Bonjour!, ¡Hola, Olá, Hallo!
Europe is the 2nd smallest continent after Australia. The mainland of Europe is a peninsula of the western part of the Eurasian supercontinent, with no clear geological boundary to the east. By convention, it is separated from Asia by the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caucasus Mountains, and in the southeast by the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.
In the south, Europe is separated from Africa by the Mediterranean Sea. In the west, Europe's borders are defined by the Atlantic Ocean and, to the north, by the Polar Sea.
The United Nations recognizes four subregions in Europe: Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, and Western Europe.
European Union or Euro Area?
Two political economy-related terms that are often bandied about and sometimes conflated are European Union (EU) and Euro area (formerly Eurozone). It is important to differentiate between the two, as they are not synonymous. According to the EU, the European Union "is a unique economic and political partnership between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent" (European Union: The EU in brief). As you will see, the EU is defined by a series of agreements (mostly treaties) that were for a long time focused on establishing economic relationships, but have more recently become more political in nature. See the countries in the EU in the map above, and feel free to visit the EU's website for brief details on each country.
The Euro area is defined by Investopedia as "a geographic and economic region that consists of all the European Union countries that have fully incorporated the euro as their national currency." The euro began as a "virtual currency" in 1999 (used for "cash-less payments and accounting purposes"). The first bank notes were distributed on January 1, 2002. There are currently 19 countries in the Euro area, with close to 340 million people using the euro on a daily basis (European Union: The euro). For a full list of Eurozone countries, visit the European Union website.
|Country||EU Affiliation||Euro area/currency?|
|Austria||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Belgium||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Denmark||EU original member||Danish krone (DKK)|
|Finland||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|France||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Germany||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Greece||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Ireland||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Italy||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Luxemborg||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Netherlands||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Portugal||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Spain||EU original member||Euro area (euro)|
|Sweden||EU original member||Swedish krona (SEK)|
|United Kingdom||EU original member||British pound|
|Czech Republic||Member since 2004||Czech koruna (CZK)|
|Estonia||Member since 2004||Eurozone (euro)|
|Hungary||Member since 2004||Hungarian Forint (HUF)|
|Latvia||Member since 2004||Euro area (euro)|
|Lithuania||Member since 2004||Euro area (euro)|
|Malta||Member since 2004||Euro area (euro)|
|Poland||Member since 2004||Polish Zloty (PLN)|
|Slovakia||Member since 2004||Euro area (euro)|
|Slovenia||Member since 2004||Euro area (euro)|
|Cyprus||Member since 2004||Euro area (euro)|
|Bulgaria||Member since 2007||Bulgarian lev (BGN)|
|Romania||Member since 2007||Romanian Leu (RON)|
|Croatia||Member since 2013||Croatian kuna (HRK)|
|Macedonia||EU candidate country||Macedonian Denar (MKD)|
|Turkey||EU candidate country||Turkish New Lira (TRY)|
|Albania||Official "potential candidate country"||Lek (ALL)|
|Switzerland||EFTA country||Swiss franc (CHF)|
|Iceland||EFTA country||Iceland Krona (ISK)|
|Norway||EFTA country||Norwegian kroner (NOK)|
|Serbia||Recommended as official candidate||Serbian dinar (RSD)|
To Read Now
Read/view the list of countries in Europe. Then take a little trip! Use the interactive map or visit the EUN member countries in brief page to explore. Notice cities, languages, currency, and natural resources.
To Read Now
For a brief history lesson on the EU:
- Read The history of the European Union from Europa.
- Watch the (4:17) video A brief history of the European Union.
From the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, read How the EU Works (sorry for the archived link - this JUST changed in September 2017). Note the different roles and memberships of the European Council, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament.
Visit Europa and read
- EU Institutions and Other Bodies (Only the first four sections. "Other EU institutions" and beyond is not required.)
- EU law and How EU decisions are made and watch the (4:00) video about Codecision near the bottom of the page.
As you are probably aware, Great Britain voted to exit the EU in 2016. This is the first time that a country has voted to leave the EU. Please read the following summary of the so-called "Brexit."
- Read through "What is Article 50?" from "Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU" from the BBC.