Geographically Europe is a part of the larger landmass known as
The continent begins at the Ural Mountains in
Russia, which define Europe's eastern boundary with
The southeast boundary with Asia isn't universally defined. Either the
Emba rivers can serve as possible boundaries.
The boundary continues with the
Caspian Sea, and either the
Kuma and Manych rivers or the
Caucasus mountains as possibilities, and on to the
Black Sea; the Bosporus, the
Sea of Marmara, and the
Dardanelles conclude the Asian boundary. The
to the south separates Europe from Africa. The western boundary is the
Atlantic Ocean, but Iceland,
much farther away than the nearest points of
Africa and Asia, is also included in Europe.
There is ongoing debate on where the
geographical centre of Europe
In practice, the borders of Europe are often drawn with greater regard to political, economic, and other cultural considerations. This has led to there being several different Europes that are not always identical in size, including or excluding countries according to the definition of Europe used.
Almost all European countries are members of the Council of Europe, the exceptions being Belarus, and the Holy See (Vatican City).
The idea of the European continent is not held across all cultures. Some non-European geographical texts refer to the continent of Eurasia, or to the European peninsula, given that Europe is not surrounded by sea and is, in any case, much more a cultural than a geographically definable area. In the past concepts such as Christendom were deemed more important.
In another usage, Europe is increasingly being used as a short-form for the European Union (EU) and its members, currently consisting of 25 member states. A number of other European countries are negotiating for membership, and several more are expected to begin negotiations in the future (see Enlargement of the European Union).
Sources: University World and Wikipedia