 m in the north and 1,000–1,100 m in the south. The tundra gives way to forest tundra in the south, which is characterized by a combination of tundras, swamps, and low sparse forests, consisting primarily of spruce in the eastern regions and birches and pines in the western areas. Mossy-lichens and shrubs are well developed in these forests (cowberry, whortleberry, bearberry, and crowberry). In the mountains, similar forests form a vegetation belt at elevations of 300–400 m in the north and 900–1,000 m in the south. Sparse birch forests mixed with meadows and lowland swamps are found in Iceland. Tundra vegetation is used in some places to feed deer.

Taiga vegetation grows in a broad band that extends south to approximately 57°–58° N lat. Most of the forests are coniferous. In the East, Siberian spruce, Siberian fir, and Siberian larch prevail. (The Siberian stone pine is found in the Cisurals as well as in the northern regions of the taiga as far as Scandinavia.) European spruce and common pine prevail in the western taiga. In moist regions the ground cover of the forests consists primarily of moss, whortleberry, cowberry, heather, and oxalis, but in dry areas lichens prevail. In addition to conifers, birch and aspen are commonly encountered, most often in places that have been burned or cut down. On the northern boundaries of the taiga forests in Fennoscandia there are indigenous birch forests. Other types of vegetation that are widely distributed in the taiga zone are floodplain and dry valley meadows, surface spaghnum bogs with rhododendron, cloudberry, cranberry, and whortleberry, and grassy forest swamps. In the Scandinavian mountains and the Urals the lower belt of mountain vegetation consists of taiga forests.

The taiga has extremely abundant plant resources. Its forests provide wood that is used in the cellulose-paper, chemical, and construction industries. Fur-trapping is carried on in the taiga forests (squirrels, martens, ermines, fox, and blue hare). A number of wild animals, including elk, hazel hens, black grouse, and capercaillie, are hunted for meat. Mushrooms are gathered, as well as the fruits of wild plants such as cowberry, whortleberry, currant, mountain ash, and bird cherry. The meadows are used primarily to feed cattle.

The mixed broad-leaved and coniferous forests located south of the taiga stretch from southern Scandinavia to the Urals, reaching their greatest breadth in the Soviet Baltic region, Byelorussia, and the west central regions of the European USSR. East of the city of Gorky the forest belt becomes extremely narrow. The forests consist of taiga as well as broad-leaved species of trees (oak, maple, and linden). Huge pine forests have developed on sandy soils.

A significantly large area is occupied by broad-leaved forests that cover the entire territory of Western Europe (except the mountains) from the taiga and mixed forests in the north to the subtropics in the south (approximately 40° N lat.). East of the Carpathians the broad-leaved forest belt becomes extremely narrow and almost disappears in the foot-hills of the Urals, where the southern boundary of the mountains passes through 53°–54° N lat. The most common tree in these forests is the oak. In marine climatic regions pedunculate and sessile oaks (as far east as the Southern Bug River) and other species of oak occur in pure groves or in plantings mixed with birch (the British Isles, Belgium, and the Netherlands), common hornbeam, linden, and European beech (chiefly in Western Europe). Pure beech forests are confined to the slopes of hills and the lower zone of mountains, where the winters are relatively warm, the humidity is high, and the soil is not overly saturated with moisture.

Planted forests of sweet (edible) chestnuts are characteristic of southern regions, particularly France. Evergreen species (holly, boxwood, and a typical liana—ivy) are found in the undergrowth of the broad-leaved forests of Atlantic regions. On the poor, sandy, and gravelly soils of the north-western part of France, the British Isles, and the Northern European Plain, moors and grassy or grassy-mossy swamps prevail, and on the shores of the North Sea there are salt-marshes. On the intermontane plains (Bohemia and the Central Danubian Plain) there are many “islands” of meadow-land steppes in the forests.

The moderate continental regions of Eastern Europe have no chestnut or beech forests, with the exception of the eastern beeches in the Crimea. In addition to the pedunculate oak, common genera include linden, maple, ash, elm, and in the underbrush, filbert, spindle trees, and honeysuckle. In the mountains the vegetation of the lower zone consists of mountain broad-leaved and coniferous forests, which extend to elevations of 1,600–2,100 m. At higher altitudes there is a belt of subalpine shrubs and meadows, which in the highest mountains is replaced by an alpine meadow belt.

In most areas the forests have been cut down in order to increase the amount of arable lands and to expand gardens, orchards, and vineyards in the southern regions. In reforestation projects broad-leaved trees (especially beech) are often replaced by coniferous trees (pine or spruce) or rapidly growing deciduous varieties (poplar). The meadows of the sub-alpine and alpine belts are extensively used as summer pastures.

Located south of the broad-leaved forests in the moderate continental regions of Europe are the forest steppes, in which broad-leaved forests, most of which are on watersheds, are mixed with meadowland steppes overgrown with many moisture-loving varieties of grass (cinquefoil, spiraea, groundsel, anemone, sage, and adonis). Farther south, typical steppes have developed, where soddy grasses prevail (Ukrainian, narrow-blade, and Lessing’s feathergrasses and sheep’s fescue). Located south of the typical steppes in the most habitable areas in the southern Ukraine, the northern Crimea, and the Lower Volga Region are the arid (southern) steppes, with a sparse cover of wormwoods, feather grass, capillary feather grass, sheep’s fescue, and wheat grass. In the extreme southeastern part of Europe semidesert and desert areas have very sparse vegetation of wormwoods and saltworts (seablite and biiurgun).

Steppe vegetation has been almost completely destroyed by the plowing up of chernozem and chestnut soils for such crops as wheat, corn, sugar beets, and sunflowers. It survives almost exclusively in preserves. Vegetation of the semidesert and desert areas is used for pastures, primarily for sheep.

Widely distributed on the plains and in the lower belt of the mountains of the subtropical regions of Europe are xerophilous evergreen forests and shrubs that are capable of surviving the dry summer period. The most important trees are holm, Kermes, and cork oaks, as well as Aleppo, cluster, and Italian stone pines. The forests are light, with an abundant undergrowth of shrubs and a grass cover that is almost completely burned out during the summer. Among the most common shrub formations are maquis, composed of strawberry trees, Phillyrea, myrtle, rock-rose, pistachio, sweet bay, and wild olive and palmettos. (The only wild palm found in Europe is the fan palm, which grows in the southern Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Islands, and Sicily.) Other shrub formations include the garigue, in which the scrub Kermes oak prevails (primarily on rocky soils), andtomillars, sparse growths of plants rich in essential oils (thyme and lavender), which are found in the dry interior regions of the Iberian Peninsula. Shibliaks are composed primarily of deciduous shrubs such as Christ’s thorn and wild lilac, with some evergreen plants. In the interior and eastern regions of the Balkan Peninsula there are phrygans made up of low thistles and stiff grasses.

In the mountain regions of the Mediterranean above the belt of evergreen forests and shrubs (beginning at 300–400 m in the north and 800–1,000 m in the south) there is a belt of deciduous broad-leaved (oak, beech, and chestnut) and coniferous forests (spruce, fir, pine, Atlantic cedar). Above this belt in the highest mountains there is a narrow belt of subalpine and alpine vegetation. Most of the forests and underbrush of the Mediterranean region have been removed by man or destroyed by the fires that frequently occur there. They have been replaced by fields of wheat and corn, citrus fruit plantations, olive trees, cork oaks, vineyards, orchards, gardens, and parks. Located in the southeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula are the only fig-palm plantations in Europe. The pasturing of goats and sheep has caused considerable changes in mountain vegetation.

Fauna. Europe is part of the Holarctic zoogeographic region. The distribution of groups of animals greatly depends ‘on the displacement of basic types of vegetation. Thus, European fauna is characterized by geographic zonality. However, the zonality of the fauna is less extreme than that of the flora, inasmuch as the same groups of animals may be confined to different but ecologically similar types of vegetative cover. Because changes in European biotopes proceeded relatively slowly, many species of animals gradually adapted to the new man-made conditions of existence and found refuge in regions that had been only slightly developed.

A monotonous habitat with scanty food supplies and severe climate, the tundra has few species of fauna. Small rodents prevail—Norway, Ob, and arctic lemmings and Middendorf mice. Also characteristic of the tundra are the northern deer, arctic fox, wolf, and seal (the common ringed seal and the sea hare). Among the species of birds the most abundant are the alpine ptarmigan and the white owl. Gulls, cormorants, geese, puffins, eiders, and black guillemots in-habit the seashore, where thousands of nests may be found. There are shore and island colonies of birds, the largest of which inhabit Novaia Zemlia. On Svalbard musk oxen from Greenland have been acclimatized.

With its great variety of habitats and considerable feeding resources, the taiga has a richer faunal species composition. Characteristic mammals include wood voles, Siberian chipmunks (in the east), wood lemmings, and flying squirrels (primarily in the east), squirrels, blue hares, sable, wolverines, ermine, weasels, brown bears, wolves, foxes, and elk. Among the taiga birds are the capercaillie, hazel hen, nut-cracker, tawny owl, great tit, crossbill, bullfinch, wax wing, and hawk. There are numerous bloodsucking insects.

South of 60° N lat. in the west and 55° N lat. in the east certain characteristic taiga animals disappear, giving way to animals of the broad-leaved and mixed forests (especially in Western Europe). Among the mammals common to this region are the dormouse, mink, polecats, European wildcats, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, bats, and hedgehogs. Taiga animals in this region include the brown bear, fox, wolf, forest marten, badger, elk, and squirrel. There are bison in the forests of the Biatowieza Forest in the USSR and Poland, as well as in the Prioksko-Terrasnyi and Khoper preserves in the Carpathian region. The number of waterfowl has declined. Inhabiting the broad-leaved forests are green and middle spotted woodpeckers, woodcocks, cuckoos, jays, chaffinches, nightingales, grouse, owls, pigeons, orioles, thrushes, and great tits. In certain countries of Western Europe the pheasant has become acclimatized and is widely distributed.

In the broad-leaved and coniferous forests there are more amphibians than on the taiga. (Among them is the tree frog, the only arboreal amphibian.) The cutting down of forests and the increase in open spaces has facilitated the penetration of this zone by a number of steppe animals, including the common hamster, common vole, great bustard, common partridge, and quail. The number of forest animals has been sharply reduced. Large mammals have suffered more than other animals, for their ecological requirements have not met the changes in biotopes. During the first half of the 17th century the tur became extinct in Western Europe; lions, which had been numerous in antiquity, ceased to roam the Balkan Peninsula, and the habitats of wolves declined. The European ibis became extinct during this period, and the number of eagles fell sharply.

Characteristic of the fauna of the steppe and semidesert regions of Eastern Europe is the prevalence of rodents (red and little susliks, members of the family Leporidae, common hamsters, marmots, great jerboas, moles, and voles). Other common mammals are the European hare, Siberian polecat, and fox. Water voles and otters are associated with bodies of water. The semidesert areas of the Caspian region are inhabited by the saiga, corsac fox, little suslik, and common sandeel. Among the birds of the steppe and semidesert regions the predatory group is important (pale harriers, kestrels, and imperial eagles). Also common are the lark, quail, common partridge and great and little bustards. In the lower reaches of major rivers, particularly the Volga, there are many pochards, ducks, heron, cormorants, and snipe. Although the steppes have been plowed up, many animals, especially rodents and birds, have been preserved. They find sufficient food and shelter in the crop fields.

The Mediterranean region has a relatively low species saturation of forest animals, but mountain forms of animals are more abundant than in the northern regions. Also represented are reptiles and amphibians. Among the mammals are the wild goat, Alpine ibex, chamois, and mouflon. The Pyrenean muskrat and the genet inhabit the western Mediterranean region, and Gibraltar is inhabited by the only apes in Europe—the Barbary apes, or tailless macaques (the family Cercopithecidae). Porcupines and jackals are found in the east. Among the common birds are the bearded vulture, Pyrenean sparrow, rock sparrow, mountain jackdaw, Eastern blue magpie, swifts, swallows, warblers, and wall creepers. Reptiles of the region include lizards, geckos, scheltopusiks, vipers, flying snakes, chickensnakes, and turtles. Among the amphibians are frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and olms. The most abundant insects are cicadas, butterflies, and mosquitoes.


The foundation for the discovery of the continent of Europe was laid by the Cretans, who occupied the Cyclades archipelago no later than the 16th century B.C. and traveled along the shores of the island of Evvoia (Euboea) and the Peloponnesian Peninsula. The Achaeans, who lived in the Peloponnesus between the 15th and 13th centuries B.C., advanced north on the Balkan Peninsula beyond 40° N lat.; discovering the Pindus Mountains and Mount Olympus, the Khalkidhiki Peninsula, the Northern Sporades, Lemnos, and in the west, the Ionian Islands. By the ninth century B.C., Phoenician seafarers had discovered the southern and western coasts of the Italian Peninsula, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, the Balearic Islands, and the shores of the Iberian Peninsula, including the lower reaches of the Guadalquivir, Guadiana, Tajo, and Duero rivers. The Phoenicians also sailed out into the ocean through the Strait of Gibraltar.

By the middle of the first millennium B.C., the ancient Greeks had completed the discovery of the coasts of Southern Europe. From the Aegean Sea they sailed northeast through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosphorus, traveling along the western and northern shores of the Black Sea as well as up the lower reaches of the Danube, Dnestr, and Dnieper rivers, along the shores of the Sea of Azov, and up the lower reaches of the Don and the Kuban’. Sailing west and northwest in the Ionian, Adriatic, Tyrrhenian, and Ligurian seas, as well as in the Gulf of Lions, they definitively established the existence of the Balkan and Italian peninsulas and discovered (perhaps for the second time) the islands of Corsica and Liguria, the southern coast of present-day France with the Rhône delta, and eastern Spain, with the lower reaches of the Ebro and Turia rivers.

No later than 320 B.C., Pythias, a Greek from the colony of Massalia (Marseilles), discovered the western coast of Europe from the Bay of Biscay to the North Sea, as well as the peninsulas of Brittany and Cotentin and the British Isles. He cut into the Irish Sea from the south and sighted the north-eastern coast of Ireland, the Hebrides, and the Orkney Islands. Then turning south, he sailed along the eastern shore of Great Britain. No later than the fourth century B.C., the Greeks settled the northern plateaus of the Balkan Peninsula and the Apennines, and they crossed the eastern Alps. In the third century B.C., the Carthaginians penetrated deep into the interior of the Iberian Peninsula, laying the foundation for the discovery of the Meseta, central mountain region, and Iberian mountains. In 218 B.C., at the time of Hannibal’s campaign, they crossed the Pyrenees and the western Alps.

During the second century B.C., as a result of the campaigns of Cato the Elder and particularly Scipio Aemilianus, whose constant companion was the Greek Polybius, the Romans explored all the important rivers of the Iberian Peninsula and investigated almost the entire length of the central mountains, the Pyrenees, and the Cantabrian Mountains. Between 58 and 51 B.C. the legions of Julius Caesar, which were subduing the Gauls and fighting against the Germans, cut through the French Massif Central in various directions and penetrated the Jura, the Vosges, the Ardennes, the Paris Basin, and the western maritime lowlands. They explored the entire course of the Rhône, Garonne, Dordogne, Loire, and Seine rivers, and their major tributaries; they became familiar with the entire left-bank section of the Rhine and with a section of its right bank. Caesar’s legions also penetrated into southeastern Britain as far as the Thames River (55–54 B.C.).

Between 35 B.C. and A.D. 9, Octavian Augustus’ generals, including Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Marcus Crassus, Claudius Drusus, and Tiberius, invaded Central Europe. They traveled up the Rhine and the Danube, exploring the valleys of the Danube’s largest Alpine tributaries. (Tiberius reached the sources of the Danube on the slopes of the Black Forest in 16 B.C.) Octavian’s generals also explored the Elbe and its left tributaries, and they discovered the mountains between the Rhine and the Elbe, as well as the basins of the Weser and Ems rivers, the maritime lowland, and the Frisian Islands. Between A.D. 43 and 84, the Romans, who were engaged in the conquest of Britain, advanced west to the Irish Sea and north to 57° N lat., discovering the peninsula of Wales, the isles of Wight, Man, and Anglesey, the Severn basin, the area around the Humber estuary, the Pennine Mountains, and the highlands of northern Britain. (These discoveries were made during the campaigns of A. Plautius, S. Paulinus, and Julius Agricola.) While they were repulsing the incursions of northern “barbarians” into Central Europe during the first century, the Romans expanded their knowledge about the left bank of the upper and middle Danube. Amber merchants crossed Europe and reached the Baltic Sea, gathering meager information about the maritime zone between the Jutland Peninsula and the lower reaches of the Vistula. During the conquest of Dacian territory on the left bank of the lower Danube at the beginning of the second century, the emperor Trajan discovered the Trajisylvanian plateau and the portion of the Carpathians surrounding it.

Between the sixth and seventh centuries the Irish basically completed the exploration of the British Isles, and in the eighth century they were the first to reach the Faeroe Islands and Iceland, which were rediscovered and colonized by the Norsemen during the ninth century. Furthermore, the Irish were the first to sail around the Scandinavian and Kola peninsulas from the north, and they penetrated into the White Sea (Ohthere’s voyage in the 870’s). They sailed around Scandinavia from the south and east, exploring the coasts of the Baltic Sea and the gulfs of Bothnia, Riga, and Finland. All the important islands in the Baltic Sea as well as the lower reaches of the Neman and the Zapadnaia Dvina were discovered by the Irish. During the eighth and ninth centuries the Arabs explored the entire southern part of Europe, especially the Iberian Peninsula, which they conquered in 711–18. In the southeast and east, they explored Emba and laik (Ural), as well as the Volga Region as far as the mouth of the Kama River.

All the remaining regions of Eastern Europe and all of Northern Europe from the White Sea and the Baltic gulfs to the Urals were discovered by Russians. From the ninth through the 12th century, chiefly as a result of Novgorodian expeditions and campaigns by the princes Oleg, Sviatoslav Igorevich, Vladimir Sviatoslavich, laroslav the Wise, and Vladimir Monomakh, the Russians completed the exploration of the Dnestr, Dnieper, and Don basins. They discovered the entire course of the Zapadnaia Dvina and Neman rivers, Lakes Il’men’, Chudskoe, Pskov, Ladoga, Onega, and Beloe, and the river systems of the upper and middle Volga (including the Oka and the Kama), the Severnaia Dvina, Mezen’, and Pechora, and they reached the Severnyi Ural River. No later than the 13th century the Russians had circled all the shores of the White Sea and penetrated into the interior regions of the Kola Peninsula. During the 14th century they crossed the Urals. In the 15th and 16th centuries Russian seafarers sailed along all the coasts of Northern Europe, discovering the Kanin Peninsula, the islands of Kolguev, Vaigach, and Novaia Zemlia, and in the northwest, Svalbard, to which they made annual hunting and fishing expeditions as early as the mid-16th century. During the second half of the 16th century Muscovite surveyors explored and mapped the rivers of Eastern Europe, a number of large lakes, the northern Pomor’e and the Kola and Kanin Peninsulas, and Kolguev and Vaigach islands. The Book of the Great Chart was compiled by Russian surveyors in the 17th century.

The coasts of all the southern European seas and part of the Atlantic shoreline were explored in detail and drawn on nautical charts between the 13th and 15th centuries, mainly by Italian sailors. At the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century the Dutch and English discovered a number of geographical areas, some of which had been discovered previously. Among them were Severnyi Island in the archipelago of Novaia Zemlia, Bear Island, and Vestspitsbergen (W. Barents, 1594–97), Edge Island, Northeast Land, and other islands belonging to the Svalbard group (T. Edge, 1613–17), and Jan Mayen Island (J. May, 1614). Between 1603 and 1646, Swedish topographers led by A. Bure surveyed the shores of the Scandinavian Peninsula, including all its important protrusions, as well as Lakes Vänera, Vattem, Mälaren, and Inari, and many rivers, including the largest ones (the Glåma, Piteälven, and lorneälven). They also discovered a number of mountain ranges, and in Finland they explored the Suomenselkä Ridge and part of the Maanselkä Ridge.

In Russia during the 18th century V. N. Tatishchev and I. K. Kirilov explored the Central and Southern Urals (1720–37), and P. I. Rychkov and I. Krasil’nikov explored the Bugul’ma-Belebei Upland and the Obshchii Syrt (1741–55). Between 1768 and 1782 the leaders and participants in expeditions sponsored by the Russian academy—P. S. Pallas, N. P. Rychkov, N. P. Sokolov, J. Güldenstaedt, I. P. Fal’k, S. G. Gmelin, I. I. Lepekhin, N. la. Ozeretskovskii, I. I. Georgi, and V. F. Zuev—studied all parts of the Urals. (They were the first to note certain of its ranges and crests.) In addition, they explored the Caspian Lowland and the Kumo-Manych Depression, and in the Eastern European Plain they mapped the Valdai Hills and discovered the Central Russian, Dnieper Region, Volga Region, and Verkhniaia Kama Region Uplands, the Severnye Uvaly, the Donets Ridge, and the Ergeni. They continued the exploration of other uplands that had already been noted in the Book of the Great Chart (1627), as well as in the works of I. K. Kirilov and P. I. Rychkov. Between 1741 and 1779, Russian seafarers completed the description of the northern coasts of Europe, thus establishing the exact outlines of the entire continent. (Novaia Zemlia was first circumnavigated during the 1760’s.)

The study of the Apennines and the Apuan Alps, which had been begun by the Italian naturalists A. Vallisnieri and L. Marsigli between 1704 and 1719, was continued by L. Spallanzani and the Frenchman D. Dolomieu between 1761 and 1784. French geologists, including J. Guettard, N. Desmarest, and L. Ramond de Carbonnières, explored the Massif Central and the Pyrenees between 1751 and 1795, the Swiss H. de Saussure explored the Jura and the western Alps between 1758 and 1794, and Dolomieu and the Frenchman B. Hasket, who was in the service of Austria, explored the eastern Alps and the Dinaric plateau between 1776 and 1795. Outstanding explorers of the Carpathians were Hasket (1788–96) and the Pole S. Staszic (1789–1805). Between 1753 and 1768 the hydrographer M. Mackenzie completed a precise survey of the coasts of Great Britain.

From 1808 to 1813 the French explored and surveyed the mountain chains and massifs of the Iberian Peninsula. The foundation for the scientific study of the interior regions of the Balkan Peninsula and the precise description of its topography was laid between 1836 and 1847 by A. Boué and A. Viquesnet. During the 19th century geologists and geographers discovered the uplands of Western and Central Europe and definitively described the structure of the Alps (P. Dufrenoy, J. Elie de Beaumont, G. Dufour, and E. Suess), the Carpathians (E. Suess), and Fennoscandia (L. Buch, B. Keilhau, P. Munk, N. V. Shirokshin, N. Kudriavtsev, and V. Ramsay). Russian expeditions discovered all the sections of the Urals (E. A. Eversman, A. la. Kupfer, E. K. Gofman, G. P. Gel’mersen, N. I. Strazhevskii, P. I. Krotov, F. N. Chernyshev, and A. P. Karpinskii). In addition, a number of important uplands in Eastern Europe were discovered by expeditions under V. M. Severgin, E. P. Kovalevskii, A. I. Shrenk, A. A. Keizerling, K. M. Baer, N. N. Barbot de Marni, A. A. Inostrantsev, A. A. Tillo, and S. N. Nikitin.

The fundamental features of the relief of the island of Great Britain had been discovered, for the most part, by the mid-19th century by the geologists W. Smith, C. Lyell, R. Murchison, A. Sedgwick, and J. McCulloch. Even earlier (before 1812), R. Griffith had thoroughly studied the topography of Ireland. The first instrumental survey of the coasts of Iceland was made between 1801 and 1818 by a number of scientists, including H. Sjeel and H. Frisak. Exploration of the terrain of the interior regions of Iceland was begun by B. Gunnlaugsson (1831–43) and completed by T. Thoroddsen (1881–98). Outstanding among the explorers of the Svalbard group were W. Scoresby (1800–23), O. Torell, K. Chidenius, N. A. E. Nordenskjöld (1861–1873), and G. Isachsen (1906–10), as well as the members of the Russo-Swedish expedition of 1898–1902—E. Ederin, F. N. Chernyshev, and A. S. Vasil’ev. Prominent explorers of Novaia Zemlia were P. K. Pakhtusov (1832–35) and V. A. Rusanov (1907–11). In 1865 the Russian seafarer N. G. Shilling indicated that there must be land in the northern zone of the Barents Sea between Svalbard and Novaia Zemlia. A glacial drift carried the Austrian expedition ship of J. Payer and K. Weyprecht to the northern Barents in 1873, where they discovered an island that they named Franz Josef Land. Between 1880 and 1905 expeditions headed by L. Smith, F. Jackson, F. Nansen, W. Wellman, and A. Fiala proved that Franz Josef Land is an archipelago, and its component islands were put on the map.


By mid-1970 the population of Europe (excluding the USSR) was 462 million. According to data issued on Jan. 1, 1971, the population of the European USSR was 183.7 million (excluding the Caucasus and Ciscaucasia, approximately 162 million).

Anthropological composition. Almost the entire population of Europe belongs to the large European race, which may be divided into several smaller races. The Atlanto-Baltic race is widely distributed on the territory of the Scandinavian countries, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, the Netherlands, the northern part of the GDR, the Estonian SSR, and Latvian SSR. The peoples of the central regions of Western Europe and the European USSR belong primarily to variants of the Central European race. The Balkano-Caucasian race is represented in Yugoslavia, northern Greece, Bulgaria, southern Austria, and northern Italy (the Tirol), as well as among the peoples inhabiting the regions north, west, and east of the Black Sea. Members of the Indo-Mediterranean race live in Spain, most of Italy, France, southern Greece, and the Mediterranean islands. In the Lithuanian SSR and parts of the Latvian SSR and throughout northern European USSR the White Sea-Baltic race is widely distributed. Characteristics of the Uralic race are manifested in the Lapps and, to varying degrees, .among the Komi, Mari, Mordvinians, and Udmurts. Elements of the South Siberian race have penetrated the Volga Basin, and some authorities believe that a Mongoloid amalgam is located in the Baltic region and Hungary. In southern Italy an amalgam of the equatorial (Negroid-Australoid) race has been noted.


Ethnic composition. The overwhelming majority of the present-day peoples of Europe speak Indo-European languages. Eastern and southeastern Europe is populated primarily by peoples of the Slavic group (about 215 million inhabitants; all figures date from 1970), which is divided into the subgroups East Slavic, West Slavic, and South Slavic. The East Slavs include the Russians, as well as the Ukrainians and Byelorussians, who are close to them in origin and culture. The West Slavs include the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, and Lusatians, and the South Slavs consist of the Bulgarians, Macedonians, Slovenes, Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins, and Bosnians. More than 4 million people (Lithuanians and Latvians) speak the languages of the Letto-Lithuanian (Baltic) group, which are similar to the Slavic languages.

Central and Northern Europe have been settled, for the most part, by peoples belonging to the Germanic language group (more than 180 million people), which has two sub-groups. The languages of the western subgroup are spoken by the Germans, Austrians, German-Swiss, Luxemburgers, people from Alsace-Lorraine, Dutch, Flemish, and Frisians, as well as by the English-speaking peoples (English, Scottish, Scotch-Irish and Anglo-Irish). The languages of the northern subgroup are spoken by the Danes and the people of the Faeroe Islands, Swedes, Norwegians, and Icelanders. The Celtic language group includes the Bretons, Welsh, Gaels, and Irish.

The 169 million people who speak Romance languages live primarily in southwestern Europe. Among them are the Italians and Italian-Swiss, as well as the French-speaking peoples (French, French-Swiss, and Walloons) and the Spanish, Catalonians, Portuguese, and Galicians, as well as the Corsicans and the members of the Rhaetian Romance group. A unique eastern Romance subgroup is formed by the Rumanians, Aromanians (or Vlachs), and Moldavians.

Greeks and Albanians speak languages belonging to separate groups of the Indo-European family. The language of the gypsies, who have settled primarily in southeastern Europe, belongs to the Indo-Aryan group. However, most of the gypsies also use the languages of the regions where they live. Jews live in almost all the countries of Europe. Their native language—Yiddish—is close to German. (Certain Jewish groups speak Judeo-Spanish, which is similar to Spanish.) However, most Jews speak the languages of the countries where they live.

A rather significant percentage of the population of Europe, particularly in the northeast, consists of peoples who speak languages of the Uralic family. About 9 million people, including Finns, Estonians, Karelians, and Saams (Lapps), speak Finnic languages. Special subgroups of the Finnic group (the Volga and Perm’ regions) include the languages of the Mordvinians, Mari, Udmurts, Komi, and Komi-Permiaks. The Hungarians belong to the Ugric group (12.8 million people). A number of peoples of the Volga and Ural regions (the Chuvash, Tatars, and Bashkirs) speak Turkic languages of the Altaic family, as do the Gagauz (Gagaous) and groups of Turks in the Balkan Peninsula. The Maltese speak a Semitic language that is similar to Arabic. The language of the Basques (descendants of the ancient population of the Iberian Peninsula) occupies a special place in linguistic classification.

Characteristic of the peoples of Europe, especially in multinational countries, are bilingualism and even trilingualism, associated with the phenomenon of linguistic assimilation. Thus, among the non-Russian peoples of the USSR, Russian has become widespread. French is used by the national minorities of France, and Spanish by the national minorities of Spain. In a number of capitalist countries (for example, Spain) the natural linguistic and ethnic assimilation of national minorities has been made more complicated by the assimilative government policies. The USSR and the other socialist countries of Europe have created conditions for the development of the language and culture of all their peoples.

The two principal branches of Christianity—the Orthodox (Byzantine) and the Catholic (Roman) churches—have wide followings in Europe. Also important are the various Protestant churches and religious trends that broke away from Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, primarily during the Reformation (16th-17th centuries). Historically, Orthodoxy became widespread chiefly among the peoples of Eastern and Southeastern Europe (the Russians, the basic mass of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian populations, and the Bulgarians, Macedonians, Serbs, Montenegrins, Rumanians, Aromanians, Moldavians, Greeks, and some of the Albanians and gypsies, as well as the Karelians and Finnic-speaking peoples of the Volga Region, the Chuvash, and the Gaguses). Roman Catholicism spread among the Romance-speaking peoples of Southwestern Europe (the Italians, French, and Spanish), a number of Slavic peoples (the Poles, Czechs, Croats, Slovaks, Slovenes, and some of the Ukrainians and Byelorussians), and the Lithuanians and some of the Latvians. In addition, Catholicism was adopted by certain Germanic peoples (the Austrians, Luxemburgers, Flemish, and a considerable number of Germans, as well as the Alsatians, about half of the Dutch, and some of the English and Scots), as well as by the Bretons, Irish, Hungarians, and Maltese. Members of the Protestant churches and sects live primarily in Central and Northern Europe (most Germans, some Dutch, and the German-Swiss, English, Scots, Scotch-Irish, Anglo-Irish, Swedes, Norwegians, Welsh, Finns, Estonians, and some Latvians). Islam is professed by believers among

Table 2. Linguistic families of Europe (approximate numbers as of 1970)
 Europe, excluding the USSREuropean USSR
Source: Computations of the Institute of Ethnology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
Slavic group
(1) Russians200,00085,000,000
(2) Ukrainians500,00038,000,000
(3) Byelorussians200,0008,500,000
(4) Poles (and Kashubians)32,000,0001,100,000
(5) Lusatians100,000
(6) Czechs9,500,00020,000
(7) Slovaks4,300,00010,000
(8) Slovenes1,900,000
(9) Croats4,800,000
(10) Bosnians1,200,000
(11) Serbs9,000,000
(12) Montenegrins600,000
(13) Macedonians1,400,000
(14) Bulgarians7,600,000300,000
Latvian—Lithuanian (Baltic) group
(15) Lithuanians30,0002,600,000
(16) Latvians20,0001,350,000
Germanic group
(17) Germans80,200,000400,000
(18) German—Swiss4,200,000
(19) Austrians7,300,000
(20) Luxemburgers300,000
(21) Alsatians (and Lotharingians)1,400,000
(22) Dutch12,600,000
(23) Flemish5,500,000
(24) Frisians400,000
(25) Swedes8,100,000
(26) Norwegians3,900,000
(27) Icelanders200,000
(28) Faeroese30,000
(29) Danes4,900,000
(30) English45,600,000
(31) Scots5,200,000
(32) Anglo-Irish and Scotch-Irish1,100,000
Celtic group
(33) Irish4,200,000
(34) Welsh900,000
(35) Gaels100,000
(36) Bretons1,100,000
Romance group
(37) Italians55,800,000
(38) Italian-Swiss200,000
(39) Corsican s300,000
(40) Rhaeto-Romance group (Friülani, Ladini, and Romansh)400,000
(41) French44,300,000
(42) French-Swiss1,100,000
(43) Walloons4,000,000
(44) Spaniards25,200,000
(45) Catalonians5,500,000
(46) Portuguese9,700,000
(47) Galicians2,600,000
(48) Rumanians16,900,000100,000
(49) Aromanians (Vlachs)200,000
(50) Moldavians2,700,000
Albanian group
(51) Albanians3,200,000
Greek group
(52) Greeks8,500,000100,000
Other peoples speaking Indo-European languages
(54) Jews1,400,0001,700,000
(55) Gypsies900,000130,000
(56) Basques900,000
(57) Maltese300,000
Finnic group
(58) Finns (and Kwaen)4,500,00080,000
(59) Karelians140,000
(60) Estonians30,0001,000,000
(61) Livonians200
(62) Ingrians1,000
(63) Veps20,000
(64) Lapps30,0001,900
(65) Komi300,000
(66) Komi-Permiaks150,000
(67) Udmurts660,000
(68) Mari550,000
(69) Mordvinians1 ,000,000
Ugric group
(70) Hungarians (and Szekelys)12,500,000170,000
(71) Mansi1,000
Samoyedic group
(72) Nentsy7,000
Turkic group
(73) Chuvash1,500,000
(74) Tatars30,0004,500,000
(75) Bashkirs1,000,000
(76) Kazakhs1,200,000
(77) Turks1,300,000
(78) Gagauz5,000160,000
Mongolic group
(79) Kalmyks139,000

the Turks, by most Tatars, Bashkirs, Albanians, Gypsies, and Bosnians, and by some Bulgarians. The religion of the Jews is Judaism.

The overwhelming majority of the population of the USSR has broken away from religion. The number of atheists is also growing in the other socialist countries of Europe and in a number of capitalist countries, especially the Protestant ones.


The present-day political map of Europe reflects the radical sociopolitical changes that were brought about by the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, the defeat of the fascist powers in World War II (1939–45), in which the Soviet Union played a decisive role, and the victory of the people’s democratic and socialist revolutions in several countries of Eastern and Central Europe. As a result, two groups of countries have taken shape in Europe with socioeconomic systems that differ in principle: the socialist group, which, in addition to the Soviet Union, includes Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the GDR, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Albania; and the capitalist group, which is made up of the remaining countries of Europe.

More than half of the territory of Europe—its eastern part—is occupied by the USSR (the European USSR). On the territory of Germany two states have been established, whose social systems differ in principle. Located in the eastern part is the German Democratic Republic, which has developed as a socialist state, and located in the western part is the Federal Republic of Germany, a capitalist state.

Table 3. Political divisions of Europe (excluding the USSR)
StateArea (sq km)Population (1970)Capitals and administrative centers
1 As of 1969 2 Without Greenland, which is considered part of the Danish state under the Danish Constitution 3 Possession of Great Britain 4 Including inland waters 5 Including the Azores and Madeira 6 Including the Balearic and Canary islands 7 Special political unit 8 As of Mar. 31, 1971
Sources: Narodnoe khoziaistvo SSSR v 1970 g.: Statisticheskii ezhegodnik. Moscow, 1971. Statistical Yearbook, 1970. United Nations, New York, 1971.
Denmark2 (including Faeroes)44,5004,921,000Copenhagen
Faeroe Islands1,40038,000T6rshavn
Great Britain244,00055,812,000London
Norway (including Svalbard and Jan Mayen Island)386,6003,893,000Oslo
Svalbard and Jan Mayen62,4003,000Longyearbyen
San Marino6019,000San Marino
Turkey (European)23,6002.967.0001 
West Berlin74802,128,000 


Bubnov, S. V. Geologiia Evropy, vol. 2, part 1. Moscow, 1935.
Arkhangel’skii, A. D. Geologicheskoe stroenie i geologicheskaia istoriia SSSR, vol. 1, 4th ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Mazarovich, A. N. Osnovy regional’noi geologii materikov, part 1. Moscow, 1951.
Giagnoux, M. Stratigraficheskaia geologiia. Moscow, 1952. (Translated from French.)
Tektonika Evropy: Ob”iasnitel’naia zapiska k mezhdunarodnoi tektonicheskoi karte Evropy masshtaba 1:2,500,000. Moscow, 1964.
Geologicheskoe stroenie SSSR, vols. 1-5. Moscow, 1968-69.
Fizicheskaia geografiia chastei sveta. Moscow, 1963.
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a French monthly journal dealing with social and political affairs, literature, and art. Its editor since 1966 has been P. Gamarra.

Europe was founded in 1923 by a group of progressive writers headed by R. Rolland and J.-R. Bloch. By the mid-1930’s it had switched from an abstract humanist orientation to active support of the struggle for socialism. The journal seeks to establish broad international cultural ties, and it draws attention to the construction of a new way of life in the socialist countries.

Europe has published special numbers devoted to such subjects as science fiction, television, cybernetics, and the theater. Other special numbers have been devoted to the literature of a specific country, such as the German Democratic Republic, Bulgaria, and Algeria, or to a particular author, artist, work, or literary trend. Russian and Soviet writers who have been the subjects of special numbers include N. V. Gogol, F. M. Dostoevsky, L. N. Tolstoy, A. P. Chekhov, Sholom Aleichem, M. Gorky, S. A. Esenin, and M. A. Sholokhov. In honor of the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the October Revolution of 1917, Europe published separate issues that contained selected literary works and critical articles by Soviet writers.

Europe contains analyses of problems of materialist aesthetics. The journal has sections devoted to literary history, criticism, and bibliography.


“Zhurnalu ‘Erop’—piat’desiat let.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1974, no. 1.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A great western peninsula of the Eurasian landmass, usually called a continent; its eastern limits are arbitrary and are conventionally drawn along the water divide of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus watershed to the Black Sea.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. the second smallest continent, forming the W extension of Eurasia: the border with Asia runs from the Urals to the Caspian and the Black Sea. The coastline is generally extremely indented and there are several peninsulas (notably Scandinavia, Italy, and Iberia) and offshore islands (including the British Isles and Iceland). It contains a series of great mountain systems in the south (Pyrenees, Alps, Apennines, Carpathians, Caucasus), a large central plain, and a N region of lakes and mountains in Scandinavia. Pop.: 724 722 000 (2005 est.). Area: about 10 400 000 sq. km (4 000 000 sq. miles)
2. Brit the European Union
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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