Europe is a place with a long history and for most countries in this part of the world, an animal has become an emblem of the nation and its people. Although these animals are used to identify nations and they are present on national logos at international events, these animals are not chosen at random as they have great cultural, ecological and historical significance.
Origins of the National Animals
Ecology plays a massive role in the selection of national animals since an animal found in nature is much more likely to be a national animal than an animal that is not. These animals are generally not mythological and they are chosen since they are common in the country which it represents. A perfect example of this is the brown bear. The brown bear is a national animal for Finland since there are many present in the forests of the nation. Other examples of this include the barn swallow which represents Estonia, the pine marten which represents Croatia and the Cypriot mouflon which represents Cyprus. In addition to ecology, culture is also an important aspect which plays a role in the selection of national animals. The culture present in European nations varies from country to country and as a result having an animal that plays a significant role in national culture often is a perfect representation of a country. Though these animals can never represent the entire culture of the nation, they are attributed with a section of the country’s culture. The best example of this is the bull which is the national animal of Spain. In Spain, bull-fighting is a cultural activity that is widely followed across the country. This popularity has led to the bull being a national animal. Some countries decide to use history as their compass when it comes to selecting a national animal. These animals have often represented major groups of people or are important in the country’s folk law. For instance, in France, the national animal is the rooster because the rooster represented the French people during the time of the French revolution. Another example is the gray wolf of Turkey which has its origins in the Turkish mythology which state that the Turkish people were given birth and raised by wolves. Finally, some nations simply choose their animal because of the characteristics of the animal. In Britain, the British bulldog is a national animal, and this is the case because the bulldog is a powerful and brave animal. Britain chose this animal because it believed that these characteristics were also present in the nation. Same is the case with many countries such as Norway, Netherlands, and Macedonia, who all have lions as their national animals.
The Impact of these Animals
Although a national animal is just a symbol, it still has a big role in society since it is a massive inspiration to people. People of every country look up to their national animal with pride since it represents the spirit of the nation. These animals represent where a person lives and where a person is from so it has a massive role in society.
The National Animals Of Europe
|Leo Belgicus (Heraldic Belgian Lion)
|Mute Swan, Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
|Brown Bear, Whooper Swan
|White Wagtail, Two-Spotted Ladybird
|Lion, Black-Tailed Godwit
|Lion, White-Throated Dipper, Fjord Horse
|Wolf, White Eagle, Lynx
|Bulldog, Barbary Lion, Mute Swan, Red Kite, Unicorn, Welsh Dragon/Queen's Beast