Christianity is the dominant religion in Europe, but in recent decades the
number of followers of other religions has increased greatly, and Islam has
become the largest non-Christian religion. Based on
Countryaah, Europe is probably
the most secularized continent.
Historically, Christianity is Europe's religion. With the exception of the
Eastern churches (Coptic, Syrian, etc.), the great denominations originate here,
and they still share Europe between them; the Catholic Church in Central and
Southwestern Europe, as well as Ireland, the Orthodox Church in Southeastern
Europe, Russia and Ukraine, and Protestant Churches in Northern Europe, as well
as parts of Switzerland and Hungary.
In the Middle Ages, Christianity characterized European thinking, art, law
and the notion of morality. Later, Europeans spread Christianity to other
continents through colonization and mission. With the age of enlightenment came
the ideal of secularized states, which has affected the state system in most
European countries, and few countries still have a state church.
In the period between World War II and the late 1980s, when most Eastern
European countries had socialist rule, Christianity (and other religions) were
suppressed. Since the regime change, religious worship has flourished, and many
have returned to the traditional churches (Orthodox and Protestant "national
churches" or the Catholic church). At the same time, interest in neo-religious
movements is strong in many Eastern European countries.
With the Arab expansion in the 600s and 700s, Islam came to Spain (711). The
influence of the Arabs (Moors) on the Iberian peninsula lasted for approx. 700
years; the last Muslim bastion, Granada, fell in 1492.
The expansion of the Ottoman Empire to the west (1400s and 1500s) led to the
spread of Islam in the Balkan Peninsula, where there are today approx. 8 million
Muslims and a total of around 12.5 percent of the population. In
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Albania, Muslims are in the majority.
Just over 1 percent of the world's Muslims live in Western Europe. The fact
that the number of Muslims in Europe has grown strongly since the 1960s is
mainly due to immigration from Muslim countries to Western Europe, especially
from North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The western European
countries with the highest proportion of Muslims in the population are France,
the Netherlands and Germany.
For ancient and pre-Christian religions, see paganism, Greek mythology, Norse
Europe is the world's third most populous continent (after Asia and Africa).
The 48 countries mentioned in the article Land in Europe had a population of
814.5 million in 2016, representing 10.9 percent of the Earth's population.
Europe's share of Earth's population is declining.
The most densely populated is a belt northwest-southeast from England through
northern France, the Benelux countries and Germany to the Czech Republic. The
least populated are the mountain areas and the Nordic countries, except Denmark.
Christianity is the most widespread religion in Europe. In recent decades,
the number of followers of other religions has increased substantially due to
immigration, and Islam has become the largest non-Christian religion.
Most Europeans speak an Indo-European language, belonging to the Greek,
Celtic, Germanic, Romanian, Albanian, Slavic, Baltic or Indo-Roman subgroup. The
oral language family in Europe consists of a western branch with Estonian,
Finnish, Karelian and Sami languages and an eastern branch with Hungarian.
In the Southern Balkans, in Turkey and in Cyprus, Turkish and in Malta are
spoken Maltese belonging to the Afro-Asian language family. Maltese is the only
Semitic language that is official in a European country. An isolated linguistic
case in the west is Basque at the interior of the Bay of Biscay. This language
is unrelated to any other language. Kalmykian on Europe's eastern border near
Volga is the only Mongolian language in Europe. In Europe, Russian and German
are spoken by most people.