Demographics in Europe

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  • 0:03 Population of Europe
  • 0:56 Ethnic Groups & Languages
  • 2:15 Religion
  • 2:55 Wealth & Age
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you will be able to describe the demographics of Europe, including population, ethnic groups, languages, religion, wealth, and age. A short quiz will follow.

Population of Europe

Understanding the demographics of Europe is important because European culture has had a huge impact on the culture of the world ever since the Renaissance. From international relations to human migration to economic policy, it has had a ripple effect on the whole world.

As of the beginning of 2014, the population of Europe was approximately 740 million people, with about 503 million of those people being in the European Union. The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 European countries, which allows those countries to work together on political and economic issues, including the promotion of free trade between member countries. For a long time, much of Europe had a growing population. But the population of most countries in Europe (especially the more wealthy ones) is aging, and the birth rate is declining, leading the population growth to slow or even decline in the future.

Ethnic Groups & Languages

With such a large area (similar in size to the United States) comprising approximately 50 countries, it shouldn't be surprising that Europe is hugely varied in terms of culture, ethnic groups, and languages. There are perhaps 87 distinct ethnic groups in Europe, the largest being Russians, followed by Germans. There were also 20 million people living in the EU who are not European in ethnicity as of 2011.

In terms of languages, European languages are mostly part of the same family, which is then subdivided into Romance languages, Germanic languages, Baltic, Slavic, Albanian, Celtic, Greek, Turkic, Mongolic, and Uralic. The vast majority of the languages of Europe fall into one or more of these subdivisions.

According to the European Commission, the most spoken language in the EU as of 2007 was German (at 19% speaking), followed by French (13%), English (12%) and Italian (11%). Though, if you include foreign language speaking skills, the list changes significantly in number and order: English tops the list at 49%, followed by German, then French, then Italian and Spanish.


Religious practice is nowhere near as common in Europe as it is in other parts of the world. The region is becoming increasingly secular over time: both belief in God and attendance at religious events have declined. According to one study by the European Commission, only 51% of EU citizens believe in God as of 2010.

Nevertheless, Christianity remains the dominant religion in Europe, with around 75% of Europeans considering themselves Christian as of 2012, though exact numbers vary from poll to poll, making Christianity hugely dominant compared to other belief systems. Perhaps 18% or so are agnostic or atheist, and Muslims make up around 2%.

Wealth & Age

Europe is one of the wealthiest parts of the world and enjoys extremely high living standards, perhaps the highest in the history of the world. This is especially true in western Europe, with countries like Germany, France, and the United Kingdom rating among the most wealthy in total with countries like Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Norway being the richest per person.

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