In 1820, Mathew Carey and M. Lavoisne's Geographical and Statistical Map of Europe described Europe like this:


Of the three grand divisions of the Eastern hemisphere, Europe, though the least in extent, is the most important, as well by its superior civilization and attainments in learning, commerce, and the arts, as by its influence upon the affairs of the rest of the world.

The continent of Europe lies between the Frozen Ocean in the North, and the Mediterranean Sea in the South; on the East it is bounded by Asia, from which it is separated by the Ural Mountains and the River Ural; on the West, it is bounded by the great Atlantic Ocean. ...

It lies between longitude 10° W. and 60° E. of London, and between latitude 36° and 72° N. Some writers make the river Oby, in Russia, the North-eastern boundary of Europe, in which case its greatest extent, measuring diagonally from Cape St. Vincent in the South-west, to the mouth of the Oby in the North-east, is about 3600 English miles; its breadth, from the North Cape of Lapland to Cape Matapan, in the Morea, is about 2500 miles.


With the exception of a small part of Lapland and Russia, Europe lies within the temperate zone, so that its inhabitants are not exposed to the extremes of heat or cold. The soil is fruitful in all the necessaries, and many of the luxuries of life; and though this quarter of the earth has not to boast of rich mines of gold, silver, or precious stones, nor of the production of sugar or spices, elephants or camels, it abounds in corn, wine, fruits, horses, sheep, and cattle, of the finest quality.


SEAS.—The great Atlantic Ocean washes all the western coasts, and separates Europe from America; its various parts receive different names derived from local circumstances; as the Bay of Biscay, between France and Spain; the German Ocean, between Great Britain and Holland and Denmark; the Cattegat, between Jutland and Sweden; St. George's Channel, and the Irish Sea, between Ireland and Great Britain; the Channel, between the South of England and the French coast; lastly, the Frozen Ocean, between the Arctic circle and the North Pole.

The internal seas are, the White Sea, between Lapland, Finland, and Russia; the Baltic, between Sweden and Prussia, &c. the Mediterranean, which separates Europe from Africa; the Archipelago, which is but a branch of the Mediterranean, dividing Greece from Asia Minor; the Sea of Marmara, a small gulf connected with the latter; the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azof, both dividing the South-east of Europe from Asia.

GULFS.—Those of Livonia, Finland, and Bothnia, are branches of the Baltic Sea; that of Biscay is part of the Atlantic Ocean; that of Venice, is a branch of the Mediterranean. The Bristol Channel, between Wales and Cornwall, is a branch of the Atlantic.

STRAITS.—The Sound, between the island of Zealand and the coast of Sweden, at the entrance of the Baltic; the Great Belt, between Funen and Zealand; the Little Belt, between Jutland and Funen; St. George's Channel, between England and Ireland; the Sleeve, or Straits of Dover, or of Calais, between France and the South-east point of England; the Straits of Gibraltar, at the entrance of the Mediterranean; the Straits of Bonifacio, between the islands of Corsica and Sardinia; the Straits of Messina, between Sicily and Naples; the Dardanelles, uniting the Archipelago with the Sea of Marmara; the Straits of Constantinople, communicating between the latter and the Black Sea; and the Straits of Caffa, joining the Black Sea to the Sea of Azof.

LAKES.—Peipus, Umen, Onega, and Ladoga, in Russia; Wenner, Wetter, Muler, or Upsal, with many others of less note, in Sweden; Constance, Zurich, and Geneva, in Switzerland; Maggiore and Como, in Italy.

RIVERS.—In Russia, the two Dwinas, the Peza, the Udora, the Duna, the Kama, the Don, the Dnieper, and the Wolga. In Poland, the Niemen, the Bug, the Przypecz, the Bog, the Dniester, and the Vistula. In Germany, the Weser, the Elbe, the Oder, the Inn, and the Danube. In France (including Holland), the Scheldt, the Waal, the Rhine, the Moselle, the Meuse, the Seine, the Marne, the Loire, the Dordogne, the Garonne, the Rhône, and the Doubs. In Italy, the Po, the Adige, and the Tiber. In Spain, the Douro, the Tajo or Tagus, the Guadiana, the Guadalquiver, the Xucar, and the Ebro. In England, the Thames, the Severn, and the Humber. In Scotland, the Tay. In Ireland, the Shannon and the Liffy.

ISLANDS.—In the Atlantic, Great Britain and Ireland; the Scilly Isles; the Hebrides and Orkneys; Shetland and Ferro Isles; and Iceland. In the Irish Sea, Man and Anglesea. In the Channel, Wight, Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark. In the Bay of Biscay, Belleisle, Rhé Oleron, and Ushant. In the Baltic, Zealand, Funen, Rugen, Bornholm, Oland, Gothland, Oesel, Aland, and a few others. In the Mediterranean, Ivica, Majorca, Minorca, Corsica, Sardinia, the Lipari Isles, Sicily, Malta, Corfu, Cephalonia, Zante, Candia, Rhodes, the Grecian Archipelago, and Cyprus.

PENINSULAS.—Jutland, Spain, Italy, the Morea, and Crimea.

CAPES.—Cape North, the most northern point of Europe; Cape Clear, in Ireland; the Lizard Point, in England; Cape la Hogue, and Quiberon, in France; Finisterre, in the North of Spain, and Trafalgar in the South; St. Vincent, in Portugal; and Matapan, the most southern point in the Morea.

ISTHMUSES.—That of Corinth which connects the Morea with the continent, and Perekop, by which the Crimea is united with Little Tartary.

MOUNTAINS.—The Ophrines, a vast ridge, separating Norway from Sweden; the Cheviot Hills, between England and Scotland; the Alps, between France and Italy; the Pyrenées, between France and Spain; the Apennines, in Italy; the Krapacs, or Carpathian Mountains, between Poland and Hungary; and the Kamenoy Poyas, which form the Northern boundary between Europe and Asia.

VOLCANOES.—Heckla, in Iceland; Ætna, in Sicily; Vesuvius, in Naples; and Stromboli, in the Lipari group.


The languages of Europe are the Italian, French, Spanish, and Portugese, derived from the Latin; the German, Flemish, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, and English, from the Teutonic; the Sclavonian, dialects of which are used in Poland, Russia, Bohemia, and a great part of European Turkey; the Celtic, of which dialects are spoken in Wales, the Highlands and islands of Scotland, Ireland, Britany in France, and in Lapland; and the modern Greek.


Though most of the governments of Europe are monarchical, yet they are possessed of a thousand little springs to soften and check the rigour of that form, which are not to be met with elsewhere. Russia, Austria, including Bohemia and Hungary, and Turkey are Empires; France, Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, Prussia, Westphalia, Saxony, Wirtemberg, Bavaria, Italy, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, and Portugal, are Kingdoms, variously modified. Switzerland is a Commonwealth of many States, some of them aristocratical, others democratical. Most of the other continental divisions, not included in the above, bear the title of Duchies. Venice, Genoa, Ragusa, and Holland, were formerly Republics, but the liberties of these states were swallowed up in the vortex of the French Revolution, and the restoration of the remainder of Europe to the ancient order of things has produced no change in their favour. The three first have become provinces of monarchies, and the last now forms a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


The original inhabitants of Europe were descendants of Gomer, the elder son of Japheth, who seem t have been soon mixed with colonists of their brethren. ? The most remarkable tribes among them, were the Celtes, the Titans, the Cimbri, the Teutones, the Belgæ, the Illyrians, the Dacians, the Celtiberians, the Gauls, the Cimmerians, the Sabines, Latines, &c;. To which we may add the Sarmatians, Massagetæ, Sclavonians, Huns, Scandinavians, Vandals, and Jutes, Scuyts, or Scots, who appear to be of Scythian origin, but who made good their settlement in Europe at various periods.

The number of inhabitants in Europe is estimated at 178 millions; but it is doubtless capable of supporting a much greater number. Still it is more populous, and better cultivated than either Asia, Africa, or America; it is more full of cities, towns, and villages, and its buildings are more solid and commodious.

In this quarter of the earth, we meet with the greatest variety of character, government, and manners. The human mind has here made the greatest progress towards improvement; and here the arts, whether of utility or ornament, the sciences, both military and civil, have been carried to the greatest perfection.


There are three principal forms in Europe, viz. the Christian, the Jewish, and the Mahometan. The Christian religion is divided into the Roman Catholic, the Greek Church, and the Reformed, or Protestant, in its two chief divisions of Lutheranism and Calvinism. The Jews are numerous in every country in Europe, particularly in Poland, which from the indulgence there shewn towards them, has been called their Paradise; but they have no national establishment. Mahometanism was brought into Europe, first by the Saracens, and afterwards by the Ottomans, and is now confined to Turkey. In Lapland, and the northern parts of Muscovy, the inhabitants are mostly pagans. The forms adopted in the various states will be seen in the foregoing catalogue of Political Divisions.


As navigation owes its improvement to European ingenuity ands perseverance, so its concomitant, commerce, has been cultivated in this part of the world with unremitted assiduity, and prosecuted to every quarter of the terraqueous globe. The discovery of the passage to the East Indies, by the Cape of Good Hope, by the Portugese; of the West Indies and America, by the Spaniards and British; and the more recent discoveries by Captain Cook, in the Northern and Southern Pacific Oceans; are proud monuments of European enterprize.

The manufactures of Europe consist of linen, cotton, and woolen cloths, hats, hardware and earthenware, clocks, watches, toys, and other articles of mechanism, dried fish, paper, gunpowder, fire-arms, sugar, tobacco, alum, brimstone, oil, spirituous liquors, wines, beer, glass, leather, and other articles essential to the comfort and well-being of the human race; most of which are exported in considerable quantities to other parts of the world, where they are readily bartered for the more refined, but less useful objects of splendid luxury.

The point coordinate held for Europe is that given by GeoNames, and represents the approximate centre of the continent, being a location just south of Stuttgart.

Obviously, Europe has changed considerably over the past two hundred years. However, at such general level, very little data can be presented. It is recommended that you search for more specific locations, or go to our pages for England, Scotland or Wales.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, A Vision of Europe through Time | Map and description, A Vision of Europe through Time.


Date accessed: 02nd August 2021

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