Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European powers controlled at various times the Americas, most of Africa, Oceania, and the majority of Asia.
The French Enlightenment, the subsequent revolution and the Napoleonic wars are events that deeply modeled and structured the future of the European continent, culturally, politically and economically from the end of the 17th century till the first half of the 19th century.
It includes all states except for Belarus, Kazakhstan and Vatican City.
Further European integration by some states led to the formation of the European Union, a separate political entity that lies between a confederation and a federation.
Yet the non-oceanic boundary between Europe and Asia—a concept dating back to classical antiquity—is arbitrary and amounts to a historical and social construct.
The primarily physiographic term "continent" as applied to Europe also incorporates cultural and political elements whose discontinuities are not always reflected by the continent's current overland boundary with Asia.
The EU originated in Western Europe but has been expanding eastward since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Politically, Europe is divided into about fifty sovereign states of which the Russian Federation is the largest and most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population.Europe, in particular ancient Greece, was the birthplace of Western civilization.The fall of the Western Roman Empire, during the migration period, marked the end of ancient history and the beginning of an era known as the Middle Ages.Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere.Europe is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Europe is generally considered as separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways of the Turkish Straits.