Europe’s Top 10 Physical Features
1. The Alps- Created by glaciation and folding, this mountain system forms a crescent from Southern France to the Balkan Peninsula. It’s significant because it’s the largest mountain range in Europe, blocks the Northern Atlantic Winds from reaching the Northern European Planes, and provides many major rivers.
2. Rhine and Po Rivers- These rivers come from Alps and are two of the largest in Europe. They’re significant because they provide transportation and trade.
3. Northern European Plain- Carved by glaciers, this plain stretches from Southeastern England and Western France eastward to Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. It’s important because its fertile soil and abundance of rivers drew farmers and agriculture into the area. The southern edge is especially fertile because deposits of loess cover it. Coal, iron ore, and other minerals found in the Northern European Plain contributed to Western Europe’s industrial development in the 1800s.
4. Scandinavian Peninsula- This peninsula is found in the far north of Europe. Glaciation carved out long, narrow, steep-sided inlets called fjords on the coastline of the Atlantic. It is important because it is very scenic and it slopes into the Baltic Sea, which could be helpful for trade.
5. Jutland Peninsulas- Glaciers deposited gravel and sand onto the Peninsula’s western side and carved fjords into the eastern coastline. Its significance is that it makes up the main body of Denmark.
6. Iberian Peninsula- The Iberian Peninsula is a plateau rising above narrow coastal plains that extends off of Southwestern Europe. It is important because it is where Spain and Portugal are located and also separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean Sea.
7. Italian Peninsula- The Italian Peninsula extends out like a giant boot into the Mediterranean Sea. It’s important because it’s long coastline provides both high, rocky cliffs, as well as long, sandy beaches. Another reason it is important is because 1/3 of the peninsula is fertile plain along the Po river.
8. Balkan Peninsula- The Balkan Peninsula, located in southeastern Europe, is surrounded by the Adriatic and Ionian Seas on the west and the Aegean and Black Seas on the east. It has a lot of mountain ranges and valleys that stretch from the Danube River. It is important because since overland travel is difficult in its craggy landscape, travel by water is dominant.
9. Danube River- This river flows from southern Germany through Hungary and Romania to the Black Sea. It eastern Europe’s major waterway. It’s important because each year ships and barges carry millions of tons of cargo on the Danube.
10. Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea- The Mediterranean Sea, located south of Europe, is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Iberian Peninsula. The Black Sea is located southeast of Europe, and is where the Danube River empties into. These seas are important because they are used for trade, transportation, and fertile soil.
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