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Southern Europe

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Southern Europe

Southern Europe
Geographic features of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea
Southerly countries of Europe (dark blue)

The term Southern Europe, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, economic, civilizational and socio-cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical geographic, phytogeographic or climatic approach.

Geographic definition

Regions of Europe based on CIA world factbook
  Southeastern Europe
  Southern Europe
  Southwestern Europe
European sub-regions according to EuroVoc (the thesaurus of the European Union). Southern Europe is marked yellow on this map.

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:

Southwestern Europe (Iberian peninsula)

Countries whose borders lie within Southwestern Europe (Iberia)

Southcentral Europe (Italian Peninsula)[1]

Southeastern Europe (Balkan peninsula)

Countries whose borders lie within Southeastern Europe (the Balkans)

Island countries

United Nations geoscheme

Southern Europe as defined by the United Nations (marked green):
  Southern Europe

For its official works and publications, the United Nations Organization groups countries under a classification of regions. Southern Europe, as defined by the United Nations (the sub-regions according to the UN), comprises the following countries and territories:[2]

As of 2009, there were 153,506,431 people living in southern Europe with an average population density of 117 inhabitants per square kilometer:[2]

Southern Europe:[2]
Country Area
(2010 est.)
Population density
(per km²)
Albania 28,748 2,821,977 111.1 Tirana
Andorra 467.63 84,082 179.8 Andorra la Vella
Bosnia and Herzegovina 51,129 4,613,414 90.2 Sarajevo
Croatia 56,594 4,489,409 81 Zagreb
Gibraltar (United Kingdom) 6.8 29,431 4,328 Gibraltar
Greece 131,990 11,295,002 85.3 Athens
Italy 301,338 60,418,711 200.5 Rome
Macedonia 25,713 2,114,550 82.2 Skopje
Malta 316 412,966 1,306.8 Valletta
Montenegro 13,812 672,181 50 Podgorica
Portugal 92,090 11,317,192 114 Lisbon
San Marino 61.2 31,716 501 City of San Marino
Serbia 88,361 7,120,666 102.46 Belgrade
Slovenia 20,273 2,054,199 99.6 Ljubljana
Spain 504,030 46,030,109 93 Madrid
Vatican City 0.44 826 1877 Vatican City
Total 1,314,930 153,506,431 116.74

Climatic definitions

Mediterranean climate

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 belongs to the Mediterranean climate is:

Humid- and temperate subtropical climate

Humid subtropical climate, as well as the temperate subtropical type, are found in the following Southern European countries:

Phytogeographic definition

  Medititerrannean agriculture in coastal and peri-coastal regions

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, which served as the main historical languages of the Mediterranean region.

Romance languages

Romance languages have spread from the Italian peninsula, and are emblematic of Southwestern Europe. (See the Latin Arch.)

Small communities in

Hellenic languages

Small communities in

Turkic languages

Small communities in

Albanian languages

Small communities in

South Slavic languages

Small communities in

Germanic languages

Due to the English colonisation of Malta and Gibraltar, Germanic languages have a small 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

Semitic languages

Basque languages

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


a.   ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 108 out of 193 United Nations member states.


  1. ^ According to Encyclopedia Britannica Italy is located in South-Central Europe
  2. ^ a b c United Nations Statistics Division- Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49)
  3. ^ Wolfgang Frey and Rainer Lösch; Lehrbuch der Geobotanik. Pflanze und Vegetation in Raum und Zeit. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, München 2004
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