Southern Europe

I took this photo in Lucca, Italy. We were touring several Tuscan cities and entered through the high and thick city wall of Lucca. Here we found an antiques market spread around in what seemed like the entire city centre.






Overall impressions

We were astonished and very tempted to buy whatever we could. Unfortunately, our means of transportation rendered that temptation unfeasible.

Italy is in itself one giant antiquity market, in my view. The country had its two historic heydays during the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, a millennium apart. In between those periods and ever since, the country has dwindled into not much more than showing off the remains of its past. Tourists flock in to admire the Coliseum and the Sistine Chapel, the two most known buildings of those two eras.

Sad to say that goes for much of the rest of Southern Europe as well. I am quite pessimistic for the future of this large and varied region (and for the rest of Europe as well). It seems to be splitting apart once more, promoting self-interests and losing in the global competition like the rest of the old world. On the other hand, I find this famous quote quite illustrative in an amusing yet informative way.

In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” (Orson Welles)


Albania | Andorra | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Croatia | France | Greece | Italy | Kosovo | Malta | Moldova | Monaco | North Macedonia | Portugal | San Marino | Montenegro | Romania | Serbia |  Slovenia | Spain | Vatican (Holy See)

I have made it to 13 independent countries out of 21. Click the links above to view all articles from a particular country.

My definition of Southern Europe are the countries adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea and on the west coast of the Black Sea. Give or take a few for practical purposes. Portugal borders for instance the Atlantic. Cyprus is politically and culturally also part of this region, but I have chosen to group it where it belongs geographically, as part of what I have called the Middle East and Africa.

Kosovo is not universally accepted as an autonomous country, and has not been allowed membership of the United Nations. The Vatican is recognised by other countries, but it has preferred to stay outside the UN.

This is a map of the region and Sandalsand’s visited and non-visited countries.

World Region Europe South Map of Southern Europe. Sandalsand has been to green countries, 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.

Posts from Southern Europe

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
  • 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 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.