Europe is, by regulation, one of the world’s seven continents. Consisting of the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally divided from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Black and Caspian Seas, and the waterways that connect the Black and Aegean Seas. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean towards the north, Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Black Sea and connected waterways to the southeast.

This continent is the world’s second-smallest continent regarding surface area, covering approximately 3,930,000 sq miles or two percent of the Earths surface and about 6.8 percent of its land area. Out of Europe’s roughly 50 states, Russia is by far the largest regarding area and population, taking up 40 percent of the continent, while Vatican City is the smallest. It ranks as third most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of 733 million or about 11 percent of the world’s population.

Europa was the Phoenician princess whom Zeus abducted after assuming the form of a dazzling white bull in Greek mythology. He took her to the island of Crete where she gave birth to Minos, Sarpedon, and Rhadamanthus. For Homer, Europe was a mythological queen of Crete rather than a geographical designation.

This continent is a peninsula that makes up the western 5th of the Eurasian landmass. The southern areas are more mountainous, while moving north the terrain descends from the high Alps, Carpathians, and Pyrenees, through hilly uplands, into wide, low northern plains, which are immense in the east.

Europe is mainly within the temperate climate zones, being subjected to prevailing westerlies.

Image Caption: Map of Europe. The continental boundary to Asia as indicated is the standard convention following the Caucasus crest, the Urals River and the Urals Mountains to the Sea of Kara. Credit: Dbachmann/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)