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Chapter 16—Central Western Europe

• Dialect: A variation of a spoken language that is unique to a region or community.

• Impressionism: a style of art where painters try to catch visual impressions made by color, light, and
• Nationalize: to bring a business under state control.
• Recession: an extended decline in business activity.
• Confederation: a system of government in which individual political units keep their sovereignty but give
limited power to a central government.
• Reparation: money paid for war damages.
• Inflation: a sharp, widespread rise in prices.
• Lignite: a soft, brownish-black coal.
• Dike: an embankment of earth and rock built to hold back water.
• Polder: an area of low-lying land that has been reclaimed from the sea.
• Decentralize: to transfer government power to smaller regions.
• Canton: a political division or state; one of the states in Switzerland.
• Neutral: not taking sides in a war.
• Perishable good: a product that does not stay fresh for long.
• Strip mining: the process whereby miners strip away the surface of the earth to lay bare the mineral

1. Main physical characteristics of the regions of France: What are their economic activities?
• Northern France
o Physical characteristics
 Paris Basin (part of the N. European Plain)—lies in the interior of N. France—is a large
functional region drained by the Seine and other rivers
o Economic activities
 Paris—economical, political, and cultural capital of France, lies on the banks of the
Seine, in the center of the Paris Basin
 Paris and its surrounding are form France’s chief center of commercial industry, raw
materials shipped here are turned into finished products
 Lille-city N. of Paris—availability of coal has been a major pull factor, attracting many
 Steel mills, textile factories, and chemical plants in + around Lille have provided jobs.
 Lille’s location near N. European Union countries has helped it recover from economic
problems + high unemployment.
• Vineyards of the Southwest
o Physical characteristics
 S. parts of France—air warmer + soil drier = wine growing conditions
 Characteristics of wine fields: right amount of rainfall, no frost, miserable soil—stony and
poor, when the soil is rich, the production of grapes is large, most refined wines come
from the poorest soil
o Economic activities
 The region around the busy seaport of Bordeaux in SW. France has a reputation for
producing the best wines
• Life in Southern France
o Physical characteristics
 2 mountainous areas E. of Bordeaux—the Massif Central and the Alps, divided by the
Rhone River
 Massif Central—W. of Rhone River, mixture of older peaks worn flat by time and newer,
sharper peaks that are not yet eroded, poor soil
 Alps—E. of Rhone River, rugged barrier of mountains that provide spectacular scenery,
long range of towering, snowcapped mountains
o Economic activities
 Massif Central—various crops grown and some industry
 Alps—fashionable ski resorts and challenging skiing, hikers come from around the world
to enjoy alpine flowers that cover the mountain slopes
• Along the Mediterranean
o Physical characteristics
 Riviera—located between the Alps and Mediterranean Sea in SE. France is a strip of
low-lying coastal land
 French Riviera—AKA Cote d’Azur—the Azure Coast—for magnificent scenery formed by
the sky, the sea, and the local clower, lavender
o Economic activities
 Riviera—attracts millions of tourists each year, warm climate ideal for sunbathing on
famous beaches and swimming in the sea
 Many people like to visit the lively cities of Cannes, Nice, and Saint-Tropez; Cannes is
famous for its annual international film festival
 Port of Marseille—busiest seaport in France and 2nd most active in all of W. Europe—
tanker ships bring petroleum from SW. Asia and N. Africa to be unloaded at Marseille
and processed at large oil refineries along the coast—many French exports (wine,
electronic goods, chemicals) are shipped from Marseille
• Industry in the East
o Physical characteristics
 Rhine River—Europe’s busiest waterway—forms part of France’s border with Germany
 Alsace and Lorraine, 2 Rhine Valley provinces—rich with natural resources
o Economic activities
 Lorraine has France’s largest deposits of iron ore
 Nearby, coal is mined
 Strasbourg (France’s major port on the Rhine) is located in Alsace
2. How have changes in government affected the boundaries of French territories?
• When the Romans conquered France (Gaul), cultural convergence—adopting the Romans’ Latin
language and Christian religion—occurred
• The Franks from Germany conquered the region—Charlemagne controlled the Holy Roman Empire
through an efficient government that included much of W. Europe—spread his teaching of Christianity
throughout N. Europe
• Hugh Capet and his heirs developed a monarchy—gradually the ruling monarchs of France expanded
the kingdom’s boundaries until 1589, they were almost the same as those of modern France
• In 1789 the monarchy came to a violent and bloody end during the French Revolution
• France has had several different governments, including a republic of the people, constitutional
monarchy, and empires under Napoleon Bonaparte and his nephew, Louis-Napoleon
3. Explain the importance of language to French culture.
• Language—establishes a French character, unifies the country, symbol of French cultural pride
• Before the 1500s, French was spoken only in and around Paris. As French kings expanded their
control, they decreed that French become the language of all the lands they ruled.
• Several other languages—Alsatian, German, Basque, and Breton are still spoken
• New French words are published in dictionaries only if approved by the French Academy (est. in 1635
to preserve the purity of the French language)
4. What economic and social pressures create uncertainty in France?
• Under pressure to meet standards set by the European Union, officials have enacted strict economic
• 1990s—France struggled to recover from economic recession—unemployment was high, and workers
+ students formed strikes against government reforms
• Immigrants (many whom were Muslims from N. Africa) were the focus of racial tensions
5. What are the 3 densely populated countries?
• Country (persons per square mile)—Netherlands (991), Belgium (868), and Germany (601)
6. How is a high unemployment rate a symptom of economic recession?
• An extended decline in business activityless available jobs
7. Compare the unifications of Germany in the 1800s and the 1900s.
• 1800s
o After Germany defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, German states that
until then had remained independent agreed to join the new German Empire.
o 1882—Germany joined with Austria-Hungary and Italy to form the Triple Alliance.
• 1900s
o Between 1914 and 1918—Germany, Austria-Hungary, and other countries fought against
France, Russia, the United Kingdom, + the US in World War 1
o 1920s—economy collapsed because Germany had to pay the victors reparations
o 1929—worldwide economic depression left millions of Germans w/out jobs
o 1930s—Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party came to power
o 1939—Germany invaded Poland, starting World War 2
o 1945—Germany defeated by the Allied countries
o 1949—Western leaders established the democratic country of the Federal Republic of Germany
—West Germany
o Soviet Union set up the communist German Democratic Republic—East Germany
o Germany remained divided for 40 years between East and West
o 1989—wave of demonstrations calling for democracy swept through Eastern Europe and
overturned East Germany’s Communist government
o October 3, 1990—East and West Germany were officially reunited
8. How do Germany’s physical characteristics affect its economic activities and patterns of settlement?
• Plains, Rivers, and Cities
o Physical characteristics
• N. Germany is on the N. German Plain, which is part of the N. European Plain
• Flat, sandy plains spread out until they reach the N. and Baltic seas—wide rivers flow N.
out of the S. highlands across the plains to the sea
o Economic activities
• Much of the land in the plains is farmed + manufacturing and trade are also important
economic activities
• Hamburg (Germany’s 2nd largest port + city) is built around a harbor where the Elbe
River flows into the North Sea—since the end of the Middle Ages, Hamburg has been a
leading center of trade
• Rockstock (another port)—East Germans dug a new harbor because they lost access to
West German ports, creating a major port on the Baltic Sea
• Natural Resources and Industry
o Physical characteristics
• 2 major rivers (Rhine and Elbe) flow through the central parts of Germany
• 1800s—huge coal deposits found near the Ruhr River
• Power for factories comes mostly from lignite—easy to mine but heavily pollutes
• Fertile farmland
o Economic activities
• Central part of Germany—1 of the most industrial centers in the world
• With plenty of available fuel, the Ruhr Valley developed into Germany’s first industrial
center—today, it produces most of Germany’s iron and steel—also has important
chemical and textile industries
• Steel, machinery, automobiles, and textiles produced in cities and surrounding area
• Frankfurt—Germany’s banking center
• Heidelberg—site of a world-famous university
• Scenic Southern Germany
o Physical characteristics
• Bavarian Alps lie along S. border
• Less mountainous N. of Alps—Rhine and Danube rivers flow here
• Skiers + hikers enjoy the spectacular scenery of these mountains, rivers, hills, and thick
evergreen forests
o Economic activities
• Munich—largest city in Germany and cultural center—theaters, museums, paintings,
sculptures have been restored since WW2
9. How has membership in the European Union benefited the German economy?
• Germany has access to increasing markets in which to sell its valuable products
• 1999-Germany leading industrial country in W. Europe + had the 3rd most technologically powerful
economy after US + Japan
10. What problems might such a sudden rise in population case a host country?
• Not enough jobs to fill the rising workforce, language separation, violence against foreign workers,
pollution of the environment
11. How have the Dutch interacted with their environment to address the issue of overpopulation, and how long
have they been doing this?
• Over 2 thousand years ago—people began to build low mounds and surround them with stone walls to
make dry island on which to live and farm
• When the Romans conquered the area, they constructed dikes to hold back the water
• Dutch encircled a piece of land with dikes and them pumped water out into canals
• 1200s—Dutch used windmills to power the pumps that removed water from the land
12. How has location benefited the Netherlands?
• Rotterdam and Amsterdam are both important ports on the N. Sea
• Rotterdam—located near the mouth of Europe’s largest inland waterway, serves as a link between
much of Europe and the world
13. How has cultural conflict impacted Belgium?
• 30% of Belgians speak French—call themselves Walloons
• 55% of Belgians speak Flemish—a dialect of French
• French is the official language—most governments spoke French and all Belgian universities used
• Result—the Flemings could not hold government positions or enter professions in which a university
education was needed
• 1898—Belgian gov. made Flemish an official language
• Recently, the Belgian Parliament passed laws to decentralize its government
14. How have economic activities changed in Luxembourg?
• Economic activities, once dominated by the manufacture of steel, have become increasingly diversified
• High-tech firms and service industries fill the gap left by reduced steel production
• Luxembourg—member of the European Union + trades most of its goods + services with other EU
15. Describe the Swiss economy and how it participates in world trade.
• A Prosperous Market Economy
o Dairy farming—most important form of agriculture
o Cattle driven to high mountain pastures in the spring—brought down in the fall to protect from
harsh winter temperatures
o Milk (perishable good) is processed into products like chocolate and cheese—Switzerland is
famous throughout the world for its high-quality chocolate
• Specializing for Global Trade
o Specialize in making products that require skilled labor, instead of many materials or costly
o Swiss jewelers produce watches known all over the world for their accuracy
o Produces high-quality tools, including microscopes and measuring + cutting tools
o World leaders in the development of new medicines
o People form many countries deposit their money in banks because Switzerland is a safe place
because of its neutrality
o Tourism—people come to ski at resorts, hike, climb mountains, or simply enjoy the spectacular
16. How have shifting political boundaries and patterns of settlement affected life in Austria?
• Political boundaries
o Present borders created at the end of WW1
o Grew from small region with own ruler to large Austrian Empire
o After defeat, Austria became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which controlled parts of Italy
and much of Eastern Europe
o With their defeat in WW1, the empire collapsed
o Austria + Hungary—separated into independent countries
o Much land they controlled was taken to form new E. European countries
• Patterns of settlement
o 1 of modern Austria’s biggest challenges—rebuild itself within its new, smaller boundaries
(mountains cover much of the country—population concentrated in eastern lowlands)
o Vienna, the country’s capital, used to be the political + cultural center of the Austrian Empire,
with 2 mil. residents in 1910, which decreased to 1.5 today mil today (due to modern industries
finding Vienna too congested and prefer to locate in smaller cities)
o Tourists still draw to Vienna with its many cultural + historical attractions