Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.
Europe is commonly separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural Mountains,the Ural River,the Caspian Sea,the Greater Caucasus,the Black Sea and the waterways of the Turkish Straits. Although much of this border is over land, Europe is generally accorded the status of a full continent because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions.
Europe has an area of 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 sq mi), making it the second smallest continent after Australia. With a population of over 740 million people, Europe is the third most populous continent after Asia and Africa.
The European Union is a political and economic union of 27 member states located primarily in Europe. The EU has an area of 4,475,757 square kilometres (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated 2020 population of about 447 million. The euro is the official currency of 19 of the 27 member states.
The term “Europe” is derived from the Latin Europa, which itself comes from the Greek Εὐρώπη (Eurṓpē), a compound name composed of the noun εὐρώς (eurṓs, “wide”) and the adjective ὤψ (ōps, “eye”, “face”), hence Europa roughly translates as “wide-gazing” or “broad of aspect”. The adjective ēurōpaeus (“European”) originally referred to anything belonging to the continent of Europe, but it has since been used more narrowly to refer specifically to things relating to the European Union.
There are several ways in which the term “Europe” has been used. One traditional definition sees Europe as bounded by large bodies of water to the north, west and south – the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea; another, more common definition sees Europe as extending eastwards to the Ural Mountains. In both cases, “Europe” means the western part of Eurasia.
The concept of Europe as a distinct continent was first introduced by Greek geographers in the 5th century BCE. The name “Europe” was first used for a cultural sphere in the 1st century CE by Isidore of Seville. It later became increasingly used for political purposes after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE. The term “European Union” was first used in 1951, in reference to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which was founded by the Treaty of Paris in 1952. The EU has since grown to encompass 27 member states, with a population of over 500 million people.