Geographically, the southern half of the European continent is referred to as Southern Europe. The region is also sometimes referred to as Mediterranean Europe, even though some countries in the region do not have a coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. The Iberian Peninsula and Gibraltar, which is a British Overseas Territory (BOT), are also included in Southern Europe. Additionally, the region includes Italy and its two enclaved microstates, Vatican City and San Marino. Many countries of Southeastern Europe are also included within Southern Europe.
Southern Europe has 15 countries and the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.
Spain, Italy, and Greece are the three largest countries by area in Southern Europe.
The 5 Largest Countries in Southern Europe by Area
Spain is Southern Europe’s largest country by area, as well as the second-largest in the European Union (EU) and the fourth largest in the continent. The country covers an area of 504,030 km2, which is mostly on the Iberian Peninsula but also includes two archipelagos, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, located off the African coast in the Mediterranean Sea. Several other smaller islands are also part of Spain. The Mediterranean Sea borders mainland Spain to the south and east, while France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay border Spain to the north and northeast. Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean are located on the country's western and northwestern borders.
Italy encompasses a total area of 301,338 km2, which includes a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and several islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Two enclaved microstates, San Marino and Vatican City, are located within Italy's borders. The country shares land borders with Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, and France. Italy is a top tourist destination in Europe, and is famous for its historical sites, as well as the rich and unique Italian culture.
With an area of 131,990 km2, Greece is Southern Europe’s third most extensive nation. It is located on the tip of the Balkan Peninsula, at the crossroads of the three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Albania border Greece to the north, while Turkey borders the country to the northeast. Greece has coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea and Cretan Sea to the south, and the Ionian Sea to the west. Greece also encompasses numerous islands, including 227 that are inhabited. Approximately 80% of the country's area is mountainous.
Portugal is located primarily on the Iberian Peninsula and occupies a total area of 92,090 km2. The Atlantic Ocean borders Portugal to the west and south, while Spain borders the country to the east and north. Two archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean, the Madeira and Azores, are also Portuguese territories. The Tagus River, the major river flowing through the country, splits Portugal into two halves. The northern part of Portugal is mostly mountainous with several plateaus and valleys, while rolling plains constitute the landscape of southern Portugal.
With an area of 77,474 km2, Serbia is the fifth largest country in Southern Europe by area. It is located at the crossroads of Southeast and Central Europe. Hungary forms Serbia’s southern boundary, while Romania, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia are located to the northeast, southeast, and south of Serbia, respectively. Serbia borders Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southwest and west. The disputed territory of Kosovo is located on the Albania-Serbia border.
Smallest Southern European Nation
Southern Europe contains the world’s smallest country, Vatican City, which is an enclave of Italy. Vatican City occupies an area of only 0.44 km2.