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""Berlin is the capital and the largest city of Germany as well as one of its 16 states.

"Europe is a "continent that comprises the westernmost part of "Eurasia. Europe is bordered by the "Arctic Ocean to the north, the "Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the "Mediterranean Sea to the south. To the east and southeast, Europe is generally considered as "separated from Asia by the "watershed divides of the "Ural and "Caucasus Mountains, the "Ural River, the "Caspian and "Black Seas, and the waterways of the "Turkish Straits. Yet the non-oceanic borders of Europe—a concept dating back to "classical antiquity—are arbitrary. The primarily "physiographic term "continent" as applied to Europe also incorporates "cultural and political elements whose discontinuities are not always reflected by the continent's current overland boundaries.

Europe covers about 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 sq mi), or 2% of the Earth's surface (6.8% of land area). Politically, Europe is divided into about "fifty sovereign states of which the "Russian Federation is the largest and most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population. Europe had a "total population of about 740 million (about 11% of "world population) as of 2012.

The "history of Europe covers the peoples inhabiting the "European continent from "prehistory to the present. Some of the best-known civilizations of prehistoric Europe were the "Minoan and the "Mycenaean, which flourished during the "Bronze Age until they "collapsed in a short period of time around 1200 BC. The period known as "classical antiquity began with the emergence of the city-states of "Ancient Greece. After ultimately checking the "Persian advance in Europe through the "Greco-Persian Wars in the 5th century BC, Greek influence reached its zenith under the expansive empire of "Alexander the Great, spreading throughout "Asia, Africa, and other parts of Europe. The "Roman Empire came to dominate the entire Mediterranean basin in a vast empire based on "Roman law. By 300 AD the Roman Empire was divided into the "Western and "Eastern empires. During the 4th and 5th centuries, the "Germanic peoples of northern Europe grew in strength and repeated attacks led to the "Fall of the Western Roman Empire. AD 476 traditionally marks the end of the classical period and the start of the "Middle Ages.

The "culture of Europe is rooted in the art, architecture, music, literature, and philosophy that originated from the "European "cultural region. European culture is largely rooted in what is often referred to as its "common cultural heritage".

As a continent, the economy of Europe is currently the largest on Earth and it is the richest region as measured by assets under management with over $32.7 trillion compared to North America's $27.1 trillion in 2008. In 2009 Europe remained the wealthiest region. Its $37.1 trillion in assets under management represented one-third of the world's wealth. It was one of several regions where wealth surpassed its precrisis year-end peak. As with other continents, Europe has a large variation of wealth among its countries. The richer states tend to be in the "West; some of the "Central and Eastern European economies are still emerging from the "collapse of the Soviet Union and the "breakup of Yugoslavia.

Featured panorama

""Grimsel Pass
Credit: "Heinrich Pniok

The "Grimsel Pass is a "mountain pass in "Switzerland which crosses the "Bernese Alps at an elevation of 2,164 metres (7,100 ft). It connects the "Haslital, the upper valley of the river "Aare, with the upper valley of the "Rhone. A 38-kilometre (24 mi) paved road between "Gletsch and "Meiringen follows the pass; owing to high snowfall, this road is generally closed between October and May.

Featured article

""Coat of arms of the Gediminids dynasty
The "family of Gediminas is a group of family members of "Gediminas, "Grand Duke of Lithuania (ca. 1275–1341), who interacted in the 14th century. The family included the siblings, children, and grandchildren of the Grand Duke and played the pivotal role in the "history of Lithuania for the period as the "Lithuanian nobility had not yet acquired its influence. Gediminas was also the forefather of the "Gediminid dynasty, which ruled the "Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1310s or 1280s to 1572.

Gediminas' origins are unclear, but recent research suggests that "Skalmantas, an otherwise unknown historical figure, was Gediminas' grandfather or father and could be considered the dynasty's founder. Because none of his brothers or sisters had known heirs, Gediminas, who sired at least twelve children, had the advantage in establishing sovereignty over his siblings. Known for his diplomatic skills, Gediminas arranged his children's marriages to suit the goals of his foreign policy: his sons consolidated Lithuanian power within the "Grand Duchy of Lithuania, while his daughters established or strengthened alliances with the rulers of areas in modern-day "Russia, "Ukraine and "Poland.

Featured portrait

""Queen Wilhelmina & Juliana
Credit: "Bain News Service

Queen "Wilhelmina of the Netherlands with her daughter and successor "Princess Juliana, circa 1914. Wilhelmina was "queen regnant from 1890 to 1948, longer than any other Dutch monarch. Outside the Netherlands she is primarily remembered for her role in the Second World War, in which she proved to be a great inspiration to the "Dutch resistance, as well as a prominent leader of the "Dutch government in exile. Juliana became queen regnant in 1948 after her mother's "abdication and ruled until her own abdication in 1980, succeeded by her daughter, "Beatrix.

Featured picture

""Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling
Credit: "Holger Motzkau

The "royal wedding between "Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and "Daniel Westling took place on 19 June 2010 in "Stockholm Cathedral. Westling—now known as Prince Daniel, Duke of "Västergötland—became the first commoner to obtain a new title or rank as the spouse of a Swedish princess since the Middle Ages. He is the first Swedish man to use his wife's ducal title.

Featured biography

""Self-Portrait, 1887
"Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch "Post-Impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In just over a decade he created about 2100 artworks, including around 860 "oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life. They include "landscapes, "still lifes, "portraits and "self-portraits, and are characterised by bold, symbolic colours, and dramatic, impulsive and expressive "brushwork that contributed to the foundations of "modern art. He died by suicide at 37, following years of mental illness and poverty.

Born into an upper-middle-class family, Van Gogh drew as a child and was serious, quiet and thoughtful. As a young man he worked as an art dealer, often travelling, but became depressed after he was transferred to London. He turned to religion, and spent time as a missionary in southern Belgium. Later he drifted in ill health and solitude. He took up painting in 1881 having moved back home with his parents. His younger brother "Theo supported him financially, and the two kept up a "long correspondence by letter.

Van Gogh's early works, mostly "still lifes and depictions of "peasant labourers, contain few signs of the vivid colour that distinguished his later work. In 1886 he moved to Paris where he met members of the "avant-garde, including "Emile Bernard and "Paul Gauguin, who were reacting against the "Impressionist sensibility. As his work developed he created a new approach to still lifes and "local landscapes. His paintings grew brighter in colour as he developed a style that became fully realised during his stay in "Arles in the south of France in 1888. During this period he broadened his subject matter to include "olive trees, cypresses, "wheat fields and "sunflowers.

Featured location

""The Royal Crescent in Bath
"Bath is a "city in the "ceremonial county of "Somerset, England, known for its Roman-built baths. In 2011, the population was 88,859. Bath is in the valley of the "River Avon, 97 miles (156 km) west of "London and 11 miles (18 km) south-east of "Bristol. The city became a "World Heritage Site in 1987.

The city became a "spa with the "Latin name "Aquæ Sulis ("the waters of Sulis") c. AD 60 when the Romans built "baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although "hot springs were known even before then. "Bath Abbey was founded in the 7th century and became a religious centre; the building was rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries. In the 17th century, claims were made for the curative properties of water from the springs, and Bath became popular as a "spa town in the "Georgian era. "Georgian architecture, crafted from "Bath stone, includes the "Royal Crescent, "Circus, "Pump Room and "Assembly Rooms where "Beau Nash presided over the city's social life from 1705 until his death in 1761. Many of the streets and squares were laid out by "John Wood, the Elder, and in the 18th century the city became fashionable and the population grew. "Jane Austen lived in Bath in the early 19th century. Further building was undertaken in the 19th century and following the "Bath Blitz in World War II.

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