Western Europe Chapter 7 Western Europe Western Europe is made up of seven countries: France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. They are located in the middle latitudes, between 43° and 55° north. Western Europe The North Sea and the English Channel lie to the north of western Europe. The countries of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary lie to the east of western Europe. The Mediterranean Sea and the countries of southern Europe lie to the south of western Europe. The Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean lie to the west of western Europe. Western Europe Western Europe's location has helped it influence the world. It is near both Africa and some parts of Asia. For hundreds of years, people and goods have traveled to North and South America from western Europe's many ports. Explorers and settlers left these ports on long sea voyages around the world. These voyages spread European beliefs, cultures, and languages. Western Europe World War I, which was fought between 1914 and 1918, took place in western Europe. About 20 years later, World War II, which took place between 1939 and 1945, was also fought partly in western Europe. These two wars were the largest ones people have ever fought. Millions of people died. Western Europe Western Europe has three physical regions. The largest region is the Central Lowlands. Geographers call it the Northern European Plain. This fairly flat area extends from southern England to the Ural Mountains in Russia. Western Europe The region is almost totally flat in the Netherlands, but somewhat hilly everywhere else. Most Europeans live in this region. It has Europe's biggest cities and most of the industry. It also has the biggest transportation system, such as roads, highways, and railways. Western Europe The second physical region of western Europe is the Central Uplands. It lies between the Central Lowlands and the Alps Mountains. This region stretches from the Atlantic coast of Spain to Poland. It includes central and eastern France. It also includes the Black Forest and the Bohemian Forest areas of southern Germany. Western Europe The third physical region of western Europe is the Alps. These mountains stretch far beyond western Europe. When people think of the Alps, they think of Switzerland. However, the Alps also cover parts of southeastern France, northern Italy, southwestern Germany, Austria, and Slovenia. The region that contains the Alps has a low population density, except for some of its larger valleys. Western Europe Geography has played a big role in the history of western Europe. For example, Switzerland has mountains. These high mountains allowed Switzerland to stay out of wars. People who lived in mountain valleys developed their own culture because they were away from other people. Western Europe The cultures often differed from that of the other people in their country. They often developed a different language. In fact, these people became more loyal to their region than to their country. That is one reason why Germany did not become one country until the late 1800s. Western Europe Having no mountains can also shape history. For example, invaders, or soldiers from other places, have often marched into the plains of the Central Lowlands. They took over the land from the people who lived there. These invaders used the many lowland rivers as highways. Of course, the people in the Central Lowlands have always used these rivers to ship goods and to travel. Western Europe World War I is a good example of how geography influences history. In 1914, Germany declared war against France. However, the border between the two countries kept German soldiers from attacking France directly. Thick forests covered much of the border; the rugged Vosges Mountains formed the rest of the border. Western Europe Belgium, a small neighbor of the two countries, wanted to stay out of the war. This was impossible, however, because of the French-German dispute. To reach the French capital of Paris, German generals decided that the best way to reach Paris was to go through Belgium. They quickly took over nearly all of Belgium and the industrial area of northeastern France. Physical Features and Climate The biggest physical feature of western Europe is the Alps. This range of young mountains is about 700 miles long and stretches across several countries. Mont Blanc, which stands 15,771 feet tall, is the highest of all the Alps. It is also the tallest mountain in western Europe. Physical Features and Climate Snow covers many of the peaks, or tops, of the Alps. Tourists can see huge glaciers, large waterfalls, and many streams in these mountains. They contain many passes, or openings. Physical Features and Climate France has other large upland areas. The Massif Central is located in the southeast-central part of France. This area of low, worn-down mountains and newer peaks covers about one-sixth of the country. France's other mountain ranges are the Vosges in the northeast; the Jura in the east; and the Pyrenees in the south on the Spanish border. Physical Features and Climate Huge, sandy plains cover northern France and northern Germany. They stretch for hundreds of miles. In the Netherlands, the Dutch people have created polders by taking back land from the sea. Physical Features and Climate For hundreds of years, the people of the Netherlands have built dikes, or walls, to prevent floods. They use huge electric pumps to keep the seawater from returning to the polders. Half of the Netherlands is made up of polder land. Physical Features and Climate Some people describe Europe as a giant peninsula because water surrounds it on three sides. The peninsula is on the western part of Eurasia, which is the world's largest piece of land. Eurasia includes the continents of Europe and Asia. Water surrounds western Europe on the north, the south, and the west. Physical Features and Climate The North Sea to the north is somewhat shallow. The Mediterranean Sea touches the southern coast of France. The Bay of Biscay forms the western shore. This bay is part of the Atlantic Ocean. Rivers are important to western Europe. The four most important rivers of France are the Loire, the Seine, the Garonne, and the Rhone. Physical Features and Climate The Loire is its longest river. It flows from the Massif Central to the Bay of Biscay. Paris, the capital of France, is located on the Seine, which flows north. The Garonne flows from the Pyrenees to the Atlantic. The Rhone starts in the Swiss Alps and flows into the Mediterranean. Physical Features and Climate The three important rivers of Germany are the Rhine, the Danube, and the Elbe. The Rhine links northern and southern Europe. It is Germany's most important waterway. Every year, thousands of large barges carry goods on this river. The Danube begins in Germany and flows nearly 800 miles eastward through seven other countries. Then it reaches the Black Sea. The Elbe flows from the southeast to the northwest. The great German harbor of Hamburg is located where the Elbe meets the North Sea. Physical Features and Climate Western Europe has at least three climates. The main climate is marine west coast. Northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany share this climate with the British Isles. The Gulf Stream makes it neither too hot nor too cold. However, cold air from the north may cause temperatures to drop well below freezing. This is especially true in Germany. Physical Features and Climate The southern part of western Europe, near the Mediterranean, has a different climate. The French Riviera borders the Mediterranean Sea. It has mild winters and dry, hot summers. Of course, the mountain areas of western Europe have their own climate. Physical Features and Climate Southern France has mistrals, which can blow over 100 miles per hour! These strong, cold, dry winds blow down from the Alps. They cause temperatures in southern France to drop quickly. The People Each country in western Europe has its own rich culture. The people are proud of their language and of their influence on world civilization. What is surprising about western Europe is how much the seven countries share in common. The day-to-day life of the people is much the same. The People All the children go to school. Their parents work. Most people live in cities. These cities mix the old with the new. Some parts look the same as they did hundreds of years ago. Other parts have tall buildings and fast highways. The People Europeans share an interest in music, art, and books. Most larger cities have many theaters, opera houses, art museums, and dance companies. In nice weather, people sit outside in sidewalk cafes. There they share meals and talk. The People Western Europe has a long history of making and enjoying delicious food. Western Europeans also enjoy sports. Soccer is a popular sport. However, in Europe, soccer is called football. In mountain areas, skiing is also popular. The People Each country in western Europe has its own language. Some of these languages are related. For example, German and Dutch, the language of the Netherlands, are Germanic languages. People in some parts of Switzerland, Austria, and Belgium speak a German dialect. That is, they speak different forms of the German language. The People The people of southern Belgium and France speak French. This Romance language grew out of Latin, the language of the ancient Romans. Switzerland has four official languages. Most people there speak a German dialect. The People Smaller groups speak French and Italian. The fourth language is Romansh, a language also based on Latin. Many people in western Europe speak several languages, including English. The People Most western Europeans are Christians. The largest number are Roman Catholics. The rest are Protestants. These two groups have sometimes fought one another. The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was a religious war between the Catholics and the Protestants. Most European powers fought in this war. The People Immigrants have come to all the countries of western Europe. Many of these immigrants brought with them a different culture, language, or religion. Because of this, all the major world religions can be found in western Europe. The People Most western Europeans live in urban areas in the Central Lowlands. In fact, western Europe has one of the highest population densities in the world. People have been moving to the cities since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. More than a million people live in several western European cities. The largest city in western Europe is Paris, France. The People In Germany, Hamburg, Berlin, and Munich have more than a million people each. Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is also large. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is its biggest city. The region in which most of these cities are located forms a huge megalopolis of 4 million people. The People Western Europe has an aging population. Its population is growing slowly. People are living longer because of new technology in medicine. This means that more older people will need care in the future. The People Most governments believe that they have a duty to take care ofthe health and well-being of the elderly. In the future, this aging population could be a burden for younger people. The People A second problem is the economy. Economic growth in many of the countries has slowed down. France and Germany have a lot of unemployment. In the 1960s and 1970s,factories had lots of work but not enough workers. Because of this, they hired foreigners, or people from other countries. The People Now, some unemployed workers in France and Germany dislike these foreigners. They say that the foreigners are taking jobs away from them. Political parties in many western European countries have spoken out against new immigration. Economy and Environment All the countries of western Europe have successful freemarket economies and a large manufacturing base. Many western European countries have high-tech industries, such as airplane and space technology. Economy and Environment After World War II, France, Italy, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg wanted closer ties with one another. To do this, they agreed to get rid of tariffs and some trade barriers. A tariff is a tax that countries put on goods they import. I n 1957, these countries created the European Economic Community, also known as the Common Market. Economy and Environment During the 1980s and 1990s the European Economic Community grew. In 1992, it became the European Union. The members agreed to reduce trade barriers even more. They also agreed to create a common European currency, or system of money. The new Euro will replace the currency that each country has now. Economy and Environment In 2000, the European Union had 15 member nations. More than 12 other countries in eastern and southern Europe may join soon. Slowly, the people are taking steps to unite Europe. Economy and Environment Business people try to sell their goods and services for the highest price. They also try to find the cheapest way to make goods and deliver them to other countries. When they do this, they make more money. This explains why European explorers set sail to find new lands. Economy and Environment Columbus was not looking for the Americas when he found them. He was looking for a better and faster way to get to Asia. Then Europe could more easily sell its goods to the people there. This is an example of international trade. It is the buying ,and selling of goods and services among people in different countries Economy and Environment People around the world want the products made in western Europe. Germany exports machine tools, electrical equipment, chemical products, and cars. The Netherlands is the world's leading maker of machinery for food and chemical processing. Factories in the United States, England, Germany, and other industrialized countries depend on these machines. Perfumes, fashions, and wines from France are world famous. Economy and Environment France, the largest western European country, has few resources. It does have large coal deposits, but many of its mines are closed. Importing coal from other countries is now cheaper than mining its own coal. France has only a little oil, so it imports oil from the North Sea, the Middle East, and Africa. Economy and Environment France does have lots of fast-running rivers. Workers have built dams on many of these rivers. They supply France with hydroelectric power. France has built the world's first power station that depends on tides, the regular daily rise and fall of ocean waters. Economy and Environment Like France, Germany also has large coalfields. Some of this coal is near the surface. Huge mines remove tons of coal at one time. Mining provides cheap energy, but it harms the environment. Like France, Germany must import oil. Economy and Environment Hydroelectricity is an important source of power in parts of southern Germany, where fast-moving rivers flow. Germany is also trying out wind and sun power. The Netherlands is the only country in western Europe with large amounts of natural gas. Economy and Environment The Netherlands uses about half of the natural gas it produces. It exports the rest to its European neighbors. The port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands is always busy. Many European exports and imports pass through this harbor. Economy and Environment People use much of western Europe's land for farming. European farmers are some of the most productive in the world. As their farms become bigger, they use a lot of machinery. They grow many grains, especially wheat. Economy and Environment Another important crop is grapes, which they grow to make wine. France produces more wine than any other country in the world. Germany also produces wine. The Netherlands exports tulips and other flowers around the world. Economy and Environment area. It is made up of the Benelux countries of Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg; the northeast corner of France; and northwest Germany. Its main industries are steel, automobiles, machines, textiles, and chemicals. Economy and Environment However, most people work in service industries. For example, Switzerland is famous for its banks. Millions of people work in tourism in western Europe. Some work in hotels and restaurants; others work as guides, bus drivers, or taxi drivers. Economy and Environment The historical places, beautiful scenery, and cultural centers of western Europe appeal to many tourists. Most of them are other Europeans, but many come from the United States and Japan. Some like to hike or ski in the mountains. Others like to lie on the Mediterranean beaches. Economy and Environment Western Europe faces the same environmental challenges as other industrialized countries. Among these are air and water pollution. Automobile traffic causes air pollution. Western Europe could build more roads, but that would hurt the environment. Because of this, the countries of western Europe have invested a lot of money in railroads. Economy and Environment They have some of the world's fastest and most comfortable trains. Many cities do not let people drive cars in their central business areas. The rivers of western Europe are badly polluted. As the population grows and river traffic increases, so does water pollution. The Rhine River is so polluted that many people do not want to eat its fish.