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Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European powers controlled at various times the Americas, most of Africa, Oceania, and the majority of Asia.The Age of Enlightenment, the subsequent French revolution and the Napoleonic wars are events that deeply modeled and structured the future of the European continent, culturally, politically and economically from the end of the 17th century till the first half of the 19th century.
From the Age of Discovery onwards, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs.
The EU originated in Western Europe but has been expanding eastward since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The currency of most countries of the European Union, the euro, is the most commonly used among Europeans; and the EU's Schengen Area abolishes border and immigration controls among most of its member states.
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There have been attempts to connect Eurṓpē to a Semitic term for "west", this being either Akkadian erebu meaning "to go down, set" (said of the sun) or Phoenician 'ereb "evening, west", which is at the origin of Arabic Maghreb and Hebrew ma'arav. Barry, professor in Princeton University's Near Eastern Studies Department, finds the mention of the word Ereb on an Assyrian stele with the meaning of "night, [the country of] sunset", in opposition to Asu "[the country of] sunrise", i.e. The same naming motive according to "cartographic convention" appears in Greek Ἀνατολή (Anatolḗ "[sun] rise", "east", hence Anatolia).regʷos, meaning "darkness", which also produced Greek Erebus.