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EUROPE, with the exception of Australia, is the least of the great continents into which the earth is naturally divided: but in the intelligence, enterprise and civilization of its people, and perhaps also in physical advantages, it is eminently superior to all other portions of the world. "Altrice victoris omnium gentium populi, longeque terrarum pulcherrima.". Hist. Nat., lib. iii. § 1.) Here man in his mental, moral and physical capacities is most developed. Enlightened and strengthened by successive ages of struggle, mind and matter have here attained their utmost tension. In no other part of the world has such progress been made in all that is useful, ornamental and great. The arts, sciences and literature are indigenous. Italy and Greece, the ancient seats of learning and song, whose grandeur astonishes the mind; Britain, the mother of nations, on whose wide dominions the sun never ceases to shine; Germany, whose sons overturned even Rome herself, and whose eventful history so captivates the soul; and France, beautiful France, are of Europe but component parts. All is classic ground. Alexander, Charlemagne, Napoleon, were denizens of this favored land. Here Homer sang; here Milton lived. Shakspeare, Schiller, and a thousand other potent names, are linked in eternity to its destiny. To the world, indeed, Europe is as an elder brother, to which all nations look for encouragement and support. Its history sheds a halo of light over civilization, and its ancient liberties ever live in the hearts of true freemen. All modern institutions have their prototype in the laws and equities of Europe, and governments find their chief support in the wisdom of her sages. Intelligence and industry framed her prosperity, and the same agents maintain her preeminence.
Europe, geographically speaking, is situated between the longitudes of 90 west, and 66 east, and between the latitudes of 34° and 710 north. It is bounded north by the Arctic Ocean; east by the River Kara Baïgarama, the main chain of the Urals, the River Ural, the coast of the Caspian Sea, the Strait of Ienikale, the Sea of Marmora, the Dardanelles, and the Archipelago; south by the principal chain of the Caucasus, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Straits of Gibraltar, and the Atlantic Ocean; and west by the Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Sea. The greatest length of Europe, from Cape St. Vincent in Portugal, to a point in the chain of the Urals, in the neighborhood of Iekaterinbourg, (in the Government of Perm, in Russia,) is 3,372 English miles. The greatest breadth, from Cape Nord-kin, in Finmark, to Cape Matapan, in Morea, is 2,400 miles. The area is 3,684,841 square miles.
The narrowest part of the European continent, washed by opposite seas, Vol. II.
is situated between the Gulf of Kanda'askaia, a branch of the White Sea, on the east, and the Gulf of Bothnia, near Kemi, on the west. There is also a remarkable contraction between the Bay of Biscay and the Gulf of Lyons. The width of the former of these contractions is 200 miles, and of the latter 230 miles.
The continent of Europe is distinguished from all others by the great irregularities of its shape and surface, and by the great number of its inland seas, gulfs, harbors, peninsulas, promontories and headlands. This circum stance tends not only to influence very materially the climate and natural products of this continent, but to promote navigation and commerce, on which, in a great measure, its prosperity depends.
The great indentations of the coast of Europe, especially those of the north-west and south sides, being its most important features, THE SEAS, on which these depend, will be first described. These are not, however, so extensive as is generally supposed. That portion of the Atlantic situate between Norway, to the south of Cape Stadt, Germany, France, Great Britain, and the Shetland Isles, is called the North Sea or German Ocean. It exhibits many remarkable topographical features. The encroachments of this sea on the coasts of Germany and the Low Countries have produced two gulfs, called the Dollart and Zuyder-Zee. An arm of the North Sea, between Jutland and Norway, is called the Skager-Rack, and by some geographers, the Sea of Denmark. One portion of it penetrates a deep inlet on the coast of Norway, and forms the Gulf of Christiana; aud another arm between the south of Sweden and the northern portions of Jutland, takes the name of Kattegat. Two arms of no great size fill the inlets of Bauke and Bergen, on the south-western coast of Norway.
The Atlantic, as it stretches along the coast of Norway to the north of Cape Stadt, is called the Scandinavian Sea; to the west of the Strait of Dover, it is called the English Channel, between England and France; between Scotland and England, on one side, and Ireland on the other, it is named the Irish Sea, the southern outlet of which is St. George's or the Irish Channel, and the northern, the North Channel; it is called the Caledonia Sea to the north-west of Scotland; the Gulf of Gascony along the north-west coast of France; and the Bay of Biscay along a portion of the northern coast of Spain.
Two branches of the Atlantic, penetrating far inland, form the Mediterranean and the Baltic seas: the one situated in the north and the other in the south of Europe.
The Baltic, on the north, is a great inland sea, between Denmark, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Prussia, and the Baltic provinces of Russia and Sweden. Its most remarkable branches are the Gulf of Bothnia, between Russian Finland and Sweden; the Gulf of Finland, south of Finland, and between that and the governments of St. Petersburg and Revel; the Gulf of Livonia or Riga, further south; and the Gulf of Dantzic, in Eastern Prussia. The passage or Channel of the Sound, and those of the Great and Little Belts, are the three openings by which the Baltic communicates with the Kattegat, which has already been noticed as a branch of the North Sea.
The Mediterranean Sea lies between Europe, Africa and Asia, to all which it is common. It communicates with the Atlantic by a narrow gut called the Strait of Gibraltar. This sea, in different localities, has received various specific names. On the European side, and between that continent
and the Belearic Isles, it is called the Belearic Channel; on the south of France, it has received the name of the Gulf of Lyons; on the south of Sardinia, the Gulf of Genoa; between Italy and the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, the Gulf of Tuscany; the Sea of Sicily, between the island of that name and the coast of Naples, and the Ionian Sea, between Southern Italy and Greece. The Adriatic Sea is a large arm penetrating between Northern Italy and Dalmatia: it is known by various local names in its several parts, as the Gulf of Venice, the Gulf of Trieste, &c. The Ægean Sea or Archipelago, between Greece and Asia, forms another great gulf, and has a number of inlets between the islands on its southern border. The singular indentations of the coasts of Greece and European Turkey form a great number of secondary gulfs, the most remarkable of which are those of Nauplia and Egina or Athens, in the Kingdom of Greece; of Saloniki and Contessa, in ancient Macedonia, and Saros, in ancient Thrace.
Beyond the Strait of the Dardanelles, is the Sea of Marmora, and then by the Bosphorus, the Mediterranean communicates with the Black Sea, a lake of vast size, included between the southern coast of Russia, the eastern coast of European Turkey, and the northern coast of Asia Minor. This sea also presents several gulfs, of which the Sea of Azof, and the gulfs of Perecop and Odessa are the most remarkable—all of which belong to the coast of Southern Russia,
The Arctic Ocean, which, as already stated, washes only the northern extremity of Europe, exhibits several gulfs, of which the most considerable is that called Bieloé Moré, or White Sea. This extensive arm of the sea is nearly surrounded by that portion of the Russian territory which forms the government of Archangel. It has four principal gulfs, namely, those of Kandalaskaia, Onega, Archangel, the estuary of the Dvina, and Mezen. The other principal gulfs of the Arctic Ocean are West Fiorden, between the Lofoden Islands and the opposite coast of Finmark; the Gulf of Tcheskaia, in the government of Archangel, and the Gulf of Karskaia or Kara, between Nova Zembla and the opposite coasts of Europe and Asia. The Caspian Sea, between Europe and Asia, is a vast expanse of water, and forms, properly speaking, the most extensive lake in the known world. Its greatest extent of coast is in Asia. It receives the waters of the Ural and Volga, and numerous other streams from European Russia.
The superficial extent of the inland seas of Europe exceeds 1,800,000 square miles. The following table exhibits the estimate of each:
Europe presents a coast line of nearly 15,000 miles in length. The most remarkable STRAITS IN EUROPE are:-the Strait of Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco, which forms a communication between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; the Straits of Messina; the
Dardanelles; the Bosphorus, or Strait of Constantinople; the Strait of Ienikale, uniting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azoph; the Strait of Dover, separating France from England, and uniting the English Channel and the North Sea; the Sound, between Sweden and the Island of Zealand; the Great Belt, between Zealand and the Island of Fyen; and the Little Belt, between Fyen and the opposite coast of Denmark. The three last form communications between the Kattegat and the Baltic. The Strait of Waygats, Vaigatch or Kara, lies between Nova Zembla and the Russian government of Archangel.
The PRINCIPAL CAPES are:-Cape Zelania, the northern extremity of the island group of Nova Zembla; North Cape, on the Island of Mageröe, in Finmark; the Nord-Kyn, also called Noss-Künn, in Finmark, remarkable as being the northern extremity of the European continent. All these capes project into the Arctic Ocean. On the shores of the Atlantic, and its branches, are found:-Cape Skagen, or the Skaw, in the north of Jutland; Cape La Hague, in France; Cape Wrath, in Scotland; the Land'sEnd, in Cornwall, England; Cape Clear, the south-westernmost point of Ireland; Cape Finisterre, in Spain; Cape Roca, in Portugal, and Cape St. Vincent's, also in Portugal. In the Mediterranean, and its branches, we find Cape Gata, Cape Palos, Cape St. Martin, and Cape Creux, all in Spain. Cape Corso, is the northern point of the Island of Corsica. In Sicily, are Capes Faro and Passaro. Capes d'Anzo, Campanella, Spartimento, Spartivento, Nau or Colonne, and Leuca, are all in Italy. Cape Matapan, in the Morea, is held by all geographers to be the extreme southern point of the European continent. There are also numerous capes and headlands in the Black Sea. In the Baltic we may mention Cape Domesnes, in the Gulf of Livonia, and Cape Hango-Udde, in the Gulf of Finland.
From the manner in which the European continent is penetrated by the ocean, its outline presents a number of PENINSULAS, to which there is no parallel in the world. The largest of these is the Scandinavian Peninsula, comprising Norway, Sweden, and Lapland. Next follow the three great peninsulas of Western Europe; the Spanish, which includes Spain, Portugal, and the Republic of Andorré; the Italian, so remarkable for its odd form, being shaped like a boot; and the Grecian, not less remarkable for the number of secondary peninsulas which its outline presents. The Morea, forming the southern portion of the latter, alike famous in ancient and modern history, and the Macedonian, the northern portion of the same, which is itself divided into three other peninsulas-those of Monte-Santo, Toron and Cassandra, are occupied chiefly by the modern kingdom of Greece. The other principal European peninsulas are the Crimea, in Southern Russia; Kanin, in the government of Archangel; Jutland, in the north of Germany; and a peninsula which comprehends the provinces. of Holland and Utrecht, which may be termed the Netherlandish. We may also remark that the three departments of Finisterre, Morbihan, and Cotes du Nord, form a peninsula in the north-west of France. Many other peninsulas might be pointed out; but it would be idle to proceed with the enumeration of these, as they can be easily ascertained by consulting the map of Europe.
The RIVERS OF EUROPE may be considered under six heads, corresponding with the different seas into which they disembogue. We must here limit our remarks to those of the larger class; the others will be better described with the countries through which they traverse.