Europe combines stunning natural beauty with unique and historic cityscapes - together, they take the breath away.
Fjords of Norway
Our continent has some stunning coastal scenery. Norway, with its beautifully-sculpted fjords, has the longest coastline in Europe. It is unsurprising when looking at a map that European culture, influence, goods and settlers travelled around the globe primarily by sea. The Strait of Dover / Pas de Calais is the busiest shipping lane in the world. The EU works to keep coasts clean and operates a Common Fisheries Policy, preventing overfishing so that sustainable fishing stocks exist for future generations of fishermen.
Hungarian Parliament, Budapest
European architecture certainly exhibits unity in diversity. Broad architectural styles can be identified across the continent such as gothic. baroque and neoclassical, but each country's architecture is distinctive within its stylistic period. The Hungarian Parliament Building was modelled on the Palace of Westminster, though the architect was also influenced by Austrian practices. Europeans have shaped architecture on a global level through colonialism, as seen, for example, from the Ruins of St. Paul in Macau, China.
Tulip Fields, Netherlands
The Netherlands without tulips, Italy without olives and France without wine are simply unimaginable. The EU recognised this over 50 years ago and has hence invested in heavily in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). CAP ensures that farmers can make a decent living, provide an affordable and stable food supply and can produce in an environmentally friendly way. For the years 2014-2020, the EU is investing almost €100 billion to maintain the high standards of food production on our continent.
City of the Arts and Sciences, Valencia
The Valencian City of the Arts and Sciences shows that there can be real beauty, comfort and elegance in modern architectural developments. Throughout Europe there are magnificent examples of 20th and 21st century design, from striking statements like The Shard, London (the tallest building in the EU), the Louvre Pyramid, Paris and the Reichstag Dome, Berlin to the lesser-known pieces found if one knows where to look - the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies in Scotland spring to mind...
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, can be seen in Northern Europe. These natural spectacles take place when bursts of charged particles from the Sun interact with and excite particles in our atmosphere which then lose their energy by releasing light. The aurora is one of many climatic occurrences in Europe, some more benign than others. Our climate is predominantly temperate due to Gulf Stream warming, with some steppes, Mediterranean and montane forests, taiga and alpine tundra.
Grand Canal, Venice
There are few places where the uniqueness of European cities is painted with quite the clarity that it is in Venice. Every year, millions of tourists flock to the once mighty but ever beautiful archipelago. London, Paris and Barcelona are some of the most frequented destinations on Earth, and France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK are all in the top ten nations by annual tourist arrivals. The rich history, culture, beauty and vibrancy of European cities are open to our own citizens and to all the world.
The Matterhorn and the Alps
The Alps are the largest mountain range fully in our continent and are at the very heart of Europe. The Matterhorn straddles the Swiss-Italian border, Mont Blanc the Franco-Italian, and the entire range spans eight countries. The Alps have had a significant impact on the lifestyle and culture of the local people and tourists. Famous for their incredible natural formations and gorgeous views, the mountains are a haven for skiiers and snowboarders in winter and a summer paradise for hikers and climbers.
Europe by Night
Europe looks beautiful from space. This image shows clearly the extent and connections of European inland and coastal settlements: the brightest clusters are in northern Italy, along the Rhine and in the Benelux and Czech-Polish Upper Silesia regions; the UK Midlands are (typically) obscured by clouds. There's plenty happening after the sun sets, from rollerskating through city streets to operas screened in the night air, and from fireworks and stargazing to evening wines in the dying light of the Sun.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Europe is dotted with tranquil lakes which offer islands of serenity in our busy modern lives. The Lake District in the UK, the Salzkammergut in Austria and Lake Bled in Slovenia (to name but a few) not only provide incredible scenery but are also a great attraction for tourists and an inspiration for artists the world over. As with Geneva and Annecy, they can be very much a part of citizens' lives; for many, to swim in the likes of a distant Lake Garda is to truly escape for just a little while.