There are much more countries with smaller area in Europe than any other continent. Why is that?

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  • 8
    The rest of the world was conquered by Europeans and redrawn into large and usually rather awkward colonial provinces.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 21:25
  • 2
    Central America and some places in Africa are also "cluttered".
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 21:43
  • Opinion based? Can't you see that green/yellow spot with lots of red dots on the map of the word. Caribbean is red because of islands which is obvious and central america is not wide enough. Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 9:50
  • 3
    Where did you find this map, and what is it supposed to show? That Britain has fewer that half a million inhabitants? Really?
    – fdb
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 0:37
  • @fdb It's area :) Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


For one thing, the countries on the other continents, are largly the result of European colonization -- and only some countries (England, Spain, Portugal, France, Holland and Germany) participated.

Take North-America... There were many "nations" of Native-Americans, but after the Europeans were through, some were extinct, some decimated, some assimilated (their culture and language destroyed, and sometimes mixed with colonists and/or slaves) -- and all either part of the USA, Canada or Mexico. In South and Latin America there had been empires before, so there were some "unification" already.

In India all the local kings (maharajas) became just "local-kings" under the English throne, and even after the British withdrew, these local kings didn't get back their autonom self-govern.

In Africa, there were tribes -- often hostile to eachother. But European countries didn't care about this when they partitioned Africa among themselves, which greatly reduced the number of "nations", since the post-colonial countries followed the division made by the colonists rather than older tribal divisions... which of course have caused problems (e.g. Rawanda).


As for Europe itself, you can trace the different groups, their wars against eachother, and how the winner "created" the new country -- with it's own culture, history and language, that through history diverged from that in the countries around. (Not that there really were national states yet).

There were lots of local kings and noblemen, that through war, marriage and political manouvering ended-up as larger countries -- a process that was repeated several time. Often with the "tribe" or familiy who won, ending-up naming the country -- e.g. Sweden and Denmark. So it's really a wonder there isn't more countries in Europe. For example there where 4-5 kingdoms in Ireland, there were several kingdoms in Wales, and there were several tribes/ethnitical groups in England. Then there were lots of minor prinipalities etc. that would be united to France... and others that later would become Germany... and still others which became Italy. Of course they shared some history, culture, religion and language; but several of the ones who later united, had been in war against eachother too.

So short answer, european imperialism and colonization greatly -- and "unnaturaly" -- reduced the the number of tribes/groups which else may have become independent nation elsewhere on the globe.

  • 3
    Another point is that many of the larger 'new' countries remain single countries due to speed of transport & communication, which allows a central government to keep control over far-flung provinces. If the US (and particularly the North) hadn't had railroads, it's quite possible that the Confederacy would have retained its independence, after which California might have become independent (and then split in several pieces), then the Mormons in Utah, etc.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 21:46
  • The Confederates used railroads for defense too, whereas in the west the Union used river communications. In the balance, lack of rails probably helps the North, as the Confederates could not have held or supplied large armies while the North could use rivers and coasts, and the deep inland areas of the South were more sympathetic to the north.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 19:02

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