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Discovering unique facts about Europe

Europe, the second smallest continent on Earth, is full of mysterious and unique facts. It is often called the "peninsula of peninsulas" because it is surrounded by water on three sides. If you're planning to visit this fascinating place to study, travel or work, it's a good idea to do your research and find out as much as possible about it. Today, we will take you on an interesting journey where you'll learn about Europe's rich history, diverse cultures, and mesmerising attractions. Join us in discovering 11 unique facts about Europe before visiting this charming continent with English Path.

1. More than 200 languages are spoken in Europe!

Europe is a gold mine for language enthusiasts. With over 287 languages spoken across the continent, it is one of the most exciting places for you to learn a new language. You can learn English at EP from trained teachers while being surrounded by students from around the world.

2. Europe is the birthplace of democracy

Democracy may seem like a very modern concept to many, but it was first conceived in Europe in the 6th century BCE. It was Cleisthenes who introduced a democratic form of government in the city-state of Athens. The concept originated there and gradually influenced the rest of the world.

3. The world’s smallest country is in Europe!

Vatican City which is only 0.02 square miles, is considered the smallest country in Europe and the world. It is surrounded by Rome, Italy and is the global headquarters for the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican City mints its own euros, prints its unique stamps and has a flag and a national anthem as well. It is also where the Pope lives.

4. Europe has over 400 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Did you know that there are more than 400 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe, the most on any continent in the world? If natural beauty and warm climates were not enough to visit this beautiful continent, then exploring these unique sites that capture the rich and cultural history of Europe is definitely a good idea. Some of the World Heritage Sites you can visit while learning at one of English Path’s language schools in Europe are:

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK

  • Blaenavon Industrial Landscape (2000) 
  • Blenheim Palace (1987) 
  • Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church (1988) 
  • Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd (1986) 
  • City of Bath (1987) 
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2003) 
  • Saltaire (2001) 
  • Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (1986) 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malta 

  • City of Valletta (1980) 
  • Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum (1980) 
  • Megalithic Temples of Malta (1980, 1992)  

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ireland 

  • Brú na Bóinne - Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne (1993) 
  • Sceilg Mhichíl (1996) 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France 

  • Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Rémi and Palace of Tau, Reims (1991)  
  • Chartres Cathedral (1979)  
  • Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems (2008) Palace and Park of Versailles (1979) 
  • Paris, Banks of the Seine (1991) 
  • Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance in Nancy (1983) 
  • The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes (2000) 
  • The Maison Carrée of Nîmes (2023) 
  • Vézelay, Church and Hill (1979) 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany 

  • Aachen Cathedral (1978) 
  • Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch (1991) 
  • Archaeological Border Complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke (2018) 
  • Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau (1996, 2017) 
  • Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (2013) 
  • Berlin Modernism Housing Estates (2008) 
  • Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey (2014) 
  • Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Brühl (1984)

5. Europe is home to some of the oldest universities in the world

Do you know what connects some of the most famous and oldest universities in the world, such as the University of Oxford, the University of Salamanca, the University of Paris, and the University of Cambridge? They are all located in Europe! The University of Bologna in Italy, established in 1088, the world's oldest continuously operating university, is also part of this ancient group of universities. 

6. The largest museum in the world is in Paris, France, Europe

If you want to see the largest art collection on display in the whole world, then head to the largest museum on Earth – the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. It has over 615,797 items, of which almost 35,000 are always on display, including Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, which attract millions of visitors from around the world each year.

7. Europe has the highest number of castles in the world

There are over 10,000 castles or ruins in Europe. They were originally built to stop invaders but later became the home of royal families. Today, many museums have become public museums or remain empty, with a few exceptions, such as Buckingham Palace in London and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, where the Scottish Parliament can now be found. 

8. Europe produced some of the world’s influential writers

From William Shakespeare to Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy to Victor Hugo, Europe has been the birthplace of many literary giants. Their works are not only enjoyed by the masses for pleasure but are also studied at various universities worldwide because of their contributions and influences throughout history. Every writer around the world has been impacted by European literature at some point in their life.

9. The Netherlands has more bicycles than people!

Did you know that there are more bicycles in the Netherlands than people? The Dutch nation has approximately 17.9 million people and 23 million bicycles, which includes around 2.4 million e-bikes. Bicycles are the primary mode of transportation in the Netherlands, and one study even suggests that the Dutch are extending their life expectancy by half a year because of their love for cycling. 

10. There are no mosquitoes in Iceland!

There are over 3,600 species of mosquitoes, but not even one exists in Iceland. The low temperatures and almost no shallow ponds or areas of water make it hard for this family of flies to make a nest. So, if you are someone who wants to explore green spaces without these tiny insects buzzing around in your ear then take a trip to Iceland, or, should we say, the land of no mosquitoes.

11. The first ever Olympic Games were held in Greece, Europe

Did you know that the very first Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. at Olympia, southern Greece, to worship gods? It is said that the Olympics were created in honour of the most famous ancient Greek god: Zeus, king of the gods. Athletes prayed to Zeus for victory and offered gifts to thank him when they won. The modern Olympics, which began in 1896, are inspired by the Ancient Olympic Games. After a decade, the Games are returning to Europe for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Frequently asked questions about the unique European facts

Q1. What are some interesting facts about Europe?

A1. Some interesting facts about Europe are: 

  • It is the second smallest continent in the world. 
  • There are 50 countries in Europe. 
  • It is home to the world’s smallest country, Vatican City. 
  • It is where democracy began in the 6th century BCE. 
  • Over 200 languages are spoken in Europe. 
  • The world's largest art collection is on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. 

Q2. Where can you see the Northern Lights in Europe?

A2. There are many cities and countries in Europe where you can see the northern lights, but some of the best places are Norway, Sweden, and Finland. They appear randomly but are mostly visible in the early hours between midnight and 2 AM. So, when visiting these places try to see them if you can! 

Q3. What makes Europe so interesting?

A3. Europe is an interesting place where the modern world and history collide. From modern architecture to UNESCO World Heritage sights and quiet green spaces in Iceland to bustling city life in London, it offers you the best of both worlds. 

Q4. What languages should I learn before travelling to Europe?

A4. There is no official language, but English is widely spoken across Europe. If you are fluent in the English language, you will get by easily, or you can also learn or improve your English skills at EP. We offer a wide range of language courses across major European locations, such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Dublin and Malta! By joining us, you can add a new language to your CV and explore the beauty of Europe! 

Q5. Are there any safety concerns when travelling in Europe?

A5. One of the unique facts about Europe is that it is generally a safe travel destination and popular among students! Still, it is always good to be cautious as you would in your home country! Do not go out alone at night, take care of your belongings in a crowded place, always share your location with your loved ones and save the emergency number of the country you’re travelling to.