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The prevalent definition of Europe as a geographical term has been in use since the mid-19th century.

Europe is taken to be bounded by large bodies of water to the north, west and south; Europe's limits to the far east are usually taken to be the Urals, the Ural River, and the Caspian Sea; to the southeast, including the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.

Europe covers about 10,180,000 square kilometres (3,930,000 sq mi), or 2% of the Earth's surface (6.8% of land area).

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.

The European Anthem is "Ode to Joy" and states celebrate peace and unity on Europe Day.

For the second part compare also the divine attributes of "grey-eyed" Athena (γλαυκῶπις, glaukōpis) or ox-eyed Hera (βοῶπις, boōpis).

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.

From the Age of Discovery onwards, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs.

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.

Chinese, for example, uses the word Ōuzhōu (歐洲/欧洲); a similar Chinese-derived term Ōshū being more commonly used.

In some Turkic languages the originally Persian name Frangistan ("land of the Franks") is used casually in referring to much of Europe, besides official names such as Avrupa or Evropa.

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There have been attempts to connect Eurṓpē to a Semitic term for "west", this being either Akkadian erebu meaning "to go down, set" (said of the sun) or Phoenician 'ereb "evening, west", which is at the origin of Arabic Maghreb and Hebrew ma'arav. Barry, professor in Princeton University's Near Eastern Studies Department, finds the mention of the word Ereb on an Assyrian stele with the meaning of "night, [the country of] sunset", in opposition to Asu "[the country of] sunrise", i.e. The same naming motive according to "cartographic convention" appears in Greek Ἀνατολή (Anatolḗ "[sun] rise", "east", hence Anatolia).regʷos, meaning "darkness", which also produced Greek Erebus.