Europe is the sixth largest continent in size and the third largest in population. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south, Asia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the West. Europe is a wealthy continent and is the center of the West and Western Democracy.
Europe has been the home to some of the Earth's greatest civilizations from Ancient Greece to the Roman Empire. It is also the home to the birth of democracy. Europe has been the central point of two of the biggest wars in modern history: World War I and World War II. Recently Europe has united under the common union called the European Union. This union allows independent European countries to have a single currency and to combine their economic and military power.
Switzerland is renowned for its cheeses, chocolate, watch making and Swiss army knives. The excellent public transport and idyllic landscapes make for wonderfully scenic journeys through manicured fields and valleys. Its profusion of idyllic fields of flowers and pine forests draw you into its beautifully still landscape.
While the natural beauty of its rolling hills, valleys, mountains, glaciers and lakes manage to entice visitors back again and again.
France is the biggest country in Europe, making up almost one fifth of the entire European Union. Two thirds of the country is made up of plains, but France also boasts 3,000km of coastline, large mountains and beautiful countryside. The climate in the north of France is similar to Britain, but in the south the weather is much hotter and drier.
More people go on holiday to France than any other country in the world: even the French often go on holiday in their own country.
Italians trace their gastronomic heritage to Romans, Greeks, Etruscans and other Mediterranean peoples who elaborated the methods of raising, refining and preserving foods. But dining customs acquired local accents in a land divided by mountains and seas into natural enclaves where independent spirits developed during the repeated shifts of ruling powers that fragmented Italy from Roman times to the Risorgimento.
Still, despite the different attitudes about eating expressed from the Mediterranean isles to the Alps, Italian foods have points in common.
The Netherlands is a constituent country located in Western Europe and with territories in the Caribbean. It is bordered by Belgium and Germany. The Netherlands is mostly low-lying, located at the mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Meuse, and Schelde).
The government system is a constitutional monarchy. The chief of state is the Queen and the head of government is the Prime Minister. The Netherlands has a mixed economic system.
While the Austrian Alps cover three quarters of the country, Austria amounts to more than its mountains. It enjoys a mix of landscapes with glaciers, meadows, alpine valleys, wooded foothills, rolling farmland, vineyards, river gorges and cities like Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck.
There is a special ambiance about the cultured capital Vienna which has delightfully blended the traditional with the modern. Here old coffee houses and rustic wine taverns sit neatly alongside quality contemporary restaurants and chic shops.