Scandinavia and the World

Comments #9501647:

Brexit to the right 7 7, 8:02pm

No, seriously. I do.

> Like seriously, the whole Aegean sea is Europe, but not the east coast? Buh??

Well, why stop with the Aegean Sea? Why not the entire Mediterranean Sea? I mean, the Aegean could be considered a small part of the overall Mediterranean, and since we have the north coast of the Mediterranean in Europe, why not the south coast?

The question obviously becomes, "Where do you draw the line?" Is "Europe" based on physical location, or is it based on culture? No matter where the line is drawn, yes, it'll be completely arbitrary. This much is true. We could go with political borders, declaring that Russia is entirely Europe, (even though it's geographically in Asia), and then arbitrarily decide that Mongolia and Kazakhstan are not Europe "just because", even though they border a European nation. (The same could be said for Georgia and Azerbaijan.) Then we could slingshot that west through the Black Sea into the Aegean, (by way of Turkey's northwestern border), and bisect the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar. (But then, oh no, do we include Greenland as part of Europe, or is that North America?)

Going back to the second sentence of the preceding paragraph, whether the arbitrary line that is drawn is political, geographic, or cultural, something's going to get cut off in the middle. Like, if we go with the cultural demarcation, do we include East Thrace as part of Europe but not the rest of Turkey, cutting the country into a European and a Middle Eastern part? What about with Russia? The farther east one goes, the farther away from Moscow and the rest of Europe, how culturally European are the locals? In fact, what does it even mean to be "culturally European"? (I don't think there is such a thing as "culturally European" - Europe has many different cultures and subcultures, but there is no overarching culture that is "European". The Portuguese are quite different from the Finns, the Irish from the Ukrainians.)

And for a geographic/geologic interpretation, using water as a border has been done for countless generations. Mountains, too. As mentioned earlier, the Mediterranean would be an obvious choice for a line of demarcation - "north" of the Mediterranean is Europe, "south" is Africa. "West" isn't a concern, due to the Strait, but "east" does become problematic. Hopping northeast a bit, the Caucasus Mountains are a convenient natural formation to mark the limits of Europe. But how do we link the Mediterranean and the Caucasus? The obvious route is via the Black Sea. But, again, we reach the problem of Turkey when we hit the Bosphorus, as you mentioned. And we have a similar problem with Russia: the Caucasus connect to the Caspian Sea to form a nice border with that body of water, but where do we go from there? Do we follow the Volga River north into Russia to the Rybinsk Reservoir, to Lake Beloye, Lake Onega, and then to the White Sea? (The idea almost smacks of the reverse of post-War border-drawing, but instead of merging disparate cultures into one country because of physical proximity, we're dividing political nations based upon geographic formations.)

> The idea that it just ends at the Bosphorus is silly.

You're absolutely right. It is silly. What's also silly is including a large portion of a country that is not European in the EU just because a smaller portion of it happens to be in physical proximity to European nations and happens to have a culture similar to Europe's. (Again, whatever "culturally European" means.)

Since whatever decision is made will end up being arbitrary, I say we combine the political and geographic aspects. Exclude Turkey and Russia from "Europe", and let the rest of the western nations on the Eurasian Plate (plus Iceland, and Greenland if they want) be "Europe".