7 Weird Things about Europe
Europe, know as the ‘Old Continent’, is one of the smallest continents, with only a little over ten million square kilometers, and covering only 6.8% of Earth’s land surface. However, Europe was the host of ancient civilizations, and as they say, it “has lived a little”. No wonder that Europe has a lot of weird details and things to discuss about. Here is the top 7 most interesting details about Europe.
7 | Istanbul, the city that spans over two continents
Since antiquity, Constantinople represented the link between Asia and Europe via Bosporus. The city was officially named Istanbulin 1930, and it is the only one in the world that spans over two continents. This makes it perfect for tourists that want to have breakfast in Asia, and coffee inEurope. Over time,Istanbulwas the capital of several empires. Napoleon Bonaparte said that “if the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be the capital”.
6 | Europe has the most famous and most active volcanoes in the world
Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe, located in southern Italy, in Sicily. With a height of almost 11,000 feet, Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Eruptions of this volcano have been noted since antiquity, even in 1500 BC, the longest period of documented eruptions of a volcano. Other volcanoes known worldwide for their intense activity are Stromboli (according to experts is the only active volcano on Continental Europe), Vesuvius (known for destroying Pompeii), and Vatnajökull (Europe’s largest glacier, located inIceland).
5 | The smallest and the largest country in the world
In Europe there are both the world’s smallest state -Vatican City, and the largest -Russia. With over 17 million square kilometers,Russia occupies 11.5% of the Earth. Meanwhile, the Vatican covers 0.44 square kilometers, and is part of UNESCO World Heritage, the only monument that includes an entire state.
4 | The name ‘Europe’ and its controversial origin
Europa was a beautiful Phoenician princess, daughter of King Agenor in the Greek mythology. Enchanted by her beauty, Zeus (the god of the gods) planned to kidnap her, so he turned into a magnificent white bull. Europa straddled the bull, and Zeus took her to Crete, where he showed himself. The land that the beautiful princess was brought to received her name. Etymologically speaking, the name “Europe” has an uncertain origin, some giving it a Semitic origin, others a Celtic or Greek. One hypothesis suggests an origin from the Greek word ‘spread’ (eur-) and ‘eye’ (op-, opt-), and from here ‘Europe’.
3 | The Mediterranean was a desert
In the past 40 years, scientists have found compelling evidence that the Mediterranean Sea has completely evaporated six million years ago, a period called “Messinian crisis”. The Strait of Gibraltar was fully closed, turning the Mediterranean into a huge salty lake that later evaporated. If the Strait of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal would be closed again, the Mediterranean would evaporate completely in almost a thousand years.
2 | The great empires of history have started in Europe
Many of the great empires in history have had bases on the Old Continent. The British Empire was once the largest in the world. It was said at that time that within the empire, “the sun never sets”, because some areas were always sunny. Other remarkable colonial empires were the Spanish Empire, Russia, France, and the Empire of Portugal. Finally, the Roman Empire, described as “the cradle of the modern civilization”, was founded in the same geographical area.
1 | Settlements with the longest name
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is the official name of a village in the Wales, but one of the abbreviations used is Llanfair PG. With 58 letters, it is the longest name in Europe, and among the top three in the world. Other places with similar names are Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä in Finland, Siemieniakowszczyzna in Poland, and Newtownmountkennedy inIreland.