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Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous
continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smallest, these seven regions are: ...
of
Europe Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the continental landmass of Eurasia, and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlant ...
, excluding its surrounding islands. It can also be referred to ambiguously as the European continent, – which can conversely mean the whole of Europe – and, by some, simply as the Continent. The old notion of
Europe Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the continental landmass of Eurasia, and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlant ...
as a cultural and European unification term was centred on core Europe (''Kerneuropa''), the continental territory of the historical
Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe during the early Middle Ages. It was ruled by the Carolingian dynasty, which had ruled as kings of the Franks since 751 and as kings of the Lom ...
, corresponding to modern
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of Fr ...
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a continental part, delimited by the Alps, a peninsula and several islands surrounding it. Italy is located in Southern Europ ...
,
German-speaking Europe This article details the geographical distribution of speakers of the German language, regardless of the legislative status within the countries where it is spoken. In addition to the German-speaking area (german: Deutscher Sprachraum) in Europe, ...
and the
Benelux The Benelux Union ( nl, Benelux Unie; french: Union Benelux; lb, Benelux-Unioun), also known as simply Benelux, is a politico-economic union and formal international intergovernmental cooperation of three neighbouring states in western Europe: Bel ...

Benelux
states (historical
Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the northeastern section of the Merovingian Kingdom of the Franks during the 6th to 8th centuries. It was centred on the Meuse, Middle Rhine and the Moselle rivers, and was the original territory of the Fran ...
). This historical core of "Carolingian Europe" was consciously invoked in the 1950s as the historical ethno-cultural basis for the prospective
European integration European integration is the process of industrial, economic, political, legal, social and cultural integration of states wholly or partially in Europe or nearby. European integration has primarily come about through the European Union and it ...
(see also
Multi-speed Europe Multi-speed Europe or two-speed Europe (called also "variable geometry Europe" or "Core Europe" depending on the form it would take in practice) is the idea that different parts of the European Union should integrate at different levels and p ...
).


Usage

The most common definition of Mainland Europe excludes these
continental islands upright=1.15, Ireland (left) and Great Britain (right), are large islands of north-west Europe image:Small Island in Lower Saranac Lake.jpg, A small island in Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, New York state, U.S. Bangchuidao Isla ...
: the
Greek Islands Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor of ...
,
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island nation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, and is locate ...
,
Malta Malta (, ; in Maltese: ; Italian: ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Ita ...
,
Sicily (masculine) it, Siciliana (feminine) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demograph ...
,
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna and , also ''Saldigna'', ''Sardíngia'', ''Sardinna'', ''Sardinza''; sdc, Sardhigna; sdn, Saldigna; ca, label=Algherese, Sardenya; lij, label=Tabarchino, Sardegna) is the second-largest island in the Me ...
,
Corsica Corsica (; , ; french: link=no, Corse, ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and politically one of the eighteen regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and lies southeast of the French mai ...

Corsica
, the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago of islands in Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The four largest islands are Mallorca, Menorca ...
,
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. The isl ...

Great Britain
and
Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, ...

Ireland
and surrounding islands,
Novaya Zemlya Novaya Zemlya (, also , ; rus, Но́вая Земля́, p=ˈnovəjə zʲɪmˈlʲa, ), also known as Nova Zembla (especially in Dutch), is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in northern Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe, the easternmost ...
and the Nordic archipelago, as well as nearby
oceanic islands upright=1.15, Ireland (left) and Great Britain (right), are large islands of north-west Europe image:Small Island in Lower Saranac Lake.jpg, A small island in Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, New York state, U.S. Bangchuidao Isla ...
, including the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, in a region known as Macaronesia. At their closest point to the African mainland, they are west of Morocco. ...
,
Madeira Madeira ( , also , ), officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira ( pt, Região Autónoma da Madeira), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal, the other being the Azores. It is an archipelago situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, in a ...
, the
Azores The Azores ( , also ; pt, Açores ), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal (along with Madeira). It is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the Macaronesia region of the ...
,
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, with a population of 356,991 and an area of , making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík. Reykjavík and t ...
, the
Faroe Islands The Faroe Islands, or simply Faroes (also written ''Faeroes''; ; fo, Føroyar, ; da, Færøerne), are a North Atlantic archipelago located north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. Like Greenland, it is an au ...
, and
Svalbard Svalbard ( , ), previously known as Spitsbergen, or Spitzbergen, is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Situated north of mainland Europe, it is about midway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole. The islands of the ...

Svalbard
. The
Scandinavian Peninsula The Scandinavian Peninsula ( sv, Skandinaviska halvön; no, Den skandinaviske halvøy (Bokmål) or nn, Den skandinaviske halvøya; fi, Skandinavian niemimaa; russian: Скандинавский полуостров, ''Skandinavsky poluostrov'') ...
is sometimes also excluded, as even though it is technically part of "mainland Europe", the ''
de facto In law and government, ''de facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law ...
'' connections to the rest of the continent are across the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, northeast Germany, Poland, Russia and the North and Central European Plain. The sea stretches from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from ...
or
North Sea The North Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located between Great Britain (England and Scotland), Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. An epeiric (or "shelf") sea on the European continental shelf, it connects to the o ...
(rather than via the lengthy land route that involves travelling to the north of the peninsula where it meets Finland, and then south through north-east Europe).


Great Britain and Ireland

In both
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. The isl ...

Great Britain
and Ireland, ''the Continent'' is widely and generally used to refer to the mainland of Europe. An amusing British newspaper headline supposedly once read, "Fog in
Channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * Channel Country, region of outback Austr ...

Channel
; Continent Cut Off". It has also been claimed that this was a regular weather forecast in Britain in the 1930s. In addition, the word ''Europe'' itself is also regularly used to mean Europe excluding the islands of Great Britain, Iceland, and Ireland (although the term is often used to refer to the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has developed an internal s ...
). The term ''mainland Europe'' is also sometimes used. Usage may reflect political or cultural allegiances. Pro-European UK citizens are much less likely to use "Europe" in ways that exclude the UK and Ireland. Derivatively, the adjective ''continental'' refers to the social practices or fashion of continental Europe. Examples include
breakfast Breakfast is the first meal of the day eaten after waking up, usually in the morning. The word in English refers to breaking the fasting period of the previous night.Anderson, Heather Arndt (2013)''Breakfast: A History'' AltaMira Press. There i ...
, topless sunbathing and, historically, long-range driving (before Britain had
motorways network. A controlled-access highway is a type of highway that has been designed for high-speed vehicular traffic, with all traffic flow—ingress and egress—regulated. Common English terms are freeway (in parts of Australia, parts of Canada ...
) often known as ''Grand Touring''. Differences include electrical plugs, time zones for the most part, the use of
left-hand traffic Left-hand traffic (LHT) and right-hand traffic (RHT) are the practices, in bidirectional traffic, of keeping to the left side or to the right side of the road, respectively. They are fundamental to traffic flow, and are sometimes referred to a ...
, and for the United Kingdom, currency and the continued use of imperial units (
mile The mile, sometimes the international mile to distinguish it from other miles, is an imperial unit and US customary unit (and previously an English unit) of length equal to 5,280 feet, or 1,760 yards, and standardised as exactly 1,609.344&nb ...
s,
yard 300px, Bronze Yard №11, the official standard of length for the Treasury Department formally adopted a metric standard. Bronze Yard №11 was forged to be an exact copy of the British Imperial Standard Yard held by Parliament._Both_are_line_st ...
s,
feet The foot (plural: feet) is an anatomical structure found in many vertebrates. It is the terminal portion of a limb which bears weight and allows locomotion. In many animals with feet, the foot is a separate organ at the terminal part of the leg m ...
,
inches Measuring tape with inches The inch (symbol: in or ″) is a unit of length in the (British) imperial and United States customary systems of measurement. It is equal to yard or of a foot. Derived from the Roman uncia ("twelfth"), the word ...
,
stone A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks form the Earth's outer solid layer, the ...
, lbs) alongside metric. Britain is physically connected to continental Europe through the undersea
Channel Tunnel The Channel Tunnel (french: link=no, Le tunnel sous la Manche), also referred to as the Eurotunnel or Chunnel, is a railway tunnel that connects Folkestone (Kent, England, UK) with Coquelles (Hauts-de-France, France) beneath the English Channel ...
(the longest undersea tunnel in the world), which accommodates both the
Getlink Getlink, formerly Groupe Eurotunnel, is a European public company based in Paris, that manages and operates the infrastructure of the Channel Tunnel between England and France, operates the Eurotunnel Shuttle train service, and earns revenue on ...
(passenger and vehicle use – vehicle required) and
Eurostar ''Eurostar'' is an international high-speed rail service connecting the United Kingdom with France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Most Eurostar trains travel through the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France, which is owned and ...

Eurostar
(passenger use only) services. These services were established to transport passengers and vehicles through the tunnel on a 24/7 basis between
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continent ...
and continental Europe, while still maintaining passport and immigration control measures on both sides of the tunnel. This route is popular with refugees and migrants seeking to enter the UK.


Scandinavia

Especially in
Germanic studies Germanic philology is the philological study of the Germanic languages, particularly from a comparative or historical perspective. The beginnings of research into the Germanic languages began in the 16th century, with the discovery of literary text ...
, ''continental'' refers to the European continent excluding the
Scandinavian peninsula The Scandinavian Peninsula ( sv, Skandinaviska halvön; no, Den skandinaviske halvøy (Bokmål) or nn, Den skandinaviske halvøya; fi, Skandinavian niemimaa; russian: Скандинавский полуостров, ''Skandinavsky poluostrov'') ...
, Britain, Ireland, and Iceland. The reason for this is that although the Scandinavian peninsula is attached to continental Europe, and accessible via a land route along the
66th parallel north The 66th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 66 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane, about 61 km south of the Arctic Circle. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Asia and North America. This latitude also roughly corre ...
, it is usually reached by sea. ("the Continent") is a vernacular Swedish expression that refers to an area excluding Sweden, Norway, and Finland but including Denmark (even the Danish archipelago which is technically not a part of continental Europe) and the rest of continental Europe. In Norway, similarly, one speaks about as a separate entity. In Denmark, Jutland is referred to as the mainland and thereby a part of continental Europe. The Scandinavian peninsula is now connected to the Danish mainland (the
Jutland Jutland (; da, Jylland ; german: Jütland ; ang, Ēota land ), known anciently as the Cimbric or Cimbrian Peninsula ( la, Cimbricus Chersonesus; da, Den Kimbriske Halvø, Den Jyske Halvø; german: Kimbrische Halbinsel), is a peninsula of Northern ...
peninsula) by several bridges and tunnels.


Mediterranean and Atlantic islands

''The Continent'' may sometimes refer to the continental part of
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a continental part, delimited by the Alps, a peninsula and several islands surrounding it. Italy is located in Southern Europ ...
(excluding
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna and , also ''Saldigna'', ''Sardíngia'', ''Sardinna'', ''Sardinza''; sdc, Sardhigna; sdn, Saldigna; ca, label=Algherese, Sardenya; lij, label=Tabarchino, Sardegna) is the second-largest island in the Me ...
,
Sicily (masculine) it, Siciliana (feminine) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demograph ...
, etc.), the continental part of
Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , ...
(excluding the
Balearic islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago of islands in Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The four largest islands are Mallorca, Menorca ...
, the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, in a region known as Macaronesia. At their closest point to the African mainland, they are west of Morocco. ...
, Alboran, etc.), the continental part of France (excluding
Corsica Corsica (; , ; french: link=no, Corse, ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and politically one of the eighteen regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and lies southeast of the French mai ...

Corsica
, etc.), the continental part of Portugal (excluding the
Madeira Madeira ( , also , ), officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira ( pt, Região Autónoma da Madeira), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal, the other being the Azores. It is an archipelago situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, in a ...
and
Azores The Azores ( , also ; pt, Açores ), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal (along with Madeira). It is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the Macaronesia region of the ...
islands), or the continental part of Greece (excluding the
Ionian Islands The Ionian Islands (Modern Greek: , ; Ancient Greek, Katharevousa: , ) are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese ("Seven Islands"; , ''Heptanēsa'' or , ''Heptanēsos''; it, Eptaneso), but the group includes man ...

Ionian Islands
, the
Aegean Islands The Aegean Islands ( el, Νησιά Αιγαίου, Nisiá Aigaíou; tr, Ege Adaları) are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the so ...
, and
Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Cor ...
). The term is used from the perspective of the island residents of each country to describe the continental portion of their country or the continent (or mainland) as a whole. Continental France is also known as ''l'Hexagone'', "the Hexagon", referring to its approximate shape on a map. Continental Spain is referred to as
Peninsular Spain Peninsular Spain refers to that part of Spanish territory located within the Iberian peninsula, thus excluding other parts of Spain: the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Ceuta, Melilla, and a number of islets and crags off the coast of Morocc ...
.


See also

*
Continental philosophy Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe. This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range ...
* Geopolitical divisions of Europe *
Geographical midpoint of Europe The location of the geographical centre of Europe depends on the definition of the borders of Europe, mainly whether remote islands are included to define the extreme points of Europe, and on the method of calculating the final result. Thus, severa ...
*
Mainland Mainland is defined as "relating to or forming the main part of a country or continent, not including the islands around it egardless of status under territorial jurisdiction by an entity" The term is often politically, economically and/or demogr ...
*
Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe farthest from Asia, with the countries and territories included varying depending on context. After the beginning of foreign exploration in the Age of Discovery, roughly from the 15th century, the concept ...
* Hajnal line


References

{{Authority control Regions of Europe Political geography