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Chapter 12: Geography of Europe Answer Key
Because of its unique geography and weather patterns, Europe’s landscapes, waterways, and
climates vary greatly.
Landforms and Resources
• Europe is composed of many peninsulas and islands.
• Europe’s landforms also include large plains and mountain ranges.
Peninsulas and Islands: Always Near the Water
•Europe is a large peninsula that lies west of Asia.
• Europe also has its own smaller peninsulas: a “peninsula of peninsulas” most places are
within 100 miles of the ocean or a sea.
Northern Peninsulas
The Scandinavian Peninsula includes Norway and Sweden.
– It is bounded by the Norwegian, North, and Baltic Seas.
– Ice Age glaciers removed the topsoil; leaves thin, rocky soil behind.
– Glaciers create fjords in Norway. These are steep U-shaped valleys connected to
sea, filled with seawater.
– The fjords provide harbors for fishing boats.
Jutland Peninsula forms large part of Denmark, small part of Germany.
– This area has gentle, rolling hills and swampy low areas.
Southern Peninsulas
• Iberian Peninsula is home to Spain and Portugal.
• Italian Peninsula includes Italy, and extends into the Mediterranean Sea.
– It is the boot-shaped peninsula with over 4,700 miles of coastline.
• The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic, Mediterranean, Aegean seas.
Islands of Europe
• The larger islands include Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland in the North
Atlantic Ocean.
• The smaller islands include Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and Crete in the Mediterranean Sea.
Mountains and Uplands
• The Alps are Europe’s most famous mountain chain!
• They cross France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Balkans.
• The Alps also cut Italy off from rest of Europe.
• Apennine mountains divide the Italian Peninsula between the east and west coasts.
• Balkan Mountains block off the Balkan peninsula and separates different ethnic groups.
• Europe has many Upland areas, or hills / low mountains.
• These may also be mesas, or high plateaus.
• Some of the European uplands are the eroded remains of mountain ranges.
European Uplands include the Scandinavian Kjolen Mountains, and the Scottish
Other examples of highlands are the areas of Brittany and the Massif Central uplands in
France, and the Meseta plateau in Spain .
Rivers of Europe: Moving People, Goods, Ideas
• Network of rivers bring people and goods together.
• European rivers allow goods to be moved inland from coastal harbors and aids economic
• Two major, castle-lined rivers have historically acted as highways:
– The Rhine flows north 820 miles from interior to North
– The Danube flows east 1,771 miles, through 9 countries, to Black Sea
• These and many other rivers connect Europeans and encourage trade and travel.
Fertile Plains
The Northern European Plain is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in world.
• Curves across France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and Poland.
• This flat agricultural land produces vast quantities of food.
• The flatness of this area has given invaders an open route into Europe.
• Other, smaller, fertile farming plains include areas in Sweden, Hungary, and northern
Italy’s Lombardy area.
Resources that Shape Europe’s Economy: Fueling Industrialization
• Coal and iron ore are needed to create steel for industrialization.
• These minerals are found in Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, and Poland.
• Major industrialized regions include the Ruhr Valley, in Germany and parts of United
• Oil and natural gas are found in the North Sea.
• Petroleum is supplied to Europe by Norway, Netherlands, and Britain.
Agricultural Land
• 33% of Europe is suitable for agriculture. This is much higher than the average worldwide.
Affecting All Parts of Life
• Resources affect food, jobs, houses, and even an area’s culture.
– For example, folk tales set in deep, dark forests of Old Europe.
• Distribution of resources creates regional differences.
– The Irish burn peat—partially decayed plant matter from bogs – for fuel.
– Polish miners have worked in coal mines for generations.
Climate and Vegetation
• Much of Europe has a relatively mild climate because of ocean currents and warm winds.
• Eastern Europe has a harsher climate because it is farther from the Atlantic Ocean.
Westerly Winds Warm Europe: A Mild Climate for a Northern Latitude
• There is a marine climate on the west coast with warm summers, cool winters.
• Areas in this climate zone include Spain, France, Poland, the British Isles, and coastal
• This is from the North Atlantic Drift, a warm-water tropical current that flows by the west
• Prevailing westerly winds carry the current’s warmth and moisture inland .
• Alps’ high elevation creates colder climate, deep winter snows
Forests to Farms
• Mixed forests are cleared for farming to grow grains, sugar beets, livestock feed, and
potatoes .
Harsher Conditions Inland :Not Reached by Westerly Winds
• Inland areas have a humid continental climate: cold, snowy winters with warm or hot
• Areas with this type of climate include Sweden, Finland, Romania, eastern Poland,
Slovakia, and Hungary.
• There is adequate rainfall for agriculture here.
• Broad, fertile plains were once covered with grasses but today wheat, rye, barley,
potatoes, and sugar beets are grown.
Sunny Mediterranean: An Appealingly Mild Climate
• The Mediterranean climate has hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters.
• This climate zone includes Italy, Greece, and southern Spain and France.
Special Winds
• The Mediterranean coast of France is not protected by mountains like the rest of the area.
• This area has a cold, dry winter wind from the north called a mistral.
• In other areas, a Sirocco, or a hot North African wind, carries sea moisture or desert dust.
The Mediterranean climate attracts tourists.
• Most of the vegetation is evergreen shrubs and short trees.
• Major crops of the area are citrus fruits, olives, and grapes.
• Sunny beaches attract many visitors.
Land of the Midnight Sun:Cold, Dark Winters
• There is a tundra climate in the far north, in Scandinavia, along Arctic Circle.
• This area has permafrost with no trees, only mosses, and lichens.
• South of tundra is subarctic climate with cold, harsh winters. There is little growth here
except stunted trees.
• The region’s sunlight varies sharply with long winter nights, and summer days.
• The area north of the Arctic Circle is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Some winter days here have no sun, and some summer days have no night.
Human-Environment Interaction
• The Dutch and the Venetians altered lands to fit their needs by constructing polders and
• Uncontrolled logging and acid rain destroy forests.
Polders: Land from the Sea: Creating Holland
• “God created the world, but the Dutch created Holland.”
• To hold growing population, the Dutch reclaimed land from the sea.
• 40% of the Netherlands was once under water.
• The Dutch built dikes—earthen banks that hold back the sea.
• A polder is a piece of land reclaimed by diking and draining land.
• Seaworks
• Seaworks are structures like dikes that control the sea’s destructive force.
• Terpen are high earthen platforms that provide safe ground during floods.
• In 1400s windmills were used to power pumps that drained land. Today, the pumps are
powered by electricity.
Transforming the Sea
• Zuider Zee is an arm of North sea that the Dutch turned into a fresh-water lake.
• The Dutch built dikes across the waterway in early the 1900s.
• The saltwater was eventually replaced by fresh water.
• The project added hundreds of square miles of land to the Netherlands, and created Lake
Waterways for Commerce: Venice’s Canals
• The city of Venice is made up of 120 islands.
• Two of the largest islands are San Marco and Rialto.
• People and goods are moved by boat over 150 canals.
• The city formed when people escaping invaders settled on lagoon islands.
• The city’s location at north end of Adriatic makes it a good trading port.
• The “Streets” of Venice
Building on the Islands
• Builders sunk wooden pilings into swampy land to support the buildings.
• Entire oak forests in northern Italy and Slovenia were leveled for the pilings.
• The weight of the buildings is compressing the ground, so Venice is slowly sinking.
• Rising sea levels and removal of groundwater are also causing sinking.
• Venice’s Foundations
Problems Today
• Severe water pollution from industrial waste, sewage, and saltwater eat away the city’s
• Erosion lets saltwater in, and creates floods.
• Agricultural runoff promotes “killer algae” growth.
• The algae grows rapidly, dies, decays; and this process uses up the water’s oxygen, so the
fish in the waters die.
• Dead fish attract insects and create a stench in the warm weather.
A Centuries-Old Problem: Deforestation: The Demand for Wood
• Huge areas of Europe fall prey to deforestation annually.
• Wood is used for fuel, building material for ships, and houses.
Acid Rain Strips Forests
• In 1960s the Germans noticed that the Black Forest’s trees are discolored, and were
dying, causing acid rain.
• Factories produce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.
• These combined with water vapor, create acid rain or snow.
• Strong winds carry the emissions to other areas, affecting one-fourth of Europe’s
• Scandinavia suffers heavily due to the direction of prevailing winds.