Europe is a continent that comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia. Europe is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. To the east and southeast, Europe is generally considered as separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways of the Turkish Straits. Yet the non-oceanic borders of Europe—a concept dating back to classical antiquity—are arbitrary. The primarily physiographic term "continent" as applied to Europe also incorporates cultural and political elements whose discontinuities are not always reflected by the continent's current overland boundaries.
Europe covers about 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 sq mi), or 2% of the Earth's surface (6.8% of land area).
Politically, Europe is divided into about fifty sovereign states of which the Russian Federation is the largest and most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population.
Europe had a total population of about 740 million (about 11% of world population) as of 2012.
The history of Europe covers the peoples inhabiting the European continent from prehistory to the present. Some of the best-known civilizations of prehistoric Europe were the Minoan and the Mycenaean, which flourished during the Bronze Age until they collapsed in a short period of time around 1200 BC.
The period known as classical antiquity began with the emergence of the city-states of Ancient Greece. After ultimately checking the Persian advance in Europe through the Greco-Persian Wars in the 5th century BC, Greek influence reached its zenith under the expansive empire of Alexander the Great, spreading throughout Asia, Africa, and other parts of Europe. The Roman Empire came to dominate the entire Mediterranean basin in a vast empire based on Roman law. By 300 AD the Roman Empire was divided into the Western and Eastern empires. During the 4th and 5th centuries, the Germanic peoples of northern Europe grew in strength and repeated attacks led to the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. AD 476 traditionally marks the end of the classical period and the start of the Middle Ages.
The culture of Europe is rooted in the art, architecture, music, literature, and philosophy that originated from the European cultural region. European culture is largely rooted in what is often referred to as its "common cultural heritage".
As a continent, the economy of Europe is currently the largest on Earth and it is the richest region as measured by assets under management with over $32.7 trillion compared to North America's $27.1 trillion in 2008. In 2009 Europe remained the wealthiest region. Its $37.1 trillion in assets under management represented one-third of the world's wealth. It was one of several regions where wealth surpassed its precrisis year-end peak. As with other continents, Europe has a large variation of wealth among its countries. The richer states tend to be in the West; some of the Central and Eastern European economies are still emerging from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia.
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is the distinctive form of Baroque architecture
which evolved on the island of Sicily
, off the southern coast of Italy, in the 17th and 18th centuries
, when it was part of the Spanish Empire
. The style is recognisable not only by its typical Baroque curves and flourishes, but also by its grinning masks
and a particular flamboyance that has given Sicily a unique architectural identity.
The Sicilian Baroque style came to fruition during a major surge of rebuilding following the massive earthquake in 1693
. Previously, the Baroque style had been used on the island in a naïve and parochial
manner, having evolved from hybrid
native architecture rather than being derived from the great Baroque architects of Rome. After the earthquake, local architects, many of them trained in Rome, were given plentiful opportunities to recreate the more sophisticated Baroque architecture that had become popular in mainland Italy; the work of these local architects – and the new genre of architectural engravings
that they pioneered – inspired more local architects to follow their lead. Around 1730, Sicilian architects had developed a confidence in their use of the Baroque style. Their particular interpretation led to further evolution to a personalised and highly localised art form on the island. From the 1780s onwards, the style was gradually replaced by the newly fashionable neoclassicism
. Read more...
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Cannon decorate the quayside of Balfour Harbour on Shapinsay, the round tower in the background is The Douche
Shapinsay (Scots: Shapinsee) is one of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. There is one village on the island, Balfour, from which roll-on/roll-off car ferries sail to Kirkwall on the Orkney Mainland. Balfour Castle, built in the Scottish Baronial style, is one of the island's most prominent features, a reminder of the Balfour family's domination of Shapinsay during the 18th and 19th centuries; the Balfours transformed life on the island by introducing new agricultural techniques. Other landmarks include a standing stone, an Iron Age broch, a souterrain and a salt-water shower.
With an area of 29.5 square kilometres (11.4 sq mi), Shapinsay is the eighth largest island in the Orkney archipelago
. It is low-lying and fertile, consequently most of the area is given over to farming. Shapinsay has two nature reserves
and is notable for its bird life. Read more...
(1746–1828) was a Spanish romantic
painter and printmaker
regarded as both the last of the Old Masters
and the first of the moderns. Goya was a court painter to the Spanish Crown
, and through his works was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era. This portrait was completed when Goya was 80 years old.
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Meinhard Michael Moser (13 March 1924 – 30 September 2002) was an Austrian mycologist. His work principally concerned the taxonomy, chemistry, and toxicity of the gilled mushrooms (Agaricales), especially those of the genus Cortinarius, and the ecology of ectomycorrhizal relationships. His contributions to the Kleine Kryptogamenflora von Mitteleuropa series of mycological guidebooks were well regarded and widely used. In particular, his 1953 Blätter- und Bauchpilze (Agaricales und Gastromycetes) [The Gilled and Gasteroid Fungi (Agaricales and Gastromycetes)], which became known as simply "Moser", saw several editions in both the original German and in translation. Other important works included a 1960 monograph on the genus Phlegmacium (now considered part of Cortinarius) and a 1975 study of members of Cortinarius, Dermocybe, and Stephanopus in South America, co-authored with the mycologist Egon Horak.
After showing interest in natural sciences in his youth, Moser studied at the University of Innsbruck
. His university career began during World War II
however, and was soon interrupted by military service
. Stationed as a translator in eastern Europe, he was captured and placed in a prisoner-of-war camp
. He was released in 1948, subsequently returning to Innsbruck to complete his studies. After completing his doctorate in 1950, Moser worked in England for six months, researching the symbiotic relationships between plants and fungi. Upon his return to Austria, he joined the Federal Forestry Research Institute
, where he remained until 1968, conducting influential research on the use of mycorrhizal
fungi in reforestation
. He began lecturing
at the University of Innsbruck in 1956, and in 1972 became the inaugural head of the first Institute of Microbiology in Austria. He remained with the Institute until his retirement in 1991, and his scientific studies continued until his death in 2002. An influential mycologist who described
around 500 new taxa
, Moser received awards throughout his life, and numerous fungal taxa have been named in his honour. Read more...