A few years ago we went for a long weekend to Morocco and as a responsible traveller we arranged insurance which clearly stated that Morocco is in Europe. Then we went to Slovenia which was referred as the most progressive country of Eastern Europe. Of course the Slovenians were not impressed being positioned in Eastern Europe when they are clearly ‘an Alpine country bordering Italy and Austria ‘.
Here in the UK they refer to Europe as a continent. “We are going to the continent for a holiday” means two weeks in Provence.
So where are the borders of Europe? And does a single Europe exist? Or are there Eastern, Western, Scandinavian, Balkan, Alpine, Central, South Eastern Europe …And this divide is valid only if you are coming from the Western Hemisphere. If you are flying from China then Eastern Europe is Germany, Holland, UK, France!
The most significant eastern border of Europe was established by the Swedish geographer and cartographer von Strahlenberg as lying in the Ural Mountains. But that border is not in accordance with the EC divide which has members of the EC, non members of the EC and prospective candidates. As someone who comes from Eastern Europe, from a country which is not a member of the EC and a long way from even becoming a candidate, I find it very difficult to explain to people when they ask me where I come from. Sometimes I make a terrible mistake saying “the former Yugoslavia” and we end up talking about the Iron Curtain in Europe when there was a clear divide based on political systems. We were communist and the rest of Europe capitalist. Then in accordance with political preferences the United States and Western Europe established the NATO alliance and later the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe established the Warsaw Pact. I felt for the Germans being divided into East and West but also divided into NATO and the Warsaw pact. Then after forty four years Germany was reunited, after the symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the maps of Eastern Europe were redrawn once more.
I think only the Europeans define themselves so much by division – mainly by geography but usually by wars – while the rest of the world see us just as ‘ Europe’ .There are various descriptions of Europe’s boundaries, some some sources include territories that other sources do not include in Europe.
For example, Cyprus is close to Turkey but is often considered part of Europe and is a member state of the EU. For Western Europeans, Eastern Europe is Bulgaria but for the Bulgarians themselves Turkey is Eastern Europe as far as the Bosporus Straits, but for Western Europe Turkey is not Europe at all. Lots of people think that Malta belongs to Africa .Would you say Finland was in Europe or Scandinavia? Or is Bosnia in the Balkans or Europe? When you search for your next holiday please have a look at which countries are really ‘Europe’. The travel industry is the biggest culprit for dividing Europe. Usually by price.
What do you think where are they – the borders of Europe? My email is Tara@ReadyClcickAndGo.com or leave comment here.