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South Europe

The term southern Europe, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical geographical, phytogeographic or climatic approach. Most coastal countries in the United Nations-designated southern Europe border the Mediterranean Sea. Exceptions are Portugal which has only Atlantic coastline, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia, which are landlocked, and Bulgaria, which borders the Black Sea.

Geographical definition

Geographically, southern Europe is the southern half of the landmass of Europe. This definition is relative, with no clear limits.

Countries geographically considered part of southern Europe include:

Iberian Peninsula (SW Europe)

Italian Peninsula

Balkan Peninsula (SE Europe)

Countries whose borders lie entirely within the Balkans
Countries that are mostly located outside the Balkans

Island countries

United Nations geoscheme

For its official works and publications, the United Nations Organization groups countries under a classification of regions. Southern Europe, as defined by the

As of 2009, there were 163,865,210 people living in southern Europe with an average population density of 74 inhabitants per square kilometer:[1]

Southern Europe:[1]
Country Area
(2010 est.)
Population density
(per km²)
Albania Albania 28,748 2,821,977 111.1 Tirana
Andorra Andorra 467.63 84,082 179.8 Andorra la Vella
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 51,129 4,613,414 90.2 Sarajevo
Croatia Croatia 56,594 4,489,409 81 Zagreb
Gibraltar Gibraltar (United Kingdom) 6.8 29,431 4,328 Gibraltar
Greece Greece 131,990 11,295,002 85.3 Athens
Italy Italy 301,338 60,418,711 200.5 Rome
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia 25,713 2,114,550 82.2 Skopje
Malta Malta 316 412,966 1,306.8 Valletta
Montenegro Montenegro 13,812 672,181 50 Podgorica
Portugal Portugal 92,090 11,317,192 114 Lisbon
San Marino San Marino 61.2 31,716 501 City of San Marino
Serbia Serbia 88,361 7,120,666 102.46 Belgrade
Slovenia Slovenia 20,273 2,054,199 99.6 Ljubljana
Spain Spain 504,030 46,030,109 93 Madrid
Vatican City Vatican City 0.44 826 1877 Vatican City
Total 1,338,694 163,865,210 74.05

Climatical definition

Southern Europe's most emblematic climate is that of the Mediterranean climate, which has become a typically known characteristic of the area.

Those areas of Mediterranean climate present similar vegetations and landscapes throughout, including dry hills, small plains, pine forests and olive trees.

The area which is considered climatically southern Europe is:

Phytogeographical definition

Southern Europe's flora is that of the Mediterranean Region, one of the phytochoria recognized by Armen Takhtajan. The Mediterranean and Submediterranean climate regions in Europe comprise the following countries and territories:[3]

Linguistic southern Europe

Romance languages and modern Greek are the heirs of Latin and ancient Greek as the main historical languages of the Mediterranean area.

Romance languages

Romance languages have spread from the Italian peninsula, and are emblematic of southern-western Europe: the "Latin Arch" (Romania and Moldova are an exception on that point). Note that, Romance-speaking countries like Belgium (Wallonia), France, Monaco, Moldova, Romania, and Switzerland (French, Italian and Romansh speaking areas) do not belong to Southern Europe:

Small communities in

Greek language

Small communities in

Turkic languages

Albanian language

Small communities in

South Slavic languages

Slavic languages that are now spoken in southern Europe are not rooted in the Mediterranean area nor spoken mainly in those areas: In that sense those languages are not part of the linguistic definition of southern Europe, since they are logically associated with their "core". That said, southern Slavic languages form a quite homogenous area, geographically separated from north Slavic languages by Hungary and Romania.

Small communities in

Germanic languages

Due to the English colonisation in Malta and Gibraltar, Germanic languages have a little presence in southern Europe, far from the core of Germanic languages in northwestern Europe. Malta uses English as a second language in some cases (after Maltese, which still is the original and main native language). In Gibraltar, English is the official language but Spanish and Llanito (mix of Andalusian Spanish with some English) are also spoken.

Small communities in

Maltese language

Basque language

The Basque language is a linguistic isolate spoken by the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France.

See also


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