France
Switzerland
Belgium
Netherlands
Germany
Austria
Luxemburg
CHAPTER 13: WEST-CENTRAL
EUROPE
Section 1: Physical Geography
*Read the first section and fill in the
notes as you read. (pgs. 310-313)
* When you are finished you can grab
the homework sheet on West-Central
Europe and start working on it. 
Section 1: Physical Geography
Physical Geography
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Plains
 Northern European Plain: broad costal plain that stretches from the Atlantic Coast
into Eastern Europe
 Best farmland in this region
 Many people live in the plain
 Largest cities are located here
Uplands
 Rounded hills
 Small plateaus
 Valleys
 Good for mining and industry
Mountains
 Alps and the Pyrenees
Rivers
 For centuries people and goods have traveled these rivers
 Danbue
 Rhine
 Navigable River- A river that is deep and wide enough for ships to use.
 Rivers and a system of channels link the regions interior to the seas.
Seas
 North sea
 English channel
Climate and Resources
 Climate:
 Marine West Coast Climate
 Winters can be cold
 Summers are mild
 Rain and storms occur often
 Resources:
 Mineral resources:
 France- coal and iron ore
 Germany-coal
 Netherlands-natural gas
 Hydroelectric power from
the rivers
 Mild climate is a valuable
natural resource
 Mild temperatures,
plentiful rains and rich soil
give this region great
farmland
 Grapes/ grains/vegetables
Section 2: France and the
Benelux Countries
History of France
Revolution and Empire
In the 1500’s France begins to build a colonial
empire.
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In 1789 the people rise up in the French
Revolution.
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In 1799 Napoleon takes control. He soon
conquers much of Europe.
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European powers unit to defeat
Napoleon in 1815.
Early History
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Early Celtic peoples settle in Gaul.
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The Romans conquer Gaul and rule the
region for hundreds of years. (AD 400’s)
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The Franks conquer Gaul. The ruler
Charlemagne builds a powerful empire.
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Normans settle in northwestern France.
In 1066 they conquer England and take
the throne.
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France and England fight the Hundred
Years War (1337-1453)…..The French
eventually drove out the English.
History of France contiued
Modern History
 German forces invade France during WWI and
WWII.
 Many French colonies declare independence in
the 1950’s and 1960’s.
 Today France is a Republic with a president and a
democratic government.
Culture of France
 Language and Religion
 Most people throughout France
speak French and are catholic.
 There are many immigrants that
have settled in France and bring
with them their own languages
and religions.
 Customs
 Phrase that they live by “Joie de
vivre” (zhwah duh veev-ruh)
meaning enjoyment of life.
 The French enjoy good food,
company and conversation.
 Festivals
 Bastille Day July 14th – which
celebrates when a mob in 1789
destroyed a bastille, Paris prison,
symbolizing the French king’s
rule….this began the French
Revolution.
 Food
 French chefs and French cooking has
worldwide reputations.
 Café and cuisine come from France.
Culture of France
Ideas
 French Enlightenment:
 Ideas about
government that
inspired the American
revolution and the
development of
modern democracy.
Art
 Impressionism
 Literature
 “The Three
musketeers”
 Architecture:
 Cathedrals in the
gothic style from the
Middle Ages
 Notre Dame
Cathedral
France Today
 Strong economy
 Exports of goods
 Perfume
 Wine
 Agriculture
 Wheat
 Grapes
 Paris:
 75% of the population lives in Paris, the capital of
France.
 Paris is the center of business/finance/learning/culture
 Famous museums/galleries/ Eiffel tower and Notre
Dame cathedral
Marseille: (Mar-say)
 Mediterranean seaport on the Rhone river
The Benelux Countries
 Belgium
 Netherlands
 Luxemburg
 History:
 Many nations and empires
dominated the Benelux region.
 Each country gained
independence from foreign
nations and empires:
 1648 Netherlands
 1830 Belgium
 1867 Luxemburg
The Benelux Countries
The Netherlands
 Low and flat land
 Includes the region of
Holland; people who live here
are called the Dutch.
 This area also includes
Amsterdam.
 Excellent harbors has made
the Netherlands a center of
International trade.
Belgium
 Highly urban country, 95% of
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people live in cities.
Language divides Belgium
South: Wallonia ( Walloons)
speak French
North: Flanders, speak
flemish
Cultural differences have
caused tensions
 Capital is Brussels and is the
head quarter for many
international organizations.
 Considered a highly
cosmopolitan area, or an area
characterized by many foreign
influences .
 Known for its cheeses,
chocolate and lace.
The Benelux Countries
Luxembourg
 Forested, hilly country
 Very small ( smaller then Rhode Island)
 Very high standard of living
 Roman Catholic
 Speak wither French or German
 Much it’s income comes from bank, steel or chemicals
Section 3: Germany and The
Alpine Countries
Background Information on
Germany
 Summary
 Since the Middle Ages, Germany and France have been the
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dominant countries in West-Central Europe. Both are large
and prosperous with hardworking people and good
farmland. The two countries have often been at war, but
today they are partners in building a cooperative European
Union.
After a history of division and two world wars, Germany is
now a unified country.
German culture, known for its contributions to music,
literature, and science, is growing more diverse.
Germany today has Europe’s largest economy, but eastern
Germany faces challenges.
The Alpine Countries reflect German culture and have
strong economies based on tourism and services.
Germany & the Alpine countries
 Early History
 Tribes from northern
Europe settled in the
area.
 The Romans called this
area Germania, after
one of the tribes.
 In 1871, Prussia the
strongest state, united
Germany.
War and Division
 War and Division
 Germany lost WWI.
 The payments for war damages
and a major depression hurt the
economy.
 Adolf Hitler became a leader with
promises to restore Germany to
its glory.
 WWII began
 At the end, Germany was divided
between the Soviet Union in the
East, and USA, Britain, and
France in the West.
 Even the capital of Berlin was
divided with the Berlin Wall. The
walls purpose was to prevent
East Germans from fleeing to
West Berlin.
Reunited Germany
 Reunited Germany
 US helped West Germany
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rebuild quickly.
Soon it became an
economic power.
East Germany had slower
growth and limited
freedoms for its citizens.
In the late 1980s,
Communist governments
began collapsing.
1989, Germans began
tearing down the Berlin
Wall.
In 1990, East and West
Germany reunited.
Culture
 Culture
 Most people speak German
and are ethnic Germans.
 Martin Luther, a German
monk, helped start the
Reformation in 1571
 Religious reform movement
away from the traditional Roman
Catholic faith.
 Many Germans in north are
Protestant. In the South, most
are Catholic. In eastern
Germany, fewer Germans have
religious ties due Communist
past.
 Religious festivals are still
popular (Christmas, Lent) but
local festivals are enjoyed, too.
(Oktoberfest – celebrates food
and drink in Munich)
Culture
 Culture
 Famous contributions to
arts and sciences:
 Johann Sebastian Bach
 Ludwig van Beethoven
 Johann Wolfgang von
Goethe
 Contributions in chemistry,
engineering, medicine and
physics.
The Alpine Countries
 Austria
 Once the center of one of the
most powerful empires in
Europe.
 The Habsburg family ruled the
Netherlands, Spain and much of
Germany, Italy and Eastern
Europe.
 Habsburg’s were on the losing
side of WWI, after WWI Austria
became a Republic. Today it is a
modern, industrialized nation.
 Vienna- capital and largest city
 Was once the center of the
Habsburg’s rule but now is the
center of music and fine arts.
 Prosperous economy
 Banking
 Tourism
 Switzerland
 Independent country since
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the 1600’s, today it is a
Federal Republic.
Located in the Alps, helped
the country to stay neutral
for centuries.
Swiss speak many languages,
main languages are French
and German.
Very high standard of living
Famous for its banks,
watches, chocolate and
cheeses.
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