The European continent is home to a large number of countries, each having their own distinct history and culture. There are many different religions, ethnic groups and languages found in Europe, making it difficult to describe European culture in simple terms. Due to the complex history of Europe the culture of the region developed into a complex ideal that embraced philosophy, science, naturalism, a wide range of socio-political systems as well as art and music. The defining characteristic of European culture has to be its adaptability and mutability. The expansionist tendencies of European colonists guaranteed that their culture would spread with them to the rest of the world, and Europe most certainly has had an effect on the global culture as we know it today.
Most people tend to associate Europe with the countries found in the European Union. These include Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany and many others. Most of these countries are found in Western Europe and are sometimes grouped together when talking about culture in Europe.
One defining trend of European culture is that it is over a thousand years old, with its history dating back to early Christian era. The defining religion of Europe for almost a thousand years has been Christianity, and this is reflected in the art, music and architecture of Europe during this period. Much of European philosophy was driven by Christian philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas and Erasmus. As more countries join the European Union, the religious diversity of Europe is going to increase. There are a large number of countries that are predominantly Muslim, such as Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they will add much to the cultural diversity of the European Union.
European art has had a massive impact on culture on the continent, from cave paintings found in Spain, to religious art and iconography found in Russia all the way to contemporary works in Germany and Great Britain. Europe was home to some of the greatest artists to have lived, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Rubens and many, many others.
Another way in which Europe has contributed to cultural diversity is that in the world of music. Classical music is a wide field, spanning a period of roughly nine hundred years before it got formalized as “classical music”. The style is characterised by a heavy focus on structure, meter and the development of themes in the composition, leaving little room for improvisation. There are many notable composers of classical music, the most well known being Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. Modern music has been influenced by the American market, while still retaining some of the European character previously described.
The European Union is placing a high emphasis on the development of European culture, focusing primarily on art, architecture and music and visual arts. A group of experts has mandated a number of support programmes to ensure that European culture will keep developing and enriching the lives of people on a global scale.