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To the east and southeast, Europe is generally considered as separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways of the Turkish Straits.
Yet the non-oceanic borders of Europe—a concept dating back to classical antiquity—are arbitrary.
Politically, Europe is divided into about fifty sovereign states of which the Russian Federation is the largest and most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population.
Europe is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.
The Renaissance humanism, exploration, art, and science led the "old continent", and eventually the rest of the world, to the modern era.
From this period onwards, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs.
Europe, in particular ancient Greece, is the birthplace of Western civilization.
The fall of the Western Roman Empire, during the migration period, marked the end of ancient history and the beginning of an era known as the "Middle Ages".Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European nations controlled at various times the Americas, most of Africa, Oceania, and the majority of Asia.