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Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous
continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of th ...

continent
of
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
, 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 A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
as a cultural term was centred on core Europe (''Kerneuropa''), the continental territory of the historical
Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient nort ...
, corresponding to modern
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...

France
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
,
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 German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related t ...
and the
Benelux The Benelux Union ( nl, Benelux Unie; french: Union Benelux; lb, Benelux-Unioun), also known as simply Benelux, is a politico ''Politico'', known originally as ''The Politico'', is an American political journalism Political journalism i ...

Benelux
states (historical
Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the northeastern section of the Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mention ...
). 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 integration, economic, political, legal, social and cultural Regional integration, integration of states wholly or partially in Europe or nearby. European integration has primarily ...
(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 The European Union (EU) is a pol ...
).


Usage

The most common definition of Mainland Europe excludes these continental islands: the
Greek Islands Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
,
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
,
Malta Malta ( , , ), 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 Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
,
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
,
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the Mediterranean islands#By area, second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, and one of the Regions of Italy, 20 regions of Italy. It is located west of the Italian Penin ...

Sardinia
,
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north ...

Corsica
, the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea contai ...

Balearic Islands
,
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 List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...

Great Britain
and
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
and surrounding islands,
Novaya Zemlya Novaya Zemlya (, also , ; rus, Но́вая Земля́, p=ˈnovəjə zʲɪmˈlʲa, ) is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea ...

Novaya Zemlya
and the Nordic archipelago, as well as nearby
oceanic islands upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_are_large_islands_of_north-west_Europe image:Small_Island_in_Lower_Saranac_Lake.jpg.html" ;"title="Great Britain">Ireland (l ...
, including the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...
,
Madeira Madeira ( , , ), officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira ( pt, Região Autónoma da Madeira), is one of the two autonomous regions An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, su ...

Madeira
, the
Azores The Azores ( , also ; pt, Açores ), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (), is one of the two (along with ). It is an composed of nine s in the region of the North Atlantic Ocean, about west of , about northwest of , and about ...

Azores
,
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
, the
Faroe Islands The Faroe Islands ( ), or simply the Faroes or Faeroes ( fo, Føroyar ; da, Færøerne ), are a North Atlantic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of is ...

Faroe Islands
, and
Svalbard Svalbard ( , ), previously known as Spitsbergen, or Spitzbergen, is a Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic ...

Svalbard
. The
Scandinavian Peninsula The Scandinavian Peninsula ( sv, Skandinaviska halvön; no, Den skandinaviske halvøy (Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language, alongside Nynorsk. Bokmål is the preferred writ ...
is sometimes also excluded, as even though it is technically part of "mainland Europe", the ''
de facto ''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"), which refers to th ...
'' 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 Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
or
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
(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 List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...

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 Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
). 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 ...
, topless sunbathing and, historically, long-range driving (before Britain had
motorways network. A controlled-access highway is a type of highway A highway is any public or private road or other public way on land. It is used for major roads, but also includes other public roads and public tracks. In some areas of the Un ...
) 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 In mathematics Mathema ...
, and for the United Kingdom, currency and the continued use of certain
imperial units The imperial system of units, imperial system or imperial units (also known as British Imperial or Exchequer Standards of 1826) is the system of units A system of measurement is a collection of units of measurement A unit of measuremen ...
alongside the
metric units Metric units are units Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT, a fictional military organization in the science fiction television series ''Doctor Who'' * Unit of action, a discrete piece ...
which have long since displaced customary units in Continental Europe. Britain is physically connected to continental Europe through the undersea
Channel Tunnel The Channel Tunnel (also referred to as the Chunnel) is a railway tunnel A tunnel is an underground passageway, dug through the surrounding soil/earth/rock and enclosed except for entrance and exit, commonly at each end. A pipeline ...
(the longest undersea tunnel in the world), which accommodates both the
Getlink Getlink, formerly Groupe Eurotunnel, is a European public company based in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated populatio ...
(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, owned and operated sepa ...

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 that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the southwest. England is separated from by the to the east and the to the south. The country cover ...

England
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 philology, philological study of the Germanic languages, particularly from a Comparative method, comparative or historical perspective. The beginnings of research into the Germanic languages began in the 16th century, with ...
, ''continental'' refers to the European continent excluding the
Scandinavian peninsula The Scandinavian Peninsula ( sv, Skandinaviska halvön; no, Den skandinaviske halvøy (Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language, alongside Nynorsk. Bokmål is the preferred writ ...
, 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 File:Usgs map mercator.svg, The Mercator projection and its use on a world map. This projection first came into use in the 16th century by the Dutch. A circle of latitude or line of latitude on ...
, 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 Nort ...

Jutland
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 Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
(excluding
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the Mediterranean islands#By area, second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, and one of the Regions of Italy, 20 regions of Italy. It is located west of the Italian Penin ...

Sardinia
,
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
, etc.), the continental part of
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
(excluding the
Balearic islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea contai ...

Balearic islands
, the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...
, Alboran, etc.), the continental part of France (excluding
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north ...

Corsica
, etc.), the continental part of Portugal (excluding the
Madeira Madeira ( , , ), officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira ( pt, Região Autónoma da Madeira), is one of the two autonomous regions An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, su ...
and
Azores The Azores ( , also ; pt, Açores ), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (), is one of the two (along with ). It is an composed of nine s in the region of the North Atlantic Ocean, about west of , about northwest of , and about ...

Azores
islands), or the continental part of Greece (excluding the
Ionian Islands The Ionian Islands (Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, including th ...

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 The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated Bay, embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between ...
, and
Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology ...

Crete
). 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 Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * ...
.


See also

*
Continental philosophy Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awarenes ...
* 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 Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather th ...
*
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 human geography, politically, econo ...
*
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
* Hajnal line


References

{{Authority control Regions of Europe Political geography