The earliest hominid discovered in Europe dates 1.8 million years ago. The European Neolithic was marked by the cultivation of crops and raising of livestock. The European Bronze Age began c. 3.200 BC in Greece. The Myceneans around 1.200 BC, ushering the European Iron Age, unpinned by the Greeks and Phoenicians’ colonisation that gave rise to early Mediterranean cities.
Ancient Greece is considered the birthplace of Western civilization. The fall of the Western Roman Empire marked the end of ancient history and the beginning of an era known as the Middle Ages. Renaissance Humanism, exploration, art, and science led to the modern era.
Age of Enlightment
The Age of Enlightenment, the subsequent French revolution and the Industrial revolution modelled and structured the European continent, culturally, politically and economically from the end of the 17th century till the first half of the 19th century.
Both World Wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945) decisively changed Europe geographical, political and culturally.
In 1955, the Council of Europe was formed in Strasbourg with the idea of unifying Europe to achieve common goals. It includes all states except for Belarus, Kazakhstan and Vatican City.
Further European integration by some states led to the formation of the European Union, a separate political entity that lies between a confederation and a federation. The EU originated in Western Europe but has been expanding eastward since 1991. At present (2018) there are 28 Member States.
The currency of most countries of the European Union, the euro (€), is the most commonly used among Europeans; and the EU’s Schengen Area abolishes border and immigration controls among most of its member states.
The European Anthem is “Ode to Joy” (from the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony composed in 1823). States celebrate peace and unity on Europe Day.