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Europe, in particular ancient Greece, was the birthplace of Western civilization.
The fall of the Western Roman Empire, during the migration period, marked the end of ancient history and the beginning of an era known as the Middle Ages.
Cyprus is closest to Anatolia (or Asia Minor), but is usually considered part of Europe both culturally and politically and is a member state of the EU.
Malta was considered an island of North Africa for centuries.
Both world wars took place for the most part in Europe, contributing to a decline in Western European dominance in world affairs by the mid-20th century as the Soviet Union and the United States took prominence.
The first recorded usage of Eurṓpē as a geographic term is in the Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo, in reference to the western shore of the Aegean Sea.
As a name for a part of the known world, it is first used in the 6th century BC by Anaximander and Hecataeus.
It includes all states except for Belarus, Kazakhstan and Vatican City.
Further European integration by some states led to the formation of the European Union, a separate political entity that lies between a confederation and a federation.