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Europe: The postcard continent

Citizens of the world who do not live in Europe will probably never cease to dream of the day when they can discover this continent and gaze upon the wonders and splendours of its "old countries." Europeans, for their part, are quick to leave for the weekend or for a few weeks in search of a new cultural experience or adventure in nature. This is what makes Europe, the continent of a thousand faces, so charming.


Western Europe

This region has always attracted the largest number of tourists, beginning with France, the most visited country in the world. Indeed, France offers attractions and a culture that charm all who encounter them; Paris alone features the same number of sites as there are days in a year. Magnificent at all hours of the day or night, it is undoubtedly the City of Cities. Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse also deserve particular mention.

The Iberian peninsula, comprising Spain and Portugal, is also a premier destination, especially during the winter months. North of the English Channel, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are lands of medieval castles, green hills and captivating islands. In the British Isles, literature, music and beer are a perfect combination.Central Europe Central Europe is home to small countries with great traditions, such as Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands. These countries truly know how to make the most of their many treasures. Basel, at the meeting point of three countries (Switzerland, France and Germany) is proof of this cultural explosion. Unified Germany is a dynamic state that certainly offers its share of cultural activities and lively evenings. Berlin and Frankfurt are modern, fascinating cities. To the south, Italy is a sun-drenched land of wine and enchanting sites. Names such as Rome, Venice and Florence are synonymous with romance. At the continent's northern tip, the Scandinavian countries have been able to preserve their vast wilderness of majestic beauty. Their lakes, fjords, rivers and mountains are amazing places for hiking and observing a wide array of botanical and ornithological wonders.Eastern Europe Since the collapse of the USSR in late 1991, this vast, ever-changing region has established closer ties with Western Europe. Countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic have become popular tourist destinations.

Because the majority of these "Eastern" countries (Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Lithuania, Russia, etc.) were quite difficult to access until about 10 years ago, one can predict that they will soon become premier spots for visitors. Filled with ancient artefacts, fortresses, castles, mountains, plains and historic sites that are unknown to the public, these countries are likely to reveal some of Europe's best-kept secrets.

Where on earth

Europe is the smallest of all five continents. Located west of Asia and north of Africa, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Covering 10,000,000 km² (3,861,094 sq mi), Europe includes 45 states and more than 700 million inhabitants.
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