The UN Statistics Division has created the UN Geoscheme for Europe that subdivides the continent into four divisions for statistical convenience. These divisions put European countries in one of four groups: Eastern Europe, Western Europe, 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 only official division that is made. Several other systems dividing Europe into many parts on the basis of geography, politics, and culture also exist.
Eastern Europe refers to Europe’s eastern parts. It includes ten sovereign nations.
Eastern Europe is not an easily defined region. The term often carries with it other meanings that are geopolitical in nature. However, the region does have some physical boundaries. The region’s limits to the east can be geographically defined by the presence of the Ural River, Ural Mountains, the Caucasus Range and the Caspian Sea. These natural features separate Eastern Europe from Asia. The boundary of Eastern Europe with Western Europe is less geographically defined. However, it is usually defined in terms of cultural, religious, and historical differences.
Eastern Europe’s religious landscape is dominated by the Eastern Orthodox faith. 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 Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia 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.
- Aland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- Isle of Man
- Svalbard and Jan Mayen
- United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
According to the UN Geoscheme for Europe, seventeen states 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 Northern Europe roughly includes Fennoscandia, the Baltic plain, the Jutland peninsula, and several offshore islands including the British Isles and Iceland.
As 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. These countries generally have low population densities and largely urbanized populations. 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.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Republic of Macedonia
- San Marino
- Vatican City
Southern Europe is often synonymous with Mediterranean Europe and includes 16 nations within its boundaries. Like other European regions, however, the exact definitions of this region also vary. Most of Southern Europe experiences a 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 is made up of nine countries 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 what is among the highest GDP per capita in the world.
Regions By Population
- Eastern Europe: 290,432,600
- Western Europe: 194,280,441
- Southern Europe: 151,558,199
- Northern Europe: 103,028,126
Eastern Europe is the most populated region, mostly due to the inclusion of the most populated country in Europe, Russia, in this region. Western Europe, which is home to Germany, the second most populated country in Europe, is the second most populated region. Northern Europe is the least populated, even though it includes the United Kingdom, which is the fifth most populated country in the continent.