Germany, as part of the Central powers Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria , was defeated by the Allies with much loss of life. In , with an environment of poverty, disenfranchisement of the people, and great instability in the government, Germany gave way to the appointment of Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany.
Within a mouth of taking office, Hitler suspended normal rights and freedoms and assumed absolute power. A centralized totalitarian state quickly resulted. In a move to expand Germany, Hitler started to expand its borders.
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In , the Berlin Wall came down, and the two Germanys were reunited in Today, Germany is a vibrant country and an active EU member. Figure 2. To gain national income, Germany has promoted manufacturing as a major component of its economy. Most exports are in automobiles, machinery, metals, and chemical goods. Germany has positioned itself strategically to take economic advantage of the growing global awareness of environmental issues and problems by focusing on improvements and manufacturing of wind turbines and solar power technology.
The service sector also contributes heavily to the economy. Deutsche Bank holds the enviable position of being one of the most profitable companies on the Fortune list. Germany is also a major tourist destination. The Black Forest, Bavaria, the Alpine south, a variety of medieval castles, national parks, and a vibrant assortment of festivals such as Oktoberfest attract millions of tourists to Germany every year. German reunification in posed some challenges for the economy. Notably, the East German infrastructure was far behind that of the West. In an effort to update transportation systems, telecommunications, and other areas needed to support industry and commerce, enormous amounts of money had to be poured into the system.
While there has been considerable success in the renewal of infrastructure, unemployment in former East Germany is still significantly higher, and the necessary retraining of the workforce is ongoing and expensive. Language, religion, and education have been strong cultural forces in Germany. German is the official language of the country and the one spoken by most of its people. More than 60 percent of Germans self-identify as Christian, and another 30 percent self-identify as agnostic or atheistic. During the Cold War, East Germany was under a Communist government that promoted a nonreligious ideology, resulting in a high percentage of people with agnostic or atheistic beliefs in that part of Germany.
Historically, there has been a strong connection between the religious reformation and education. The early leaders of the Christian Reformation were generally highly educated themselves and were strong advocates of education, which they viewed as a path to positive moral and social reform. The German tradition of excellence in education continues. Education is provided at no cost other than taxation to students at all levels, including the university level, though some universities are now starting to charge very modest amounts for tuition.
Landlocked in the center of Europe are the two main states of Switzerland and Austria. Sandwiched on the border of these two states is the ministate of Lichtenstein. This region is dominated by the Alpine ranges. Switzerland, officially known as the Swiss Confederation, is divided into twenty-six cantons states. Because of its location and close ties with neighboring countries, four languages are spoken in Switzerland: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Typically, one language predominates in any given canton.
Its land area is just slightly larger than the US state of Maryland. Internationally, Switzerland is well known for its political neutrality. The UN European offices are located there. The Red Cross and the main offices of many international organizations are located in Switzerland. Switzerland joined the UN in and has applied for EU membership. During times of war and political turmoil, creative people found refuge within the Swiss borders. The Swiss people enjoy a high standard of living. Sports are popular in Switzerland and football, or soccer, is popular as it is in much of Europe.
Switzerland has also produced excellence in hockey, skiing, and of late, tennis. There is an emphasis on science in Swiss culture with good historical reason: the field of modern chemistry originated in Switzerland. The Bernoulli family, famed for their significant contributions to mathematics over many years, hails from Basel. Albert Einstein, though born in Germany, relocated to Switzerland and later became a Swiss citizen. A Viennese specialty, it is a strong black coffee served in a glass and topped with whipped cream; it comes with powdered sugar, which is served separately.
Austria is larger than its neighbor Switzerland and is similar in area to the US state of South Carolina. In , the population was estimated at 8. Austria has various Alpine ranges, with the highest peak at 12, feet in elevation.
Only about a fourth of the land area is considered low lying for habitation. The Danube River flows through the country, including the capital city of Vienna. Austria has a well-developed social market economy and a high standard of living. For more than six hundred years, beginning just before the dawn of the fourteenth century, Austria was tightly associated with its ruling dynasty, the Habsburgs. The Hapsburgs came to power in a new way with the formation of the Austrian Empire in Austria regained its independence a decade after the war ended and joined the EU in Austria is a German-speaking country, and nearly the entire population self-identifies as ethnic Austrian.
Austria is predominantly Roman Catholic and was home to many monasteries in the Middle Ages, influencing a strong Austrian literary tradition. It is famed for its baroque architecture; its music, particularly waltzes; and theater. The Habsburgs were great patrons of the arts, and hence music, drama, and art thrived for centuries in Austria.
The country has been home to many famous composers and musicians and is the setting for the story behind the movie The Sound of Music. Austria has a worldwide reputation in music and the arts. The British Isles are an archipelago group of islands separated from the European mainland by the English Channel. The British Isles are often included in the region of Western Europe when discussing political geography; however, the fact that they are separated from the mainland of Europe by water provides them with a separate identity.
All four regions are now under the UK government. The primate city and UK capital is London, which is a financial center for Europe. The capital city of the Republic of Ireland is Dublin. Influenced by the Gulf Stream, the climate of the British Isles is moderate, in spite of its northern latitude location.
The UK and Ireland are located above the fiftieth degree of latitude, which is farther north than the US-Canadian border. The northern latitude would normally place this region into the type D climates, with harsher winters and more extreme seasonal temperatures. However, the surrounding water moderates temperature, creating the moderate type C climate that covers most of the British Isles.
The Gulf Stream pulls warm water from the tropics and circulates it north, off the coast of Europe, to moderate the temperature of Western Europe. The Western Highlands and the Northern Lowlands dominate the islands. Scotland, Wales, and parts of England have highland regions with short mountains and rugged terrain. The lowlands of southern England, Ireland, and central Scotland offer agricultural opportunities. The Pennines mountain chain runs through northern England and was the source of the coal, ores, and waterpower that fueled the Industrial Revolution.
To the east of Britain is the North Sea, which provided an abundance of petroleum resources oil for energy and wealth. Though the heritage of the British Isles is unique to this region, the geographic dynamics are similar to Central Europe—that is, smaller families, urbanization, industrialization, high incomes, and involvement with economic globalization. The EU has had an enormous influence on the British Isles.
This reluctance can be noted in the fact that the United Kingdom kept the British pound sterling as their currency standard after the euro currency was implemented. However, the Republic of Ireland converted to the euro currency. The regions of the British Isles follow similar dynamics to those of other countries in Western Europe.
Though some regions are not as wealthy as others, they all demonstrate a high level of industrialization, urbanization, and technology. These urban societies have smaller families and higher incomes and are heavy consumers of energy, goods, and services. Just as the Industrial Revolution attracted cheap labor, the aging workforce has enticed people from former British colonies to migrate to the United Kingdom in search of increased employment opportunities.
The mix of immigrants with the local heritage creates a diverse community. London has diverse communities with many ethnic businesses and business owners. Devolutionary forces are active in the United Kingdom. Scotland and Wales are already governing with their own local parliaments.
Devolutionary cultural differences can be noted by studying the different heritages found in each region. Each region has made efforts to retain local heritage and rally support for its own nation-state. However, this is all done with the overall perspective of remaining under the umbrella of the EU. The first iron bridge ever built was located in central England, home of the Industrial Revolution. Home to the Industrial Revolution, major industrial cities such as Manchester and Birmingham brought together the labor, raw materials, and industry connections necessary to manufacture products.
Great Britain was an avid colonizer and controlled colonies on all inhabited continents. Raw materials such as cotton, which did not grow well in Britain, became a major import that fueled the textile mills of the Industrial Revolution. Industrialization caused a rural-to-urban shift in Britain. In , only 9 percent of the population lived in urban areas, but by some 62 percent resided in cities and towns. The British colonial empire also caused a migration pattern whereby people moved from colonies to the home country, with the core area located in the Midlands of northern England.
Cheap immigrant labor and resources from the colonies provided the manufacturing enterprises of wealthy British industrialists with good fortunes. Raw cotton was brought in from the colonies of India and Egypt. Cheap labor, brought in from the Caribbean and South Asia, resulted in a more diverse population in the industrialized northern England. As the information age developed, the industrial centers of northern England gave way to a postindustrialized southern England.
Factories closed, production became automated, and unemployment increased. The transition from the Industrial Revolution to a postindustrial society turned northern England into the Rust Belt of the British Isles. The port of Liverpool has been updated with modern and automated systems that do not require the high level of manual labor that was necessary during earlier industrial times.
The postindustrial economic activities have shifted the focus of employment away from manual labor to the service sector of information. Many places have looked to tourism to boost their economic situation. Northern England has many attractive physical environments that have been developed into major tourist attractions. The city of Blackpool on the Irish Sea, just north of Liverpool, is a major vacation destination for the English.
The dales and moors of northern England, complemented by the short Pennines, provide a sharp contrast to the urban metropolitan landscapes of London and southern England. Anchored by the primate city of London, southern England also is home to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Located on the Thames River, London is a central player in the world economic markets. Southern England also houses about one-third of the UK population. With immigration from the former colonies, this region is also becoming more diverse.
This is an urbanized region, where the cost of living, transportation, and housing is high. For example, the price of gasoline in the United Kingdom might be two or three times that in the United States. Many urban dwellers do not own automobiles but instead use public transportation.
England is the most populous region of the United Kingdom with a density of about one thousand people per square mile. About half the population increase is because of immigration. The UK population is aging as a result of smaller family sizes and a growing number of senior citizens.
This trend is common in countries in stage 5 of the index of economic development. Immigrants from many parts of the world have targeted the England as their new home. Many are from former British colonies in Asia and Africa. England has a diverse population. Islam is the fastest growing religion, even though Muslims make up less than 10 percent of the total population.
London is even home to a growing Sikh community. London is not only the primate city and capital of the United Kingdom; it is the largest administrative municipality in the entire EU. Only Paris has a larger overall metropolitan area. London is a global center that holds prominence in world markets and the globalization process. London is an international city that has a powerful draw for tourists. The parliament is the official legislative body with a prime minister as head of government.
The parliament has two bodies: the House of Commons, whose members are elected, and the House of Lords, whose members are appointed for life. As head of state, the monarch is mainly a figurehead with little actual political power. A number of dependencies remain under the British Crown as far as sovereignty is concerned.
Small islands such as Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, and various islands in the Caribbean and Atlantic and Pacific Oceans remain under the British government for administrative, economic, and defense purposes. A highland region to the west of England, Wales holds a Celtic heritage in which the Welsh language and stories of coal mining can still be heard. However, the English language has become more dominant and tourism has replaced coal mining as the main economic activity.
The decline in the use of coal depressed the economy but did not depress the culture and heritage of the Welsh people. The largest city and capital of Wales is Cardiff. In the early twentieth century, the port of Cardiff handled the largest amount of coal in the world and handled more tons of cargo than Liverpool or London. The decline in coal mining has reduced the shipping activity in the port of Cardiff in the twenty-first century. Devolution is alive and well in Wales.
Welsh nationalism prompted the declaration of a separate parliament in the capital of Cardiff. The break with London provided local autonomy, but Wales is still reliant on the United Kingdom in national and foreign affairs. Many of the young people in Wales emigrate to find work because of the depressed economy. Emigration has caused a leveling off of population growth, and the number of people who speak Welsh has diminished.
Wales and England share a common Protestant Christian religion. Wales is turning to tourism as a means of economic income; the scenic and picturesque landscape of the highland region, with its many castles, provides a pleasant experience for tourists. United with England in , Scotland has been integrated into the United Kingdom while keeping its separate heritage and culture. Scotland has strong centripetal forces uniting the Scottish people, including victories over the British by Scottish clans lead by William Wallace in and Robert the Bruce in ; these forces within Scotland have created a devolutionary split with the UK parliament.
In the quest to become a nation-state unto itself, in Scotland received permission to create its own parliament to govern local affairs. Though Scotland would like to separate into an independent state, they do not wish to isolate themselves from the EU or greater Europe. This contradictory trend, in which local states want autonomy and self-rule yet also want to remain within the larger regional community for economic and national security, is common. The Scottish Highlands provide for livestock production, and the central Scottish Lowlands are favorable for agriculture.
The North Sea has extensive oil resources. With resources such as these, Scotland is in a position to gain wealth and support its small population of about five million people. As an early export product, scotch whisky has profited many whisky marketers and has become the largest export product of Scotland. Scotland benefited and gained wealth during the Industrial Revolution. As a part of an island, early shipbuilding produced ships that brought about trade and development that coincided with European colonialism.
Postindustrial activities have become a focus of the current economy. With natural resources and postindustrial opportunities, Scotland is in a good position to compete in the global economic community. Scottish banking firms reach around the globe through their investment holdings. Scotland attracts a healthy tourism market with its Highlands and many castles.
The game of golf originated in Scotland and is still popular today. Northern Ireland is a place in which strong cultural forces often erupt into violence. Officially part of the United Kingdom, this small region with about 1. Most people consider the religious differences to be the main problem in Northern Ireland.
People of Irish heritage are predominately Roman Catholic, and those of Scottish and English heritages are usually Protestant Christians. But it is not so simple. The core of the cultural problems in Northern Ireland is actually based on political affiliations. Most of the population in the region is not Irish. About 55 percent of the population is of Scottish or English descent, with only about 45 percent of Irish descent. The real problem centers on the governing of Ireland. The Irish would like to see Northern Ireland join with the Republic of Ireland, which received its independence from the British in Irish countrymen want total independence from the United Kingdom.
The non-Irish population does not want to be a part of the Republic of Ireland and its Irish parliament and would rather remain under the British Crown. The people of Scottish descent would prefer total independence from all outside forces. English people definitely want to remain with the UK parliament. Though the real problem is political, religion has become the scapegoat. Because cultural differences can be clearly witnessed between Catholics and Protestants, religion has become the identifier of the two sides.
They are not necessarily fighting over religious beliefs but rather over political power and control. The troubles of Northern Ireland have diminished its economic and employment opportunities. Underground paramilitary groups such as the Irish Republican Army IRA have heightened tensions between the two groups for decades, with car bombings and other terrorist acts. Hope might lie with a generational change in the population. As the younger generation seeks more opportunities and advantages, the issues that separate the two sides could diminish. The hatred that has been built up over the years can be eased with each new generation if centripetal forces work to bridge the differences and unite the social fabric.
If the killing and hatred are passed down to successive generations, it will only take longer to recover. In , after a series of terrorist acts that were condemned on all sides, a movement took place to create the Northern Ireland Assembly with members of both sides of the division.
Obstacles continue to surface to disrupt this calming process, but there is hope that in the future solutions such as this assembly can work toward producing a lasting peace.
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The devolutionary forces active in Wales and Scotland may act to create a more separate Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Assembly was only one step. Progress in Northern Ireland is an uphill battle with high unemployment, a poor resource base, and few economic opportunities.
Only by working together will Northern Ireland become a stable, peaceful part of the British Isles.
The whole island of Ireland was under the control of the British Crown for centuries. In independence was gained from the British for all but Northern Ireland. This bitterly fought conflict has become well entrenched in Irish culture and literature. As an independent country separate from the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland has ascended the economic ladder to become a part of the global economic community.
There are trees but no large forest reserves for commercial exploitation. Peat, which is an early version of coal, is cut from the bogs and burned as fuel. Ireland is not a large country. It is just a bit larger than the US state of West Virginia, with a population of about four million. There are no tall mountain ranges in Ireland. The soils are traditionally rocky with few nutrients. Before colonial times, the traditional food crops included such turnips and rutabagas. When the potato was imported from the Americas, it was well received in Ireland. The potato plant grew well and replaced traditional root crops as the main food source.
In the early s the population of the whole of Ireland including what is now Northern Ireland was as high as eight million. Starting in the s, blight and rot destroyed much of the potato crop year after year, causing a serious famine in Ireland. More than a million people died, and another two million people left the island. The potato famine caused losses reminiscent of the Black Death, which had ravaged Europe centuries earlier. The history of the Black Death may have led to the term Black Irish , which referred to people who fled Ireland during the potato famine and immigrated to the United States.
They were often regarded as lower-class citizens and were discriminated against. Well-established Irish families having immigrated to the United States before the s were not considered Black Irish and assimilated into mainstream American society more easily. The lack of natural resources and the lack of opportunities and advantages held back the Republic of Ireland from developing a strong economy.
With the creation of the EU and advancements in communication, Ireland became an ideal location for expanding North American corporations. The attractive elements included a mild climate, a similar English language, an educated workforce, and a low cost of living. Many high-tech computer firms, communication companies, and automated industries established their base of operations in Ireland—Dublin in particular.
Because Ireland was a member of the EU, it was a convenient intermediary location between the United States and the European mainland. Business boomed in the s, and incomes and the cost of living rose. Tourism also has become a growing sector of the economy. The economic growth in Ireland earned it the title Celtic Tiger to indicate its growing economic power.
However, the rapidly expanding economic conditions of the s have not extended into the twenty-first century. Since , the global depression has taken its toll on the Irish economy. Starting in , the country witnessed a sharp increase in unemployment that coincided with serious banking scandals. Various banks have been targeted for bailout funds from the government, and the economy witnessed a sharp decline. Property values have plummeted, and protesters have staged demonstrations in the streets demanding the government address the economic situation.
Cities such as Dublin are working with the growing pains of recovery in the economic recession. Unemployment remains a concern, as well as declining economic opportunities. Overall, Ireland is working to reposition itself for future economic growth. Ireland is bracing itself for a sluggish economic road ahead. Previous Section. Table of Contents.
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Next Section. Outline how the physical geography varies from region to region. Explain how each region has met the challenges of retaining its cultural identity or uniqueness. Summarize how each region has developed an industrialized economy. Northern Europe Europe has many different cultural identities within its continent.
Special Section: The Cities of Italy Italy has a population of about sixty million people, with about 68 percent living in cities. Table 2. Rome capital 3. Milan 2. Naples 2. Turin Torino 1. Palermo , 8. Florence , Venice , Population is for city only and not for metropolitan area. Central Europe In the regional sense of location, when discussing the political geography of the European continent, the specific states located in the western part of the European mainland are often referred to as Central Europe.
The Benelux Countries The Benelux countries have a great deal in common historically. France France covers , square miles and is the second-largest European country; Ukraine is slightly larger in physical area. Source: Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. Northern England Figure 2.
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Southern England Anchored by the primate city of London, southern England also is home to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Source: Photo by R. Wales A highland region to the west of England, Wales holds a Celtic heritage in which the Welsh language and stories of coal mining can still be heard. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February , but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory.
The two governments began to normalise relations in , as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by out of United Nations member states , while 12 states have recognized Kosovo only to later withdraw their recognition. Europe portal Geography portal. Categories : Regions of Europe Geography of Europe. Hidden categories: Commons category link is on Wikidata.
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