Cours en anglais de géographie

 

Geography – Chapter IV

EuropeanStates and the European Union

  

Introduction

I) European boundaries

Is Europe a continent or not? It is difficult to distinguish its boundaries.

 

-          The western boundary is easy to define : the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the Channel

-          The northern boundary is obvious and drawn by the ArticOcean

-          The southern border is the Mediterranean Sea.

-          The eastern border, between Europe and Asia, is usually the Ural Mountains, an old mountain range. It is not a major obstacle that would hinder flows or migrations, as it peaks at only 1894 meters.

žQuestionable border.

-          The different seas lining southern Asia (Caspian Sea, Black Sea) and the CaucasianMountains (high mountains, orographic obstacle) are also eastern boundaries.

 

Why was the Ural chosen as a boundary ?

Russian tsar Peter the Great (18th century) wanted eastern Russia to be a European state, because he believed in the potential of this group of countries as a political and economic pole.

 

The Ural may draw the eastern boundary of Europe, but maybe this border has to do with a transitional zone : Russia is more and more Asian as you move to the east, and more and more European as you move to the west.

 

 

II) European demography

 

Card 3 p. 13

This map deals with the population densities in Europe and the way the population is distributed throughout the continent.

 

A- General figures

The overall density of Europe is ≈ 100 inhabitants/km², without Russia

Area (with Russia) : 10 million square kilometres.

Population (with Russia) : 700 million inhabitants

žDensity without Russia? It's difficult to define Europe as a continent.

 

B- Distribution of the population on the continent

 

Main concentration of people in the Megalopolis

Megalopolis = urbanised region between London and Zurich, which is the most densely populated area in Europe.

 

Other important concentrations :

       Some remote big cities not really integrated in the Megalopolis : Vienna, Paris, Moscow

       Germany is the most populated country in Europe, and very densely populated : ≈ 200 inhabitants/km²

       Italia is also densely populated, especially in the North + littorals/shores : high densities from the North to the South on both sides of the country.

       The Balkan States (eastern and southern Europe, mountainous areas) are also pretty densely populated (Belgrade, Bucharest, Sophia…)

       The United-Kingdom is densely populated compared to the European average, especially England (London, the North, the Midlands)

 

C- The case of France

 

1) France as a whole

 

One of the less densely populated countries in Europe, even if it's the 2nd population after Germany (≈ 61 million inhabitants)

Its area is the biggest (except Russia) : > 500 000 km², but the average density is pretty low : ≈ 110 people/km²

ž It's a loosely populated country, less densely populated than its neighbours.

 

2) Features of the distribution of the population throughout the country

 

× The French population lives close to the megalopolis (north east, Alsace, Nord Pas de Calais) + the Mediterranean and Atlantic shores (from La Rochelle to Dunkerque)

ž      Quite densely populated ; more and more people live on the borders. They tend to migrate to the littorals where the main economic flows are.

 

× 1/6 of the population lives in the urban area of Paris (10/11 million), a lot more than in the 2nd city (Lyon).

In all the other European states, there's no such discrepancy between the first and 2nd cities (London/Birmingham…)

 

× Cities located in the main valleys of the French territory: rivers (Seine, Loire, Rhone, Garonne)

ž      Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes

The rest of the territory is sparsely populated.

 

On the whole, Europe is a small continent but which is densely populated: it's the 3rd concentration of population on a world scale after eastern Asia (China+Japan+Korea) and the 2nd Asian pole (India)

 

 

D- Explanation for such high densities

 

In Europe, as in Asia, the continent has been developed for a long time.  These old European societies have developed a lot throughout the centuries :

 

× An efficient agriculture provided decent living conditions and food for an ever-growing population

× At the turn of the 18th and 19th century, as Europe was undergoing its demographic transition, industrialization came as a new driving force behind the economic and demographic growth.

It began in Britain and provided the economic resources need by the growing population. This industrialization can explain why you can find so many urban concentrations in Europe nowadays.

Moreover, the rural depopulation in Europe caused people to drift towards cities.

 

 

E-  An ageing continent

 

Its growth is curbing, slowing down

to curb = freiner, limiter, juguler

 

-    People who were born during the Baby Boom (at the end of the 50's) are getting older : there are more and more elderly people in urban population

žDecline of this population

 

-    Young people are lacking, they are fewer and fewer as the number of children per women (= fertility rate = indice de fécondité) is decreasing.

 

Doc 3 p.19

-    The fertility rate should be around ­ 2 (= replacement rate = taux de renouvellement), but countries like Germany, Italy or Spain are close to 1.

The highest fertility rate is in Ireland.

 

Only 18% of the European population is under 15, whereas it's about 30% on the world scale.

Japan is in the same situation even though it's a unique country.

15% of the population is over 65 (6% only in Asia)

 

In these post-industrial societies, it's pretty expensive to bear and raise children, as opposed to developing countries where children are used as a means to increase wealth.

 

èEurope can be identified by its special demographic features.

 

 

The European immigration policy is very tough. It's very difficult to immigrate to Europe. Contrary to the United States, its borders are closed.

 

 

 

III)  European History

 

The European identity has to do with history. Its unique place in the world is due to positive and negative aspects.

 

 

1) Positive aspects - some common principles that were developed throughout history.

 

Democracy and civilization

Athena was the cradle of democracy (political system widely spread nowadays)

The French kingdom was created when Hughes Capet took over in 987.

The Ancient Roman Empire was a forerunner of the actual unity of Europe. Rome was a republic which became a very powerful empire. This Mediterranean empire had spread all around the Mediterranean Sea (Roman roads). It has influenced the rest of Europe and colonized Britain. Rome has spread its civilization : starting point of urbanization.

 

Religion

Christianity was adopted as the official religion of the Empire. The Christian faith spread thanks to the unity of the Roman Empire. Europe has been built around the Christian organizations, which remained when the Roman Empire collapsed.

The political system relies on religious structures.

 

New ideas of freedom

Modern times (after the great discoveries) / Middle Ages

In England, then France : revolutions against the King, sparked off by the idea of republic. King = absolutism

ž     

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