Where is Europe?

In a previous post, I have defined “country”. Here I will define what makes a country a part of Europe.

Europe is a continent with identity problems. Most continents are clearly identiefiable landmasses, like Africa or America (Whether South and North America are one or two continents is a different question). Europe is actually a penninsula of the Eurasian “mother” continent, with defined borders (the Ural mountains and river and the Caucasus mountains), but it is not a large island like for example Australia.

Who gets to define what’s Europe? The European Union (which some people confuse with Europe) has claimed the right to define what a European country is, and will not accept what it calls non-European countries. The EU refused Morocco the candidate status, since Morocco is not in Europe. But Cyprus is, geographically, a part of Asia, and its a member of the EU. So is Malta, and its on the African continental plate (as are Italy and Spain, actually). And Armenia is a member of the Council of Europe, which implicitely recognises Armenia as a European country, even though its on the Asian side of the Caucasus. Murky, again.

The border of Europe is clearly visible in Iceland

As far as the EU is concerned then, any country that geographically is even partially in Europe, like Kazakhstan, Turkey or Iceland (half Iceland is in America), counts as European. But since Cyprus and Armenia, that are not a bit in Europe, are included, then perhaps its the cultural European identity that defines a country as European? Well, then New Zealand would be the most European country of all, and no one would claim New Zealand as part of Europe.

Once again, football to the rescue! This time – the UEFA. It allows countries to play in the European football competitons based on their belonging to Europe, and is very strict about it. Like the EU, UEFA includes Armenia, Cyprus and Malta but will go no further. The only exception they make is for Israel because of rather special circumstances. Biased as I am, this exception suits me well, since it allows me to count Israel in as a small European country (I will get to the definition of “small” in due time). I assume that in due time, the EU will make the same exception.

Therefore, in this weblog a European country is defined as a member of UEFA.

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7 Comments

Filed under Europe, Small European things

7 responses to “Where is Europe?

  1. Alex Diamis

    You haven’t visited Israel lately dear Brother. Nothing suits Israel less now than Small European Country… A-Salam Alayqum Wa Barakat Ulla. And you forgot the fact that the EU can make exeptions for Israel – but Israel will refuse joining the EU as a full member or even a European country due to the Racial fact that troubles Israel. No non Jews are welcome to stay for long. Have a nice european Day! 🙂

    • Ha! It’s you then who haven’t been to small European countries lately. Otherwise you’d know. In the future, I will devote more blogging to this topic.

  2. Interesting point. Some geographers give up on it and speak instead of Eurasia, or even Afro-Eurasia

    • Well, yes, but that’s geography. Geologically, there’s no separation between Asia and Europe. Italy and Spain belong geologically to Africa. However, the definition of “Europe” has always been more a political one.

  3. I was aiming to compliment you on an interesting post. I’m sorry if it reads as a criticism.

    • Oh, no, I haven’t seen it as a criticism at all. I am a geophysicist myself, so I know all too well that geographically, Europe is just a peninsula of Eurasia. My point here is exactly that – that geographers have no say in defining the borders of Europe. Whether it is good or bad I do not wish to consider.

      Thank you for the compliment, and I appreciate your contirbution to the discussion.

  4. Pingback: “Europe’s high points” – another man’s view on “what is Europe” | Small European Country

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