Southern Europe

Southern Europe

The term Southern Europe, at its most general definition, is used to mean "all countries in the south of Europe". However, the concept, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical geographical, phytogeographic or climatic approach. Most coastal countries in the United Nations-designated southern Europe border the Mediterranean Sea. Exceptions are Portugal which has only Atlantic coastline, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia, which are landlocked, and Bulgaria, which borders the Black Sea.


Geographical definition

Southern Europe by UN.

Geographically, southern Europe is the southern half of the landmass of Europe. This definition is relative, with no clear limits.

Countries geographically considered part of southern Europe include:

Iberian Peninsula

Italian Peninsula



United Nations geoscheme

Southern Europe as defined by the United Nations (marked green):
  Southern Europe

For its official works and publications, the United Nations Organization groups countries under a classification of regions. Southern Europe, as defined by the United Nations (the sub-regions according to the UN), comprises the following countries and territories:[1]

As of 2009, there were 163,865,210 people living in Southern Europe with an average population density of 74 inhabitants per square kilometer:[1]

Southern Europe:[1]
Country Area
(2010 est.)
Population density
(per km²)
Albania Albania 28,748 3,695,000 111.1 Tirana
Andorra Andorra 467.63 84,082 179.8 Andorra la Vella
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 51,129 4,613,414 90.2 Sarajevo
Croatia Croatia 56,594 4,489,409 81 Zagreb
Gibraltar Gibraltar (United Kingdom) 6.8 29,431 4,328 Gibraltar
Greece Greece 131,990 11,295,002 85.3 Athens
Italy Italy 301,338 60,418,711 200.5 Rome
Republic of Macedonia Republic of Macedonia 25,713 2,114,550 82.2 Skopje
Malta Malta 316 412,966 1,306.8 Valletta
Montenegro Montenegro 13,812 672,181 50 Podgorica
Portugal Portugal 92,090 11,317,192 114 Lisbon
San Marino San Marino 61.2 31,716 501 City of San Marino
Serbia Serbia 88,361 7,306,677 107.46 Belgrade
Slovenia Slovenia 20,273 2,054,199 99.6 Ljubljana
Spain Spain 504,030 46,030,109 93 Madrid
Vatican City Vatican City 0.44 826 1877 Vatican City
Total 1,338,694 163,865,210 74.05

Climatical definition

Southern Europe's most emblematic climate is that of the Mediterranean climate, which has become a typically known characteristic of the area. The humid subtropical climate is a southern european climate too (Northern Italy, Bulgaria...).

Those areas of Mediterranean climate present similar vegetations and landscapes throughout, including dry hills, small plains, pine forests and olive trees.

The area which is considered climatically Southern Europe is:

Phytogeographical definition

The European floristic regions

Southern Europe's flora is that of the Mediterranean Region, one of the phytochoria recognized by Armen Takhtajan. The Mediterranean and Submediterranean climate regions in Europe comprise the following countries and territories:[4]

Linguistic Southern Europe

Romance languages

Romance languages and modern Greek are the heirs of Latin and ancient Greek as the main historical languages of the Mediterranean area. Romance languages have spread from the Italian peninsula, and are emblematic of southern-western Europe: the "Latin Arch" (Romania and Moldova are an exception on that point); modern Greek is used in Greece and Cyprus.

Greek language

Albanian language

Albanian is also a language rooted in southern Europe, spoken in the Balkan peninsula.



  • Albania Northern Albania
  •  Kosovo
  • Republic of Macedonia West Macedonia
  • Montenegro South-east Montenegro
  • Serbia South Serbia


  • Albania Southern Albania
  • Greece Greek Epirus
  •  Kosovo
  • Republic of Macedonia West Macedonia
  • Italy Arbëria

South Slavic languages

Slavic languages that are now spoken in southern Europe are not rooted in the Mediterranean area nor spoken mainly in those areas: In that sense those languages are not part of the linguistic definition of southern Europe, since they are logically associated with their "core". That said, southern Slavic languages form a quite homogenous area, geographically separated from north Slavic languages by Hungary and Romania.

Germanic languages

Due to the English colonisation in Malta and Gibraltar, Germanic languages have a little presence in southern Europe, far from the core of Germanic languages in northwestern Europe. Malta uses English as a second language in some cases (after Maltese, which still is the original and main native language). In Gibraltar, English is the official language but Spanish and Llanito (mix of Andalusian, Spanish with some English) are also spoken.

Semitic languages

Basque language

The Basque language is a linguistic isolate spoken by the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France.

See also


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