Europe of cities
The majority of Europe’s population lives in cities, albeit with large differences between countries; in Belgium over 95%, in the Netherlands 90%, in Denmark, Sweden and Germany approximately 85% and in Portugal and Albania 35%. The predominant part of the states’ production and consumption is linked to a small part of the area. Here the urban industries are concentrated, and here the vast majority spend almost all their time. Urban growth caused housing to disappear from the city center, while more suburbs and garden and sleeping towns emerged; a development that gained momentum in the 1950’s and which continued in the following decades. New areas were built on, and many had a long journey between residence and work. The major European cities are all characterized by colossal road and rail facilities to cope with this task.
- Countryaah: Introduces Europe as a continent, includes a full list of countries in Europe, and provides location map of Europe.
Especially from the 1980’s, many central urban areas again got housing construction. The urban living areas have widely differing ages, standards and populations. Old and poorly maintained multi-storey buildings turn into slums and sometimes into ghettos. Depending on the standard, price, location and infrastructure, surrounding towns and suburbs can vary from affluent neighborhoods to suburban ghettos with major social problems.
European nation states mean less and less due to the interplay between business development, urbanization and internationalization. Competition on wages is moving jobs to the east and south of Europe and away from here. Migration from country to city, from south to north and now from east to west affects the composition of the population. Every nook and cranny in Europe is experiencing changes in currency, lending and sales conditions in major European or overseas countries. Urban regions such as Paris, Frankfurt, Milan, Copenhagen or Moscow are increasingly functioning in relation to Europe and the world market. The existence of cities rests largely on service, information and knowledge. These information and service societies are characterized by shifts of function and power, often rapid shifts, between regions, cities and catchments. The core area of the EU is shaped like a banana, reaching from the English metropolitan area over the outskirts of the Netherlands and the Belgian cities, the German urban belts on the Rhine, Main and Neckar and to northern Italy. The area has close connections to the east (Berlin) and north, and its infrastructure and urban connections to the SW along the French-Spanish Mediterranean coast and SE in Italy are strengthened. Other urban zones develop at some distance from the “banana”: around Paris, in southern Italy and Spain-Portugal, and in the Øresund region. These patterns reflect both the changes in the cultural landscapes and the framework that the natural basis determines.
Service professions are becoming increasingly important and employ a growing proportion of the working population. Large business areas are dominated by offices, shops and entertainment rather than factories. The factories’ production is handled by fewer and fewer. Abandoned industrial areas are either scarred in the city or have become residential or institutional areas due to a sought-after location. In English, Dutch, Nordic and Italian cities are seen as attractive homes on abandoned factory, warehouse and quay areas by harbor basins, rivers and canals. The industrial landscape continues to dominate where location and infrastructure are appropriate. Factories, warehouses, traffic areas and possibly continue to mine the landscape. Production facilities for iron and steel, energy and means of transport take up a lot of space, require transport facilities and characterize the landscape. The same applies to larger mines and oil fields with shaft and drilling towers, pumps, waste heaps and follow-on industry. In old industrial regions of Great Britain, Germany, France, the Benelux and Italy, older and newer industrial districts alternate. Factories along the Volga and Don, in Donetsk, Minsk and Upper Silesia are examples of old, often obsolete and highly polluting industries.
Agriculture. The village is the predominant form of settlement in the open country in large parts of Europe. The appearance and size of the villages vary – from the three to twenty farms known in Central Europe’s cluster and row villages, to, for example, the villages of southern Italy, which can house thousands of people. Primary occupations, primarily agriculture, were formerly the village’s business base. The areas around the village were cultivated by its residents, who could have far to the fields. The heavily divided areas were later replaced, and the individual farm’s fields were collected.
There is a big difference between completely open landscapes with closed villages and landscapes with a pattern of villages and individual farms. The estates’ large adjoining settlements and settlements for farm workers or small farmers characterize large areas, which often had homestead colonies added or – east of the Iron Curtain – collective and state farms. Farms in late cultivated areas are often scattered or in rows along roads and canals, as in West Jutland and in Dutch and German polder and raised bog areas. Migration from country to city led in Northern and Central and later in Southern Europe to the partial depopulation of villages. Only a vanishing proportion of Europe’s workers are employed on the European “cultural carpet”; often from 2-3% to 6-7%, in Greece and Russia, however, around 20%.
Forest areas are partly smaller remnants of the natural forests, partly large areas with forestry or plantations. Europe’s highly human areas are changing with less changing environments; nature parks and other protected areas where the natural landscape has been preserved or recreated.
Italian imperialism, the interwar period
Following the end of the First World War, Italy’s colonial ambitions were renewed, accelerated in particular by the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of Italian fascism. As a result of Turkey’s defeat in the war, the Ottoman Empire was recast and the political geography of the Middle East re-recorded. This entailed negotiations between the great powers and what became the last major imperialist distribution of control over foreign territories.
Italy was supported by its old claim to the later Libya, which consisted of three separate areas: Kyrenaika, Tripolitania and Fezzan. From 1921 a comprehensive campaign for colonization – la riconquista, the recapture – was launched. In Kyrenaika, it met military resistance, and the colony was granted partial autonomy. After the fascist takeover of Libya, the colonization of Libya became an ideological prestige project, and Benito Mussolini became personally engaged. A conquest war was waged, which after a decade of resistance broke the Kyrenian guerrilla. In the late 1930s, colonization was stepped up, and a program to get farming families to emigrate to Libya implemented. When Libya was incorporated into Italy as a province in 1939, around 100,000 Italians lived there. Plans were made for the transfer of half a million during the 1960s. This was compounded by Italy losing Libya as a result of the defeat in World War II.
Military forces from the Italian colony of Eritrea were used during the conquest of Libya. Italy had first declared Eritrea as a colony in 1890, and the colonization was renewed after the Second Italian-Ethiopian War in 1935/1936, when Eritrea, Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland were merged into an administrative unit such as Italian East Africa. During World War II, Italian Somaliland and then Eritrea were first captured by British forces and occupied in 1941, while Ethiopia regained its independence. After the war, Somaliland became a supervisory area under Italian control from 1949 until the country gained its independence in 1960.
World War II, 1940–1945
After the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939, Italy declared itself “non-belligerent”, that is, it maintained a formal neutrality while adopting a distinct German-oriented attitude. In order to remove previous contradictions, an agreement was concluded, for example, on South Tyrol. The agreement meant that all inhabitants who wanted to be allowed to move to Germany.
On September 27, 1940, the German-Italian Defense Pact was extended to Japan as well. Encouraged by the victorious German offensive against France, June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on Britain and France. The French main front was near collapse, which is why the Italian warfare on the alpine front section became passive and immaterial. On June 24, a ceasefire was concluded between Italy and France.
The summer of 1940 went without significant war events for Italy. From the autumn of that year, the country tried to launch an attack on Egypt and Greece. On October 28, Italian troops without a declaration of war moved into northern Greece. In Egypt, Italy succeeded in conquering Sidi al-Barrani, but Italy’s offensive warfare was soon met with a British counter-offensive, which soon brought the war to Italian soil in Libya. The attack against Greece was similarly met with a powerful Greek counter-offensive, and the Italians were driven back to Albania.
On April 6, 1941, the Germans helped the Italians attack Greece. The Germans soon defeated the Greeks’ resistance. Also in Africa, the Italian front was restored by German aid. The initiative was everywhere with the Germans, and Italy became more and more a German vassal state. In North Africa, Italian forces suffered defeat. After protracted fighting, Tunis fell, and on August 28, 1943, the invasion of the Italian mainland began.
The defeat of the fronts, the rising air strikes and the rising state of emergency in the country had led to an internal crisis, and on July 25, 1943, Mussolini was forced to step down. After a few weeks in captivity, he was liberated by German paratroopers. He created a neo-fascist Republican Party and formed a puppet government with a seat in the small town of Salò on Lake Garda. The real government was then taken over by Marshal Pietro Badoglio, who dissolved the fascist party. He was able to obtain weapons with the Allies and declared Germany war on October 13, 1943. The Germans continued to hold northern and central Italy. Only after hard fighting could the Allies move further north, and on June 5, 1944, the Germans surrendered Rome without resistance.
After Rome fell, King Viktor Emanuel withdrew in favor of Crown Prince Umberto. Badoglio resigned on June 10 and was replaced by Ivanoe Bonomi. As the Allies advanced to Italy, they were assisted by the Italian partisans, who in April 1945 subdued the whole of Northern Italy. Mussolini was captured and killed by the partisans on April 28. Marshal Rodolfo Graziani’s neofascist troops capitulated unconditionally on April 29 and the German troops on May 2, 1945. Italy declared war on Japan on July 15. Read on in Italy’s history from 1945 to 1990.