Europe is a great place for art, history, culture and cuisine. No other continent combines so many countries, so much innovation, so much going on in the art and music world and so much natural beauty. Add to that an excellent infrastructure and economy built for tourists, and you have the leading place for world travelers.
Depending on the source material you look at, Europe has somewhere between 44 and 50 countries. For this blog, we will describe 50 countries.
When ranked by population, Russia is at the top:
|33||Bosnia and Herzegovina||3,843,126|
When ranked by size, Russia is still at the top and six times the size as number two Ukraine:
|Rank||Country||Area (square miles)|
|24||Republic of Ireland||27,135|
|29||Bosnia and Herzegovina||19,741|
The history of Europe began somewhere around 20000 BC. European people migrated in virtually every direction and brought with them agriculture, tools, weapons and languages. Cave paintings have been found and dated to prove that point. By 5000 BC, societal groupings had begun to emerge. In 2600 BC, the Minoan civilization began flourishing in Crete as a literate society. The Minoans had a system of administration and built elaborate palaces. The Mycenaean civilization followed the Minoans. They built cities and had a system of warrior aristocracy.
The Greeks have been credited with creating European civilization. The name Europe has long been thought to have been derived from the ancient myth of Zeus and Europa. According to the legend, Zeus saw the Phoenician princess Europa bathing and transformed himself into a magnificent white bull and slowly approached her from the sea. Europa placed garlands of flowers around his neck, petted him and then climbed onto his back. Zeus (the bull) then ran across the sea to Crete.
Of course, the Greeks were also famous for history because they wrote things down and created some of the word’s first libraries. By the year 4300 BC tombs were in use in Europe, and by 3500 farming was wide spread. The bronze age began near 2000 BC by the Wessex culture of present-day Britain. Stonehenge was constructed near this time in 1860 BC.
In the seventh century BC, we know of recorded works of Greek history from Socrates and Plato. King Philip II united the Greek states, and his son, Alexander the Great, extended the great culture to other states. Rome was close to Greece, and the fabled Roman Empire began. It expanded well until 800 AD when the empire weakened, and Charlemagne became the emperor.
With armies coming and going and settlers migrating, it was only a matter of time before Europe suffered catastrophes. The Great Famine and the Black Death decimated the people.
Even during the Renaissance in the 14th century, the plague was evident, but it was also a period of flourishing philosophy, art, science, and social science. Great men came from this era, such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Machiavelli. The Renaissance spread to many countries and lasted until the 17th century.
The prowess of sailing skills in Europe lead to their exploration of the rest of the world. They discovered America and other countries. Trade and mercantilism greatly prospered, as did rampant colonialism. The Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century. It brought significant changes in manufacturing and other processes. This revolution spread across the globe.
In the first half of the 20th century, two world wars took a great toll in people and the land. Rebuilding and restructuring dominated during the second half of the century.
Why You Should Go
There are so many reasons to visit Europe. For most people from the United States, Europe is a place where many ancestors came from. The United States is the proverbial melting pot, and people from all over the world immigrated here. Americans of European ancestry constitute the largest racial and ethnic group in the United States, composing 73.1 percent of the total U.S. population. Most everyone in the United States came from somewhere abroad, but Europe is where most Americans came from.
Why not visit the place of your ancestors?
Culturally, you can’t get much more diverse with 50 countries to pick from. Only Africa has more countries than Europe.
Unlike the United States, you can get around very easily without driving. This applies to certain countries within Asia as well. (Japan comes to mind.) But Europe seems to embrace it much more readily. There are train tickets that allow plenty of travel for a specific amount of time and it’s reasonably affordable.
As you travel through Europe, you are likely touched by the authenticity and age of their buildings. Instead of demolishing everything to make room for a skyscraper, European countries tend to treasure what is old and keep it. They renovate buildings that have no electricity, running water, air conditioning or heat. The result is something that is both updated but maintains the original charm.
Beauty abounds everywhere, from the snow-capped mountains of the Swiss Alps to the allure of the Italian coastline. Europe offers jaw-dropping views, both architecturally and panoramic vistas.
Museums are ubiquitous. The Louvre in Paris holds more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art on any given day. If you love art, you’re in for a treat with so many museums and cultural settings.
English is generally taught as a second language everywhere. It wouldn’t hurt to try your Polish, German, French or Italian when you can. Europeans are very hospitable. Wherever you may travel, you’re likely to be welcomed with open arms. The locals often share their knowledge of directions, the best attractions, or restaurants.
What are you waiting for?