Europe is divided into Eastern Europe, Southern Europe and Western Europe. The countries of Eastern Europe access the Atlantic Ocean via the Baltic Sea in the north, through the Black Sea to the east or through the Mediterranean Sea to the south. They include: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. The Mediterranean Sea has had an influence on European states such as Cyprus, Gibraltar, Greece, Holy See, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Portugal (an Atlantic Ocean coastline), Spain, Turkey and Yugoslavia. The Western European countries have been more influenced by their Atlantic coastlines or historic trade routes to it: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Liechenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The Atlantic Ocean, bordering the west coast of Europe, is deep with variable width continental margins.
  • The North Atlantic contains the world's largest island, Greenland, and Great Britain, Iceland and Ireland.
  • The Mediterranean Sea is a marginal basin that lies between the continents of Europe and Africa. It connects with the North Atlantic only through the narrow Strait of Gibraltar.
  • The Black Sea interconnects with the Mediterranean through the Bosporus.
  • The Baltic Sea connects to the North Atlantic.
    These semi-enclosed waters are sensitive to the heavy loads of industrial wastes, agricultural fertilizers and pesticides as well as areas of increasing population and coastal land use.

The Arctic Ocean lies over the North Pole, between North America, Greenland and Asia, and is almost completely enclosed. Surface water enters the Ocean through the shallow Bering Straits and through the eastern part of the Fram Strait between Greenland and Norway. The global warming trend, if continued, will greatly change the strategic and economic importance of the Arctic Ocean through its use for commercial shipping routes and increased exploration of natural resources.

More information and images on Europe provided by our National Geographic partner.