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Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent (particularly by the British, Azoreans, Madeirans, Balearic and Canary Spaniards, Icelanders and other European island nations plus peninsular Scandinavians), is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands.
The most common definition of continental Europe excludes the Greek Islands, Malta, Sicilly, Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearic Islands, Iceland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom and its dependencies. Most definitions of continental Europe extend the boundaries of the continent to its standard boundaries, the Ural Mountains, Ural River, Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains.
Use in the United Kingdom 
In the United Kingdom, the Continent is used to refer to the mainland of Europe. Although not strictly-speaking correct, it is widespread practice in the media in the UK (and elsewhere) to use the word Europe to mean continental Europe; that is, "Europe" is used to mean Europe excluding the European islands of Britain, Iceland and Ireland (though the term is sometimes used to refer to the European Union). Oftentimes, this usage expresses an opinion about the relationships between the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Generally, if one is pro-European then one is less likely to refer to "the Continent".
Occasionally, the term mainland Europe is used. A famous British newspaper headline once read, "Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off". It has also been claimed that this was a regular weather forecast in Britain in the 1930s.
Derivatively, the adjective continental refers to the social practices or fashion of continental Europe, as opposed to those in Britain. Examples include breakfast, topless sunbathing and, historically, long-range driving before Britain had motorways. The Continent, when compared exclusively to Britain, has different electrical plugs, different time zones for by far the most part, different currency, drives on the right, and uses the metric system exclusively, etc. Even so, many of the ideas about the practices that are thought to result in a Britain-Continental Europe divide stem from inaccurate generalisations and/or exaggeration. For example, in the UK non-metric systems of measurement have fallen into disuse, especially amongst the young.
Especially in Germanic studies, continental refers to the European continent excluding the Scandinavian peninsula, Britain, Ireland and Iceland. The reason for this is that although the Scandinavian peninsula is attached to continental Europe by Karelia etc., it is usually reached by sea, not by land (which would require travelling north as far as Tornio at the 66th parallel north). Kontinenten – the Continent – is a vernacular Swedish expression excluding Sweden, Norway and Finland, but including Denmark (even the Danish archipelago) and the rest of continental Europe. In Norway, similarly, one speaks about Kontinentet as a separate entity (in most cases referring to Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the Benelux countries and such).
Mediterranean and Atlantic islands 
The continent may sometimes refer to the continental part of Italy (excluding Sardinia, Sicily, etc.), the continental part of Spain (as opposed to the Balearic islands, the Canary Islands, Alboran, etc.), the continental part of France (as opposed to Corsica, etc.), the continental part of Portugal (as opposed to the Madeira Islands and Azores), or the continental part of Greece (as opposed to Ionian Islands, Aegean Islands, Crete). That is used from the perspective of the island residents of each country to describe the continental portion of their country or the continent (or mainland) as a whole.
See also 
- Continental philosophy
- European Union
- Council of Europe
- Central Europe
- Eastern Europe
- Northern Europe
- Southeast Europe
- Southern Europe
- Western Europe
- Geographical centre of Europe
- "Merriam Webster dictionary definition".
- Fraser, Douglas (August 15, 2011). "Britain pushes hard choices for Europe's hard core". BBC News.
- Oakley, Robin (April 19, 2005). "Europe no star as election issue". CNN. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
- Fog in Channel? (book)