North and Central Europe

This old man was taking a break on a bench below the beautiful Charles Bridge in Prague as tourists were swarming on all sides. We were consuming the history of his hard working ancestors. He was relaxing in the midst of it, seemingly paying no attention to all the fuss.






Overall impressions

This is a picture from the “Old World”, the largely Protestant and ethnically quite homogeneous region stretching from Prague in the southeast to Ireland in the west to Scandinavia in the north – and to some extent Russia in the east. For four hundred years, between 1550/1600 and 1950/2000, countries in this region defined the world as we today know it. Geo-politically, economically, militarily, philosophically, culturally, and in terms of world languages.

All about this region is history. Everything older than 200 years fascinates Americans who come here. The OMGs emit at a constant pulse. This region hardly offers anything but 200+ years of historical artefacts. Asians who come here find consumers able to pay for their products. Africans coming here find nothing but a boot kicking them back home again.

The region’s population is (at least relatively speaking) in decline, it is ageing, the economic importance is becoming negligent, innovations take place elsewhere in the world, the region’s countries have for decades been vassal states under an external superpower. Europe as a whole is splitting apart in infighting, selfishness and an overburdened welfare state.

There are 25 countries in what Sandalsand has grouped as North and Central Europe. Click a country name to view all posts from each country.

My definition of North and Central Europe encompasses everything north of the Mediterranean Ocean, including parts of Eastern Europe. Sandalsand’s travels in this world region are numerous. Obviously, I have lived here all my life. If I was to attempt a resume of my travels in this region, I would not know where to start or finish, or how.

I have been to almost all countries in this region. The three exceptions are in the Caucasus. To be more specific, I have not been to Georgia, Armenia or Azerbaijan. Historically, they have been categorised as West Asia or even Middle East. In recent years, geographers have started to group the three under the Europe heading. I am including them here for the time being. They are most certainly on my bucket list, for many reasons.

World Region Europe North Central and East

Map of Northern Europe. It includes the European part of Russia. Sandalsand has been to countries marked with a green colour, not the yellow ones. (Map source: Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

Photo galleries

Open the box to view a multitude of picture galleries from Sandalsand’s travels in this region.

Click to show or hide

For the best experience, open a picture gallery in a new tab or window. You will find numerous galleries from Norway on another page. Read the introduction to Norway.




Posts from North, Central and East Europe

Find Norway entries on a separate page.


If countries were people, England and France would be old men. Italy would be dead. Compared with them, America is in its 20s. (

A fact sheet

This is Wikipedia’s introduction to Europe as a whole.


Map and numbers

Europe orthographic Caucasus Urals boundary (with borders).svg

  • Area: 10,180,000 km2
  • Population: 741,447,158 (2016)
  • Population density: 72.9/km2
  • Nominal GDP: $20.2 trillion (2017)
  • PPP GDP: $26.7 trillion (2017)
  • Per capita GDP: $27,330 (2017)
  • HDI: 0.845
  • Demonym: European
  • Countries: 50 sovereign states, one observer, 6 with limited recognition
  • Dependencies: 6 dependencies



Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

Since around 1850, Europe is most commonly 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. Though the term “continent” implies physical geography, the land border is somewhat arbitrary and has moved since its first conception in classical antiquity. The division of Eurasia into two continents reflects East-West cultural, linguistic and ethnic differences, some of which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The border does not follow political boundaries, with Turkey and Russia being transcontinental countries.

Europe covers about 10,180,000 square kilometres, 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 741 million (about 11% of the world population) as of 2016. The European climate is largely affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent, even at latitudes along which the climate in Asia and North America is severe. Further from the sea, seasonal differences are more noticeable than close to the coast.



Europe, in particular ancient Greece, was the birthplace of Western civilization. The fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD and the subsequent Migration Period marked the end of ancient history and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Renaissance humanism, exploration, art and science led to the modern era. From the Age of Discovery onwards, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs. Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European powers controlled at various times the Americas, almost all of Africa and Oceania and the majority of Asia.

The Age of Enlightenment, the subsequent French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars shaped the continent culturally, politically and economically from the end of the 17th century till the first half of the 19th century. The Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain at the end of the 18th century, gave rise to radical economic, cultural and social change in Western Europe and eventually the wider world.

Both world wars took place for the most part in Europe, contributing to a decline in Western European dominance in world affairs by the mid-20th century as the Soviet Union and the United States took prominence. During the Cold War, Europe was divided along the Iron Curtain between NATO in the West and the Warsaw Pact in the East, until the revolutions of 1989 and fall of the Berlin Wall.



Wikipedia on a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Date: 2018-06-22