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Europe is a continent that is entirely located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere, with the exception of the Arctic region. It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the large continent of Europe and Asia, and it is surrounded by the Arctic Sea to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and Asia to the east. It is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and Asia to the east. Most people believe that the watershed of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea (which is isolated from Asia by watershed), the Black Sea (which is separated from Asia by sea), and waterways of the Turkish Straits divide Europe from Asia. Europe is usually considered to be a complete continent, despite the fact that most of its boundary is across land. This is due to the continent's vast physical size as well as the weight of its history and traditions.

Approximately 10,180,000 km2 (3,930,000 sq mi), or 2 % of the Earth's surface (6.8 percent of land area), makes Europe the second-smallest continent in terms of land size, behind only Antarctica (using the seven-continent model). From a political perspective, Europe is split into about fifty sovereign nations, with Russia being the biggest and most populous, occupying 39 percent of the continent's land area and accounting for 15 percent of its total population. In 2018, Europe has a total population of about 746 million people (almost 10% of the world's population). In significant part, the climate of Europe is influenced by mild Atlantic currents, which help to moderate both winter and summer temperatures throughout most of the continent, even at latitudes where the climate of Asia and North America is harsh. Seasonal variations are more apparent further away from the sea than they are closer to the shore.

Euro-American culture is the cradle of Western civilisation, which can trace its origins back to antiquity to ancient Greece and Rome, respectively. European ancient history came to an end with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, which was immediately followed by the Migration Period, which heralded the beginning of the Middle Ages. Renaissance humanism, exploration, art, and science all contributed to the development of the modern period. Since the Age of Discovery, which was initiated by Portugal and Spain, Europe has had a prominent position in world affairs. At different points in history, during the 16th and 20th centuries, European nations colonised the Americas, almost all of Africa and Oceania, as well as the vast majority of Asia.

From the end of the 17th century to the first part of the 19th century, the Age of Enlightenment, the following French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars changed the continent's cultural, political, and economic landscape. The Industrial Revolution, which started in Great Britain at the end of the 18th century and spread across Western Europe and ultimately the rest of the globe, was characterised by dramatic economic, cultural, and social upheaval. Due to the fact that both world wars took place mostly in Europe, Western European supremacy in global affairs began to wane by the mid-20th century as countries such as the Soviet Union and the United States rose to prominence. During the Cold War, Europe was divided along the Iron Curtain, with NATO in the West and the Warsaw Pact in the East, until the 1989 uprisings and the collapse of the Berlin Wall brought an end to the Cold War era divisions.