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Islands are generally grouped with the nearest continental landmass, hence Iceland is generally considered to be part of Europe, while the nearby island of Greenland is usually assigned to North America.Nevertheless, there are some exceptions based on sociopolitical and cultural differences.
The EU originated in Western Europe but has been expanding eastward since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The first recorded usage of Eurṓpē as a geographic term is in the Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo, in reference to the western shore of the Aegean Sea.
As a name for a part of the known world, it is first used in the 6th century BC by Anaximander and Hecataeus.
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 European climate is largely affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent, even at latitudes along which the climate in Asia and North America is severe.
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.
The prevalent definition of Europe as a geographical term has been in use since the mid-19th century.
Europe is taken to be bounded by large bodies of water to the north, west and south; Europe's limits to the far east are usually taken to be the Urals, the Ural River, and the Caspian Sea; to the southeast, including the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
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" and states celebrate peace and unity on Europe Day. In some Turkic languages the originally Persian name Frangistan ("land of the Franks") is used casually in referring to much of Europe, besides official names such as Avrupa or Evropa.
The fall of the Western Roman Empire, during the migration period, marked the end of ancient history and the beginning of an era known as the "Middle Ages".