The history of Europe is the story of many different peoples and cultures. Some peoples lagged behind, while others surged far ahead in the development of social, intellectual, and political institutions and ideas. Some regions, because of location, became influenced by cultures far removed from those affecting the rest of the continent. Many wars and treaties have changed Europe's political boundaries throughout its history.

Important dates in Europe
c. 3000 B.C. Civilization developed on Crete and other islands in the Aegean Sea.
c. 500 to 300 B.C. Greek civilization reached its height.
27 B.C. to A.D. 180 Rome achieved its greatest power.
A.D. 300's Romans granted the Christians freedom of religion. The Roman Empire split into two parts: the West Roman Empire and the East Roman, or Byzantine, Empire.
400's The West Roman Empire fell, and the Middle Ages began.
732 A Frankish army defeated Muslim forces in Spain.
768-814 Charlemagne built an empire in Western Europe.
1054 The Christian Church split into the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Late 1000's Europeans began the Crusades.
1347-1352 The Black Death killed many of Europe's people.
1300's The Renaissance began in Italy.
1500's The Reformation brought Protestantism to Europe.
1689 The English Parliament passed the Bill of Rights.
1789-1799 The French Revolution ended absolute monarchy in France.
1815 Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo.
1700's to mid-1800's. The Industrial Revolution swept through Europe.
1914-1918 World War I raged in Europe.
1917 The Bolshevik revolution led to the establishment of a Communist dictatorship in Russia.
1920's Joseph Stalin became dictator of the Soviet Union, and Benito Mussolini became dictator of Italy.
1933 The Nazis under Adolf Hitler took control of the German government.
1939-1945 The Allies defeated Germany, Italy, and the other Axis powers in World War II.
1940's Soviet-controlled Communist dictatorships seized control of governments in Eastern Europe after World War II.
1949 Canada, the United States, and 10 Western European nations formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
1950's Western European nations began economic associations that later merged to form the European Union.
1975 Most European countries signed the first of the Helsinki Accords, pledging increased cooperation and promotion of human rights.
1989-1990 Most of eastern Europe ended Communist rule and began reforms toward giving the people more freedom.
1990 East and West Germany were unified.
1991 Most of the republics of the Soviet Union declared their independence, and the Soviet Union was dissolved. Three of Yugoslavia's six republics declared their independence.
2002 The euro replaced the traditional currencies of many European nations.