Eastern Hemisphere. Mr. Bradfield Skyview Middle School. 7 th Grade World Geography and Culture. Western Europe: Its Land and Early History. Section 1: A Land of Varied Riches. Key Ideas! Geographical features of Europe contributed to the development of different cultures.
To describe the geographical attributes of Europe.
To describe the factors affecting the climate of Europe.
To explain how Europe’s natural resources affect what it produces today.
Transportation throughout Europe is important to the economics and cultural development of the continent. Before the 19th century, the fastest form of moving goods and people came from travel by water.
If you look at any map of the continent of Europe, what might strike you right away is that Europe appears as one big peninsula. With water surrounding the landmass to the north, south, and west, it would be an accurate description. The Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, North Sea are all major bodies of water that define the borders of Europe. Rivers have also helped to shape Europe. The Rhine and the Danube are still highly traveled today and the Volga which stretches for 2,200 miles through western Russia is the continent’s longest. For hundreds of years, all of these bodies of water have carried people and products over great distances.
Europe is a land of peninsulas with the Scandinavian, Iberian, and Italian peninsulas acting as a few examples. Peninsulas are land masses that are surrounded on three sides by water. Some of these peninsulas came be very dramatic like the Scandinavian peninsula. It has steep cliffs with a narrow inlet of seawater called fjords.
Mountain ranges also play a role in the history of the people of Europe. Among the mountain ranges that are located in Europe are the Alps, Pyrenees, and Ural Mountains which separate the continent from Asia. The mountains can be attributed to helping cause the different cultures to develop across the continent.
Why do you suppose the mountains shaped the different cultures of Europe?
Another landform that dominates the European geography is the Great European Plain. Just like North America, Europe has a vast region that is flat and treeless. It stretches from the Ural Mountains to the coast of France and boasts some of the richest farmland in the world. Trading centers of some of the ancient peoples of Europe developed in this area and have become some of the biggest cities in Europe today. Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, and Moscow are all located within the Great European Plain.
The climate of Europe varies depending upon location and elevation. Even though Europe is affected by the Gulf Stream current bringing warmer air and water to the continent, the winters are severe in the mountains and the far north. Arctic winds can blow from the north and make average temperatures in some places fall below 0°F in January. The Pyrenees and the Alps act as a barrier to these winds and the influence of the Mediterranean Sea and make people in the southern part of Europe far more comfortable as their averages in January maybe above 50°F. Summers in the south are hot and dry with July temperatures averaging 80°F. Elsewhere in Europe, except in the far north and the mountains, the averages range from 50°F to 70°F in July.
Europe provides itself and the rest of the world with a variety of resources. The German Ruhr Valley is rich in coal deposits which have helped to make the region an industrial center. Large deposits of iron ore found in Russia and the Ukraine help its region manufacture cars and other products. Europe is also known for its rich soil and plentiful rainfall. On the Great European Plain, the average precipitation amounts to 20 to 40 inches per year. In comparison, the Pueblo West area averages around 12.5 inches per year. The weather of Europe allows for most parts of the continent to engage in some kind of agricultural activity. This has allowed Europe to be a world leader in producing crops for markets.
Copy the following chart onto a piece of paper to be filled in and turned in at a later date. As we go through the next sections in this chapter, please record information related to these topics.