Europe is the smallest continent, with an area of just 10,400,000 sq km. For its size Europe has an immensely long coastline.
In the north are the ancient glaciated mountains of Scandinavia and Scotland, which were once much, much higher.
Across the centre are the lowlands of the North European Plain, stretching from the Urals in Russia to France in the west.
Much of southern Europe has been piled up into young mountain ranges, as Africa drifts north.
The highest point in Europe is Mt Elbrus in the Russian Caucasus, 5642 m high.
Northwest Europe was once joined to Canada. The ancient Caledonian mountains of eastern Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia and Scotland were formed together as a single mountain chain 360-540 million years ago.
Mediterranean Europe has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters.
NW Europe is often wet and windy. It has very mild winters because it is bathed by the warm North Atlantic Drift (see ocean currents).
The Russian islands of Novaya Zimlya are far into the Arctic Circle and are icebound in winter.
The largest lake is Ladoga in Russia, 18,389 sq km.