Europe is extraordinarily environmentally diverse: range of landscapes from Arctic tundra (northern
Scandinavia) to the barren hillsides of the Mediterranean islands, and from explosive volcanoes (southern Italy)
to the glaciers of Iceland.
4 factors to explain this environmental diversity:
The latitudinal extent creates opportunities for diversity because region extends from arctic to
The moderating influence of the Atlantic Ocean, Black, Baltic, and Mediterranean Seas further
modify these latitudinal controls.
Complex geology of the western extension of the Eurasian landmass produced newest and
oldest landscapes in the world.
Long history of human settlement has significantly transformed and modified Europe’s natural
4 main topographic regions of European landscapes
European lowland (from southwest France to northeast plains of Poland + southeastern England)— high
population density, intensive agriculture, large cities, and major industrial regions.
Alpine mountain systems (from Pyrenees in the west to Balkan of southeast Europe)
–—different regional names, but are geologically similar… Pyrenees provides physical border between
France and Spain.
Central Uplands (from France to Eastern Europe, between Alps and European Lowland)——lower in
altitude than the Alpine system; important because they contain raw materials for industrial areas.
Western Uplands (on mountains in Spain, portions of British Isles and the highlands of Scandinavia)——
fjords or flooded valley inlets in the coastline of these highlands…cold in climate and sparse vegetation-
>extremely thin soils that severely limits agricultural activity.
3 principal climates that characterize Europe:
Maritime climate—along Atlantic coast, moderate and moist, modified by oceanic influences.
Continental climate—further inland, hotter summers and colder winters, with at least 1 month below
Mediterranean climate— Mediterranean region in the southern Europe, distinct dry season during the
summer, attractive to tourists, but seasonal drought is problematic tor agriculture.
Europe remains a largely maritime region with access to ocean through interconnect network of navigable rivers
Major rivers include: Loire, Seine, Rhine, Elbe, and Vistula rivers in the European lowland, that flow into
Atlantic or Baltic waters.
The Danube River, flows east-south from Germany to the Black Sea and
provides a connecting artery between Eastern and Central Europe.