The continent of Europe comprises 50 independent states (nations), from the island country of Iceland in the west to the vast nation of Russia in the east. European nations have wielded tremendous cultural influence throughout history, from the empires of the Greco-Roman era to the colonization of the New World during the Age of Exploration and on to Europe's modern-day influence on food, fashion, design, and industry. Europe was also the primary theater of war for World War I and World War II, although both conflicts quickly expanded to a global scale.
A sprawling transcontinental nation, Russia is the largest country in the world by land area, the largest country in Europe, and also the largest country in Asia. Although only 25% of Russia's land lies in Europe, that land is home to 78% of the nation's people. In light of this, Russia is considered culturally European. Other European countries with sizable populations include Germany (83.9 million), the United Kingdom (68.2 million), and France (65.4 million).
Europe is home to some of the smallest nations in the world. Interestingly, the smallest European countries include some of the wealthiest, not only in Europe but in the world. Luxembourg has a population of just 634,814 but is one of the world's wealthiest countries. Monaco is famous for its wealth and glamor but has just 39,511 residents. The tiny Catholic nation, Vatican City, has a permanent population of only 800 inhabitants but has billions of dollars worth of assets such as priceless pieces of art and historical artifacts.
Europe may someday have more than 50 countries. As of 2021, six additional European territories were seeking to become independent from their parent countries. Chief among these is the state of Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. However, thus far only half of the United Nations member states (and only three of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council) have recognized Kosovo as a sovereign entity. Many European countries also have territories in other continents, largely holdovers from the Age of Exploration. For example, the North American island of Greenland is technically a territory of the European country Denmark, and the tiny island of Mayotte off the eastern coast of Africa is an "overseas region" of France. For a full list of all 50 nations in Europe, scroll down to our table below.