Demographics of Europe

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Distribution of population in the EU and EFTA countries, including candidate countries (2007)
  < 50 inhabitants per km2
  50 to 100 inhabitants per km2
  100 to 150 inhabitants per km2
  150 to 300 inhabitants per km2
  300 to 1000 inhabitants per km2
  > 1000 inhabitants per km2
  no data available
Population growth and decline in Europe

Figures for the population of Europe vary according to which definition of European boundaries is used. The population within the standard physical geographical boundaries was 740 million in 2010 according to the United Nations.[1] In 2010 the population was 711 million,[citation needed] using the definition that Europe's boundaries are on the continental divides of the Caucasus and Ural mountains and the Bosporous, including the populated parts of countries of Russia and of Turkey. Population growth is comparatively slow, and median age comparatively high in relation to the world's other continents.[citation needed]

Since the Renaissance, Europe has had a dominating influence in culture, economics and social movements in the world. European demography is important not only historically, but also in understanding current international relations and population issues.

Some current and past issues in European demography have included religious emigration, ethnic relations, economic immigration, a declining birth rate and an ageing population. In some countries, such as Poland, access to abortion is currently limited and it is entirely illegal in the Mediterranean nation of Malta. In the past, such restrictions and also restrictions on artificial birth control were commonplace throughout Europe.

Total population[edit]

330,000,000 people lived in Europe in 1916.[2]

In 2010 the population of Europe was estimated to be 740 million according to the United Nations,[1] which was slightly less than 11% of world population. The precise figure depends on the exact definition of the geographic extent of Europe. The population of the EU was 508 million as of 2015. Non-EU countries situated in Europe in their entirety[3] account for another 94 million. Five transcontinental countries[4] have a total of 240 million people, of which about half reside in Europe proper.

As it stands now, around 12% of the world's people live on this continent, but if demographic trends keep their pace, Europe's share may fall to around 7% in 2050. Declining birth rates (particularly in Germany) and a high life expectancy in most European states means that the aging and declining population will be a problem for many European economies, political and social institutions. Countries on the edges of Europe, except for southern Europe, have generally stronger growth than Central European counterparts. Albania and Ireland have strong growth, hitting over 1% annually.[5]

Population by country[edit]

Modern political map (2006).
Council of Europe nations, with founding nations in yellow.
Regional grouping according to the UN.
  •   Northern Europe
  •   Western Europe
  •    Eastern Europe
  •    Southern Europe
  •      Asian portions of European countries
  •   Non-European countries

According to different definitions, such as consideration of the concept of Central Europe, the following territories and regions may be subject to various other categorisations aside from geographic conventions.

Name of regiona[›] and
territory, with flag
(1 December 2014 est.)
Population density
(per km2)
Albania Albania 28,748 3,020,209 105.1 Tirana
Andorra Andorra 468 85,082 181.8 Andorra la Vella
Armenia Armenia 29,743 3,018,854 101.5 Yerevan
Austria Austria 83,879 8,504,850 101.4 Vienna
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan 86,600 9,494,600 109.6 Baku
Belarus Belarus 207,595 9,475,100 45.6 Minsk
Belgium Belgium 30,528 11,198,638 366.8 Brussels
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 51,197 3,871,643 75.6 Sarajevo
Bulgaria Bulgaria 110,994 7,364,570 66.4 Sofia
Croatia Croatia 56,594 4,284,889 75.7 Zagreb
Cyprus Cypruse[›] 9,251 1,117,000 120.7 Nicosia
Czech Republic Czech Republic 78,866 10,513,209 133.3 Prague
Denmark Denmark 42,916 5,655,750 131.8 Copenhagen
Estonia Estonia 45,227 1,315,819 29.1 Tallinn
Faroe Islands Faroe Islands (Denmark) 1,399 49,709 35.6 Tórshavn
Finland Finland 338,424 5,470,820 16.2 Helsinki
France Franceh[›] 551,695 66,030,000 115.8 Paris
Georgia (country) Georgiam[›] 69,700 4,935,880 70.8 Tbilisi
Germany Germany 357,168 80,716,000 226.0 Berlin
Gibraltar Gibraltar (UK) 6.8 30,001 4,348.0 Gibraltar
Greece Greece 131,957 10,816,286 82.0 Athens
Guernsey Guernseyd[›] 78 65,345 837.8 St. Peter Port
Hungary Hungary 93,030 9,877,365 106.2 Budapest
Iceland Iceland 103,001 325,671 3.2 Reykjavík
Republic of Ireland Ireland 70,273 4,609,600 65.6 Dublin
Isle of Man Isle of Mand[›] 572 84,497 147.8 Douglas
Italy Italy 301,338 60,782,668 201.7 Rome
Jersey Jerseyd[›] 118 97,857 827.9 Saint Helier
Kosovo Kosovop[›] 10,908 1,859,203 170.4 Pristina
Latvia Latvia 64,589 1,990,300 30.8 Riga
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein 160 37,132 232.1 Vaduz
Lithuania Lithuania 65,300 2,944,459 45.1 Vilnius
Luxembourg Luxembourg 2,586 549,680 212.6 Luxembourg
Republic of Macedonia Republic of Macedonia 25,713 2,058,539 80.1 Skopje
Malta Malta 316 446,547 1,413.1 Valletta
Moldova Moldovab[›] 33,846 3,557,600 105.1 Chişinău
Monaco Monaco 2.02 36,371 18,005.4 Monaco
Montenegro Montenegro 13,812 647,905 46.9 Podgorica
Netherlands Netherlands 41,543 16,856,620 405.8 Amsterdam
Norway Norway 385,178 5,136,700 13.3 Oslo
Poland Poland 312,679 38,483,957 123.1 Warsaw
Portugal Portugalf[›] 92,212 10,427,301 113.1 Lisbon
Romania Romania 238,391 19,942,642 83.7 Bucharest
Russia Russiac[›] 17,075,400 (3,960,000 in European Russia) 143,700,000 (110,000,000 in European Russia)[6] 8.3 (27.8 in European Russia) Moscow
San Marino San Marino 61.2 32,576 532.3 San Marino
Serbia Serbiag[›] 88,361 7,209,764 81.6 Belgrade
Slovakia Slovakia 49,035 5,415,949 110.5 Bratislava
Slovenia Slovenia 20,273 2,061,085 101.7 Ljubljana
Spain Spain 504,645 46,704,314 92.6 Madrid
Norway Svalbard and Jan
Mayen Islands
62,049 2,868 0.046 Longyearbyen
Sweden Sweden 449,964 9,716,962 21.6 Stockholm
Switzerland Switzerland 41,285 8,183,800 198.2 Bern
Turkey Turkey 783,562 76,667,864 97.8 Ankara
Ukraine Ukraine 603,628 44,291,413 73.4 Kyiv
United Kingdom United Kingdom 243,610 64,100,000 263.1 London
Vatican City Vatican City 0.44 842 1,913.6 Vatican City
Total 10,180,000o[›] 742,452,000o[›] 72.9
Åland Islands Åland (within Finland) 1,580 28,666 18.1 Mariehamn


Main article: Aging of Europe

Perhaps mirroring its declining population growth, European countries tend to have older populations overall. European countries had nine of the top ten highest median ages in national populations in 2005. Only Japan had an older population.[7]


Main article: Religion in Europe
Further information: Christianity in Europe and Islam in Europe

Over the last several decades, religious practice has been on the decline in a process of "Secularization." European countries have experienced a decline in church attendance, as well as a decline in the number of people professing a belief in a god. The Eurobarometer Poll 2010 found that, on average, 51% of the citizens of EU member states state that they believe in a god, 26% believe there is some sort of spirit or life Force while 20% do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god or Life Force, and 3% declined to answer.[8] The Eurobarometer poll must be taken with caution, however, as there are discrepancies between it and national census results. For example, in the United Kingdom, the 2001 census revealed over 70% of the population regarded themselves as "Christian" with only 15% professing to have "no religion", though the wording of the question has been criticized as "leading" by the British Humanist Association.[9] The 2011 census showed a dramatic reduction to less than 60% of the population regarding themselves as "Christian".[10]

Despite its decline, Christianity is still the largest religion in Europe. According to a survey published in 2011, 76.2% of Europeans considered themselves Christian.[11][12] Catholics were at the time of the survey the largest Christian group in Europe, accounting for more than 48% of European Christians.[13] The second-largest Christian group in Europe was the Orthodox, who made up 32% of European Christians.[13] And about 19% of European Christians were part of the Protestant tradition.

According to a 2003 study,[14] 47% of Frenchmen declared themselves as agnostic in 2003. This situation is often called "Post-Christian Europe". A decrease in religiousness and church attendance in western Europe (especially Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden) has been noted. According to a survey published in 2012 agnostic and atheist make up about 18.2% of Europeans population.[15] According to the same survey religiously unaffiliated make up a majority of the population only in two European countries: Czech Republic (75%) and Estonia (60%).[16]

According to another poll about Religiosity in the European Union from 2012 by Eurobarometer, Christianity was the largest religion in the European Union (account 72% of EU population), Catholics were with 48% the largest Christian group in EU, Protestants made up 12%, and Eastern Orthodoxs made up 8%, and Other Christians accounted for 4% of the EU population.[17] Non believer/Agnostic account 16%, Atheist account's 7%, and Muslim 2%.[18]

Ethnic groups[edit]

Further information: Immigration to Europe

Pan and Pfeil (2004) count 87 distinct "peoples of Europe", of which 33 form the majority population in at least one sovereign state, while the remaining 54 constitute ethnic minorities. The total number of national minority populations in Europe is estimated at 105 million people, or 14% of 770 million Europeans. (including Europeans in Asian Russia)[19]

The largest ethnic groups are the Russians, of whom 92 million reside in Europe, the Germans, with 72 million. In some countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Spain, the designation of nationality may controversially take on ethnic aspects, subsuming smaller ethnic groups such as Welsh, Bretons and Basques, making it difficult to quantify a "British" or "French" ethnicity, for example.

Approximately 20 million non-Europeans live in the EU, 4% of the overall population.[20]


Main article: Languages of Europe

Most of the languages of Europe belong to the Indo-European language family. This family is divided into a number of branches, including Romance, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Albanian, Celtic and Greek. The Uralic languages, which include Hungarian, Finnish, and Estonian, also have a significant presence in Europe. The Turkic and Mongolic families also have several European members, while the North Caucasian and Kartvelian families are important in the southeastern extremity of geographical Europe. The Basque language of the western Pyrenees is an isolate unrelated to any other group, while Maltese is the only Semitic language in Europe with national language status.

The European Union (EU), which currently excludes many European countries (i.e. Norway, Russia and Switzerland), recognises 23 official languages as of 2007.[22] According to the same source, the eight most natively spoken languages in the EU are (percentage of total EU population[23]):

  1. 19% German
  2. 13% French
  3. 12% English
  4. 11% Italian
  5. 9% Polish
  6. 9% Spanish
  7. 7% Romanian
  8. 5% Dutch

These figures change when foreign language skills are taken into account. The list below shows the top eight European languages ordered by total number of speakers in the EU:[24]

  1. 49% English
  2. 35% German
  3. 26% French
  4. 16% Italian
  5. 15% Spanish
  6. 10% Polish
  7. 7% Russian
  8. 6% Dutch

This makes German the most frequently spoken native language and English the most frequently spoken non-native language overall in the European Union, with German the second-most common language overall.

Languages that are not official state languages are protected in many European countries by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. These can include languages spoken by relatively many people, such as Catalan and Basque in Spain, as well as languages spoken by relatively few such as Welsh, Cornish and Scottish Gaelic in the United Kingdom.

Genetic origins[edit]

Further information: White people and Caucasoid

Homo sapiens appeared in Europe roughly 40,000 years ago, with the settlement of the Cro-magnons. Over the prehistoric period there was continual immigration to Europe, notably by the immediate descendents of the Proto-Indo-Europeans who migrated west after the advent of the Neolithic revolution.[25]

MtDna and Y-Dna[edit]

Studies of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have suggested substantial genetic homogeneity of European populations,[26] with only a few geographic or linguistic isolates appearing to be genetic isolates as well.[27] On the other hand, analyses of the Y chromosome [28][29] and of autosomal diversity [30] have shown a general gradient of genetic similarity running from the southeast to the northwest of the continent.


Listed here are the average frequencies of human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups found in indigenous people of geographical Europe (including only European part of Russia and Turkey).[31]

Haplogroup Total Europe Western Europe Northern Europe Southern Europe Eastern Europe
R1b 33.5% 50.5% 53.0% 41.5% 9.0%
R1a 21.0% 9.5% 9.5% 6.0% 43.5%
I2 9.5% 6.5% 6.0% 9.5% 13.5%
I1 8.5% 13.0% 18.0% 3.5% 5.5%
E1b1b 7.0% 6.0% 2.0% 12.5% 5.5%
J2 6.5% 5.0% 2.5% 13.0% 5.0%
N 5.5% 0.5% 6.5% 0.5% 12.5%
G 3.5% 5.5% 1.0% 6.0% 2.0%
T 1.0% 1.0% 0.5% 2.5% 1.0%
J1 1.0% 0.5% 0.0% 2.5% 0.5%
Q 0.5% 0.5% 0.5% 0.5% 1.0%
Others 1.5% 1.5% 0.5% 2.0% 1.0%

Population structure[edit]

A study in May 2009 [32] that examined 19 populations from Europe using 270,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) highlighted the genetic diversity of European populations corresponding to the northwest to southeast gradient and distinguished "several distinct regions" within Europe:

In this study, Fst (Fixation index) was found to correlate considerably with geographic distances ranging from ≤0.0010 for neighbouring populations to 0.0230 for Southern Italy and Finland. For comparisons, pair-wise Fst of non-European samples were as follows: Europeans – Africans (Yoruba) 0.1530; Europeans – Chinese 0.1100; Africans (Yoruba) – Chinese 0.1900.[33]

See also[edit]


^ a: Continental regions as per UN categorisations/map. Depending on definitions, various territories cited below may be in one or both of Europe and Asia, or Africa.
^ b: Includes Transnistria, a region that has declared, and de facto achieved, independence; however, it is not recognised de jure by sovereign states.
^ c: Russia is considered a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. However, the population and area figures include the entire state.
^ d: Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey are Crown dependencies of the United Kingdom. Other Channel Islands legislated by the Bailiwick of Guernsey include Alderney and Sark.
^ e: Cyprus is sometimes considered transcontinental country. Physiographically entirely in Western Asia it has strong historical and sociopolitical connections with Europe. The population and area figures refer to the entire state, including the de facto independent part Northern Cyprus.
^ f: Figures for Portugal include the Azores and Madeira archipelagos, both in Northern Atlantic.
^ g: Area figure for Serbia includes Kosovo, a province that unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, and whose sovereign status is unclear. Population and density figures are 2010 estimates and are given without the disputed territory of Kosovo.
^ h: Figures for France include metropolitan France but not overseas departments and territories as they are not part of the European continent.
^ j: Kazakhstan is physiographically considered a transcontinental country in Central Asia (UN region) and Eastern Europe, with European territory west of the Ural Mountains and both the Ural and Emba rivers. However, area and population figures refer to the entire country.
^ k: Armenia is physiographically entirely in Western Asia, but it has strong historical and sociopolitical connections with Europe. The population and area figures include the entire state respectively.
^ m: Georgia is often considered a transcontinental country in Western Asia and Eastern Europe. However, the population and area figures include the entire state. This also includes Georgian estimates for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two regions that have declared and de facto achieved independence. The International recognition, however, is limited.
^ o: The total figures for area and population includes the whole of the transcontinental countries. The precision of these figure is compromised by the ambiguous geographical extend of Europe and the lack of references for European portions of transcontinental countries.
^ p: Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008. Its sovereign status is unclear. Its population is a 2007 estimate.
^ r: Abkhazia and South Ossetia unilaterally declared their independence from Georgia on 25 August 1990 and 28 November 1991 respectively. Their sovereign status is unclear. Population figures stated as of 2003 census and 2000 estimates respectively.


  1. ^ a b "World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision". UN — Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Charles Morris, ed. (1916). Winston's Cumulative ...: Encyclopedia; a Comprehensive Reference Book, Volume 4. Winston's Cumulative ...: Encyclopedia; a Comprehensive Reference Book. John C. Winston Company. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  3. ^ Albania 3.6, Belarus 10.3, Bosnia and Herzegovina 4.4, Croatia 4.4, Iceland 0.3, Republic of Macedonia 2.0, Moldova 4.4, Norway 4.5, Serbia+Kosovo 9.7, Switzerland 7.5, Ukraine 45.4
  4. ^ Russia 142, Georgia 4.7, 8.6
  5. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  6. ^ Europe, a Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics - Hans Slomp - Google Břger. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  7. ^ United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision Highlights. 2005
  8. ^ "Special Eurobarometer, biotechnology, page 204" (PDF). Fieldwork: Jan-Feb 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ "Census 2011". 2012-09-17. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  10. ^ "BBC News - At-a-glance: Census 2011 findings". 2012-12-11. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  11. ^ "Global Christianity". 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  12. ^ "The Global Religious Landscape: Christians". 2012-12-18. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  13. ^ a b Christianity in Europe, excluding the Asian part of Russia, including the European part of Turkey
  14. ^ Dogan, Mattei, Religious Beliefs in Europe: Factors of Accelerated Decline, 2003
  15. ^ Religiously Unaffiliated
  16. ^ Religiously Unaffiliated
  17. ^ "Discrimination in the EU in 2012" (PDF). Special Eurobarometer. 383 (European Union: European Commission): 233. 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  18. ^ "Discrimination in the EU in 2012" (PDF), Special Eurobarometer, 383 (European Union: European Commission), 2012: 233, retrieved 14 August 2013  The question asked was "Do you consider yourself to be...?" With a card showing: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Other Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, and Non-believer/Agnostic. Space was given for Other (SPONTANEOUS) and DK. Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu did not reach the 1% threshold.
  19. ^ Christoph Pan, Beate Sibylle Pfeil,Minderheitenrechte in Europa. Handbuch der europäischen Volksgruppen (2002)., English translation 2004.
  20. ^ "Migration and migrant population statistics". 2015-05-01. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  21. ^ Pan, Christoph; Pfeil, Beate S. (2003). "The Peoples of Europe by Demographic Size, Table 1". National Minorities in Europe: Handbook. Wien: Braumueller. p. 11f. ISBN 978-3-7003-1443-1.  (a breakdown by country of these 87 groups is given in Table 5, pp. 17-31.)
  22. ^ EUROPA - Education and Training - Languages in Europe
  23. ^ see for full list
  24. ^ see for full list
  25. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, s.v. "Europe : The people".
  26. ^ Torroni A, Achilli A, Macaulay V, Richards M, Bandelt HJ (2006) Harvesting the fruit of the human mtDNA tree. Trends Genet 22: 339–345
  27. ^ Simoni L, Calafell F, Pettener D, Bertranpetit J, Barbujani G (2000) Geographic patterns of mtDNA diversity in Europe. Am J Hum Genet 66: 262–278
  28. ^ Chikhi L, Nichols RA, Barbujani G, Beaumont MA (2002) Y genetic data support the Neolithic demic diffusion model. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 99: 11008–11013
  29. ^ Roewer L, Croucher PJ, Willuweit S, Lu TT, Kayser M, et al. (2005) Signature of recent historical events in the European Y-chromosomal STR haplotype distribution. Hum Genet 116: 279–291
  30. ^ Barbujani G, Goldstein DB (2004) Africans and Asians abroad: genetic diversity in Europe. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet 5: 119–150
  31. ^ Distribution of European Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroups by country in percentage
  32. ^ Genetic Structure of Europeans: A View from the North–East, Nelis et al. 2009
  33. ^ "Pair-wise Fst between European samples". Retrieved 2014-01-19. 

External links[edit]