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Animation: How the European Map Has Changed Over 2,400 Years

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How the European Map Has Changed Over 2,400 Years

The history of Europe is breathtakingly complex. While there are rare exceptions like Andorra and Portugal, which have had remarkably static borders for hundreds of years, jurisdiction over portions of the continent’s landmass have changed hands innumerable times.

Today’s video comes to us from YouTube channel Cottereau, and it shows the evolution of European map borders starting from 400 BC. Empires rise and fall, invasions sweep across the continent, and modern countries slowly begin to take shape (with the added bonus of an extremely dramatic instrumental).

Below are nine highlights and catalysts that shifted the dividing lines of the European map:

146 BC – A Year of Conquest

146 BC was a year of conquest and expansion for the Roman Republic. The fall of Carthage left the Romans in control of territory in North Africa, and the ransack and destruction of the Greek city-state of Corinth also kickstarted an era of Roman influence in that region. These decisive victories paved the way for the Roman Empire’s eventual domination of the Mediterranean.

117 AD – Peak Roman Empire

The peak of the Roman Empire is one of the more dramatic moments shown on this animated European map. At its height, under Trajan, the Roman Empire was a colossal 1.7 million square miles (quite a feat in an era without motorized vehicles and modern communication tools). This enormous empire remained mostly intact until 395, when it was irreparably split into Eastern and Western regions.

Extent of the Roman Empire on European Map

370 AD – The Arrival of the Huns

Spurred on by severe drought conditions in Central Asia, the Huns reached Europe and found a Roman Empire weakened by currency debasement, economic instability, overspending, and increasing incursions from rivals along its borders.

The Huns waged their first attack on the Eastern Roman Empire in 395, but it was not until half a century later—under the leadership of Attila the Hun—that hordes pushed deeper into Europe, sacking and razing cities along the way. The Romans would later get their revenge when they attacked the quarreling Goths and Huns, bouncing the latter out of Central Europe.

1241 – The Mongol Invasion of Europe

In the mid-13th century, the “Golden Horde” led by grandsons of Genghis Khan, roared into Russia and Eastern Europe sacking cities along the way. Facing invasion from formidable Mongol forces, central European princes temporarily placed their regional conflicts aside to defend their territory. Though the Mongols were slowly pushed eastward, they loomed large on the fringes of Europe until almost the 16th century.

1362 – Lithuania

Today, Lithuania is one of Europe’s smallest countries, but at its peak in the middle ages, it was one of the largest states on the continent. A pivotal moment for Lithuania came after a decisive win at the Battle of Blue Waters. This victory stifled the expansion of the Golden Horde, and brought present-day Ukraine into its sphere of influence.

1648 – Kleinstaaterei

The end of the Holy Roman Empire highlights the extreme territorial fragmentation in Germany and neighboring regions, in an era referred to as Kleinstaaterei.

European map with Holy Roman fragments

Even as coherent nation states formed around it, the Holy Roman Empire and its remnants wouldn’t coalesce until Germany rose from the wreckage of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Unification helped position Germany as a major power, and by 1900 the country had the largest economy in Europe.

1919 – The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire—a fixture in Eastern Europe for hundreds of years—was in its waning years by the beginning of the 20th century. The empire had ceded territory in two costly wars with Italy and Balkan states, and by the time the dust cleared on WWI, the borders of the newly minted nation of Turkey began at the furthest edge of continental Europe.

1942 – Expanding and Contracting Germany

At the furthest extent of Axis territory in World War II, Germany and Italy controlled a vast portion of continental Europe. The map below shows occupied land and areas of influence at the height of Germany’s territorial expansion.

Europe at the height of German military expansion

After the war, Germany again became fragmented into occupation zones—this time, overseen by the United States, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. Germany would not be made whole again until 1990, when a weakening Soviet Union loosened its grip on East Germany.

1991 – Soviet Dissolution

In the decades following WWII, the political boundaries of the European map remained relatively stable—that is, until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Almost overnight, the country’s entire western border splintered into independent nations. When the dust settled, there were 15 breakaway republics, six of which were in Europe.

Soviet Union successions

Bonus: If you liked the video above, be sure to watch this year-by-year account of who ruled territories across Europe.

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Maps

Mapped: Countries With a Shrinking Consumer Class by 2030

Despite the consumer class growing worldwide, some countries are predicted to see a decline in the number of consumers over the next decade.

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Map showing countries predicted to see a decline in the number of consumers over the next decade.

Visualizing Countries With a Shrinking Consumer Class by 2030

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Over 100 million people are expected to be added to the consumer class worldwide just in 2024.

Despite this, some countries are actually predicted to see a decline in their number of consumers over the coming years.

In this visualization, we list key countries that are losing consumers, using data from 2023 from the World Data Lab.

Demographic Changes Impacting Consumption

Under the definition used here, a consumer is classified as someone who spends at least $12 per day. Currently, more than half of the world’s population is considered to be in the consumer class—about 4 billion people in 2023.

According to World Data Lab research, demographic changes are the major factor driving increases and reductions in the number of consumers globally.

In Japan, where the most significant anticipated decline in consumer numbers is expected by 2030, the diminishing workforce and decreasing consumer base are mostly the consequence of the country’s low birth rate.

CountryDecrease in Consumer Class Size by 2030
🇹🇼 Taiwan-124,000
🇧🇬 Bulgaria-135,000
🇩🇪 Germany-152,000
🇵🇹 Portugal-178,000
🇮🇹 Italy-480,000
🇯🇵 Japan-3,600,000

Currently, more than half of all municipalities in Japan are designated as depopulated districts, with schools shutting down and over 1.2 million small businesses owned by older individuals or families lacking successors.

In Europe as well, a decline in both birth rates and an aging population is impacting consumption. Italy is expected to lose almost half a million consumers by the end of the decade. Births in Italy dropped to a historic low below 400,000 in 2022, and Italy’s dearth of babies is considered a national emergency.

The emigration of working-age individuals can also shrink a country’s consumer class. For instance, between 2019 and 2022, Taiwan’s population shrank by roughly 300,000.

As the age of the average consumer grows, the demand for healthcare services, leisure activities, and retirement-related offerings will increase.

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