Why are European countries so small

Europe

Both the largest country in the world is in Europe and the smallest: while Russia, with more than 17 million square kilometers, is almost twice the size of all other European states and territories, the area of ​​the state of Vatican City is less than half a square kilometer. Russia is almost four times the size of the European Union, with the five largest EU states - France, Spain, Sweden, Germany and Finland - accounting for a good half of the total area of ​​the EU. The four countries / areas with the highest population density in Europe in 2015 were Monaco, Gibraltar, Vatican City and Malta. On the other hand, nowhere else in the world lived fewer people per square kilometer in 2015 than in Greenland. In Europe this was followed by Iceland, Russia, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Overall, Europe is the region of the world in which the population density increased least sharply between 1960 and 2015 or the only region in the world in which it is assumed that the population density will decrease by 2050.

Facts

Based on the European Commission's broad definition of Europe, Europe has a total area of ​​around 24.1 million square kilometers (km²). If Greenland - which is politically part of Denmark, but geologically belongs to North America - is added, the area increases to 26.3 million km². Russia (17.1 million km²) is almost twice as large as the other 54 European states and areas (see table below), whose total area is 9.2 million km².

The total area of ​​the 28 member states of the European Union (EU) is just under 4.5 million km² - that is less than half the area of ​​China or the USA (9.6 and 9.8 million km², respectively). The five largest EU states account for 51.2 percent of the total area of ​​the EU-28: France (0.64 million km²), Spain (0.51 million km²), Sweden (0.45 million km²), Germany (0.36 million km²) and Finland (0.34 million km²). In the ten largest countries in the EU, the proportion of the total area increases to 78.6 percent. The five smallest EU countries - Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Slovenia and Belgium - only have a share of 1.4 percent of the total area of ​​the EU.

In line with the large differences in land area, the population density of the individual states also differs greatly from one another. According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN / DESA), the four states / areas with the highest population density in Europe in 2015 were Monaco with 25,709, Gibraltar with 3,423, Vatican City with 1,825 and Malta with 1,336 inhabitants per km². Monaco is also the state with the highest population density in the world. Within the EU, Malta was followed by the Netherlands with 502, Belgium with 373, the United Kingdom with 270 and Germany with 234 inhabitants per km².

In terms of population density, there were no fewer people worldwide in 2015 than in Greenland (0.03 inhabitants per km²). In Europe this was followed by Iceland, Russia and Norway with around three, nine and fourteen inhabitants per km². The least populated EU states in the same year were Finland and Sweden with 18 and 24 inhabitants per km² respectively, followed by Estonia and Latvia with 31 and 32 inhabitants per km² respectively. The average population density of all 28 EU countries was 117 inhabitants per km².

With regard to the average values, however, it should be noted that the population density is also very different within the states. The regions around the (capital) cities or individual urban areas in particular are often more densely populated than average. According to Eurostat, the population density of Inner London (east / west) in 2016 was 11,290 and 10,647 inhabitants per km², respectively. This was followed by the Brussels-Capital region (7,409 inhabitants per km²), the Spanish exclave Melilla (6,061 inhabitants per km²) and Vienna (4,682 inhabitants per km²). Berlin, where 4,193 inhabitants per km² lived in the same year, was in ninth place.

Overall, Europe is the world region in which the population density increased the least strongly between 1960 and 2015, or the only region in the world in which the UN / DESA assumes a decline in population density by 2050. According to the UN / DESA, the population density of Europe rose between 1960 and 1994 from 27.4 to 32.9 inhabitants per km² and then remained unchanged for ten years. Between 2004 and 2015 the population density increased moderately to 33.5 inhabitants per km². According to calculations by the UN / DESA, the population density will decrease slightly again from 2021 (33.6 inhabitants per km²) (2050: 32.3 inhabitants per km²). In the EU-28, the population density increased between 1960 and 2017 from 91 to 114 inhabitants per km². According to Eurostat, the population density will increase to 118 inhabitants per km² by 2045 and remain at that level with a minimal decrease by 2050.

Data Source

Areas: CIA - The World Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook (as of 05/2018); Population density: United Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017). World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision; Eurostat: Online database: Population density by NUTS 2 region (status: 05/2018), Area by NUTS 3 region (status: 03/2018), population on January 1st by age and gender (status: 01/2018)

Terms, methodological notes or reading aids

In contrast to the European Commission, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN / DESA) does not include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Cyprus in Europe. You can find an overview of this topic here ...

The Population density corresponds to the ratio between the population of an area and the total area of ​​the area.