You are on page 1of 10

WESTERN EUROPE

BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND


During the decline of the Roman Empire, the empire was divided into two distinct
regions:
o Western Roman Empire Under the Germanic Kingdoms, which later gave way
to the Frankish Merovingian Kingdom, which was later replaced by the Holy
Roman Empire under Charlemagne
o Eastern Roman Empire Under the Byzantine Empire
Later divisions in the Catholic Church during the Great Schism, which divided it between
the Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, and Islamic invasions by the Ottomans
contributed to a difference in culture between Eastern and Western Europe.
o Byzantine Empire Became the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church
Constantinople was later conquered by the Ottomans, later used as a
stepping stone for their invasion of Western Europe
GENERAL INFORMATION
Western Europe commonly refers to the region of non-Communist Europe after World
War II.
o It is composed of the following countries:
Austria
Italy
Belgium
Luxembourg
Denmark
Netherlands
Finland
Norway
France
Portugal
Germany
Spain
Greece
Sweden
Iceland
Switzerland
Ireland
United Kingdom

Geographically, it is composed of Western Europe and parts of Central Europe.


o Some countries commonly designated as part of Central Europe, but are also
included in Western Europe are the following:
Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY
Territorial Boundaries:
o West: Atlantic Ocean
o North: Arctic Ocean
o South: Mediterranean Sea
Largest:
o By Area: France - 551,695km2
o By Population: Germany 81,799,600 (est. 2011)
Smallest:
o By Area:
Rome 0.44km2
Liechtenstein 160km2
o By Population:
Iceland 318,452 (est. 2011)
Climate
Europe represents an infinite range of natural environments
o Balmy Mediterranean Sea shores
o Icy Alps
o Moist woodlands and moors of the Atlantic Fridge
o Semi-arid prairies north of the Black Sea
Western Europe
o Mostly Humid-Temperate Climate
United Kingdom, France, Germany, parts of Norway
Humid Temperate with cold summers
Some parts of Spain
Humid Temperate with dry summers
o Humid Cold Climate
Scandinavian peninsula
o Dry Climate
Parts of Spain
o Highland Climate
Borders of France and Italy
o Cold Polar Climate
Parts of Iceland
Parts of Norway

Major Landforms
Highest Point:
o Mont Blanc (France, Italy)
4,810m (15,782ft)
Highest mountain in the Alps

Mont Blanc (French) and Monte Bianco (Italian) means White Mountain
for its perpetual snowfields and glaciers.
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and in western Europe.
The height of Mont Blanc varies from year to year depending on the depth
of the summits snow cap, so no permanent elevation can be assigned to
the mountain.
The official elevation was once 15,770 feet (4,807 meters)
2002: Resurveyed with modern technology at 15,782 feet (4,810
meters) or twelve feet higher
2005: Survey measured it at 15,776 feet 9 inches (4,808.75
meters).
Mont Blancs rock summit, under snow and ice, is 15,720 feet (4,792
meters) and about 140 feet away from the snowcapped summit.
The first recorded climb of Mont Blanc was by Jacque Balmat and Michel
Paccard on August 8, 1786.
Climbing historians often consider this ascent the beginning of
modern mountaineering.

Lowest Point:
o Lammefjord (Denmark
7m (23ft) below sea level
Former body of water in Denmark at the base of the Odsherred
peninsula. Previously a deeply branched arm of the sea leading west
from the Isefjord, most of it is now reclaimed as agricultural land.
The sandy former sea bed is excellent agricultural land, especially for
crops such as carrots and potatoes.
The draining project began in 1873, but it took until 1943 before the
lowest elevations were pumped dry.
Other Major Landforms:
o Alps: Located in south-central Europe, they extend for almost 700 miles from the
coastline of southern France (near Monaco) into Switzerland, northern Italy and
Austria, then southeast through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina as
the (Dinaric Alps). They end in Albania on the rugged coastline of the Adriatic
Sea. Known for stunning scenery, glaciers, lakes and valleys and the best skiing
conditions on the planet, they're the source of many rivers and tributaries
including the Danube, Po, Rhine and Rhone. The highest point is Mont Blanc at
15,771 ft. (4,807 m)
o Apennines: The source of almost all rivers in Italy including the Arno, Tiber, and
Volturno, the Apennines Mountains (Ital. Appennino) 830 miles (1,350 km) in
length, form the backbone of the country, and run the entire length of the Italian
Peninsula, ending on the island of Sicily. The highest point is Mt. Corno at 9,560
ft. (2,914 m).
o Atlantic Highlands: Formed million of years ago during the Caledonian
mountain-building periods as western lands were (forced) or pushed against the
Scandinavian Shield. Significant mountain ranges here include the Kjolen in
Norway and Sweden, and the Pennines that stretch through the central United
Kingdom.
o Kjolen Mountains: This jagged mountain system runs along the border of
eastern Norway and western Sweden. The highest point is Mt. Kebnekaise,
standing at 6,965 ft. (2,123 m).

o
o

o
o

Massif Central: This mountainous plateau of southeastern France is the source


of the Allier, Creuse and Loire. It's about 32,189 sq. miles (85, 001 sq. km) in
size, and the highest point is Puy de Sancy at 6,186 ft. (1,885 m).
Mesata: The central plateau, or Mesata, covers nearly half of the entire country
of Spain. This high plateau averages about 2,300 ft. (700 m) in the north, and
2,000 ft. (600 m) in the south. It's surrounded by a series of mountain ranges
including the Cantabrian, Sierra De Gata and Sierra Guadarrama in the north
and central, and the Sierra Morena and Sierra Nevada in the south. These
mountains separate the Meseta from the Costa Verde, the Ebro valley, the
Mediterranean and the valleys of Andalucia.
North European Plain: The fertile North European Plain slopes to the northnortheast from the Alps, extending to the Baltic Sea, and on into Denmark and
southern Finland, Norway and Sweden. It continues east for almost 2,500 miles
(4000 km), on into the Russian Federation. The land is largely flat with smaller
areas of hills, including the Central Russian Uplands. Farming is prevalent and
agricultural communities dot the landscape.
Pyrenees: These mountains form the natural border between France and Spain
and extend for about 270 miles from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea.
The highest point is Pico de Aneto at 11,168 ft. (3,404 m)
Scandinavian Shield: An ancient area of rocky earth peppered with granite rock
that was literally ground down by receding glacial ice sheets. It's a rolling area of
land covered with thousands of lakes (mostly small), linked by rivers.

Water Forms
(See Map)

Natural Wonders
The following have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites:
o The Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests
of Germany total an area of almost 30,000 hectares, over 4,000 of which are in
Germany / German Tourist Board
o Mount Teide, Tenerife At 3,718 metres, the Teide volcano on the island of
Tenerife is the world's third-tallest volcano, and those who have stood at the
crater say the experience is like touching the sky / Tenerife Tourist Board
(Spain)
o Meteora, Greece Meteora 'suspended in the air' is the perfect name for these
rock pinnacles of sandstone that rise over the Peneas valley and the Thessalian
plain. The orthodox monasteries perched atop the natural columns date from the
fourteenth century and transform a natural wonder into a unique artistic
achievement / Greek Tourist Board
o Dolomites, Italian Alps The vertical walls, sheer cliffs and narrow, deep, long
valleys of the Dolomites in the northern Italian Alps present a diversity of
exceptional landscapes where natural pinnacles, spires and towers sculpted from
the pale rock rise in dramatic contrast above the forests and meadowland below
o Western Fjords, Norway A cruise on the West Norwegian Fjords Geirangerfjord
and Naeroyfjord will show you snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and almost sheer
crystalline rock walls with ancient farmsteads perched on the slopes / Norwegian
Tourist Board

Laurel forests, Madeira, Portugal The Laurisilva of Madeira the laurel forest - is
located on the main island. Its size and quality make it a valuable relict of this
previously widespread forest type which is now virtually extinct / Portuguese
Tourist Board
o Corsica On the western coast of Corsica, the translucent waters of the Gulf of
Porto, along with the calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata and the Scandola
Reserve, are home to a rich marine life, and gulls, cormorants and sea eagles
nest here / French Tourist Board
o Swiss Alps The dramatic mountains, valleys and glacial landscape of Jungfrau Aletsch - Bietschhorn in the Swiss Alps includes the largest glacier in Eurasia /
Swiss Tourist Board
o Giant's Causeway The Giant's Causeway, on the coast of County Antrim,
Northern Ireland, comprising some 40,000 polygonal basalt columns averaging
45 cm in diameter, has given rise to many tales and legends / British Tourist
Board
Resources
Arable land, rich fishing waters, wild animals
Extensive forests for lumber for houses and boats
Coal and mineral ores for industrialization
Substantial deposits of oil and natural gas

CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY

General Cultural Characteristics


People
o General Characteristics:
Population: 412,787,386 (est. 2011)
Age: By 2040, Western Europe is expected to have the youngest
population in Europe, averaging below 47 years old
Population Trends: Low mortality, low fertility
o Relatively small share of children/ youth in the population
o Almost the same number of elderly and youth
o Races and Ethnicities
North: Predominantly Germanic
Composed of Scandinavians, Franks, Saxons, Bavarians,
Alemanni
South: Latins, Greeks, etc.
Others:
Celtic Ireland, parts of Britain
Gallo-Roman (Germanic minority) parts of France
Gallo-Romano-Germanic parts of France, Italy, Britain
Folk and Popular Culture
o Western European peoples view themselves as having certain common
characteristics:
Democratic regime
Secular states
Liberal or capitalist economic systems
o

Freedom of expression
o However, they view themselves as differing in the following aspects:
Traditional music
Popular arts
Architectural style
Culinary specialities (or specific drinks)
Types of celebrations held
Typical temperaments
o Symbolic elements that characterize Western Europe:
Places that characterize Western Europe:
Paris and Brussels as the historic heart and geographical centre
of the original construction of the European Union were the most
popular choices, particularly in the new Member States.
Rome, Athens and ancient Greece - Representing the long
history of European common origins
People that characterize Western Europe:
People from the Past
o Politicians: Churchill, De Gaulle, Hitler, Napoleon,
Charlemagne, Julius Caesar
o Arts: Mozart (Austria), Bach (Germany), Verdi (Italy)
o Philosophy: Plato, Socrates, Aristotle
People at Present
o Pope - Still viewed as a moral authority
o Prominent personalities who are active in European
institutions or debates were chosen: Jacques Delors,
Romano Prodi, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Jean-Claude Juncker,
Jacques Rogge; and even Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair,
Jacques Chirac and Silvio Berlusconi.
o Royalty, people who representold Europe, its past and its
traditions: Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Queen
Margaret of Denmark and the Royal Family of Monaco.
Historical events that are important in the formation of European identity:
French Revolution
Fall of the Berlin Wall
Pieces of Art:
Mona Lisa
David
Sistine Chapel
Stories/ Legend
Rape of Europa
Current Events:
World Cup
European Football Cup
Olympic Games
Beliefs/ Ideology
Religions
o Europes cultural heritage is steeped in Christian traditions

Judeo-Christianity is seen as one of the foundations of European culture


It is viewed important due to its historic influence rather than its
current practice.
Sectarian strife between Catholics and Protestants still pervades and still
divides communities
Northern Ireland
Islam is also rising in terms of influence
The Ottoman Empire left behind millions of converts, who are now
demanding greater political power
In Western Europe, Islamic resurgence resulted from an
immigration of millions of Muslims from North Africa
o Mosques overflow with faithful
o However, in modern-day Europe, in a survey taken on the importance of religion,
less than half of the populations in the core countries of Western Europe believe
that religion is important.
Populations in the core countries also increasingly believe that it is not
necessary to believe in God to live moral lives.
Christians in the core countries also associate with the nation first before
their religion.
Western Europe today associates more towards secularism rather than
towards religious practice.
o Western Europeans characterize the European frame of thinking as liberal in
the wider sense of the term
Openness, the enlightenment, freedom of expression, tolerance and
democracy
Individualism and egoism
Rationalism, positivism and pragmatism
Capitalism, liberalism, Marxism, socialism and communism in some parts
Tools and Skills
Industrial Economy
o Western Europes natural resources provided the key raw material for
manufacturing steel, and is conducive to industrial activities
Southern part of Northern European Lowland
A belt of major coalfields and iron ore extending from west to east
A belt of major of iron ore
o The Industrial Revolution started from Britain and spread eastwards to the rest of
Europe.
In the 1780s: James Watt and others devised a steam-driven engine;
coal was recognized as a superior substitute for charcoal in smelting iron.
Innovations produced a rapid effect
o Examples:
Iron power loom revolutionized the weaving
industry
Iron smelters, which were earlier dependent on
Europes forests were then concentrated on the
coal fields
Engines started to power locomotives and ships

Organization
Political Organization
o Political System: Democratic regimes
Presidential-Parliamentary System France
Constitutional monarchies (ceremonial monarchs) Britain, Spain,
Norway, Sweden
Parliamentary Republics Italy, Germany, Ireland, Portugal
o International/ Regional Organizations
Historical Background of European Integration
After World War II, many nations in Europe lay in ruins, and Soviet
Union has taken control of much of Eastern Europe.
In 1947, US Secretary of State George Marshall proposed a
European Recovery Program to help create stable political
conditions in Europe, where democracy can survive.
o US provided $13B, about $100B in todays money.
o The Marshall Plan was applied to 16 European countries.
The Marshall Plan paved the way for a joint economicadministrative structure to coordinate the financial assistance, to
ease the flow of resources and products across Europe, and to
lower restrictive trade tariffs in order to improve political
cooperation.
Benelux Precedent (1944) Belgium, Netherlands, and
Luxembourg formulated an agreement to help achieve economic
integration
o Facilitated the creation of the Organization for European
Economic Cooperation, which was established to
coordinate the investment of Americas aid.
1949 Council of Europe was created
o Beginnings of the European Parliament meeting in
Strasbourg, France
Supranationalism voluntary association in economic, political, or
cultural spheres of three or more independent states, willing to
yield some measure of sovereignty for their mutual benefit
Treaty of Rome (1957) - six countries joined to become the
European Economic Community (the Common Market)
1973 United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark joined
o Renamed European Community (EC)
1995 Membership increased to 15 countries
o Renamed as the European Union (EU)
Single Currency: Euro (2002) Twelve of the 15
member countries withdrew their currencies
Established to symbolize the unity of the
region, and to establish a counterweight to
the American dollar
Mutual support: Taxes collected in richer member
states are used to subsidize growth and
development in less prosperous nations

Strengthened the economies of Portugal,


Greece, and other national and regional
economies for the benefit of the entire
organization
2004: Membership of the European Union was increased to 25
2007: Romania and Bulgaria were incorporated, increasing
membership to 27

Communication
Most of the population of Europe speaks languages which belong the Indo-European
Language Family, but most of these languages are not mutually understandable
o Major Indo-European Branches
Germanic Group
Romance Group
o Other Indo-European Languages
Celtic Group
Hellenic
English has become the realms unofficial lingua franca.
o Commonly usable in Western Europe

Current Events and Issues


The European Union has undergone an economic and financial crisis over the past two
years, affecting the Union and its currency
o Treaty of Stability, Coordination, and Vovernance in the Economic and Monetary
Union
The need for balanced budgets and sustainable debt
Tightens some of the rules
Requirement for national legislation to implement the deficit
brake
Ensures that the economies of member countries could get back on track
of sustainability
All euro area Member States will be held to account in an impartial
manner
o The need for sustainable growth and job creation
Boost financing of small and medium-sized enterprises
Average family size has declined, and the decline in family size is partially offset by
immigration
o Turkish Kurds (Germany), Algerians (France), Moroccans (Spain), West Africans
(Britain), Indonesians (Netherlands)
o Due to the immigration, Islam is spreading in Europe, and Muslim populations in
Western Europe are increasing
The Muslim immigrants are intensely devout, entering a Western
European landscape in which secularism is rising.
Even as Europe is known for their tolerance, the European governments
have not done enough to foster the integration of Muslims into society
The housing projects for Muslims are in impoverished
environments

French government got into disputes over dress codes of Muslim


girls
Germans initially did not give German citizenship to children of
immigrants born in German soil
The increasing Muslim population is in need of political representation