Geography of the European Union

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Geography of the European Union
EU map.gif
Continent Europe–Asia–Africa–Americas
Area Ranked 7th
 • Total 4,422,773 km2 (1,707,642 sq mi)
Coastline 65,993 km (41,006 mi)
Borders Total land borders: 13,454 km
Albania 282 km, Andorra 120.3 km, Belarus 1,050 km, Bosnia and Herzegovina 932 km, Brazil 673 km, Liechtenstein 34.9 km, Macedonia 394 km, Moldova 450 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Montenegro 23 km, Morocco 16 km, Norway 2,348 km, Russia 2,257 km, San Marino 39 km, Serbia 1,263 km, Suriname 510 km, Switzerland 1,811 km, Turkey 446 km, Ukraine 1,257 km, Vatican City 3.2 km
Highest point Mont Blanc
4,810.45 m
Lowest point Lammefjord, Zuidplaspolder
-7 m
Longest river Danube
2,860 km
Largest lake Vänern
5,650 km²

The geography of the European Union describes the geographic features of the European Union (EU), a multinational polity that occupies a large portion of Europe and covers 4,422,773 km2 (1,707,642 sq mi).[1] Its European territory extends northeast to Finland, northwest to Ireland, southeast to Cyprus (an island that is physiographically part of Asia) and southwest to Iberia. Collectively, it represents the seventh largest territory in the world by area.

Including all overseas territories, the EU shares borders with 19 countries.

Geography by member states[edit]

The European Union has 28 member states and 6 candidates. See the geography of each state:



Topography of the European Union

Most of the European Union is on the European continent. The EU covers less than half of the territory of Europe, significant parts of the continent especially in the East (e.g. European Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) and smaller parts in the North and Center are not part of the EU. The member states of the EU have land borders with 19 other nations.

It is estimated that the coastline of the European Union is 66,000 km long,[2] bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Baltic Sea. European mountain ranges include the Alps, Carpathian Mountains, Balkan Mountains and Scandinavian Mountains with the tallest mountain in the Union being Mont Blanc.

Several overseas territories and dependencies of various member states are also formally part of the EU (for Spain: the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla; for Portugal: the Azores, Madeira; for UK: Gibraltar and British sovereign bases in Cyprus; for France: La Réunion, French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy) while in other cases territories associated with member states are not part of the EU (e.g. Greenland, the Faroe Islands, most territories associated to the United Kingdom, Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, Mayotte, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, or New Caledonia).

Including overseas territories of member states, the EU includes most types of climate from Arctic to tropical. Meteorological averages for the EU as a whole are therefore not meaningful. The majority of the population live in areas with a Mediterranean climate (southern Europe), a temperate maritime climate (western Europe), or a warm summer continental or hemiboreal climate (in eastern member states).

  European Union
  Outermost regions (part of the EU)
  Overseas countries and territories (not part of the EU)


The Danube (pictured in Budapest), is the longest river in the European Union.

The following are the longest rivers in the EU alongside their approximate lengths:[3][4]

  1. Danube – 2,860 km (1,780 mi)
  2. Tisza – 1,358 km (844 mi)
  3. Rhine – 1,236 km (768 mi)
  4. Elbe – 1,091 km (678 mi)
  5. Vistula – 1,047 km (651 mi)
  6. Tagus – 1,038 km (645 mi)
  7. Loire – 1,012 km (629 mi)
  8. Ebro – 960 km (600 mi)
  9. Oder – 854 km (531 mi)
  10. Rhône – 815 km (506 mi)

Largest cities[edit]

The European Union is home to more global cities than any other region in the world. Over 16 cities with populations over one million inhabitants, counted in its city proper. Densely populated regions that have no single core but have emerged from the connection of several cites and are now encompassing large metropolitan areas are Rhine-Ruhr having approximately 11.5 million inhabitants (Cologne, Düsseldorf, et al.), Randstad approx. 7 million (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague et al.), the Flemish Diamond approx. 5.5 million, Frankfurt/Rhine-Main approx. 4 million (Frankfurt, Wiesbaden et al.) and the Upper Silesian Industry Area approx. 3.5 million. (Katowice, Sosnowiec et al.).[5]

City proper Population
City limits

in millions

per km²
Urban area Population
Urban area
in millions
Metro area Population
Metro area
in millions
London, UK 7.5 4,761 Paris, France 10.1 London, UK 12–14
Berlin, Germany 3.4 3,815 London, UK 8.5 Paris, France 11.7
Madrid, Spain 3.1 1,985 Madrid, Spain 5.5 Rhine-Ruhr, Germany 10.2
Rome, Italy 2.7 5,198 Ruhr, Germany 5.3 Randstad, Netherlands 7.0
Paris, France 2.2 24,672 Barcelona, Spain 4.5 Madrid, Spain 5.8
Bucharest, Romania 1.9 9,131 Milan, Italy 3.8 Barcelona, Spain 5.3
Hamburg, Germany 1.8 2,310 Berlin, Germany 3.7 Milan, Italy 4.3
Warsaw, Poland 1.7 3,258 RotterdamThe Hague, Netherlands 3.3 Berlin, Germany 4.3
Budapest, Hungary 1,7 3,570 Athens, Greece 3.2 Frankfurt Rhine-Main, Germany 4.1
Vienna, Austria 1.7 3,931 Naples, Italy 2.9 Athens, Greece 3.9


22 member countries are influenced by extensive coastlines and oceanic climate, (Mediterranean, Greece)

The climate of the European Union is of a temperate, continental nature, with a maritime climate prevailing on the western coasts and a mediterranean climate in the south. The climate is strongly conditioned by the Gulf Stream, which warms the western region to levels unattainable at similar latitudes on other continents. Western Europe is oceanic, while eastern Europe is continental and dry. Four seasons occur in western Europe, while southern Europe experiences a wet season and a dry season. Southern Europe is hot and dry during the summer months. The heaviest precipitation occurs downwind of water bodies due to the prevailing westerlies, with higher amounts also seen in the Alps. Tornadoes occur within Europe, but tend to be weak. The Netherlands and United Kingdom experience a disproportionately high number of tornadic events.

Mildest climate within the European Union occurs in Portuguese island of Madeira, where the average temperature varies from 19 °C (66 °F) during the day and 13 °C (55 °F) at night in winter to 26 °C (79 °F) during the day and 19 °C (66 °F) at night in summer. Also, mildest climate occurs in the Spanish island of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), with average temperature varies from 21 °C (70 °F) during the day and 15 °C (59 °F) at night in winter to 27 °C (81 °F) during the day and 22 °C (72 °F) at night in summer. Both these islands lie in the Atlantic. As for the land on the European continent, mildest climate occurs in northwest part of Iberian Peninsula (also Spain and Portugal), between Bilbao, A Coruña and Porto. In this the coastal strand, the average temperature varies from 10–14 °C (50–57 °F) during the day and about 5 °C (41 °F) at night in January to 22–26 °C (72–79 °F) during the day and 15–16 °C (59–61 °F) at night in the middle of summer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Figure including the four French overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion) which are an integral part of the European Union, but excluding the French overseas collectivities and territories, which are not part of the European Union.
  2. ^ European Union CIA World Factbook
  3. ^ European Rivers – Rivers of Europe, Map of Rivers in Europe, Major Rivers in Europe -
  4. ^ River Systems of the World
  5. ^ Indicators for larger urban zones 1999 – 2003, Eurostat. Accessed 25 January 2007

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Atlas of the European Union