Europe is the earth’s second-smallest continent. It has around 742 million inhabitants throughout 50 sovereign states and 6 dependencies, spread across an area of around 10.18 million km². It is home to the world’s largest island, Greenland, the world’s smallest country the Vatican, and home to part of the world’s largest country, Russia. From the northern lights in Norway to the Mediterranean beaches along Italy’s southern coast, this is a magnificent continent to visit and call home.
Above is a map of continental Europe or otherwise known as mainland Europe. As mentioned previously, Europe is the earth’s second-smallest continent so you wouldn’t expect a country to be too far from the mainland. At first glance at the map above, you may think parts of Northern Ireland or Scotland are furthest. That is until you take a closer look and see where Iceland is positioned. But that isn’t the furthest, because Greenland is even further north.
At this stage, some of you will start to remember about your two-week holidays to the Canary Islands just off the west coast of Africa! This is surely the furthest from mainland Europe? I mean the islands are further south than most northern African countries! Only those who love to seek out hidden gems will point out that Portugal has an overseas territory way out in the Atlantic Ocean, The Azores! Yes, this beautiful island is blessed with lush nature, vegetation and wildlife that radiates throughout its countryside.
So how far is the Azores from mainland Europe? A whopping 1,500 km. Somehow the second smallest continent on the planet doesn’t seem so small after all. Especially when you find out that another overseas territory can be found 5,800 km away! What state is this? It is French Guiana, a French overseas territory sandwiched between Suriname and Brazil on the South American continent.
This is not an independent country and really is a part of France that remains in the EU. The French arrived here all the way back in the 17th century in search of money and treasures. After sieging the land, they imported slaves from Africa to grow predominately sugar and coffee. Further down the line, the French attempted to turn the country into a prison, much like the British did in Sydney. This failed dramatically as diseases killed out more than 90% of prisoners here.
Today, the region’s local currency is Euro and French is the official language of the 291,000 inhabitants here. Although Paris remains the nation’s capital city, Cayenne is the region’s largest and capital city. The city is dominated by Fort Cépérou while the streets are lined with colorful houses and street markets. Along the coast, you can find tropical beaches surrounded by palm trees and a fresh breezing blowing inwards from the Atlantic Ocean. Down south near the border with Brazil, you can find Guiana Amazonian Park, the EU’s largest National Park!
This is a fasinating region, and if you feel like learning more about this ecotourism paradise, you can do so by clicking the link down below.
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