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2013-01-15 What is Europe.docx

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Geography 2050A/B
Mireya Folch- Serra

What is Europe? January 15, 2013 What exactly constitutes Europe? • What are its boundaries? • What is the “Europe” of this course? • Europe is analyzed from the social, political, and historical perspective • It is therefore a course on the cultural geography of the European continent Objectives The course is designed to acquaint you with subjects such as: 1. Frontiers, boundaries and the claims of national minorities 2. Cultural and linguistic differences of European peoples 3. European identities (cultural and political) 4. European integration (EU) and minority rights Europe and change • We will discuss territorial and political transformations in Europe at three geographical scales: 1. Supranational (the European Union) 2. national (the nation-states of Europe) 3. sub-national (minority nations and regions) Some examples embedded in European history • Germany (mainly Berlin) • Spain (mainly Barcelona) • France • After the break emphasis on the EU • Most importantly, notice that this course deals with the geography of: o Cultural, o Political, and o Social aspects of Europe The limits of Europe: some arbitrary decisions The Ural line The borders withAsia • Europe blends intoAsia • The flat landscapes of Northern Germany and Poland continue unchanged for hundreds of Kilometres into Russia • Only the Urals mark a frontier between Europe andAsia Areas of little European impact • Russia • Ex-Soviet nations • European fringe around the Mediterranean • Turkey • Areas of WestAsian influence • But these judgements are arbitrary…like drawing lines on the map Europeans and their relationship to the natural environment Influence of Geological and physical factors 1. Population distribution 2. Economic activity 3. Settlement sites 4. Boundaries 5. Resource distribution Changing climate* • Mountains have a profound effect on the potential for human settlement • Mountain range: o Alps, Pyrenees, Apennines *Zermatt, Switzerland. Above 100 years ago. Glacier shown in 1888 painting does not exist anymore Zermatt, Switzerland. Hundred years. Glacier shown above of 1880 painting does not exist anymore First agricultural settlements in Asia 8 to 7,000 years before our era (BC) It took 4,000 slow years to reach the extreme west of Europe Agricultural production Northern limits of selected crops PHYSICAL REGIONS OF EUROPE Population distribution • People are not evenly arranged across the landscape • Less people in mountains, more people in valleys. Why? This is just an overview of Europe’s physical geography. The emphasis of this course is on the historical and human geography of Europe. Economic activity • Landform distribution explains people’s activities • Mountains block or channel winds (effect on climate) • Major mountains east-west (Alps, Pyrenees) • Mountains of Northern Europe run North South (Norway, Sweden) Settlement sites • Many towns and cities originate in antiquity (Roman and Greek settlements) or the MiddleAges (Christian Era) • Places where rivers could be easily crossed or where they flowed to the sea were early location sites Boundaries • Boundaries are usually determined by “natural” frontiers: o Crests of mountains, waterways, valleys • Switzerland independence and neutrality defended by the highest elevations of theAlps and Jura mountains Physical geographic regions of Europe The Highlands: 1. The Fenno-Scandian Shield (northern Finland and Sweden) 2. The Caledonian formations (most of Norway) 3. The Hercynian formations (much of Central Europe) 4. TheAlpine formations (France, Italy, Switzerland andAustria) Origins of the European peoples Greek and Roman Heritage Europe as territorial grounds of classical civilizations -Parthenon – temple on theAthenian Acropolis Greek civilization • The Greeks built an amazing empire around the Mediterranean, plus some fringe areas, like Britain Aristotle Archimedes The ancien
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