Western Europe

Last updated

Video taken by the crew of Expedition 29 on board the ISS on a pass over Western Europe in 2011

Western Europe is the region comprising the western part of Europe. Though the term Western Europe is commonly used, there is no consensus on which countries comprise it.

Contents

Significant historical events that have shaped the concept of Western Europe include the rise of Rome, the influence of Greek culture on the Roman Republic, the adoption of Christianity by Roman Emperors, the division of the Latin West and Greek East, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, the reign of Charlemagne, the Viking invasions, the East–West Schism, the Black Death, the Renaissance, the Age of Discovery, the Protestant Reformation as well as the Counter-Reformation of the Catholic Church, the Age of Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the two world wars, the Cold War, the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the expansion of the European Union.[ citation needed ]

Historical divisions

Classical antiquity and medieval origins

Schism of 1054 (East-West Schism) in Christianity, the predominant religion in Europe at the time Expansion of christianity.jpg
Schism of 1054 (East–West Schism) in Christianity, the predominant religion in Europe at the time

Prior to the Roman conquest, a large part of Western Europe had adopted the newly developed La Tène culture. As the Roman domain expanded, a cultural and linguistic division appeared between the mainly Greek-speaking eastern provinces, which had formed the highly urbanized Hellenistic civilization, and the western territories, which in contrast largely adopted the Latin language. This cultural and linguistic division was eventually reinforced by the later political east-west division of the Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire controlled the two divergent regions between the 3rd and the 5th centuries.

The division between these two was enhanced during Late antiquity and the Middle Ages by a number of events. The Western Roman Empire collapsed, starting the Early Middle Ages. By contrast, the Eastern Roman Empire, mostly known as the Greek or Byzantine Empire, survived and even thrived for another 1000 years. The rise of the Carolingian Empire in the west, and in particular the Great Schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, enhanced the cultural and religious distinctiveness between Eastern and Western Europe.

After the conquest of the Byzantine Empire, center of the Eastern Orthodox Church, by the Muslim Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, and the gradual fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire (which had replaced the Carolingian Empire), the division between Roman Catholic and Protestant became more important in Europe than that with Eastern Orthodoxy.

In East Asia, Western Europe was historically known as taixi in China and taisei in Japan, which literally translates as the "Far West". The term Far West became synonymous with Western Europe in China during the Ming dynasty. The Italian Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci was one of the first writers in China to use the Far West as an Asian counterpart to the European concept of the Far East. In Ricci's writings, Ricci referred to himself as "Matteo of the Far West". [3] The term was still in use in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Religion

Religious division in 1054 Great Schism 1054 with former borders.png
Religious division in 1054

Christianity is still the largest religion in Western Europe, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center, 71.0% of the Western European population identified themselves as Christians. [5]

The East–West Schism, which has lasted since the 11th century, divided Christianity in Europe, and consequently the world, into Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity.

With certain simplifications, Western Europe is thus Catholic or Protestant and uses the Latin alphabet. Eastern Europe is Orthodox and uses the Greek alphabet or Cyrillic script.

According to this definition, Western Europe is formed by countries with dominant Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, including countries which are considered part of Central Europe now: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Eastern Europe, meanwhile is formed by countries with dominant Eastern Orthodox churches, including Greece, Belarus, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine for instance.

The schism is the break of communion and theology between what are now the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman Catholic from the 11th century, as well as from the 16th-century, also Protestant) churches.

This division dominated Europe for centuries, in opposition to the rather short-lived Cold War division of four decades.

Since the Great Schism of 1054, Europe has been divided between Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in the West and the Eastern Orthodox Christian (many times incorrectly labeled "Greek Orthodox") churches in the east. Due to this religious cleavage, Eastern Orthodox countries are often associated with Eastern Europe. A cleavage of this sort is, however, often problematic; for example, Greece is overwhelmingly Orthodox, but is very rarely included in "Eastern Europe", for a variety of reasons. [6]

Cold War

Political spheres of influence in Europe during the Cold War Europe-blocs-49-89x4.svg
Political spheres of influence in Europe during the Cold War

During the four decades of the Cold War, the definition of East and West was rather simplified by the existence of the Eastern Bloc. Historians and social scientists generally view the Cold War definition of Western and Eastern Europe as outdated or relegating. [7] [8] [9] [10]

During the final stages of World War II, the future of Europe was decided between the Allies in the 1945 Yalta Conference, between the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, the U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the Premier of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin.

Post-war Europe would be divided into two major spheres: the Western Bloc, influenced by the United States, and the Eastern Bloc, influenced by the Soviet Union. With the onset of the Cold War, Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain. This term had been used during World War II by German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and, later, Count Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk in the last days of the war; however, its use was hugely popularized by Winston Churchill, who used it in his famous "Sinews of Peace" address on 5 March 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri:

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.

Although some countries were officially neutral, they were classified according to the nature of their political and economic systems. This division largely defines the popular perception and understanding of Western Europe and its borders with Eastern Europe.

Former Western European Union - its members and associates KarteWEUStaaten.png
Former Western European Union – its members and associates

The world changed dramatically with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. West Germany peacefully absorbed East Germany, in the German reunification. Comecon and the Warsaw Pact were dissolved, and in 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Several countries which had been part of the Soviet Union regained full independence.

Western European Union

In 1948 the Treaty of Brussels was signed between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. It was further revisited in 1954 at the Paris Conference, when the Western European Union was established. It was declared defunct in 2011 after the Treaty of Lisbon, and the Treaty of Brussels was terminated. When the Western European Union was dissolved, it had 10 member countries, six associate member countries, five observer countries and seven associate partner countries.

Modern divisions

Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts

Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts has been published since 1971 and now in its 17th edition. [11] It was written by the authors Jan Nijman, Peter O. Muller and Harm J. de Blij. It is used in many US schools to teach students world geography.

Here, the definition of Western Europe includes: [11]

CIA classification

Regions of Europe based on CIA world factbook. Western Europe in light blue; Southwestern Europe in red Europe subregion map world factbook.svg
Regions of Europe based on CIA world factbook. Western Europe in light blue; Southwestern Europe in red

The CIA classifies seven countries as belonging to "Western Europe": [12]

The CIA also classifies three countries as belonging to "Southwestern Europe":

Western European and Others Group

The Western European and Others Group is one of several unofficial Regional Groups in the United Nations that act as voting blocs and negotiation forums. Regional voting blocs were formed in 1961 to encourage voting to various UN bodies from different regional groups. The European members of the group are: [13]

In addition, Australia, Canada, Israel and New Zealand are members of the group, with the United States as observer.

Population

Using the CIA classification strictly would give the following calculation of Western Europe's population. All figures based on the projections for 2018 by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. [14]

RankCountry or territoryPopulation (most recent estimates)LanguagesCapital
1United Kingdom66,040,229 English London
2France (metropolitan)65,058,000 French Paris
3Netherlands17,249,632 Dutch, Frisian Amsterdam
4Belgium11,420,163 Dutch, French and German Brussels
5Ireland4,857,000 Irish, English Dublin
6Luxembourg602,005 French, Luxembourgish and German Luxembourg City
7Monaco38,300 French Monaco (city-state)
Total165,265,329

Using the CIA classification a little more liberally and including "South-Western Europe", would give the following calculation of Western Europe's population. [14]

RankCountry or territoryPopulation (most recent estimates)LanguagesCapital
1United Kingdom66,040,229 English London
2France (metropolitan)65,058,000 French Paris
3Spain46,700,000 Spanish Madrid
4Netherlands17,249,632 Dutch, Frisian Amsterdam
5Belgium11,420,163 Dutch, French Brussels
6Portugal10,291,027 Portuguese Lisbon
7Ireland4,857,000 Irish, English Dublin
8Luxembourg602,005 French, Luxembourgish and German Luxembourg City
9Andorra78,264 Catalan Andorra la Vella
10Monaco38,300 French Monaco (city-state)
Total222,293,922

Climate

The climate of Western Europe varies from subtropical and semi-arid in the southern coast of Italy, Portugal and Spain to alpine in the Pyrenees. The Mediterranean climate of the south is dry and warm. The western and northwestern parts have a mild, generally humid climate, influenced by the North Atlantic Current.

Languages

Western European languages mostly fall within two Indo-European language families: the Romance languages, descended from the Latin of the Roman Empire; and the Germanic languages, whose ancestor language (Proto-Germanic) came from southern Scandinavia. [15] Romance languages are spoken primarily in the southern and central part of Western Europe, Germanic languages in the northern part (the British Isles and the Low Countries), as well as a large part of Northern and Central Europe. [15]

Other Western European languages include the Celtic group (that is, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton [15] ) and Basque, the only currently living European language isolate.[ citation needed ]

Multilingualism and the protection of regional and minority languages are recognized political goals in Western Europe today. The Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Council of Europe's European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages set up a legal framework for language rights in Europe.[ citation needed ]

Economy

Western Europe is one of the richest regions of the world. Germany has the highest GDP in Europe and the largest financial surplus of any country, Luxembourg has the world's highest GDP per capita, and the United Kingdom has the highest net national wealth of any European state.

Switzerland and Luxembourg have the highest average wage in the world, in nominal and PPP, respectively. Denmark ranks highest in the world on the Social Progress Index.

See also

Related Research Articles

Christendom

Christendom has several meanings. In one contemporary sense, as used in a secular or Protestant context, it may refer to the "Christian world": Christian-majority countries and the countries in which Christianity dominates or prevails, or, in the historic, Catholic sense of the word, the nations in which Catholic Christianity is the established religion, having a Catholic Christian polity.

Europe Continent

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and Asia to the east. The eastern border uniquely comprises a long and mixed line of mountain ranges, rivers, seas, and straits that would normally define a subcontinent. However, Europe retains its status as a full continent because of its great size and the weight of history and tradition. It is the 6th largest continent in the world.

History of Europe History of Europe from the beginnings of recorded history

The history of Europe covers the people inhabiting Europe from prehistory to the present. During the Neolithic era and the time of the Indo-European migrations Europe saw human inflows from east and southeast and subsequent important cultural and material exchange. The period known as classical antiquity began with the emergence of the city-states of ancient Greece. Later, the Roman Empire came to dominate the entire Mediterranean basin. The fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476 traditionally marks the start of the Middle Ages. Beginning in the 14th century a Renaissance of knowledge challenged traditional doctrines in science and theology. Simultaneously, the Protestant Reformation set up Protestant churches primarily in Germany, Scandinavia and England. After 1800, the Industrial Revolution brought prosperity to Britain and Western Europe. The main powers set up colonies in most of the Americas and Africa, and parts of Asia. In the 20th century, World War I and World War II resulted in massive numbers of deaths. The Cold War dominated European geo-politics from 1947 to 1989.

Slavs Indo-European ethno-linguistic group living in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia

Slavs are Indo-European people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic linguistic group. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe all the way north and eastwards to Northeast Europe, Northern Asia (Siberia), and Central Asia, as well as historically in Western Europe and Western Asia. From the early 6th century they spread to inhabit most of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Today, there is a large Slavic diaspora throughout North America, particularly in the United States and Canada as a result of immigration.

Eastern Europe Eastern part of the European continent

Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic connotations. There are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region". A related United Nations paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and cultural construct". One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural entity: the region lying in Europe with the main characteristics consisting of Greek, Byzantine, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, and some Ottoman cultural influences. Another definition was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. Most historians and social scientists view such definitions as outdated or relegated, but they are still sometimes used for statistical purposes.

Western Christianity Religious category composed of the Latin Church, Protestantism, and their derivatives

Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity, composed of the Latin Church and Protestantism, together with their offshoots such as Independent Catholicism and Restorationism. The large majority of the world's 2.3 billion Christians are Western Christians. The original and still major component, the Latin Church, developed under the bishop of Rome in the former Western Roman Empire in Antiquity. Out of the Latin Church emerged a wide variety of independent Protestant denominations, including Lutheranism and Anglicanism, starting from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, as did Independent Catholicism in the 19th century. Thus, the term "Western Christianity" does not describe a single communion or religious denomination, but is applied to distinguish all these denominations collectively from Eastern Christianity.

Eastern Christianity Christian traditions originating from Greek- and Syriac-speaking populations

Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed - outside the Occident - from the original cradle of Christianity in Asia, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic churches, Protestant Eastern Christian Churches, and the denominations descended from the Church of the East.

Chalcedonian Christianity refers to the Christian denominations adhering to the christological definitions and ecclesiological resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon, the Fourth Ecumenical Council held in 451. Chalcedonian Christians follow the Definition of Chalcedon, a religious doctrine concerning the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. The great majority of Christian communions and confessions in the 21st century are Chalcedonian, but from the 5th to the 8th centuries the ascendancy of Chalcedonian Christology was not always certain.

A schism is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination.

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodoxy, meaning the large majority, all self-describe as churches, whereas many Protestant denominations self-describe as congregations or fellowships. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, ecclesiology, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.

Southern Europe Region of the European continent

Southern Europe is the southern region of the European continent. Most definitions of Southern Europe,also known as Mediterranean Europe, include Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Slovenia, Spain, East Thrace of European Turkey and Cyprus. Also often included despite not having a coast in the Mediterranean are Portugal, Serbia, North Macedonia, Andorra, San Marino and Vatican City. Some definitions may also include Southern France and Monaco, which are otherwise considered parts of Western Europe, and Bulgaria, which is otherwise considered part of Eastern Europe.

Europe is often divided into regions 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. Several transcontinental countries which border mainland Europe, are often included as belonging to a "wider Europe" including, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Greenland, Kazakhstan, Russia, as well as the overseas territories and regions of the European Union.

Greek East and Latin West are terms used to distinguish between the two parts of the Greco-Roman world, specifically the eastern regions where Greek was the lingua franca and the western parts where Latin filled this role. During the Roman Empire a divide had persisted between Latin- and Greek-speaking areas; this divide was encouraged by administrative changes in the empire's structure between the 3rd and 5th centuries, which led ultimately to the establishment of separate administrations for the Eastern and Western halves of the Empire.

Christianity in Europe religion of an area

Christianity is the largest religion in Europe. Christianity has been practiced in Europe since the first century, and a number of the Pauline Epistles were addressed to Christians living in Greece, as well as other parts of the Roman Empire.

History of the Eastern Orthodox Church

The history of the Eastern Orthodox Church is traced back to Jesus Christ and the Apostles. The Apostles appointed successors, known as bishops, and they in turn appointed other bishops in a process known as Apostolic succession. Over time, five Patriarchates were established to organize the Christian world, and four of these ancient Patriarchates remain Orthodox today. Orthodox Christianity reached its present form in Late Antiquity, when the Ecumenical Councils were held, doctrinal disputes were resolved, the Fathers of the Church lived and wrote, and Orthodox worship practices settled into their permanent form.

Christianity in Asia religion of an area

Christianity in Asia has its roots in the very inception of Christianity, which originated from the life and teachings of Jesus in 1st-century Roman Judea. Christianity then spread through the missionary work of his apostles, first in the Levant and taking roots in the major cities such as Jerusalem and Antioch. According to tradition, further eastward expansion occurred via the preaching of Thomas the Apostle, who established Christianity in the Parthian Empire (Iran) and India. The very First Ecumenical Council was held in the city of Nicaea in Asia Minor (325). The first nations to adopt Christianity as a state religion were Armenia in 301 and Georgia in 327. By the 4th century, Christianity became the dominant religion in all Asian provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Western world Countries that identify themselves with an originally European shared culture

The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and states, depending on the context, most often including at least parts of Europe, Australasia, and the Americas. There are many accepted definitions, all closely interrelated. The Western world is also known as the Occident, in contrast to the Orient, or Eastern world. It might mean the Northern half of the North–South divide.

Christianity in the modern era

The history of modern Christianity concerns the Christian religion from the end of the early modern period to the present day. The Early Modern history of Christianity is usually taken to begin with the Protestant Reformation c. 1517–1525 and ending in the late 18th century with the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the events leading up to the French Revolution of 1789. This article only covers 1720 to the current date. For the early modern period, see the articles on the Protestant Reformation, the Counter-Reformation and the Catholic Church and the Age of Discovery.

State church of the Roman Empire a form of Christianity in the Roman Empire

With the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD, Emperor Theodosius I made Nicene Christianity the Empire's state religion. The Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Catholic Church each claim to stand in continuity with the church to which Theodosius granted recognition, but do not look on it as specific to the Roman Empire.

Christianity is the predominant religion in Serbia. The Constitution of Serbia defines it as a secular state with guaranteed religious freedom. Eastern Orthodox Christians with 6,079,396 comprise 84.5% of country's population. The Serbian Orthodox Church is the largest and traditional church of the country, adherents of which are overwhelmingly Serbs. Other Orthodox Christian communities in Serbia include Montenegrins, Romanians, Vlachs, Macedonians and Bulgarians.

References

Citations

  1. "Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land". Rbedrosian.com. Archived from the original on 10 June 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  2. "home.comcast.net". Archived from the original on 13 February 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  3. Ricci, Matteo (1610) [2009]. On Friendship: One Hundred Maxims for a Chinese Prince. Translated by Timothy Billings. Columbia University Press. pp. 19, 71, 87. ISBN   978-0231149242.
  4. Dragan Brujić (2005). "Vodič kroz svet Vizantije (Guide to the Byzantine World)". Beograd. p. 51.[ dead link ]
  5. "Being Christian in Western Europe", Pew Research Center , Pew Research Center, 2018, retrieved 29 May 2018
  6. Peter John, Local Governance in Western Europe, University of Manchester, 2001, ISBN   9780761956372
  7. "The geopolitical conditions (...) are now a thing of the past, and some specialists today think that Eastern Europe has outlived its usefulness as a phrase." "Regions, Regionalism, Eastern Europe by Steven Cassedy". New Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Charles Scribner's Sons. 2005. Retrieved 31 January 2010.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. "One very common, but now outdated, definition of Eastern Europe was the Soviet-dominated communist countries of Europe."http://www.cotf.edu/earthinfo/balkans/BKdef.html Archived 10 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  9. "Too much writing on the region has – consciously or unconsciously – clung to an outdated image of 'Eastern Europe', desperately trying to patch together political and social developments from Budapest to Bukhara or Tallinn to Tashkent without acknowledging that this Cold War frame of reference is coming apart at the seams. Central Europe Review: Re-Viewing Central Europe By Sean Hanley, Kazi Stastna and Andrew Stroehlein, 1999 Archived 31 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Berglund, Sten; Ekman, Joakim; Aarebrot, Frank H. (2004). The handbook of political change in Eastern Europe. Edward Elgar Publishing [via Google Books]. p. 2. ISBN   9781781954324 . Retrieved 5 October 2011. The term 'Eastern Europe' is ambiguous and in many ways outdated.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  11. 1 2 "Confirmed: Czech Republic is in Western Europe, says US textbook". News.expats.cz.
  12. "Field listing: Location". CIA World Factbook. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  13. UNAIDS, The Governance Handbook, January 2010 (p. 29).
  14. 1 2 "World Population Prospects 2018". Archived from the original on 19 September 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  15. 1 2 3 "Europe". Encyclopædia Britannica . 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2008.

Sources