Physical Features and Rivers

The physical features of Europe can be divided into three parts. They are:

    The North Western Highlands

    The Great European Plains, and

    The Central Plateau and Southern Mountains

The North Western Highlands include the mountains and plateaus of Norway, Sweden, and northern parts of Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The major features of North Western Highlands are:

    These are the oldest mountains of Europe.

    They are made up of old hard rocks.

North Western Highlands form steep slope along the Atlantic Coast. Many highlands are low and slope gently away from the sea. Their branches penetrate deep into the sea forming ‘fiords’.

The Great European Plains stretch from Atlantic Coast in the west to Ural Mountains in the east. Its boundaries are formed by White Sea and North Western Highlands in the north and southern mountains in the south. Some major features of the Great European Plains are:

    They are narrow in the west and wider towards the east.

    They are the broadest in Russia.

Many important rivers drain these plains. Radial pattern of rivers and flat relief supports the development of inland waterways in these plains.

The Central Plateau lies as a belt to the south of the Great European Plains. It consists of the remains of an old mountain system. It includes:

    The Plateau of Spain

    The Central Massif and Vosges of France

    The Black Forests of Germany, and

    The Plateau of Bohemia in Czech Republic

The Southern Mountains lie to the south of Central Plateau. Major features of these mountain systems are:

    They are a chain of young fold mountains, which run parallel to each other.

    They have high peaks, steep slopes and deep valleys.

    They form impassable barriers.

    Tunnels are built for highways and railways through these mountains.

There are many rivers, which drain Europe. They are very important to the industrial countries through which they flow. Some of the main rivers flowing through Europe are Volga, Danube, Rhine, Ruhr, and Thames.

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