3. The continent - Extent and boundaries
3.1 - Extent and Boundaries
3.2 - Geography and Geology
3.3 - Climate
3.4 - Biogeography
3.5 - Land-cover and Landuse
Europe is a continent apparently distinct and precise on its western boundaries, but less well-defined in the east (see Map 3.1). Europe stretches from tundra in the north to Mediterranean and desert climes in the south. It abuts Asia in the east, shares the Atlantic with the Americas, and the Mediterranean with Africa and the Middle East. The air it shares with the globe.
The exact boundaries of what constitutes Europe is a controversial matter. It is neither well defined, nor the subject of common agreement. Particularly difficult to decide whether or not they are part of Europe are outlying islands and countries such as Greenland, the arctic islands, Turkey and the trans-Caucasian republics. In the main, this report uses the common geographical definition which excludes the trans-Caucasian republics, Greenland and Anatolia. The border with Asia is taken to follow the Ural mountains, the river Ural to the Caspian Sea, the Manych valley to the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, and the Bosporus. Being an environmental report, however, it focuses on environmentally significant geographical units which may straddle the often artificial borders created by this definition, for example when considering river catchments or sea areas.
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