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Europe is a heavily populated continent, with most people living in cities concentrated in geographically favorable areas. The countries have diverse histories and cultures. While each country tries to maintain its national identity, the region is moving toward European unity.

Population Patterns

Europe has a diverse population with many ethnic groups. While these groups live together peacefully in most countries, ethnic tensions exist on the Balkan Peninsula. Europeans are working toward greater unity, based on a commitment to democracy and free markets. The population density is greater in Europe than on any other continent except Asia, with most people concentrated in areas with fertile soil, favorable climates, mineral resources, and inland waterways. The Industrial Revolution changed Europe to an urban society. Cities today face problems of overcrowding and pollution, but they also are combining old and new ways of life in unique ways. Labor shortages during the 1950s and 1960s brought many immigrants to Europe. Despite these immigrants, Europe_s overall population is shrinking.

History and Government

Because of the closeness to the sea and passes through mountain ranges, people have easily moved and settled in the region. The first humans lived in Europe more than a million years ago. Early cultures include ancient Greece and Rome. By the late A.D. 300s, Christianity began to dominate European history, although Judaism and Islam also influenced the region. Feudalism replaced centralized governments during the Middle Ages. The Renaissance brought many scientific advances and explorations into other regions of the world. Political and economic revolutions spread the ideals of democracy and brought industrial capitalism and communism. At the end of two world wars, Europe became divided into communist and non-communist countries, but communism collapsed during the 1990s. The European Union continues to bring the people of the region closer together.

Cultures and Lifestyles

Although Europe is the second smallest continent, it has one of the longest histories and richest cultures in the world. Its history begins in Ancient Rome and stretches all the way to the 21st century of today. From Bach to the Beatles, from Leonardo da Vinci to Picasso, Europe_s culture has reflected on many other countries around the world including the United States. Here are some examples of European culture both old and new.


The artistic history of Europe is extremely rich and has had a major impact on the rest of the world. Prehistoric art has been found in caves of southern France and northern Spain. As the center of civilization shifted to Western Europe in the 1600s, the art also changed. The conflict between Protestant and Roman Catholic churches led to the development of a style of art known as Baroque. Leaders of politics and the Roman Catholic church used this art to influence the way people thought. Because of rapid urban and industrial growth during the 1700s and early 1800s, artists dealt less with religious views and shifted more to the struggles of humanity. During the mid-1800s, a style known as realism came about. This style tried to portray life as it truly was. Artistic styles since 1900 have shown up in Europe. Painters and sculptors have cared less about telling a story with their art and more about the total impact. They have developed styles with no actual objects or figures, but show feeling or mood. Although art has had a major impact on Europe, so has music.


Music in Europe varies greatly, from monks chanting a hymn to the Rolling Stones who „can_t get no satisfaction“. Music in Europe was mainly music for the church earlier in history. Composers, such as Thomas Tallis and William Byrd of Britain, would compose madrigals, choral, string, and keyboard works for the church. The man who broke this continuous cycle was Ludwig van Beethoven. He created music that people would listen to just because they enjoyed it, instead of hearing it at church or a social gathering. Another brilliant composer from Europe was Johann Sebastian Bach. He was considered one of the greatest composers of baroque music, which hit its peak in the 1700s. Bach brought counterpoint, which is playing two or more melodies at one time, and fugue, which is where different instruments play the same melody with slight variations, to music. Recent European music stars include the Beatles, with their first hit „Love Me Do“, in 1963. The Beatles continued to be a major influence on music until they split up in 1970. Music has had a huge impact on the world_s culture as well as Europe_s, but literature has also played a large role.

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