Chapter 2: Europe

Identifying the Boundaries

Europe is a continent of peninsulas, islands, and varied landforms. The traditional boundaries of the European continent include the North Atlantic Ocean to the west and Russia up to the Ural Mountains to the east. Since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Russia has been given its own identification and, in this text, is not included in the study of Europe. Russia will be discussed in Chapter 3. Greenland is located next to the North American country of Canada but has traditionally been considered a part of Europe because of Denmark’s colonial acquisition of the island. Greenland is physically more a part of North America. The Arctic Ocean creates a natural boundary to the north. The southern boundary of Europe is the Mediterranean Sea and includes the islands of Malta and Cyprus as independent countries. A portion of Turkey is in Europe, but Turkey is considered a part of Asia Minor and is usually included in the study of the Middle East region. The waterway in Turkey between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea is the Bosporus, or the Istanbul Strait, which creates a natural border between Asia and Europe. Europe is also close to North Africa, and Morocco’s coast can be seen across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain.

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