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Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands and, at times, peninsulas. Notably, in British and Irish English usage, the term means Europe excluding the United Kingdommarker, the Isle of Manmarker, the Channel Islands, the Republic of Irelandmarker and Icelandmarker. One general definition of "Continental Europe" is the European landmass excluding the UK, Ireland and Iceland. Two other island nations excluded from Continental Europe are Maltamarker and the Republic of Cyprusmarker. However, in other areas of Europe different ideas on what the term actually means prevail.

Some definitions of Continental Europe extend the boundaries of the continent to its geographical boundaries, thus including nations that are within the elevated boundaries of the Ural Mountainsmarker and the Caucasus Mountainsmarker.

Use in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdommarker, the Continent is used to refer to the mainland of Europe. A famous, perhaps apocryphal, Britishmarker newspaper headline once read "Fog in Channelmarker; Continent Cut Off".

Derivatively, the adjective "Continental" refers to the social practices or fashion of continental Europe, as opposed to those in Britain. Examples include breakfast and, historically, long-range driving before Britain had motorways.

Use in Ireland

In Irelandmarker, both mainland Europe (or just the mainland) and continental Europe (or just the continent) are commonly used to describe the region.


Especially, in Germanic studies, "Continental" refers to the European continent excluding the Scandinavian peninsula, Britain, Ireland and Iceland. The reason for this is that although the Scandinavian peninsula is technically attached to Continental Europe by Kareliamarker, it is in practice reached by sea, not by land (which would imply travelling north as far as Torniomarker at the 66th parallel north), and has in the past been mis-identified as an island (Scandia). Kontinenten - "the Continent" - is a vernacular Swedish expression excluding Sweden, Norway and Finland, but including Denmark (even the Danish archipelago) and the rest of continental Europe.

Mediterranean islands

In the Mediterranean context, "the continent" may refer to the continental part of Italymarker (as opposed to Sardinia and Sicily), Spainmarker with Balearic islandsmarker, Alboranmarker or the continental part of Francemarker (as opposed to Corsicamarker) and Portugalmarker although not having mediterranean islands, it has Madeiramarker and the Azores.


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