Europe, the sixth-largest continent, contains just seven percent of the world’s land. In total area, the continent of Europe is only slightly larger than the country of Canada. However, the population of Europe is more than twice that of South America. Europe has more than 40 countries and many of the world’s major cities, including London, the United Kingdom; Paris, France; Berlin, Germany; Rome, Italy; Madrid, Spain; and Moscow, Russia.
Most European countries have access to the ocean. The continent is bordered by the Arctic Ocean in the north, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the Caspian Sea in the southeast, and the Mediterranean and Black Seas in the south. The nearness of these bodies of water and the navigation of many of Europe’s rivers played a major role in the continent’s history. Early Europeans learned the river systems of the Volga, Danube, Don, Rhine, and Po, and could successfully travel the length and width of the small continent for trade, communication, or conquest.