Europa is 6 km in diameter, with a maximum altitude of 6 metres, and has 22.2 kilometres of coastline. It is surrounded by coral beaches and a fringing reef and encloses a mangrovelagoon of around 9 km2 and open to the sea on one side. There are no ports or harbours but anchorage is possible offshore. Its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), contiguous with that of Bassas da India, is 127,300 km2. The airstrip is 1,500 metres long.
Climate is affected by the Agulhas Current with water temperatures usually above 30°C, southeast trade winds during the (austral) winter and occasional cyclones.
The island is a nature reserve. Its vegetation consists of dry forest, scrub, euphorbia, the mangrove swamp, and the remains of a sisal plantation. It is one of the world's largest nesting sites for green sea turtles. It is also home to goats introduced by settlers in the late 18th century.
While the island has probably been sighted by navigators since at least the 16th century, it takes its name from the British ship Europa, which visited it in December 1774. Ruins and graves on Europa island attest to several attempts at settlement from the 1860s to the 1920s. For example, the French Rosiers family moved to the island in 1860, but subsequently abandoned it.
Satellite photo of Europa Island (north faces upward).