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WESTERN EUROPE

Many countries of Western Europe combine successful industry with abundant agriculture and a booming tourist trade. As a result, most people here enjoy high living standards. The region, which has a long history, includes world-famous cities, such as Paris and Rome, and a landscape of rolling farmland, high mountains, and a beautiful coastline along the Mediterranean Sea.

WHY DO TOURISTS FLOCK TO THE REGION’S BEACHES?

Every year, millions of tourists travel to the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea to enjoy the sunny climate, warm waters, and beautiful scenery. Tourism has led to heavy development along many parts of the coast, such as the Algarve in Portugal, the Costa del Sol in Spain, and the Riviera in Italy and France.

WHAT DO FARMERS GROW IN ITALY?

Italian farmers grow lots of cereals, fruit, vegetables, and vines. Agriculture is very important to Italy’s economy and, although most farms are small and family-run, the country is a leading producer of oranges, lemons, wine, olives, and olive oil. The best farming region lies in the north, in the flat, fertile valley of the Po River. Higher land offers pasture for cows and sheep, whose milk makes delicious cheeses.

WHY IS FRANCE FAMOUS FOR FOOD AND WINE?

A range of climates and landscapes enable France, Western Europe’s largest country, to produce many different foods, including wheat, sunflowers, olives, grapes, and dairy products. These foods help to make the regional dishes, cheeses, and wines for which France is famous. The country’s vineyards produce a quarter of all the world’s wine.

WHY IS SWITZERLAND ONE OF THE WORLD’S WEALTHIEST COUNTRIES?

Switzerland’s is one of the world’s richest countries thanks to a successful financial industry. The country has neutral status and has enjoyed peace and political stability for nearly 200 years, partly due to its refusal to take part in wars since 1915. This fact, combined with low taxes, and strict secrecy laws, has made Switzerland a major banking center.

WHY DOES THE SMALL ISLAND OF MALTA HAVE AN IMPORTANT SEAPORT?

Malta has an important port because the island lies on major trade shipping routes between Europe and Africa. In the past, Malta’s strategic position has led to invasions by Roman, Arab, French, Turkish, Spanish, and British forces, who have all wanted to control the island. Independent since 1964, Malta’s main income comes from its port facilities and tourist industry.

WHAT IS THE WORLD’S SMALLEST INDEPENDENT STATE?

Vatican City, situated in the heart of Italy’s capital, Rome, is a state in its own right, yet it is no larger than the size of a city park. This tiny state is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of the Pope, who is also head of state. The population of Vatican City numbers under 1,000 people, but nevertheless, they have their own flag, national anthem, stamps, and radio station.

FACTFILE: WESTERN EUROPE

PORTUGAL

Capital city: Lisbon

Area: 35,672 sq miles (92,391 sq km)

Population: 10 million

Official language: Portuguese

SPAIN

Capital city: Madrid

Area: 194,896 sq miles (504,782 sq km)

Population: 40 million

Official languages: Spanish, Galician, Basque, Catalan

ANDORRA

Capital city: Andorra la Vella

Area: 181,000 sq miles (468 sq km)

Population: 68,000

Official language: Catalan

FRANCE

Capital city: Paris

Area: 211,209 sq miles (547,030 sq km)

Population: 59.7 million

Official language: French

MONACO

Capital city: Monaco

Area: 0.75 sq miles (1.95 sq km)

Population: 32,000

Official language: French

SWITZERLAND

Capital city: Bern

Area: 15,942 sq miles (41,290 sq km)

Population: 7.2 million

Official languages: French, German, Italian

ITALY

Capital city: Rome

Area: 116,305 sq miles (301,230 sq km)

Population: 57.4 million

Official language: Italian

VATICAN CITY

Capital city: Vatican City

Area: 0.17 sq miles (0.44 sq km)

Population: 900

Official languages: Italian, Latin

SAN MARINO

Capital city: San Marino

Area: 24 sq miles (61.2 sq km)

Population: 28,000

Official language: Italian

MALTA

Capital city: Valletta

Area: 122 sq miles (316 sq km)

Population: 393,000

Official languages: Maltese and English

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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