The Regions of Europe

Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Europe are the four European regions as defined by the UN Geoscheme for Europe.

The UN Statistics Division has created the UN Geoscheme for Europe that subdivides the continent into four divisions for statistical convenience. These divisions include Eastern, Western, Northern, and Southern Europe. The UN Geoscheme specifies the countries included in each of these divisions. However, this system of division of Europe is not the ultimate one but several other systems dividing Europe into many parts on the basis of geography, politics, culture, etc., also exist.

Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe refers to Europe’s eastern parts and includes ten sovereign nations according to the UN Geoscheme. Various other definitions demarcating the exact boundaries of the region exist. The term is often associated with a wide range of cultural, political, or geographical connotations. The region’s boundaries to the east can be geographically defined by the presence of the Ural River, Ural Mountains, and the Caucasus Range that separates the region from Asia. However, the boundary of Eastern Europe with Western Europe is defined in terms of cultural, religious, and historical differences. Eastern Europe’s religious landscape is dominated by the Eastern Orthodox churches. Another definition of Eastern Europe is based on the Cold War whereby the region is more or less synonymous with the Eastern Bloc. Other contemporary definitions like the one by the CIA World Factbook include the Baltic states in Eastern Europe. The countries of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus mountain region are also included in some definitions of Eastern Europe. If Europe is further divided into Central Europe and Southeastern Europe, the area of Eastern Europe would become smaller.

Northern Europe

According to the UN Geoscheme for Europe, seventeen nations are part of Northern Europe. The nations are mentioned in the list below. The region is roughly defined as the part of Europe north of the Baltic Sea’s southern coast. Other narrower or broader definitions based on geography and climate also exist. Historically, Northern Europe had a much broader definition that included all parts of the continent outside of the Mediterranean region. Today, the region roughly includes Fennoscandia, the Baltic plain, the Jutland peninsula, and several offshore islands including the British Isles and Iceland. Since Northern Europe encompasses a vast area, the climate, relief, and vegetation of the region vary widely. The countries here have some of the best living standards in the world and their economies are highly developed. The countries generally have low population densities and a largely urbanized population. Protestant Christianity is the dominant religion here but there is a growing number of non-believers and Muslims in the region, the latter due to high rates of immigration.

Southern Europe

Southern Europe is often synonymous with Mediterranean Europe and includes 16 nations within its boundaries. Like other European regions, however, the exact definition of this region also vary. Most of Southern Europe experiences the best climate in Europe, the Mediterranean climate. The Romance languages that are derived from Latin, are most widely spoken in this region. Italian, Spanish, and Greek are the most popular languages here. Christianity is the religion of the majority in Southern Europe. While Roman Catholicism dominates the religious scene in the western part of Southern Europe, Greek Orthodoxy is more popular in the eastern part of the region.

Western Europe

The western part of Europe comprises of nine sovereign nations as per the UN Geoscheme. Western Europe’s religious landscape is dominated primarily by Protestantism and Catholicism whereas, as mentioned previously, Eastern Europe’s Eastern Orthodox churches dominate the religious scene in the region. The climate in this region varies widely from subtropical to polar in the high mountains of the Alps and the Pyrenees. Both the Romance and the Germanic languages are spoken here. Western Europe is one of the most prosperous regions of the globe with Germany in the region having Europe’s highest GDP. Luxembourg, also located here, has the highest GDP per capita in the world.

The Four European Regions As Defined By The United Nations Geoscheme For Europe

Eastern EuropeNorthern EuropeSouthern EuropeWestern Europe
Belarus Åland IslandsAlbaniaAustria
Czech RepublicEstoniaBosnia and HerzegovinaFrance
Republic of MoldovaFaroe IslandsCroatiaGermany
Russian Federation Republic of IrelandRepublic of MacedoniaNetherlands
UkraineIsle of ManMontenegro
LithuaniaSan Marino
Svalbard and Jan MayenSpain
SwedenVatican City
United Kingdom

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