Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent (particularly by Britons, Azores and Madeira Portuguese, Balearic and Canary Spaniards, Icelanders and other European island nations, and peninsular Scandinavians), is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding the islands of Europe.
The most common definition of continental Europe excludes the Greek Islands, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearic Islands, Iceland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom and its dependencies. Most definitions extend the boundaries of the continent to its standard boundaries: the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus Mountains.
- Use in the United Kingdom 1
- Use in Scandinavia 2
- Mediterranean and Atlantic islands 3
- See also 4
- References 5
Use in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the Continent is widely and generally used to refer to the mainland of Europe. 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).
Occasionally the term mainland Europe is used. An apocryphal British newspaper headline supposedly once read, "Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off". It has also been claimed that this was a regular weather forecast in Britain in the 1930s.
Derivatively, the adjective continental refers to the social practices or fashion of continental Europe as opposed to those of Britain. Examples include breakfast, topless sunbathing and, historically, long-range driving (before Britain had motorways) often known as Grand Touring. Continental Europe, when compared to Britain, has numerous defined differences both cultural and tangible. The use of civil law rather than common law, different electrical plugs, different time zones for the most part, a different currency, driving on the right, and using the metric system exclusively are a small selection.
The United Kingdom is physically connected to continental Europe through the undersea Channel Tunnel (the longest undersea tunnel in the world), which accommodates both the Eurotunnel (passenger and vehicle use - vehicle required) and Eurostar (passenger use only) services. These services were established to transport passengers and vehicles through the tunnel on a 24/7 basis from the United Kingdom to continental Europe and vice versa, while still maintaining the appropriate passport and immigration control measures on both sides of the tunnel. In recent times however, British and French authorities have had considerable trouble concerning illegal immigration into the United Kingdom on account of migrants mainly from Sudan, Syria, Libya and Eritrea among others.
Especially in Germanic studies, continental refers to the European continent excluding the Scandinavian peninsula, Britain, Ireland, and Iceland. The reason for this is that although the Scandinavian peninsula is attached to continental Europe by Karelia and the like, it is usually reached by sea, not by land (which would require travelling north as far as Tornio at the 66th parallel north). Kontinenten (the Continent) is a vernacular Swedish expression that refers to the area excluding Sweden, Norway, and Finland but including Denmark (even the Danish archipelago) and the rest of continental Europe. In Norway, similarly, one speaks about Kontinentet as a separate entity, usually referring to Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Benelux countries, and such. However, technically the Scandinavian peninsula is accessible these days by train and road due to several bridge/tunnel structures connecting Danish peninsula Jutland to Scania in Sweden, without having to travel the long route through Russia.
Mediterranean and Atlantic islands
The Continent may sometimes refer to the continental part of Italy (excluding Sardinia, Sicily, etc.), the continental part of Spain (excluding the Balearic islands, the Canary Islands, Alboran, etc.), the continental part of France (excluding Corsica, etc.), the continental part of Portugal (excluding the Madeira and Azores islands), or the continental part of Greece (excluding the Ionian Islands, the Aegean Islands, and 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.
- Central Europe
- Continental philosophy
- Council of Europe
- Eastern Europe
- European Union
- Geographical midpoint of Europe
- North German Plain
- Northern Europe
- Southeast Europe
- Southern Europe
- Western Europe
- Fog in Channel? (book)