Large, oddly-shaped and densely populated peninsula
jutting out of West Asia
, usually and justifiably considered a separate contitent
due to its immense geographic, racial, historical, and cultutal differences. Europe includes a number of major subpeninsulas, such as Jutland
, and the Balkan
landmasses. Due to the many twists and turns of its coastlines, as well as the large number of rivers, it should be no surprise that European civilization has been seafaring
for many millennia, and thus inhabited islands such as the British Isles
, and the Mediterranean
islands are also considered part of Europe. While it should be of no concern to humanity, models of continental drift
predict that Europe will cease to exist at some point during the next 50 million years, as the African Plate
pushes northward. Yet this temporary feature of Earth has had a remarkable impact on this world's intelligent life
, as various species of sentient hominids
have made Europe their home for at least tens of thousands of years. Our species
, the only one left, has arguably achieved more great leaps forward in science
here than on any other continent during the last 3,000 years.
In recorded history, Europe has been the world's primary technological, economic, and military power during two different time periods. The first period extended from the rise of classical Greek civilization in about 900 BC to the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D.. Europe then entered the so-called "Dark Ages", a period of economic depression fueled by a minor ice age and decreased interest in the secular world associated with the rise of Christianity. The second period of dominance began in approximately 1500, during the time known as the Renaissance. Warriors returning from the Crusades had been bringing back tales of the advanced science and culture of the prospering Middle East for some time, but only as the 15th century came to a close did Europe's achievements (discovery of the New World, the science of Copernicus and Descartes, the paintings and sculptures of Renaissance Italy, etc.), begin to eclipse those of the Middle East and India. What followed was hundreds of years of unbelievable prosperity and discovery, coupled with some of the most violent warfare in the history of mankind, as nations, ideas, and religions clashed. This warfare eventually brought Europe's second era of world dominance to a close in the early 20th century, whereupon the two superpowers emerged to its west and east. Although devastated by two world wars, the rise of the totalitarian state, and the loss of virtually all overseas colonies, most of Europe recovered relatively quickly and the continent remains one of the most developed and prosperous regions of Earth.