Cultural Geography of
Northern and Western Europe
Ch 12 section 1 and 2
Cultural Geography of Northern
• United Kingdom
– England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
– (Great Britain is used when referring to just England,
Wales, and Scotland)
Population of Northern Europe
Ethnic Groups found in Northern
• More than 160 separate ones
• Most populated and diverse area is the British
• Many descendants are early Celtic peoples,
Romans, Normans and other invaders
• Immigrants from South Asia and West Indies
• Refugees from WWII
• Sweden, Norway and Denmark share a common
history even though are separate countries with
own languages
Densely Populated Areas
• Most densely populate is the UK: 60
million (given its sq miles that’s a lot!)
• Other countries with high densities are
Ireland and Denmark cause temperate
climates and fertile soils + limited land size
Low Population Density
• Scandinavia’s population density is lower
than other Northern countries
• This is because of its large land area and
harsh terrain and climate so most live
along the coasts
• Internal migration is result of people
leaving rural areas to move to urban areas
for better jobs
• Causes of external migration is economic
– For example Ireland’s economic depression
and famine in the 1840s forced 1.6 million
people to move out (most to the US)
Located in the UK
Largest urban area in Northern Europe
It’s the UK’s capital
Holds about 7 million people
History and Government of
Northern Europe
Earliest Peoples
• In UK: Probably arrived from continental
Europe over 500000 years ago when land
bridge connected the two
• The Celts also moved to the British Isles
around 500 BC
• In Scandinavia the Sami are native people
of Northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland
who are descendants of nomadic peoples
who have lived there for 1000s of years
The Romans Invade and Rule
Were first to invade Britain
43 AD
Made Britain part of their empire
Built cities, roads, and towns
Brought Christianity to the region
Empire declined in the 300s and 400s
leaving it weak to be invaded by Germanic
groups like Angles, Saxons, and Jutes
The Middle Ages
• This is the period b/t ancient and modern times
• 500 to 1500 AD
• This began at same time the Germanic peoples invaded
into the British Isles
• 1066 Britain fell to the Normans and feudalism began (a
system in which monarchs or lords gave land to nobles
in return for pledges of loyalty)
• Later years of Middle Ages saw govts of Northern
Europe strengthen and foreign trade increasing
• Denmark, Norway, Sweden were united in 1400s but
then divided again
The Reformation
• Religious movement of the 1500s
• Lessened the power of the Roman
Catholic Church
• Introduced Protestantism to Europe
• This was led by monk Martin Luther
• Began in Germany
• Popular with Northern monarchs who did
not like to share power with the Church
(particularly popes)
The Enlightenment
• Early 1700s
• Educated people believed in it
• Movement that valued reason and
questioned tradition
• People fought for more rights in
government in the
The Industrial Revolution
• People began using machines to do labor that they had
down by hands
• Began in Great Britain
• Encouraged industrial capitalism: an economic system in
which owners use profits to expand business ($ makes
• Some got really rich but factory workers were paid poorly
and worked/lived in horrible conditions
• Communism became popular among workers since its a
philosophy that calls for economic equality and
ownership of resources by workers
The 1900s
• World War One 1914 to 1918
• World War Two 1939 to 1945
• Both world wars resulted in deaths of MILLIONS
and left European nations in ruins
• After WWII ended the Cold War Began
– Power struggle b/t non-communist nations (mainly the
US) and the communist Soviet Union
– Ended in 1991
• In last few decades of 1900s Northern European
countries have built strong democracies and
successful economies
The European Union
• EU
• Countries of Northern Europe belongs to
this multinational economic organization
• Its goal is a united Europe in which goods,
services, and workers can move freely
among member countries
• Have few trade barriers
• Use same currency: the euro
Culture of Northern Europe
• Indo-European languages in different
• Examples are Swedish, English
• Northern European nations value religious
• Most are Protestant
• Many other religions exist
• Has some of world’s most educated
• School is required for at least 10 years
• Literacy rates are near 100%
• Excellent healthcare systems
• Sweden offers complete social welfare
programs to its citizens providing complete
and equal healthcare to all citizens (makes
it a welfare state)
• British writings have shaped the literary world
with works like those of William Shakespeare
who is one of the world’s most widely read
• Romanticism
– developed in late 1700s and early 1800s
– Writings that focused on emotions, stirring historical
events and struggles of individuals
• Hans Christian Anderson
– Writer of most famous fairy tales in world
– From Denmark
Cultural Geography of Western
Population of Western Europe
Ethnic Groups
• Many ethnicities have blended in this part
of the world
• Switzerland has 3 OFFICIAL languages:
German, French, and Italian
• Germany and Austria at one time had
homogenous populations but are now
mixed with other groups
• The area has also welcomed many
Population Densities
• Most of Western Europe is densely
populated with most living in urban areas
• Large populations due to manufacturing
and trade as well as generous stretches of
fertile farmland
• Most populated country of all of Europe is
Germany with 82.5 million people
• Netherlands and Belgium has highest
population densities due to small land size
• People moving in large numbers to cities
• Immigration has led to urban growth since
WWII because of opportunities there
• Germany and Belgium have high numbers
of guest workers
• Guest workers are foreigners who work on
temporary basis in a country other than
ones are citizens; this very popular in
Germany since 1950s
Major Cities
• Paris is Frances capital as well as its
cultural and economic center
• Brussels is commercial center for Belgium
and center for the EU
• Amsterdam is capital for Netherlands ands
is known for canals art and tolerance
History and Government of
Western Europe
The Earliest Peoples
• Populated first by the Celts and other ancient
• Were then taken over by Romans for 1000s of
• Then by the Germanic peoples
• (same as what happened to the British Isles)
• The Basque were people who lived in the
Pyrenees in b/t Spain and France for over 3000
• The Frisians were seafaring people who settled
in Northern part of Netherlands around 400 BC
The Franks Rule at the Start of the
Middle Ages
• The Middle Ages began in 500s when Roman Empire
• This was a time of great change for Western Europe
• The Franks were a Germanic group of people who
created an empire here
• They accepted Christianity which came to be known as
• Charlemagne was the Frankish ruler from 768 to 814
and expanded the kingdom
• Distributed land based on Feudalism
• Empire didn’t survive after his death
Holy Roman Empire
• The lands in western and central Europe
became the Holy Roman Empire
• Lasted from 962 to 1806
• Were power struggles b/t emperors,
nobles, and popes for power
The Crusades
• Powers of western Europe grew and people
came into contact with other regions
• Around 1000s
• European armies fought a series of religious
battles to win Palestine from Muslim rule
• Failed to win permanent control of the area
• Did expand trade routes in Eastern
The Renaissance(1400s)
• Late 1400s
• Educated Europeans developed interest in
culture of ancient Greeks and Romans
• These ideas spread by merchants and
visitors to Italy
• Very popular in western Europe
The Reformation (1500s)
• Religious movement to fix Catholic Church
which resulted in creation of Protestant churches
• Began in Germany as many questions Church’s
power and authority
• New Protestant religions began
• Some countries like France fought civil wars
over whether would stay Catholic or become
• By mid-1500s Protestantism had become widely
The 1600s
• Thirty Years War took place from 1618 to
1648 over territory
• France wins and becomes a SUPER
The 1700s
• The French Revolution started in late
1700s and was a movement that
overthrew the French monarchy
• This was encouraged by Enlightenment
ideas that pushed for democracy and
equal rights
The 1800s
• By 1815 monarch was back on throne of
France but was not absolute in power
• German kingdom of Prussia became very
powerful and after a series of war the
kingdom became united as Germany and
its industries prospered and military
strength increased
The 1900s
• World War One was 1914 to 1918 and this part of Europe
experienced HUGE causalities as Allies fought the Central Powers
• Peace treaty to end war made Germany guilty of staring war and
were forced to pay reparations to Allies
• WWII began in 1939 after Germany’s leader Hitler became very
aggressive invading nations around it
• When the war ended in 1945 Hitler’s plan to wipe out an entire
ethnic group (the Jews) was revealed. This was called the
Holocaust. Six millions Jews were killed as well as millions of others
• Germany was divided into communist East Germany and
democratic West Germany and remained that way until the Cold
War ended in 1991
• In the 1950s Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands
and West Germany grew closer economically
• In the 1990s the EU was formed and its headquarters was built in
Culture of Western Europe
• Western Europe is pioneers and
trendsetters in arts, education, and in
developing programs that improve quality
of life.
• World leaders in literature, architecture,
music and visual arts
Two Influential Artistic Movement
• Realism:
– focuses on accurately depicting details of everyday
– very popular in mid1800s
– was big change from early romantic period
• Impressionism:
late 1800s
French painters like Claude Monet
painted outdoor scenes
captured immediate impressions of natural world
• Indo-European including German and
• Many countries have one or more official
• Primarily Christian with majority Roman
• Required (compulsory)
• 98 to 100% literacy rates
• Comprehensive healthcare provided by
• Medical care, unemployment benefits, and
many other social services
Standard of Living
• Most have high standard of living
• Government provides housing subsidies
and maternity and retirement benefits
• Population is aging with declining birth and
death rates
Sports and Leisure Activities
• Germans love soccer and other sports
• In Germany and France have a lot of time
• Many are well off
• Have shorter work weeks
• Like to visit museums, travel, walking,
Essay Question
• Compare the cultural geographies of
Northern and Western Europe. (3 ways
alike; two ways different)

Cultural Geography of Northern and Western Europe