CLIMATE AND ECOSYSTEMS
Europe, Russia and Central Asia are found in the Northern Hemisphere, between the temperate and cold zones, being north of the Tropic of Cancer. This immense area has great climatic and ecological diversity, as there is a significant variation in temperature and uneven distribution of rain, resulting in various types of soil and vegetation. We can identify major geoecological domains.
The temperate climate prevails on the continent, but there are variations. In the south, it is Mediterranean and the vegetation, which obeys climate change, is formed by shrubs. In the center and east, the climate is continental and it gets colder as you move into the temperate and coniferous forests that occupy this strip. In the northwest, the oceanic climate prevails . The north end has a polar climate and the typical vegetation is the tundra. About 68% of Europe’s original forests have already been cleared, according to the World Resources Institute. The largest extensions of native forest are conifers and are found in Sweden and Finland.
Learn more: Europe’s climate .
GEOPOLITICS AND SOCIETY
Taking into account the geopolitical aspects, the countries of Western Europe aligned themselves with the United States after the end of the Second World War (1939-45). Since then, they have pledged themselves to adopt the capitalist system.
Due to the economic difficulties caused by the War and the loss of their colonies in Africa and Asia, many European countries had to rely on financial assistance from the United States, which came through the Marshall Plan . The counterpart to American loans was the commitment to purchase, by Europeans, preferably American goods, which benefited the United States a lot.
The Marshall Plan , in addition to boosting the economic recovery of Western Europe, served to stop the influence of the Soviet Union, which defended the socialist system and was rival to the United States.
From the military point of view, the United States has made a strategic alliance with most Western European countries, in addition to Turkey and Canada. The powerful NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization – was created in order to join the military efforts of the capitalist countries against the socialist countries, led by the then Soviet Union.
IMMIGRANTS – Intolerance and Neonazism
The economic prosperity of Western European countries has attracted immigrants from underdeveloped countries. Most of these immigrants receive lower wages than those paid to Europeans, work in less qualified activities and are sometimes not protected by labor laws.
In some regions, intolerance and violence are frequent. Immigrants suffer from racial and religious prejudices, are discriminated against and live in poor and decadent neighborhoods of the great European metropolises, many of them in poverty. Extreme right and neo-Nazi groups are opposing their
permanence in countries such as Germany, Austria and France.
According to Computerminus, Western Europe is made up of capitalist countries whose populations have a good quality of life, that is, these countries do not have serious problems in the areas of nutrition, health and education. Generally, they have excellent social indicators: low illiteracy rate, high population level with higher education level and low infant mortality.
Average life expectancy exceeds 75 years of age. In both Western Europe and Eastern Europe, population growth is very low, due to the low birth rate . As the percentage participation of young people is increasingly smaller, a continuous aging of the population has been occurring , increasing the proportion of adults and the elderly.
In Sweden, the elderly population already represents more than 20% of the total. The situation has caused alarm in the authorities of the country, because the number of couples that chose not to have children is great. The Swedish and Italian governments are encouraging couples to have more children by granting various benefits, such as tax breaks and financial aid. However, the Swedish initiative is not having the desired effects. The number of children per woman, that is, the fertility rate , fell from 2.12 (in 1990) to just 1.42. In most Western European countries, the number of children per woman is less than 2.
The rise in unemployment affects a significant number of the economically active European population. In part, unemployment has been caused by low economic growth, the dismissal of workers from privatized companies and accelerated technological modernization.
RELIGION AND LANGUAGE
Christianity is the main religion. There is still a significant number of adherents of both Catholicism and Protestantism and the Orthodox Church. The most widely spoken languages belong to the Latin ethnolinguistic branches (integrated by Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese), Germanic (made up of German, English and Scandinavian languages) and Slavic (made up of Russian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian and Ukrainian, among others) .