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)
I have made it to 13 independent countries out of 22. 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 the Atlantic.)
This is a map of the region and Sandalsand’s visited and non-visited countries.
I have not been to Albania, Andorra, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.
Posts from Southern Europe
Nice, the very popular town on the French Riviera, is part of the World Heritage List. UNESCO calls it a winter resort town, but Nice is in fact a...
Let us go to Madrid and a heritage site with a very long name; Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences. The UNESCO World...
Here are another 10 European city breaks. This is the third article in my series of European city breaks, the places you can fly or drive to in a...
We had come to Florence to discover one of Europe's most historic, enticing and perhaps most touristy cities. This article is the last in a series...
This is a collection of pictures from Italy, the result of trips to different parts of the country over many years. Find all Italy entries on this...
Tuscany is full of picturesque old cities awaiting to be explored - and tourists are not hesitant to do so. The Historic Centre of the City of...
What is the essence of Tuscany? See if you can find an answer in this article from a road trip in the region. It starts in Cortona, stops at Pienza,...
The magnificent basilica dominating the north-west part of the hillside town of Assisi is accompanied by four less important religious sites close...
We were on a road trip in central Italy. A string of very tempting cities were coming up in Umbria and Toscana (Tuscany) and we were eager to spend...
This is the first article from a road trip in central Italy. Our objective was to look up UNESCO World Heritage Sites in this part of the country...
Let us visit 5 important straits. I have been exploring various aspects of nature with regard to the four classic elements. A strait represents a...
I bet you know many beaches. This article is about my selection 9 fascinating beaches. With about 70% percent of the Earth covered by water, there...
A fact sheet
This is Wikipedia’s introduction to Europe as a whole.
Map and numbers
- 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.