European Union - Geography

Geography

The EU's member states cover an area of 4,423,147 square kilometres (1,707,787 sq mi). The EU's highest peak is Mont Blanc in the Graian Alps, 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft) above sea level. The lowest point in the EU is Zuidplaspolder in the Netherlands, at 7 m (23 ft) below sea level. The landscape, climate, and economy of the EU are influenced by its coastline, which is 65,993 kilometres (41,006 mi) long. The combined member states share land borders with 19 non-member states for a total of 12,441 kilometres (7,730 mi).

Including the overseas territories of France which are located outside of the continent of Europe, but which are members of the union, the EU experiences most types of climate from Arctic (North-East Europe) to tropical (French Guyana), rendering meteorological averages for the EU as a whole meaningless. The majority of the people live in areas with a temperate maritime climate (North-Western Europe and Central Europe), a Mediterranean climate (Southern Europe), or a warm summer continental or hemiboreal climate (Northern Balkans and Central Europe).

The EU's population is highly urbanised, with some 75% of inhabitants (and growing, projected to be 90% in 7 states by 2020) living in urban areas. Cities are largely spread out across the EU, although with a large grouping in and around the Benelux. An increasing percentage of this is due to low density urban sprawl which is extending into natural areas. In some cases this urban growth has been due to the influx of EU funds into a region.

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