Continental Europe

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Extent of the contiguous mainland of Europe, Continental Europe Mainland Europe (orthographic projection).svg
Extent of the contiguous mainland of Europe, Continental Europe
The European continent's eastern half in Russia, as bounded by the Caucasus Mountains to the south, and which extends as far as the Ural Mountains European Russia laea location map (Crimea disputed).jpg
The European continent's eastern half in Russia, as bounded by the Caucasus Mountains to the south, and which extends as far as the Ural Mountains
Europa Regina map (Sebastian Munster, 1570), excluding the greater part of Fennoscandia, but including Great Britain and Ireland, Bulgaria, Scythia, Moscovia and Tartaria; Sicily is clasped by Europe in the form of a Globus cruciger. Europe As A Queen Sebastian Munster 1570.jpg
Europa Regina map (Sebastian Munster, 1570), excluding the greater part of Fennoscandia, but including Great Britain and Ireland, Bulgaria, Scythia, Moscovia and Tartaria ; Sicily is clasped by Europe in the form of a Globus cruciger .

Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. [1] It can also be referred to ambiguously as the European continent, [2] [3] – which can conversely mean the whole of Europe – and, by some, simply as the Continent. When Eurasia is regarded as a single continent, Europe is treated as a subcontinent, and called as European subcontinent. [4]


The old notion of Europe as a cultural term was centred on core Europe (Kerneuropa), the continental territory of the historical Carolingian Empire, corresponding to modern France, Italy, German-speaking Europe and the Benelux states (historical Austrasia). [5] This historical core of "Carolingian Europe" was consciously invoked in the 1950s as the historical ethno-cultural basis for the prospective European integration (see also Multi-speed Europe). [6] [7]

Extent of Carolingian Europe Francia 814.svg
Extent of Carolingian Europe
The "core Europe" of the Inner Six signatories of the Treaty of Paris (1951) (shown in blue; the French Fourth Republic shown with Algeria). Inner Six and Outer Seven.svg
The "core Europe" of the Inner Six signatories of the Treaty of Paris (1951) (shown in blue; the French Fourth Republic shown with Algeria).


The most common definition of Mainland Europe excludes these continental islands: the Greek Islands, Cyprus, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearic Islands, Great Britain and Ireland and surrounding islands, Novaya Zemlya and the Nordic archipelago, as well as nearby oceanic islands, including the Canary Islands, Madeira, the Azores, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Svalbard. [8]

The Scandinavian Peninsula is sometimes also excluded, as even though it is a part of "mainland Europe", the de facto connections to the rest of the continent are across the Baltic Sea or North Sea (rather than via the lengthy land route that involves travelling to the north of the peninsula where it meets Finland, and then south through north-east Europe). [9]

Great Britain and Ireland

In both Great Britain and Ireland, the Continent is widely and generally used to refer to the mainland of Europe. An amusing British newspaper headline supposedly once read, "Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off". [10] It has also been claimed that this was a regular weather forecast in Britain in the 1930s. [11] In addition, the word Europe itself is also regularly used to mean Europe excluding the islands of Great Britain, Iceland, and Ireland (although the term is often used to refer to the European Union [12] ). The term mainland Europe is also sometimes used. Usage of these terms may reflect political or cultural allegiances, for example it has been observed that there is a correlation between whether a British citizen considers themselves "British" or "European" and whether they live in an area which primarily supported Brexit. [13]

Derivatively, the adjective continental refers to the social practices or fashion of continental Europe. Examples include breakfast, topless sunbathing and, historically, long-range driving (before Britain had motorways) often known as Grand Touring.[ citation needed ] Differences include electrical plugs, time zones for the most part, the use of left-hand traffic, and for the United Kingdom, currency and the continued use of certain imperial units alongside the metric units which have long since displaced customary units in Continental Europe. [14] [15]

Britain is physically connected to continental Europe through the undersea Channel Tunnel (the longest undersea tunnel in the world), which accommodates both the Eurotunnel Shuttle (passenger and vehicle use – vehicle required) and Eurostar (passenger use only) services. These services were established to transport passengers and vehicles through the tunnel on a 24/7 basis between England and continental Europe, while still maintaining passport and immigration control measures on both sides of the tunnel. This route is popular with refugees and migrants seeking to enter the UK. [16]


Map of the Scandiae islands by Nicolaus Germanus for a 1467 publication of Cosmographia Claudii Ptolomaei Alexandrini. Ptolemaios 1467 Scandinavia.jpg
Map of the Scandiae islands by Nicolaus Germanus for a 1467 publication of Cosmographia Claudii Ptolomaei Alexandrini.

Especially in Germanic studies, continental refers to the European continent excluding the Scandinavian peninsula, Britain, Ireland, and Iceland. The reason for this is that although the Scandinavian peninsula is attached to continental Europe, and accessible via a land route along the 66th parallel north, it is usually reached by sea.

Kontinenten ("the Continent") is a vernacular Swedish expression that refers to an area excluding Sweden, Norway, and Finland but including Denmark (even the Danish archipelago which is technically not a part of continental Europe) and the rest of continental Europe. In Norway, similarly, one speaks about Kontinentet as a separate entity. In Denmark, Jutland is referred to as the mainland and thereby a part of continental Europe.

The Scandinavian peninsula is now connected to the Danish mainland (the Jutland peninsula) by several bridges and tunnels.

Mediterranean and Atlantic islands

The Continent may sometimes refer to the continental part of Italy (excluding Sardinia, Sicily, etc.), the continental part of Spain (excluding the Balearic islands, the Canary Islands, Alboran, etc.), the continental part of France (excluding Corsica, etc.), the continental part of Portugal (excluding the Madeira and Azores islands), or the continental part of Greece (excluding the Ionian Islands, the Aegean Islands, and Crete). The term is used from the perspective of the island residents of each country to describe the continental portion of their country or the continent (or mainland) as a whole.

Continental France is also known as l'Hexagone, "the Hexagon", referring to its approximate shape on a map. Continental Spain is referred to as Peninsular Spain.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scandinavia</span> Subregion of Northern Europe

Scandinavia is a subregion in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties between its constituent peoples. In English usage, Scandinavia most commonly refers to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. It can sometimes also refer more narrowly to the Scandinavian Peninsula, or more broadly to include Finland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scandinavian Peninsula</span> Land mass in Northern Europe

The Scandinavian Peninsula is a peninsula located in Northern Europe, which roughly comprises the mainlands of Sweden, Norway and the northwestern area of Finland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Viking Age</span> Period of European history (793–1066)

The Viking Age was the period during the Middle Ages when Norsemen known as Vikings undertook large-scale raiding, colonizing, conquest, and trading throughout Europe and reached North America. It followed the Migration Period and the Germanic Iron Age. The Viking Age applies not only to their homeland of Scandinavia but also to any place significantly settled by Scandinavians during the period. The Scandinavians of the Viking Age are often referred to as Vikings as well as Norsemen, although few of them were Vikings in the technical sense.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northern Europe</span> Northern region of the European continent

The northern region of Europe has several definitions. A restrictive definition may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54°N, or may be based on other geographical factors such as climate and ecology.

Mainland is defined as "relating to or forming the main part of a country or continent, not including the islands around it [regardless of status under territorial jurisdiction by an entity]." The term is often politically, economically and/or demographically more significant than politically associated remote territories, such as exclaves or oceanic islands situated outside the continental shelf.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North Jutlandic Island</span> The northernmost part of Denmark and of Jutland

The North Jutlandic Island, Vendsyssel-Thy, or Jutland north of the Limfjord, is the northernmost part of Denmark and of Jutland. It is more common to refer to the three traditional districts Vendsyssel, Hanherred and Thy, however. The area has been intermittently a tied island, and during modern times was not surrounded by water until a storm in February 1825, which severed the region from the remainder of Jutland and caused a water connection between the North Sea and the western end of the Limfjord. Hence it is traditionally regarded as a part of Jutland rather than a separate island.

The Danes were a North Germanic tribe inhabiting southern Scandinavia, including the area now comprising Denmark proper, and the Scanian provinces of modern-day southern Sweden, during the Nordic Iron Age and the Viking Age. They founded what became the Kingdom of Denmark. The name of their realm is believed to mean "Danish March", viz. "the march of the Danes", in Old Norse, referring to their southern border zone between the Eider and Schlei rivers, known as the Danevirke.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Regions of Europe</span> Overview of the regions of Europe

Europe, the westernmost portion of Eurasia—is often divided into regions and subregions based on geographical, cultural or historical criteria. Many European structures currently exist. Some are cultural, economic, or political; examples include the Council of Europe, the European Broadcasting Union with the Eurovision Song Contest, and the European Olympic Committees with the European Games. Russia dominates the continent by both area and population; spanning roughly 40% of its total landmass, with over 15% of its total population.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Subregion</span> Part of a larger geographic region or continent

A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south are commonly used to define a subregion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vendsyssel</span>

Vendsyssel is the northernmost traditional district of Denmark and of Jutland. Being divided from mainland Jutland by the Limfjord, it is technically a part of the North Jutlandic Island, but the name often used informally for the entire island. Vendsyssel is part of the North Denmark Region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Danish overseas colonies</span> 1536–1953 colonies of Denmark–Norway and Denmark

Danish overseas colonies and Dano-Norwegian colonies were the colonies that Denmark–Norway possessed from 1536 until 1953. At its apex, the colonies spanned four continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geography of Europe</span>

Europe is traditionally defined as one of seven continents. Physiographically, it is the northwestern peninsula of the larger landmass known as Eurasia ; Asia occupies the eastern bulk of this continuous landmass and all share a common continental shelf. Europe's eastern frontier is delineated by the Ural Mountains in Russia, which is the largest country by land area in the continent. The southeast boundary with Asia is not universally defined, but the modern definition is generally the Ural River or, less commonly, the Emba River. The boundary continues to the Caspian Sea, the crest of the Caucasus Mountains, and on to the Black Sea. The Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles conclude the Asian boundary. The Mediterranean Sea to the south separates Europe from Africa. The western boundary is the Atlantic Ocean. Iceland, though on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and nearer to Greenland than Mainland Europe, is generally included in Europe for cultural reasons and because it is over twice as close to mainland Europe as mainland North America. There is ongoing debate on where the geographical centre of Europe falls.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">UTC−01:00</span> Time in Cape Verde, the Azores and east Greenland

UTC−01:00 is an identifier for a time offset from UTC of −01:00.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">UTC+01:00</span> Identifier for a time offset

UTC+01:00 is an identifier for a time offset from UTC of +01:00. In ISO 8601, the associated time would be written as 2019-02-07T23:28:34+01:00. This time is used in:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nordostrundingen</span>

Nordostrundingen, is a headland located at the northeastern end of Greenland. Administratively it is part of the Northeast Greenland National Park.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Continent</span> Very large landmass identified by convention

A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smallest, these seven regions are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia. Variations with fewer continents may merge some of these, for example America, Eurasia, or Afro-Eurasia are sometimes treated as single continents, which can bring the total number as low as four. Zealandia, a largely submerged mass of continental crust, has also been described as a continent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jutland</span> Peninsula in Europe

Jutland, known anciently as the Cimbric or Cimbrian Peninsula, is a peninsula of Northern Europe that forms the continental portion of Denmark and part of northern Germany. The names are derived from the Jutes and the Cimbri, respectively.


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