Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of Earth. The westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, it is bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and to the southeast by the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. To the east, Europe is generally divided from Asia by the water divide of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, and by the Caspian Sea.
Europe is the world's second-smallest continent in terms of area, covering about 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 sq mi) or 2% of the Earth's surface and about 6.8% of the planet's total land area. It hosts a large number of sovereign states (ca. 50), whose precise number depends on the underlying definition of Europe's border, as well as on the inclusion or exclusion of semi-recognized states.
Europe lies mainly in the temperate climate zones, being subjected to prevailing westerlies.
The climate is milder in comparison to other areas of the same latitude around the globe due to the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is nicknamed "Europe's central heating", because it makes Europe's climate warmer and wetter than it would otherwise be. The Gulf Stream not only carries warm water to Europe's coast but also warms up the prevailing westerly winds that blow across the continent from the Atlantic Ocean.
The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of West as opposed to East; Christianity as opposed to Islam; many have claimed to identify cultural fault lines across the continent. There are many cultural innovations and movements, often at odds with each other, such as Christian proselytism or Humanism. Thus the question of "common culture" or "common values" is far more complex than it seems to be.
Europe is home to many cultural festivals including the Oktoberfest beer festival (Germany), Cannes Film Festival (France) and music festivals such as Glastonbury (UK) and Benicassim (Spain).
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