Of the 50 countries that make up the continent of ‘Europe’, Russia is by
far the largest, and by convention is partly in Asia. Until recently it
was convenient to think of Europe in terms of ’Eastern Europe’ and
‘Western Europe’, but with a number of former Eastern bloc countries
joining the ‘European Union’, the political and geographic definitions of
“east” and “west” no longer coincide. By the generally accepted geographic
definition, Europe is the second smallest of the seven continents at 10
million sq km (nearly 4 million square miles), with 40% of its landmass
being in Russia. Its 50 countries, including Russia, number some 733
million inhabitants, making it the third most populous continent. After
Russia, Germany has the largest population (80.5m), with France (nearly
66m) and the UK (nearly 64m) not far behind. However Europe also has some
tiny “countries” like Monaco and San Marino, both with only around a third
of a million citizens, and the Vatican City state, one of the smallest in
the world with fewer that one thousand.
As the first continent to go through the Industrial Revolution, Europe has
had a great influence on much of the rest of the world, for good and bad.
Western European countries were able to colonise and then exploit other
regions of the globe, taking with them elements of European culture
originating in Ancient Greece and Rome. Slavery and two World Wars on the
one hand, and beneficial social and economic developments on the other,
may turn out to be legacies of a long period of European dominance, which
gave way first to North America and then to Asia.
So far, countries of western Europe dominate the free photo galleries of
this bigfoto website, but more pictures are being added all the time.
Croatia is the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world, and a
glance at the natural scenic beauty and fascinating historical sites in
our photos shows you why. This relatively small country of 1,000 Adriatic
islands and the magical cities of Dubrovnik and Split, has no fewer than
seven UNESCO listed sites. The other city in our photo collection once
considered part of Eastern Europe is Prague, the capital of the Czech
Republic, with its historic, architecturally important old town on the
Vltava River. You could easily study the development of architectural
periods from the Baroque to modern in this city alone.
The European country with the most visitors a year is France – a
staggering 83 million tourists in 2012 made it number one in the world.
Many of them took in Paris, an endlessly fascinating capital city of
elegance and culture. Bigfoto’s library of free pictures reminds you that
Paris offers the iconic Eiffel Tower and the nightlife of Montmartre in
the same visit. But when it comes to style and cultural beauty, few
countries in the world can match Italy. Venice, like a perfect film set of
a historic city, takes your breath away at first sight, no matter how many
times you have been there. Impossibly constructed on islands in a shallow
lagoon, it offers you a break from the dominance of the motor car among
some of the most glorious architecture anywhere. The best months to visit
are May and October, but any time is better than not going. Rome impresses
with the relatively small size of its ancient centre, the Forum. Could
this really have been the hub of one of the most powerful empires on
earth? The nearby Colosseum is intact enough to bring the period to life.
Then there is still Florence, Pisa, magical Siena and Milan itself to
For natural beauty and grandeur in central Europe, the geographically
small and historically neutral country called Switzerland takes some
beating. The Swiss have a reputation for efficiency and quality, but it is
the spectacular Alpine scenery that draws visitors again and again. What
the Swiss have done, perhaps better than any other country, is to make the
majestic peaks accessible to the traveller.
While browsing the site remember that all the photographs of these and
other European countries are free to download and without copyright
restrictions, but please provide a link to our site on your own website or
blog (if you have one), or click the Facebook ‘Like’ button on the bigfoto