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Western Europe
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{{distinguish|Western world|Western European Union}}{{Use dmy dates|date=October 2017}}File:Western Europe.ogv|alt=View of the earth from space|thumb|Video taken by the crew of Expedition 29 on board the ISS on a pass over Western Europe in 2011]]Western Europe is the region comprising the western part of Europe. Below, some different geographic, geopolitical and cultural definitions of the term are outlined.Significant historical events that have shaped the concept of Western Europe include the rise of Rome, the adoption of Greek culture during the Roman Republic, the adoption of Christianity by Roman Emperors, the division of the Latin West and Greek East, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, the reign of Charlemagne, the Viking Invasions, the East-West schism, the Black Death, the Renaissance, the Age of Discovery, the Protestant Reformation as well as the Counter-Reformation of the Catholic Church, the Age of Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the two World Wars, the Cold War, the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the expansion of the European Union.{{Citation needed|date=August 2018}}

Historical divisions

Classical antiquity and medieval origins

File:Expansion of christianity.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|The Great Schism in ChristianityChristianityPrior to the Roman conquest, a large part of Western Europe had adopted the newly developed La Tène culture. As the Roman domain expanded, a cultural and linguistic division appeared between the mainly Greek-speaking eastern provinces, which had formed the highly urbanized Hellenistic civilization, and the western territories, which in contrast largely adopted the Latin language. This cultural and linguistic division was eventually reinforced by the later political east-west division of the Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire controlled the two divergent regions between the 3rd and the 5th century.The division between these two was enhanced during Late antiquity and the Middle Ages by a number of events. The Western Roman Empire collapsed, starting the Early Middle Ages. By contrast, the Eastern Roman Empire, mostly known as the Greek or Byzantine Empire, survived and even thrived for another 1000 years. The rise of the Carolingian Empire in the west, and in particular the Great Schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, enhanced the cultural and religious distinctiveness between Eastern and Western Europe.After the conquest of the Byzantine Empire, center of the Eastern Orthodox Church, by the Muslim Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, and the gradual fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire (which had replaced the Carolingian Empire), the division between Roman Catholic and Protestant became more important in Europe than that with Eastern Orthodoxy.In East Asia, Western Europe was historically known as taixi in China and taisei in Japan, which literally translates as the "Far West". The term Far West became synonymous with Western Europe in China during the Ming dynasty. The Italian Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci was one of the first writers in China to use the Far West as an Asian counterpart to the European concept of the Far East. In Ricci's writings, Ricci referred to himself as "Matteo of the Far West".BOOK, Matteo, Ricci, Translated by Timothy Billings, On Friendship: One Hundred Maxims for a Chinese Prince, 1610, 2009, Columbia University Press, 978-0231149242, 19, 71, 87, The term was still in use in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Religion

(File:Great Schism 1054 with former borders.png|thumb|upright=1.1|Religious division in 1054WEB,weblink Vodič kroz svet Vizantije (Guide to the Byzantine World), Dragan Brujić, 2005, Beograd, 51, {{dead link|date=June 2016|bot=medic}}{{cbignore|bot=medic}})Christianity is still the largest religion in Western Europe, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center, 71.0% of the Western European population identified themselves as Christians.{{citation|title=Being Christian in Western Europe|work=Pew Research Center |year=2018|url=http://www.pewforum.org/2018/05/29/being-christian-in-western-europe/ |accessdate=29 May 2018 |publisher=Pew Research Center}}The East–West Schism, which has lasted since the 11th century, divided Christianity in Europe, and consequently the world, into Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity.With certain simplifications, Western Europe is thus Catholic or Protestant and uses the Latin alphabet. Eastern Europe is Orthodox and uses the Greek alphabet or Cyrillic script.According to this definition, Western Europe is formed by countries with dominant Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, including countries which are considered part of Central Europe now: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.Eastern Europe, meanwhile is formed by countries with dominant Eastern Orthodox churches, including Greece, Belarus, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine for instance.The schism is the break of communion and theology between what are now the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman Catholic from the 11th century, as well as from the 16th century also Protestant) churches.This division dominated Europe for centuries, in opposition to the rather short-lived Cold War division of 4 decades.Since the Great Schism of 1054, Europe has been divided between Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in the West and the Eastern Orthodox Christian (many times incorrectly labeled "Greek Orthodox") churches in the east. Due to this religious cleavage, Eastern Orthodox countries are often associated with Eastern Europe. A cleavage of this sort is, however, often problematic; for example, Greece is overwhelmingly Orthodox, but is very rarely included in "Eastern Europe", for a variety of reasons.Peter John, Local Governance in Western Europe, University of Manchester, 2001, {{ISBN|9780761956372}}

Cold War

File:Europe-blocs-49-89x4.svg|thumb|upright=1.3|Political spheres of influence in Europe during the Cold WarCold WarDuring the four decades of the Cold War, the definition of East and West was rather simplified by the existence of the Eastern Bloc. Historians and social scientists generally view the Cold War definition of Western and Eastern Europe as outdated or relegating."The geopolitical conditions (...) are now a thing of the past, and some specialists today think that Eastern Europe has outlived its usefulness as a phrase."JOURNAL,weblink Regions, Regionalism, Eastern Europe by Steven Cassedy, New Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005, 31 January 2010, "One very common, but now outdated, definition of Eastern Europe was the Soviet-dominated communist countries of Europe."http://www.cotf.edu/earthinfo/balkans/BKdef.html"Too much writing on the region has – consciously or unconsciously – clung to an outdated image of 'Eastern Europe', desperately trying to patch together political and social developments from Budapest to Bukhara or Tallinn to Tashkent without acknowledging that this Cold War frame of reference is coming apart at the seams. Central Europe Review: Re-Viewing Central Europe By Sean Hanley, Kazi Stastna and Andrew Stroehlein, 1999BOOK, Berglund, Sten, Ekman, Joakim, Aarebrot, Frank H., The handbook of political change in Eastern Europe, 2, 2004, Edward Elgar Publishing [via Google Books],weblink 5 October 2011, The term 'Eastern Europe' is ambiguous and in many ways outdated., 9781781954324, {{inconsistent citations, }}During the final stages of World War II, the future of Europe was decided between the Allies in the 1945 Yalta Conference, between the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, the U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the Premier of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin.Post-war Europe would be divided into two major spheres: the Western Bloc, influenced by the United States, and the Eastern Bloc, influenced by the Soviet Union. With the onset of the Cold War, Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain. This term had been used during World War II by German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and later Count Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk in the last days of the war; however, its use was hugely popularised by Winston Churchill, who used it in his famous "Sinews of Peace" address on 5 March 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri:Although some countries were officially neutral, they were classified according to the nature of their political and economic systems. This division largely defines the popular perception and understanding of Western Europe and its borders with Eastern Europe.File:KarteWEUStaaten.png|thumb|Former Western European UnionWestern European UnionThe world changed dramatically with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. West Germany peacefully absorbed East Germany, in the German reunification. Comecon and the Warsaw Pact were dissolved, and in 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Several countries which had been part of the Soviet Union regained full independence.

Western European Union

In 1948 the Treaty of Brussels was signed between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. It was further revisited in 1954 at the Paris Conference, when the Western European Union was established. It was declared defunct in 2011 after the Treaty of Lisbon, and the Treaty of Brussels was terminated. When the Western European Union was dissolved, it had 10 member countries, six associate member countries, five observer countries and seven associate partner countries.

Modern divisions

CIA classification

(File: Europe subregion map world factbook.svg|thumb|Regions of Europe based on CIA world factbook. Western Europe in light blue; Southwestern Europe in red)The CIA classifies seven countries as belonging to "Western Europe":WEB,weblink Field listing: Location, CIA World Factbook, 30 July 2017, The CIA also classifies three countries as belonging to "Southwestern Europe":

Western European and Others Group

The Western European and Others Group is one of several unofficial Regional Groups in the United Nations that act as voting blocs and negotiation forums. Regional voting blocs were formed in 1961 to encourage voting to various UN bodies from different regional groups. The European members of the group are:UNAIDS, The Governance Handbook, January 2010 (p. 29).{||
In addition, Australia, Canada, Israel and New Zealand are members of the group, with the United States as observer.

Population

Using the CIA classification strictly would give the following calculation of Western Europe's population. All figures based on the projections for 2018 by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.WEB,weblink World Population Prospects 2018, {| class="wikitable sortable" style="border:1px solid #aaa;" style="background:#ececec;"! Rank! Country or territory! Population (most recent estimates)! Languages ! Capital
! 1
{{flaglist|United Kingdom}} {{nts|66040229}}EnglishLondon
! 2
{{flaglist|France}} (metropolitan){{nts|65058000}}FrenchParis
! 3
{{flaglist|Netherlands}}{{nts|17249632}}DutchAmsterdam
! 4
{{flaglist|Belgium}}{{nts|11420163}}Dutch language, French language>FrenchBrussels
! 5
{{flaglist|Ireland}}{{nts|4857000}}Irish language, English language>EnglishDublin
! 6
{{flaglist|Luxembourg}}{{nts|602005}}French, LuxembourgishLuxembourg City
! 7
{{flaglist|Monaco}}{{nts|38300}}FrenchMonaco (city-state)
class="sortbottom"! Total|! {{nts|165265329}}||
Using the CIA classification a little more liberally and including "South-Western Europe", would give the following calculation of Western Europe's population.WEB,weblink World Population Prospects 2018, {| class="wikitable sortable" style="border:1px solid #aaa;" style="background:#ececec;"! Rank! Country or territory! Population (most recent estimates)! Languages ! Capital
! 1
{{flaglist|United Kingdom}} {{nts|66040229}}EnglishLondon
! 2
{{flaglist|France}} (metropolitan){{nts|65058000}}FrenchParis
! 3
{{flaglist|Spain}}{{nts|46700000}}SpanishMadrid
! 4
{{flaglist|Netherlands}}{{nts|17249632}}DutchAmsterdam
! 5
{{flaglist|Belgium}}{{nts|11420163}}Dutch language, French language>FrenchBrussels
! 6
{{flaglist|Portugal}}{{nts|10291027}}PortugueseLisbon
! 7
{{flaglist|Ireland}}{{nts|4857000}}Irish language, English language>EnglishDublin
! 8
{{flaglist|Luxembourg}}{{nts|602005}}French, LuxembourgishLuxembourg City
! 9
{{flaglist|Andorra}}{{nts|78264}}CatalanAndorra la Vella
! 10
{{flaglist|Monaco}}{{nts|38300}}FrenchMonaco (city-state)
class="sortbottom"! Total|! {{nts|222293922}}||

Climate

The climate of Western Europe varies from subtropical and semi-arid in the southern coast of Italy and Spain to alpine in the Pyrenees. The Mediterranean climate of the south is dry and warm. The western and northwestern parts have a mild, generally humid climate, influenced by the North Atlantic Current.

Languages

Western European languages mostly fall within two Indo-European language families: the Romance languages, descended from the Latin of the Roman Empire; and the Germanic languages, whose ancestor language (Proto-Germanic) came from southern Scandinavia.WEB,weblink Europe, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007, 10 June 2008, Romance languages are spoken primarily in the southern and central part of Western Europe, Germanic languages in the northern part (the British Isles and the Low Countries), as well as a large part of Northern and Central Europe.Other Indo-European languages include the Celtic group (that is, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton). Basque is the only currently living Western European language isolate.{{cn|date=April 2018}}Multilingualism and the protection of regional and minority languages are recognized political goals in Western Europe today. The Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Council of Europe's European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages set up a legal framework for language rights in Europe.{{cn|date=April 2018}}

Economy

Western Europe is one of the richest regions of the world. Germany has the highest GDP in Europe and the largest financial surplus of any country, Luxembourg has the world's highest GDP per capita, and the United Kingdom has the highest Net National Wealth of any European state.Switzerland and Luxembourg have the highest average wage in the world, in nominal and PPP respectively. Denmark ranks highest in the world on the Social Progress Index.

See also

References

Citations

{{Reflist|30em}}

Sources

  • The Making of Europe, {{ISBN|0-14-015409-4}}, by Robert Bartlett
  • Crescent and Cross, {{ISBN|1-84212-753-5}}, by Hugh Bicheno
  • The Normans, {{ISBN|0-7524-2881-0}}, by Trevor Rowley
  • 1066: The Year of the Three Battles, {{ISBN|0-7126-6672-9}}, by Frank McLynn

External links

{{Commons and category}} {{Regions of the world}}{{Europe topics (small)}}{{Authority control}}

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