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Europe Geography


Europe is a fragmented continent. About 1/3 of the land area consists of islands and peninsulas, giving the continent a very long coast of varying type. More than half of Europe is lowland, which is a larger proportion than in any other continent.

Eastern European plain, from the Baltic States to Ural, is the largest lowland area. It is a flat landscape (half is less than 200 m above sea level) with low plateaus, eg. The Volga Heights and the Valdaj Heights, with continuation in the Central Russian Plateau. At the Caspian Sea, large areas spread about 30 m lower than the sea level. The northern half of the Eastern European plain is characterized by moraine and glacial material, while loose soil forms large plains in the south. The region is drained by large rivers both to the north. Petjora and Dvina, and to the south, i.e. Volga, which opens into the Caspian Sea. In the south, the region is bounded by the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea as well as Crimea and the Caucasus. Crimea is a largely peninsula, but in the southwest there are mountains with peaks around 1,500 m above sea level. The Caucasus is a complex of mountains and intermediate valleys and reaches with the extinguished volcano Elbrus 5 642 m above sea level.

Eastern European

Northern Europe consists of the Scandinavian mountain range and the Baltic shield. The mountain range has high and steep forms in the west, softer and lower terrain in the east. The highest peak is Galdhøpiggen (2,469 m above sea level). Glacial erosion characterizes the entire area, with U-valleys and fjords as typical forms. There are several glaciers; Jostedalsbreen with adjacent glaciers is the main glacier area in Europe. Glacial erosion and deposition also characterize the highlands of the British Isles. The Baltic Shield covers most of Sweden and Finland, the Kola Peninsula, Karelia and parts of southern and central Norway. The area is heavily degraded and strongly characterized by both glacial erosion and glacial deposits. Great lake wealth characterizes the landscape. To the southeast lies Ladoga, 18 180 km2Big. Archipelagos also belong to the character of the Baltic Shield.

Northern Europe

Most of Skåne with plains and hares belong geologically and morphologically to Western and Central Europe, which consists of lowlands from the North Sea to the Eastern European plain, often lower than 200 m above sea level. The terrain is characterized by moraine ridges and melting waterfalls (downstream valleys) from the latest icing. The area is drained into wide, shallow valleys by, among other things. Wisła, Elbe and the Rhine. South of the lowland lies a region of streams, low mountains and plateaus. To the west, the London, Aquitaine and Paris basins form lowlands drained by the Thames, Garonne, Loire and Seine. Cuesta landscapes are common, especially in the London and Paris basins as well as in southern Germany. To the east of the Aquitaine basin rises the Central Massif, where in the northwest there is an area of extinct volcanoes, Puy-de-Dôme, and in the southeast there are limestone plateaus with karst landscape. To the east of the Paris basin lies the Middle German mountains, which due to faults are well marked from the surrounding softly cool terrain. Riesengebirge in the Sudets is highest. The region also boasts the Bohemian Plateau (500–800 m above sea level). The tributary of the tide drains in the west in deep-cut valleys. To the south and east of the Middle German mountains are the Alps and the Carpathians. The Alps (with large areas higher than 3 500 m above sea level) have been iced and characterized by U-valleys, lakes such as Lake Maggiore and moraine deposits. Large glaciers are found in several places. The highest peak is Mont Blanc (4 807 meters above sea level). The Carpathians reach a maximum of about 2,600 meters above sea level. and has only a local trace of icing. Karst landscapes are common. Adjacent to the Alps and the Carpathians is the Vienna basin, which continues in the flat Alföld in Hungary and the Romanian lowlands, which are lowlands drained by the Danube with tributaries.

Southern Europe

Southern Europe consists of three large peninsulas and a number of larger and smaller islands. The Iberian Peninsula is largely a highland. It is restricted to the north by the Pyrenees, which reach 3 400 m above sea level. The central highlands, the mesetan, are 600–800 m above sea level; the Castilian Peninsula reaches 2,592 m above sea level. and Sierra Nevada in the south 3,482 m asl. The largest lowland areas are along the rivers. along Guadiana and Guadalquivir. The Apennine Peninsula is dominated by a mountain range from north to south. To the north lies the great Poslätten. Otherwise there are lowlands in the southeast and in a narrow zone along the coasts. The peninsula continues in Sicily with the active volcano Etna. The Balkan Peninsula is also mountainous. At its highest are Pirin in the Rhodesian Mountains (2,915 m above sea level) and Olympos in eastern Greece (2 917 m above sea level). Karst landscapes are common, especially in northern Serbia. Lowland areas are few, except towards the Danube and its tributaries as well as in the Maritsa valley. The Mediterranean island world is very diverse; there are mountainous islands such as Corsica, Sardinia, Crete and Kios (in the Aegean Archipelago), active volcanic islands such as Stromboli north of Sicily and low limestone islands such as the island group Malta.

The landforms of Iceland and the Faroe Islands can mostly be linked to volcanism. In eastern and western Iceland basalt plateaus form high-lying but flat terrain, which turns towards the sea in steep coastal cliffs. The Faroe Islands have the same terrain type. Central Iceland is characterized by active volcanism and has several large volcanoes (including Hekla) and hot springs. Vatnajökull in the southeast is Europe's largest glacier. Extensive sandy deposits are found along the south coast of Iceland.

Soil and soils

According to Countryaah, Europe forms part of the Eurasian continent and, like Asia, is characterized by an intricate geological structure and history. The complicated mosaic is caused by the fact that, from a small beginning, Europe was gradually built up by continental fragments, between which marine sediments and seabed fragments were compressed.

The oldest rock species are found in ancient indigenous mountains in eastern and northern Finland, in Russian Karelia and on the Kola Peninsula, with an age of between 2.5 and just over 3 billion years. Younger rocks (granites, gneisses, greenstones, etc.) were gradually added to this bedrock so that finally a large stable craton, ie. an area with mountain crust, formed, a block you can call Fennosarmatia. Today, the bedrock forms the bedrock surface of the Baltic Shield and the Ukrainian Shield, while the rest of the craton in the form of the Russian platform is covered by flat sedimentary rocks. These are set aside from Precambrian time to Quaternary time.

Towards the end of the Precambrian era, Fennosarmatia was linked to what is today equivalent of North America in a larger continent. During the oldest Paleozoic period, this continent was disrupted by the formation of an oceanic route, the Sea of Japan. However, the continental movement soon changed direction, and during the Silurian-Devonian period the two blocks collided with deformation of the intermediate bedrock in the Caledonian orogen (the rock formation zone), which now extends from Northern Norway to Ireland. A now deeply buried branch of unrest extends from the North Sea through Denmark and Northern Germany to Poland. The area of Caledonian bedrock is called Paleoeuropa.

Already during the younger Devon, the hercynic orogenesis (deformation period) began with new continental movements, which went on until the end of the perm. As a result, new collision zones, ie. orogener. In the east, the urological unrest was formed when Paleoe Europe and the Siberian continent block (craton) merged. In the south, Variskian and Armorican orogens built up Western and Central Europe with a material of southern microcontinental origin and intermediate, mainly younger paleozoic marine shales, etc., which cemented the parts together. The new part of Europe has been called Mesoeuropa. While older carbon was largely deposited by limestone and other marine sediments, younger carbon was characterized over large areas of moist forests and swamps, where sedimented plant material gave rise to important carbon flows. Perm was a period of dry mainland conditions. During the period, an extensive pen plan was developed in parts of Germany and the North Sea, probably also across the Nordic countries. a flackland carved into the bedrock. Pen planning was facilitated by extensive kaolinization (clay whitening) during the carbon period.

The sea that bounded Europe in the south after the hercynic orogenesis has long been called the Tethys Sea. In it, they often deposited calcareous and dolomitic sediments that later became part of the alpine bedrock. In younger perms, shallow but wide sea arms began to roll over Central Europe. Initially, lubrication and evaporation led to the deposition of rock salt and plaster. During Triassic and up to older Cretaceous, very fossil-rich sedimentary rocks were sometimes formed, often calcareous in the south, more sandy and slate in the north. During the younger Cretaceous, the sea expanded even more, and lime sedimentation dominated all the way up to southern Scandinavia.

The alpine orogenesis is usually counted from the younger Triassic until now. The faults up to a few kilometers high in Skåne were formed during the Cretaceous period. However, the truly gigantic movements, with the formation of the alpine orogen, have been concentrated to tertiary and quaternary times. New microcontinents and intermediate newer bedrock in the form of Mesozoic limestone and sandstones etc. have been added to Europe in the south and come to form Neoeuropa. Erosion material from the ascending Alps has been deposited as marine fly and continental molasses. In central Europe, the sedimentation of lime became the sedimentation of clay and sandstone, and the basin areas gradually shrunk. During tertiary and quaternary Europe from North America was divided by cracking approximately after the old Caledonian riots, forming the North Atlantic. The cracking was accompanied by a huge subsidence of the bottom of the North Sea, where a few thousand meters of muddy sediment was deposited. At the same time, there was a sharp increase in vast areas along the new Atlantic coast in Scandinavia and in the British Isles. Thereby tertiary ledge mountains were formed, ie. an elongated one-sided horst formed into mountain scenery through the erosion, in the old region of Caledonian bedrock in the Nordic countries: the scandals or the mountains.

In the once iced areas of northern Europe and the British Isles, the bedrock is covered by moraines and by soil formed in water, e.g. glacifluvial deposits, hot clay and peat. In other areas there are weathering soils.


Mountain earth moons occur, among other things. in the Scandinavian mountain range, the Alps and the Carpathians, but they have limited distribution. Nor are tundra earth moons common. However, they occur in the northernmost parts of the Russian Federation and Scandinavia. Expansive pod solar areas, on the other hand, exist, primarily in areas that have previously been iced. To the south of these, in Southeastern Europe follows a narrow belt with gray forest soil, a broad black earth belt and a belt with chestnut brown earth moons. The Black Earth Belt, if its continuation into Asia is counted on, contains about half of all black Earth found on the globe. It broadly coincides with the loose earth belt, ie. the area where thick deposits of mainly finmo were deposited with the wind during the quaternary icings.

In Western Europe brown soil dominates south of the pod soles. Brown earth also occurs here and was within the pod belt, e.g. in southern Scandinavia, where it was much more prevalent during the Holocene than it is now. Parts of the Iberian Peninsula have chestnut-brown soils, while so-called Mediterranean soil moons (terra rossa and others) occur in the Mediterranean coastal areas. They are highly variable, depending on precipitation and other climatic factors, weathering and soil erosion.


Europe's position between the Arctic Circle and the Circle, means that the most prevalent climates are of a temperate type. In the coastal zone along the Barents Sea there is polar climate, and in the Mediterranean region the climate is subtropical. As Europe is a peninsula in the Atlantic, its western part has a strong maritime feel, while the easternmost becomes continental. Europe's topography does not present any major obstacle for air masses from the sea to enter quite far across the continent. However, the Scandinavian mountain chain provides a certain orographic reinforcement of the rainfall on the west side and rain shadow effect in the east. The east-west mountain range in southern Europe, on the other hand, constitutes a barrier for air masses moving north or south.

Europe's position in relation to the large-scale pattern of air pressure centers and fronts is also of great importance for the climate. The low pressure in Iceland and the Azorean high pressure maintain a western air flow, which is strongest during the winter and especially affects the northwestern part of Europe. The introduction of air heated over the North Atlantic current (Gulf Stream) entails, among other things, that the January temperature on the coast stays around 0 °C up to 70 ° north latitude, and that the winter temperature is up to 20 °C higher than the normal latitude. The Russian high pressure and low pressure over the Mediterranean also affect neighboring parts of Europe. The North Atlantic polar front has a major impact on the climate through the cyclones that move in large numbers towards Scandinavia or with a more south-easterly direction into western Europe. They lead to a strong change in the weather, but also to bring warm air from the Atlantic over land. Cyclones from the Atlantic Arctic front can also come in with cooler weather as a result. Even over the Mediterranean, several cyclones move to the east during the winter and cause much rainfall, while the warm, sunny summer here is determined by the Azorean high pressure.

Europe can be divided into four different climates under the above conditions:

Maritime climate occurs in a narrow area in the west: western Norway, Iceland, the British Isles, Jutland, the Netherlands, Belgium, western France and northern Spain. The climate is characterized by mild winter, cool summer and abundant rainfall, especially on the western side of islands and heights. The rainfall falls predominantly in the fall and winter. The summer temperature varies according to latitude and altitude. Reykjavík's January and July temperatures are 0 °C and 11 °C, respectively, while La Coruna in northwestern Spain has 10 °C and 19 °C, respectively.

Temperate transition climate occurs in an area central through Europe. It is affected by both maritime air masses from the west and continental from the east and includes Sweden, eastern Norway, eastern France and central and southeastern Europe. The climate is characterized mainly by relatively cold winter and hot summer as well as rainfall throughout the year, but most of the summer. Snow falls in northern and higher areas, where it can remain. The rainfall varies between 500 and 2000 mm per year.

Continental climate occurs in eastern Europe, which covers the largest area. The climate is characterized by a winter that is long and cold, with a widespread snow cover. The coldest is in the northeast, where the January temperature is around −15 °C. The summer is warm, especially in the south-east, where the average temperature is around 25 °C. The temperature difference during the year, ie. the difference between the average temperature of the coldest and the warmest month is significant, between 15 °C and 30 °C. The rainfall mainly falls in the summer. In Moscow it is 575 mm per year, while the plains in the north and south-east only get half and therefore are significantly drier.

Mediterranean climate occurs in a mostly narrow coastal area in southern Europe. It has subtropical character and is characterized by mild and humid winters as well as hot and dry summers with clear skies. In July, the temperature is around 25 °C, in January 10 °C. The rainfall falls during the winter and the amount is affected by the topography. The western sides of the peninsula and islands receive more than 1,000 mm per year, Rome has 760 mm and Athens 400 mm per year.

Plant Life

The whole of Europe is counted on the holarchic flora kingdom. The coastal areas of the Northern Arctic Ocean in northern Scandinavia and Russia belong to the Arctic tundra region, which is species-poor and floristically homogeneous. Most species are either Arctic (often circumpolar) or Arctic-alpine, that is, also occurs in mountain areas further south. Arctic circumpolar species include, for example, snowgrass and patchonuncle, arctic-alpine among other purple herring and isranuncle.

The European part of the boreal coniferous forest belt, the tajgan (in the north of the northern coniferous forest region), includes Scandinavia south to about the Dalälven, almost all of Finland and most of Russia. Spruce and pine forest dominate and large areas are covered by marshes. For example, of deciduous trees are birch, al and aspen. Many species, such as linen, squash and forest freckles, have circumboreal distribution, that is, occur in the coniferous forests throughout the Northern Hemisphere, others are Eurosibirian, that is, spread throughout the northern part of the Euro-Asian continent.

The forest boundary is formed by mountain birch, which in southern Norway reaches up to about 1,200 m above sea level. and in Swedish Lapland to about 700 m above sea level. The Scandinavian mountain chain houses about 250 species of veneerogams, mainly Arctic and Arctic-alpine; a smaller group of about 30 species with main distribution in Greenland and in Arctic North America is considered to have survived ice ages at refuges in western and northern Norway.

Mixed coniferous and deciduous forests, the boreo-nemoral zone, the southern coniferous forest region, covers southern Sweden (to the Skåne border), the Baltic States and Belarus. It transitions into the western and central European deciduous forest area, the nemoral zone, which extends east in a wedge to the Ural Mountains. Among the forest-forming deciduous trees is the book, which has subatlantic distribution and often forms pure populations. The beech forest has a characteristic sub-vegetation of herbs and grasses, which largely follow the book's distribution (for example musk mud and puffins). Other important deciduous trees are species of oak, ash, elm, avenbok, lime and maple. Ash, lime and (forest) oak are more continental than beech and occur east to central Russia. The European deciduous forest area is generally poorer in tree species than the corresponding areas in North America and East Asia, probably a consequence of the ice ages. Almost all forest in Europe is strongly influenced by culture.

In Central Europe's mountainous regions (Alps, Pyrenees, Carpathians), the low-mountain deciduous forest is replaced by high-mountain coniferous forests with spruce, pine, larch and fir trees, then a subalpine zone with mountain pine and birch (Aʹlnus viʹridis) and a low alpine zone with rhododendron. Above the tree line there is a large element of arctic-alpine species (for example, dwarf willow and mountain sip) and many local endemics, for example in the genera gentian, alp bells and rapuncles.

The most prominent Atlantic areas from Western Norway to Portugal are partly naturally forestless and are characterized by heaths, including heather and shrubs of the family pea plants (for example ginst, harris and pea thorn) which are frost sensitive. The rainfall is abundant with leaching and pod insulation as a result. Typical Atlantic species in the Swedish flora are bell-heather and marsh lily. Pors has similar distribution, but is also found around the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. Due to the mild winters, some Mediterranean species occur, such as strawberries north to southern England and Ireland. The evergreen holly occurs up to about 63 ° north latitude in western Norway.

In the Central European deciduous forest area, the climate is somewhat more continental, the leaching of the soil is less and brown soils dominate. Examples of Central European species are windswept, while, for example, the crossroads are slightly more easterly, with emphasis in Russia.

To the east and south-east, climatic conditions become more pronounced continental. A mosaic of forest steppe forms transition to the grass steppe on loose soil (black soil) in southern Russia and Ukraine with a western foothill in the Hungarian breath. Prolonged post-summer drought is considered to be the main reason why the steppe is naturally woodless. Some Pontic Central Asian steppe species outpost premises Öland and Gotland (such pheasant's eye and ullsmörblomma) or in Singapore (spring grass).

The Mediterranean region forms a distinct plant geographic region, which in terms of vegetation was originally characterized by evergreen oak and pine forests. Stenek occurs throughout the Mediterranean region, cork oak in the west and kermesek mainly in the east.

Decades of forest degradation and grazing of sheep and goats have now led the area to be dominated by low, bush-like pine forests (macchia) or pillow-shaped, often spiny shrubs (garrigue, frogs). Many species are aromatic, such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, layers and myrtle. The area is rich in annual herbs and onion and tuber plants (including many orchids), which usually bloom in spring (March - May) and wilt completely during the summer. Winter is almost frost-free, and many species are green throughout the winter, while the hot and dry summer is a resting period.

The cultivation landscape is characterized by, among other things, olive groves and winter terraces; both olive and grapevine occur in wild form in the eastern Mediterranean. Cypress has its natural western border in Crete but is cultivated everywhere in the Mediterranean. Other introduced plants that often characterize the landscape are agave (from southwestern North America) and eucalyptus (from Australia).

In mountainous regions, the macchia or garrigue vegetation is replaced by deciduous forests, often chestnut or oak at altitudes between about 500 and 900 m above sea level. Species of the fir tree are local forest-forming in different parts of the area (Spanish fir in southwestern Spain, Sicilian fir in Sicily and Greek fir in Greece). Beech forest occurs all the way to southern Italy and central Greece at altitudes between about 1,000 and 1,700 m above sea level. On grasslands, in grasslands and on rocky terrain above the forest border, the flora is rich in species with local distribution.

The flora of Europe comprises a total of about 12,000 species of veneerogames. The species number is highest in the Mediterranean countries, between 4,500 and 5,000 in each of Spain, France, Italy, Greece and the former Yugoslavia, compared with around 1,500 in Norway, 1,700 in Sweden and 1,800 in the UK. Species with limited local distribution (endemic) are largely absent to the north of the Alps but are common in the mountainous regions of Central Europe, and in particular on mountains and islands in the Mediterranean. In Greece, approximately 740 of the species are endemic to the country.


Europe forms part of the Palarctic fauna region and is thus not a separate animal geographic unit. The fauna has much in common with that of the other Palarctic (North Asia and North Africa) but also with that in North America; the number of endemic species and groups is therefore low compared to other continents. For example, there is not a single endemic family of vertebrates in Europe.

Wildlife, like the vegetation, has been greatly affected by the repeated icing of the quarter. During these, most animals were forced to retreat as the vegetation zones were moved south and east. The mountain ranges, especially the east-west orientations (Alps, Pyrenees and Caucasus), and the Mediterranean were insurmountable obstacles to some species, which died out. However, repeated, forced isolations during the ice ages also constituted a breeding ground for species formation, especially among the invertebrates.

Until the latter part of the last ice age, there was a much richer mammalian fauna in Europe than we see today. Then mammoths, cave bear, cave bear, cave lion, woolly rhino, wild horses, saiga antelope, steppe visent, musk ox and giant deer roam on European soil, species that are now extinct or disappeared from the continent (musk ox and saiga antelope). Their disappearance was largely due to climate change, but humans played a significant role in the disappearance of at least some species.

After the ice age, man has even more radically affected Europe's animal world through hunting, and through major changes in natural vegetation. The extensive destruction of deciduous forests and wetlands has been particularly important in this regard.

Today, Europe houses up to 180 native species of mammals (including 22 whales and 8 seals) and 25 introduced species; In addition, about 10 species have been temporarily observed (whales and bats). Of the land mammals, rodents, insect eaters and bats make up three quarters of the species.

About 675 species of birds have been observed, of which about 460 species breed here. Of these non-breeding species, the majority are only occasional visitors, but a small proportion are those who regularly move through Europe on their way to and from breeding quarters in mainly Siberia.

In Europe, there are also about 100 species of reptiles, about 50 species of amphibians, 215 species of freshwater fish (of which about 80 carp fish) and about 100,000 species of insects.

In the Northern Arctic Ocean, narval and white whale live, as well as several species of seals: greenland seals, large seals, bays, blue seals and walrus. The food base consists of live fish, molluscs and crustaceans. The seals, in turn, are staple food for polar bears. Ice gulls are also present on the packing masses. On the islands of the Northeast Atlantic, there are huge colonies of rock-nesting birds, such as alcs, three-headed gulls, seabirds, cormorants and gulls.

Tundra and mountain heath in Iceland, Spetsbergen, Frans Josef's land, Novaja Zemlja and the mainland's iceberg coast and in the Scandinavian mountain range are home to quantities of waders, ducks and geese during the summer, which utilize the summer production of insects, small crustaceans and plants. Here you will also find mountain fox, reindeer, wolverine, mountain owl, mountain ridge, falcon, labar, silver tern and snow sparrow. Virtually all of these animals, however, are forced to move more or less far south during the winter. The snow and, above all, the darkness prevents food searches, and the summer is too short for the animals to be able to store enough energy to cope with a winter hibernation.

Mountain lemons and dragonflies, which are herbivores, endure the tundra all year round and are active during the winter under the snow. The fish fauna is poor in species, but here, among other things, there are trout and several sickle species. Fertilizers and crawfish are virtually absent in the region; only ordinary frogs can live in the peripheral areas. The insect fauna is relatively poor in species, but mosquitoes in particular are very individual.

The boreal coniferous forest belt, the taiga, from central Norway and Norrland to the Ural Mountains, is home to a wide range of forest animals that feed on plants: moose, brown bear, forest sharks, squirrels, flying squirrels, tigers, boars, jerps, lava screams and several woodpeckers and crossbows. These, in turn, serve as a food base for a number of predators: lion, wolf (now few in the Nordic countries), forest meadow, sable (now only furthest east), patch owl, slag owl, king eagle, osprey and pigeon hawk. In the pigeon region, too, many birds in particular use the summer production of biomass for breeding, while they spend the winter in subtropical or tropical areas. These include, for example, cranes, several ducks, waders, pipe larks, singers and thrushes.

The Nemoral Zone, the deciduous forest area, is today largely cultivated, and the original fauna has been displaced into small, isolated enclaves. Typical mammals in the deciduous forest environment are deer, deer (originally found in southern Europe, where it was exterminated during the Stone Age but later reintroduced to Europe from Asia), deer, wild boar, red fox, badger, otter, ferret, wild cat (now mostly extinct meadow) beaver, hedgehog and mole.

In the deciduous forests of ancient Europe, there were dense populations of grazing ungulates, which meant that the forests were in many places broken by grassy glades. Here there were also uroxes and visants, who were otherwise mostly open-land animals. Uroxe disappeared in most places during the 13th century, and the last specimen died in the Jaktorow Forest in Poland in 1627. Apparently close to meeting the same fate, but via a dozen survivors in zoos, the species could be rescued and is now available again game in the Białowież Forest in Poland – Belarus and the Carpathians.

Typical birds in the deciduous forest area are snake deer, sparrow hawk, larch falcon, rapeseed, ring pigeon and forest pigeon, cat owl, blue crow, several woodpecker, summer gull, quay, nightingaleas well as many singers, flycatchers and knives. There are a number of frog and crawfish in the region, but compared to corresponding life zones in other continents, the species number is low. A large number of insects have developed depending on old, dead or dying deciduous trees. In today's small and well-managed forests, there are rarely these environments left, with the result that many wood insects risk being eradicated or have already disappeared.

Within the deciduous forest zone there are many nutritious and often reed-rich smooth lakes with, among other things, rich bird fauna and noisy frog fauna. Only a few animal species, including some introduced, have succeeded in adapting to today's extreme agricultural landscape. These include red fox, field hare, wild rabbit (introduced from the southwestern Mediterranean), pheasant (introduced from Asian mountains), tassel whip, song larch and field cork.

The steppes in south-eastern Europe are now practically fully cultivated, and thus even those animals that have not been able to adapt to the agricultural landscape are banished to small residual areas. Typically, the presence of many burrowing animals: Gopher, speckled ground squirrel, hamsters, gray dwarf, blind rats, Bobak marmot (now virtually extinct in Europe), steppe polecat and the marbled polecat. These animals play a crucial role in soil mixing and in transporting nutrients to the soil surface.

Others live on the ground, as plant and seed eaters or as predators, and breed or lay their nests directly on the ground. Nowadays, the most matter of birds, such as the great bustard, Demoiselle Crane, Black-Winged Pratincole and sociable lapwing. Originally, there were also several ungulates, but today they have largely disappeared. Saiga antelope was near extinction in the early 1900s, but was rescued after active protection. The half-ox died out in Europe in the 18th century, while the wild horse tarp remained in Ukraine until 1918.

Wildlife in Southern and Central Europe's mountain regions is a mixture of the fauna of one's own and of other vegetation zones. Many species, especially among the invertebrates, today have relict populations (from the ice ages) that are now otherwise only found at northern latitudes. Among pure rock types include chamois, ibex, alpine marmot, lammergeier (successfully reintroduced to the Alps), stone chicken, grouse, stone thrush, wallcreeper, lemon Kingdom, white-winged snowfinch and alpine salamander.

Since prehistoric times, the Mediterranean fauna has been strongly influenced by human activities and landscape transformation. During Hellenistic times, there were still lions in southeastern Europe; the last disappeared around the birth of Christ. Larger mammals are found today mainly in mountain regions and islands: Iberian Capricorn on the Iberian Peninsula, the cattle herd in Crete (now mostly mixed with domesticated), mufflon sheep in Sardinia and Corsica (also transplanted in, for example, Southern Spain and mainland Italy), pantherlo in Iberian peninsula, genet in southwestern Europe, wolf (scattered), golden shackles in the Balkan peninsula and wild boar (widespread). Munksäl was previously found throughout the Mediterranean, but it is now rare but on the way back.

The bird fauna, at least in southeastern and southwestern Europe, is still relatively rich with, for example, pelicans, flamingos, vultures, stilt-runners, treasure hunters, dwarf goats, bee-eaters, many singers, blue-breasted and Mediterranean stone-washed.

The frog and herbivorous fauna are rich. Particularly within the lizard family laceration times, a large species differentiation has occurred, and a large number of species are endemic in small geographical areas. Furthermore, there are five species of terrestrial and freshwater turtles and a chameleon.

The insect fauna, especially the dry land adapted, is very rich in European conditions. There are relatively few lakes in the Mediterranean, but Lake Ochrida on the border between Greece and Albania is especially worth mentioning, because of its high age it has developed a peculiar fauna with many endemic forms, in particular of invertebrates.

Natural Resources

Europe has many, but often small, mining opportunities for the extraction of metals (see section Mineral production). However, the iron ore deposits are significant. The largest are in Kryvyj Rih in Ukraine and in Kursk about 500 km south of Moscow. Kursk has one of the world's largest magnetic anomalies, which indicates a very large iron ore supply. Other important assets are nickel, zinc, cobalt and copper in a belt from eastern Finland to the Skellefte field in Sweden and similar assets on the Kola Peninsula. The Navan in Ireland has Europe's largest known zinc supply. Larger copper assets are also found in Poland. Of precious metals, gold is found in Sweden (Skellefte field) and in northern Spain, silver in Poland and silver and gold in Sierra Morena in southern Spain. Of other breakable occurrences are rock salts and potassium salts in Germany as well as phosphate resources on the Kola Peninsula (apatite) and in Estonia are of greatest importance.

Europe has relatively large energy resources (compare the section Energy). Intensive underground mining of coal has sometimes caused large settlements in the ground. Mining of coal is done in open-pit mines, which, like the use of lignite, presents serious environmental problems. Ireland, Sweden, Finland and the Russian Federation have large areas of peatland. However, mining of peat causes major interference in the landscape and in the ecological and hydrological balance. Geothermal energy is mainly used in Iceland, but also in Italy (Tuscany) and in France.

The rivers in the Pyrenees, the Alps and Scandinavia as well as in the Russian Federation are important energy resources. The rivers in the Mediterranean have uneven water flow, which makes their exploitation difficult. Important, however, is the use of rivers here for irrigation. In Western and Central Europe, the rivers are important transport routes. Many are also connected to channels.

The natural vegetation is always a resource in itself. Economically, the coniferous forests in Sweden, Finland and the Russian Federation are of the greatest importance. Tundra and alpine meadows are important natural pastures. Most of Europe's arable land is cultivated. Most important are the brown soils in northwestern Europe and the loose soil belt from northern France via Hungary to Ukraine with their brown and black soils. However, the loose soils are seriously affected by soil erosion, which has been exacerbated by the creation of large fields, for example. in connection with the collectivization of agriculture in the former Eastern Europe.

Nature conservation

Throughout Europe, nature reserves and national parks have been set aside to protect the original fauna and flora. In 2017, there were a total of about 27,000 protected areas within the Natura 2,000 project. These comprise about 1 million km2 (about 9 percent of the continent's land area). Of these, 236 were so-called biosphere reserves (allocated under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere program).

In 1982, the Convention on the Protection of Europe's Wildlife and Plants and Their Environments (the Bern Convention) came into force. The countries that have signed the Convention undertake, inter alia, to make special efforts to protect the specially protected wild plants and animals that are included in the Convention's lists. The EU is working on a framework to protect all animals and plants and their environments in EU areas. The EU has approved and participates as a party to the Berne Convention, the CITES (Convention for the Regulation of Trade in Endangered Animals and Plants) and the Bonn Convention (Convention on the Protection of Moving Wild Species).

Countries in Europe
  1. Aland
  2. Albania
  3. Andorra
  4. Austria
  5. Belarus
  6. Belgium
  7. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  8. Bulgaria
  9. Croatia
  10. Czech Republic
  11. Denmark
  12. Estonia
  13. Faroe Islands
  14. Finland
  15. France
  16. Germany
  17. Greece
  18. Hungary
  19. Iceland
  20. Ireland
  21. Italy
  22. Kosovo
  23. Latvia
  24. Liechtenstein
  25. Lithuania
  26. Luxembourg
  27. Malta
  28. Moldova
  29. Monaco
  30. Montenegro
  31. Netherlands
  32. Northern Macedonia
  33. Norway
  34. Poland
  35. Portugal
  36. Romania
  37. Russia
  38. San Marino
  39. Serbia
  40. Slovakia
  41. Slovenia
  42. Spain
  43. Sweden
  44. Switzerland
  45. Ukraine
  46. United Kingdom
  47. Vatican City

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