European Union

This is how Europe's borders have changed over 1,000 years

Image: REUTERS/Katarina Stoltz.

Keith Breene
Share:
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how European Union is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

European Union

As Europe wrestles with the refugee crisis, the viability of the Schengen agreement and the United Kingdom’s future in the Union, it is perhaps worth looking at just how much change the continent has experienced in its turbulent history.

This three-minute video from LiveLeak takes us through 1,000 years of history and, as it does so, highlights just how young the modern concept of Europe really is.

Look out for the constant ebb and flow of the continent’s eastern borders, the speed of change at its heart, and the relatively late arrival of Germany towards the end of the 19th century.

Loading...

The millennium’s march

The map starts back in a time when much of central Europe was part of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain was largely under Islamic rule.

As time moves on, the Mongol Empire appears in the north-east and the Ottoman Empire grows to cover much of the south-east. Central Europe goes through seemingly endless change, as regional and national borders shift.

Soon after 1500, what we know today as Russia appears on the map, and in the late 1800s Germany also comes into existence.

The two World Wars and the Cold War bring more territorial convulsions before the USSR breaks up, Yugoslavia disintegrates and the EU begins to expand eastwards.

The map covers the period up to 2012 but even in the years since then there has been further change, with Russia annexing Crimea.

The end of Schengen?

Now there may be more change on the way – this time connected to the Schengen agreement. Schengen covers 26 European nations stretching from Spain to Sweden and allows free movement within the area, essentially removing borders for anyone travelling internally on the continent.

The area includes four countries outside the European Union – Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Six EU countries are not part of the zone – they have either opted out of the agreement, or are still waiting to be admitted.

Have you read?

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

1:42

This EU law will make companies check their supply chains for forced labour

Kimberley Botwright and Spencer Feingold

March 27, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum