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5: Europe

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    Re-framing Europe

    Before we consider how Europe as a region has been traditionally formulated, it’s important to note the influence of European thought on the geography taught in the United States and more broadly “geography’s complicity in the development of imperialism and colonialism”.[1] An example for the former is how the terms “Middle East” and “Far East” stem from the ethnocentric positioning of Europe as the center of the world. Examples of the latter include how European maps of colonial territories from the 1800s cemented a seemingly accurate and authoritative worldview on what were actually disputed territories and boundaries. Cumulatively, how Europeans portrayed peoples and lands beyond Europe–and European claims of discovery of “new” lands–created geographical imaginaries that influenced the discipline of geography in the United States.[2]

    In thinking about Europe as a world region, it’s important to recognize that the traditional borders of Europe that separate it from the rest of the Eurasian continent are the Ural and Caucasus mountain ranges. The Ural Mountains extend through the Russian Federation from the Arctic Circle to Kazakhstan while the Caucasus Mountains span between the Black and Caspian Seas north of Turkey and Iran. These boundaries were written as a way to separate the Christian-dominated areas of Europe from followers of Islam to the south and the people who, in the 17th century, were deemed “culturally inferior” to the east.[3]


    The World Geographies Atlas: Navigate each world region through maps

    For each of the world regions, our original atlas provides detailed maps to help you navigate the places discussed in this book. These maps are meant to be explored before and during the reading of this chapter. These maps are best enjoyed enlarged. Click on each map for an enlarged view, and zoom in to see the prominent biomes, physical features, and population centers of Europe. We recommend that you download these for reference as you read this chapter's content and hope that you enjoy this original compilation.

    Biome and physical features map of Europe
    Countries, capitals, and population sizes map of Europe
    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): [left] This map shows the geographic distribution of biomes and prominent physical features, like peaks, rivers, lakes, oceans, plateaus, mountains, and tectonic boundaries in Europe (CC BY-NC-SA; Wallace via Flickr). [right] This map depicts internationally recognized countries, capitals, major cities, and population distributions of Europe (CC BY-NC-SA; Sellers via Flickr).




    [1] Myers, G.A., McGreevy, P., Carney, G.O., & Kenny, J. 2003. Cultural Geography. In Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century (G.L. Gaile & C.J. Willmott Eds.), p. 81-96. New York: Oxford University Press.

    [2] Gregory, D., Johnston, R., Pratt, G., Watts, M., & Whatmore, S. (Eds.). 2009. Africa (idea of), America(s) (idea of), Asia (idea of), Austral(as)ia, idea of, Eurocentrism, Exploration. In The Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

    [3] Gregory, D., Johnston, R., Pratt, G., Watts, M., & Whatmore, S. (Eds.). 2009. Europe, idea of. In The Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

    5: Europe is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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