Europe is a continent comprised of fifty different countries. Like most places that stretch for miles and miles, Europe is divided into regions. Altogether, there are nine distinct regions in Europe. Looking specifically at Western Europe, there are seven countries in total, though the debate never ends regarding which countries are actually part of Western Europe. From the northernmost country to the southernmost country, the seven countries most people agree as being part of Western European are…
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is an island surrounded by three bodies of water. The Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea, and the North Sea account for the borders of the United Kingdom. Technically, the UK is a sovereign state that includes Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Ireland. England is the most populated country in the UK, with about 55,620,000 people calling England home as of 2019.
The currency in the United Kingdom is known as a pound sterling, which is the equivalent of 1.3 dollars in the United States. For reference, a pound is worth thirty percent more than a U.S. dollar. The United Kingdom thrives in the trading industry, with the United States and Japan being the two countries with which the U.K. trades the most. Due to the geological nature of the United Kingdom, fishing is also a massive source of income for the U.K.
The U.K. is a very progressive place to live, as are nearly all European countries. The majority of people speak English, though very small percentages of the population speak different first languages. Some of the other languages you’ll hear in the United Kingdom are Scots, Welsh, Angloromani, Irish, Shelta, Cornish, and Scottish Gaelic, to name a few.
Luxembourg takes up so little space on a map that if you don't look closely, you might not see it altogether. Despite its small population and geographic size, Luxembourg is considered a country in Western Europe. Completely landlocked, the country is nestled between Belgium, Germany, and France.
In the Western European country of Luxembourg, people speak English, French, and Luxembourgish. Due to its close proximity with these countries, the majority of immigrants who move to Luxembourg are coming from Portugal, Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy. As a result, there are pockets of Luxembourg where people speak Italian, German, and Portuguese as well. Like many other European Union members, the official currency of Luxembourg is the Euro.
Similar to the United Kingdom, Ireland is also an island. As an offshore country of Western Europe, Ireland is separated from the mainland by the United Kingdom as well as the Irish Sea, St. George’s Channel, and the North Channel. Comparable to North and South Korea, Ireland is broken up into two distinct countries that are no longer formally connected. Up until the year 1921, the island of Ireland was understood to be one complete country.
However, the people of southern Ireland fought for freedom from the United Kingdom, but the northern part of the country remained part of the U.K. As a result, Ireland was divided into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the south. Even with such a drastic interruption of unity in Ireland, the entire island is considered part of Western Europe.
The primary languages spoken in the Republic of Ireland are English and the Celtic language of Gaelic. People who live in Ireland refer to the latter language as Irish, which is a more casual way of talking about the language in particular. There are three different dialects of Gaelic, too, so referring to the language as Irish helps to differentiate the language spoken in Ireland from the other two versions of Gaelic.
Did you know that the Netherlands and Holland are two names that are used to refer to the same country? That's right. Holland and the Netherlands are often used interchangeably. The official name of the country is the Netherlands, but back in 1806, the provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland contributed the most economic value compared to all other provinces, so Holland became a term used to describe the country as a whole. However, the Netherlands is the official name of the country, despite the popularity of Holland in its place.
The Euro is the currency used by people in the Netherlands, and the predominant language of the people in the Netherlands is Dutch. However, the other four languages commonly spoken in the Netherlands are English, Yiddish, Frisian, and Papiamento. If you’ve never heard of the last two languages mentioned, there’s an understandable reason for that. Only Dutch, English, and Yiddish are nationally recognized as official languages in the Netherlands.
Located on the coast of France, Monaco is in competition with Luxembourg in terms of total area. Despite being one of the tiniest countries to exist, Monaco is, in fact, a Western European country. Monaco is positioned along the French Riviera, making the country a prime location for elaborate vacations and fine dining.
As a result of being so close to France, one of the most common languages spoken in Monaco is French. Other popular languages in the country include English and Italian. Monaco, like many other European countries, also has the Euro as its currency. Truth be told, this form of monetary exchanges is very common for the majority of countries that are considered part of the European Union.
The Kingdom of Belgium is almost entirely surrounded by other Western European countries. The only access to water from Belgium is along the country's northwestern border, where Belgium meets the North Sea. The country's capital is Brussels, which happens to be a very bustling and popular place to conduct business. There are three official languages of Belgium, and interestingly enough, English is not one of them. French, German, and Dutch are the most common languages that people speak in Belgium.
The mode of currency in Belgium switched in 2002, going from a Belgian franc to the Euro. As you can assume from the trend of the majority of Western European countries using the Euro, Belgium transferred over to the Euro in order to make transactions between Belgium and surrounding countries far easier to perform. Otherwise, had Belgium’s government stuck with the Belgian franc, people living in Belgium would have to exchange francs for Euros whenever they ventured to another country.
France is a beautiful country situated along the coastline of three bodies of water. The Mediterranean Sea lies along the eastern aquatic border of France, while the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel run along the western borders of France.
If you guessed that France also used the Euro, you’d be absolutely correct. When learning about French currency, you might stumble upon something called the CFP franc. Although this is not the currency used in France itself, the country rules over a plethora of colonies all around the world. The CFP franc is the monetary unit that all of France’s offshore colonies use in their societies.
The official language of France is French, as you may have guessed. A fascinating tidbit of information about France is that every region of France speaks French, until you reach an area called Basque Country. People who live in Basque speak a language unique to that region, and it’s rightfully called the Basque language. Basque is not recognized as an official language in France, strictly because it is so uncommon.