As a continent with hugely diverse topography, the geographical facts about Europe are going to be an interesting collection. Each country could easily make a contribution with an interesting fact as the landscape changes so dramatically across small spaces, unlike other continents. Let’s take a short tour around some of the most notable geographical facts about Europe.
1. The Tallest Mountain in Europe
When it comes to geographical facts about Europe, and in particular the mountains, most people will assume that the names at the top of the list will be the famous Mont Blanc or the Matterhorn. In fact, the tallest mountain in Europe is in Kazakhstan and is called Khan Tengri, standing 22,999 feet high, some 4,500 feet higher than the next tallest, Mount Elbrus in Russia.
2. The Largest Lake in Europe
Of the top 10 largest lakes in Europe, 6 are in Russia, although 1 partly sits in Estonia. The biggest is Lake Ladoga, which covers just under 7,000 square miles and sits close to St. Petersburg. Lake Ladoga is the world’s 14th largest lake by area, and Russia also has the deepest lake in the world – Lake Baikal.
3. The Longest River in Europe
Europe’s largest and longest river is the Volga. It runs for 2,294 miles through central Russia. Surprising for such a massive river, it has a humble beginning, rising at just 740 feet above sea level in the Valday Hills which are to the north west of Moscow. From there it flows to the Caspian Sea. The low starting elevation makes the Volga a slow flowing river.
4. The Highest Waterfall in Europe
The Kimmel Falls are the tallest in Europe and also 5th in the list of the world’s highest waterfalls. The Kimmel Falls are in Hohe Tauen National Park and are one of Austria’s most visited tourist attractions. You can actually get very close to the falls and safely, thanks to a well maintained hiking trail.
5. The Longest Beach in Europe
The continent is awash with stunning beaches so it’s only right that the facts of European geography include its longest beach. This is to be found at Le Baule-Escoublac, on the southern coast of Brittany. La Boule measures 7.5 miles and is served by a lovely and ancient seaside town where many of the French elite have holiday homes.
6. The Deepest Cave in Europe
This honor goes to Gouffre Mirolda in France. It is 1733 meters (5,686 feet) deep and is located near the Swiss and Italian borders, in the area of the Savoy Alps close to the village of Samoens. Gouffre Mirolda is the 3rd deepest cave in the world after Krubera Cave and Illyuzia-Mezhonnogo-Snezhnaya Cave, both in Georgia (former Soviet Republic).
7. The Tallest Volcano in Europe
Not only is Mount Etna the highest volcanic peak in Europe but it is still active. It stands 10,922 feet high on the coast of the Mediterranean island Sicily. Not only is it pretty huge (2.5 times the size of Mount Vesuvius, which so famously buried Pompeii), but it is also one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
8. Biggest Glacier in Europe
As I’ve talked about fire (volcanoes), it wouldn’t be right to leave ice out of the geography facts of Europe. Glaciers are found in a surprisingly large number of European countries, including Iceland, Norway, Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. It has been somewhat problematical to pin down the biggest glacier in Europe because ‘biggest’ is open to interpretation of length, depth and width, plus they can change quite dramatically in a short space of time. The consensus is, however, that the largest glacier in Europe is the Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland. It is one of the biggest glaciers in the world, covering almost 9,000 sq km (3,500 square miles).
I’ve enjoyed my journey through some facts of European geography – hope you did too! Can you think of anything notable you think I should have included?