Europe, or as Game of Thrones fans call it, Westeros, is the smallest continent other than Australia. But in terms of civilisation and shaping the world as we know it today, there is no bigger.

If the Middle East is the cradle of civilisation. Europe is where it went to school. Ancient Greece provided the foundations for much of modern science, philosophy, maths and medicine as we know it today, and despite Christianity’s best efforts the rest of Europe managed to spend the next few millennia progressing in these fields far faster than the rest of the world. Which also meant that, this time thanks to the best efforts of Christianity, they also soon decided to take the rest of the world. It’s the political equivalent of having your parents take you out of school and paying for a private tutor to have an advantage over your former classmates, then turning up for your exams and shooting all the other kids so you can eat their sandwiches.

As such a hive of tiny powerhouses who have spent the last 1500 years continuously stealing each others lands, borders and empires at the behest of a series of genetically impoverished monarchs, it’s an incredible notion that so many of these small nations have managed to maintain such distinct languages, cultures and identities. In a day you could easily drive though a dozen different countries and for each one you’ll have to learn a new translation of “Do you like the pop music of Depeche Mode?”

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