Simple Pleasures of Life

Western Europe and Scandinavia

It should be easy to guess – this part of my blog is dedicated to the region comprising of countries of the western part of Europe and Scandinavia. In particular, major countries of this region are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. In relation to this blog, Scandinavian countries are meant Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.

Cologne Railway Station
Cologne Railway Station

Sometimes, you may often find Spain and Portugal listed rather as Southwestern Europe countries and these two are very similar to countries located in Southern Europe; Spain, Portugal and their islands, many of which are located in the Atlantic Ocean, are busy destinations of many holidaymakers.

Population of the Western Europe (the countries mentioned above) is around 252 million, total area 1.7 million square kilometres. For comparison, the total area of the western Europe is somewhere between Mongolia and Mexico, with almost the same size as Alaska state in the USA; in terms of the population, the Western Europe is slightly less populated than Indonesia. Germany, France and Spain together contribute towards more than three quarters of the total territory and more than 80% of the total population of the Western Europe. The largest territory belongs to France (551,695 square kilometres) and Spain is the second largest country of the region (505,990 square kilometres). The most populated countries of the region are Germany (over 83 million inhabitants) and France (over 65 million people).

Territories of either Sweden and Norway are larger than Germany (still slightly smaller than France and Spain), however population density in Scandinavian countries is quite low – 14 people per square kilometre in Norway, 16 in Finland and 25 in Sweden. For comparison, average population density in Germany, Italy and France is 240, 206 and 119 people per square kilometre accordingly.

Other interesting and useful facts

bridge strasbourg
Bridge in Strasbourg

The highest and most extensive mountain range in Europe are Alps; they stretch across eight Alpine countries. The highest points of the whole region are Mont Blanc (France/Italy- 4,809 metres above the sea level), Dufourspitze (Switzerland, 4,634 metres), Grossglockner (Austria, 3,798 metres) and Teide (Spain, 3,718 metres); the first thee are located in Alps but Teide is actually located on Tenerife island in the Atlantic Ocean.

Six European countries signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which was a beginning of establishing the European Union. The EU was formally created, when the Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992; this agreement came on 1 November 1993 and currently, in 2020, there are 27 EU Member States; the United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January 2020.

It is easy to travel within the most part of the EU as there are no passport controls within the Schengen Area; in addition, a monetary union was established in 1999 – nineteen countries use euro currency in 2020. The Schengen Area consists of 26 states, four of which (Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland) do not belong to the EU.

Most visited countries in Europe are France (86.9 million visitors in 2018), Spain (81.8 million) and Italy (58.3 million). Such relatively small country as Austria experienced arrival of 29.5 million visitors, which is even more than Greece have had. French capital Paris is the most visited city in Europe (15,834.2 million visitors in 2018). The second most visited city in Europe is Italian capital Rome (9,531.6 million) and the third is Czech capital Prague (8,806.7 million). The second most visited city of the Western Europe region is the capital of Netherlands Amsterdam (7,848.0 million visitors in 2018).

It is quite interesting that three of Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, still are monarchies with a parliamentary system; two others, Finland and Iceland, are parliamentary republics like majority of the Western European countries.

To read more, see some travel notes below, return to the contents menu of this this blog to navigate through the content related to the Western Europe region.

Alps, Provence and Rocamadour

French Alps and Provence Everybody has some opinion about France. We have been in France many times, however most exciting was our three weeks long trip around the country in August of 2007. The first part of it was visiting French Alps and Provence, afterwards continuing trip to exceptionally nice town of Rocamadour. This part […]