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Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: In Asia or Europe?


Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: Asia or Europe? Are these countries Asian or European? This post aims to clear up some of the confusion.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: this somewhat-isolated cluster of three countries is perpetually the center of a different kind of battle: are these countries in Asia or in Europe?

There are many reasons, both great and otherwise, for why these three countries are either Asian or European. But to look at this problem, it is first important to know where the borders are that separate the two aforementioned continents – a hard task, considering that there is only arbitrary boundaries that are not unanimous in nature. As I said in a previous article about the continents, borders of a continent are often based along cultural and political lines as much as geographical.

So, let’s take a look at some of the arguments on each side of the table; but first, below’s an interactive map to help familiarize yourself with the area that we’re referring to:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: Pro-European Arguments

  • Linguistically, the three countries have slightly more in common with Europe than with Asia. Most European languages fall within the Indo-European language family/phylum, and Armenian is its own subset of the Indo-European languages, most similar to Greek. Azerbaijani is a Turkic language, in the same subset as the Turkish language. The Georgian language, called Kartuli, makes up the bulk of the Kartvelian language family, a completely separate language family that is spoken mostly in and around Georgia. 
  • More citizens of these countries, when asked, seem to consider themselves Europeans rather than Asians.
  • Their sociopolitical and religious leanings seem to favor the European side.
  • All three are members of the Council of Europe, something that other Asian countries would not be able to become. (At the time I am writing this article, its Committee of Ministers’ presidency is even being held by Armenia!)
  • Each country has shown some intent and ambition towards someday joining both NATO and the European Union.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: Pro-Asian Arguments

  • Turkey, to many, is said to be somewhat in both Europe and Asia. It is known as the “Gateway to the East,” and Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan lay directly to Turkey’s east. The bulk of Turkey is even referred to as Asia Minor, a peninsula also called Anatolia.
  • The three countries are essentially south(east) of the Black Sea, one of the popularly-defined borders of the Europe-Asia boundary.
  • The Caucasus Mountains are generally regarded to form the southeastern border of Europe, and though Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are partially within this mountain range, they are more south of it than north of it.
  • Other Europeans (to the west) often don’t consider these countries to be European at all (but then again, they also seem to disdain including Russia as European).
  • Some sources, such as the CIA World Factbook, categorize even Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia within the Middle East, though most disagree with this.

Most consider the Ural Mountain system to be the eastern border of Europe. Our three countries are well to the west of that, but also to the south. As far as Europe’s southern boundaries, the Black Sea and Caspian Sea are usually regarded as forming the southeastern border between Europe and Asia/Middle East. (On this website, the countries here in the regions we are considering fall into three categories: Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Though most of the Middle East is considered to be akin to an Asian subcontinent (like India), we group it separately for other reasons, including language and culture.)

And between the two seas, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus Mountains have the general consensus that this range completes that southeastern border. However, parts of all three countries are in the Caucasus Mountains, putting us back in the original pickle. So, what now?

Well, since there is no scientific way to determine the official boundaries, and our geographical ones are nullified for the above reason, there could possibly never be a definitive answer. (Perhaps the government of each country could officially declare a stance) So, on this site, we will group them with the language and culture also in mind, and thus, they are perhaps leaning more towards being European rather than Asian. This is not a right answer, nor is it a wrong answer; I simply compared the two columns of differences above and their European-ness weighed more to me, albeit slightly.

So, there you go – another article with no firm conclusion, but hopefully the points above will help you to draw your own. If you have any other points to consider that I forgot to include, post in the comments below, and I will update the article to reflect them.

This is part of our ongoing series, “Versus: ‘What’s the Difference?'” With this series, we aim to promote a better understanding and love of the differences that make us unique while at the same time casting out doubt; hopefully, this will make us better travelers, better citizens, and better people.

For more, check out the “Versus: ‘What’s the Difference?'” category, which includes articles such as Race vs Ethnicity, Arab vs Middle Eastern, Spanish vs Hispanic, Streets vs Roads, Consuls vs Ambassadors, and United Kingdom vs Great Britain, among others.

Written by
Christian Eilers
Join the discussion

  • Georgians are old Christian nation and we (Georgians) are considered European for cultural and historical reasons. Georgian culture had a great influence of the Byzantine culture, therefore Georgian culture became even more similar to the European cultures and more different than Asian.
    Historically in old Greeks concept European-Asian border in Caucasus was the “Phasis” (modern Rioni) and the Kura Rivers (not Caucasus Mountains), because this two rivers for them was strait between the Black and the Caspian Seas, like the Bosporus, which is the strait between the Marmara and the Black Seas.
    Therefore Georgian territory historical and geographically is not wholly in Asia, Georgia is transcontinental country, because it has both territories in Europe (65%) and in Asia (35%) as Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkey (look at this map: kidsmaps . com/ political-map-europe), but Georgia and Russia are European-Christian transcontinental countries, and Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are Asian-Muslim transcontinental countries.
    Also Georgian race pigmentation of hair and eyes is lighter than Asian (Look at this map: wikimedia . org / commons/ Map_pigmentation_in_Europe).
    Therefore Georgia is old European-Christian transcontinental country, which has more territory in Europe than in Asia, also culture and race is more similar to the European and more different than Asian. I don’t feel myself Asian, because I have European-Christian mentality, European taste and so on. I am Georgian, and therefore I am European.

    • I strongly disagree. By the standard definition(the most widely accepted), only about 1% of Georgia’s land area is in Europe, with only a few hundred Georgians actually living within that area. I disagree with a number of other things that you have said as well. First of all, religion isn’t a qualification for being European. Europe has plenty of Muslim majority countries, that doesn’t make them any less European countries than other European countries. Secondly, bringing pigmentation to the table is rather absurd, if that was a criteria then southern Europe wouldn’t be considered Europe. As someone who visited Tbilisi in 1998, I can’t say that I felt that the country was European. Also, the point about Georgia being culturally like the Byzantine Empire (itself a transcontinental country) is not valid either, Greeks and Turks have nearly identical culture after a millennia of mixing, that would mean that Turkey would also have to be considered an European country. Georgia, just like the better known example of Turkey, is an Asian country with land area in Europe, thus it’s also a transcontinental country.

      • Michael, I don’t know whether war-torn Georgia in the dark 1990s “felt like” Europe or not. Maybe you expected palaces and Chanel stores staffed by skinny blondes… I was there recently, and I would never think Georgia was anything other than Europe. Ironically, I discovered that the few “Asian” looking buildings in Tbilisi are actually 19th century designs by European architects.

        “Greeks and Turks have nearly identical culture after a millennia of mixing” – this pretty much sums up your misinformed and simplistic view. First of all, Turks were not present there for “millennia”. Secondly, Spaniards/Portuguese have lived under Muslims for hundreds of years, does not mean they have become the same.

        “Europe has plenty of Muslim majority countries” – again, not plenty, but one or two and all share the same thing: they’re in the Balkans and have long been ruled by “outside” forces (Ottomans). Why spread these lies when they can so quickly be proven wrong? I’m starting to think you have some kind of agenda…

    • I arrived in Georgia as a Peace Corps volunteer a long time ago, lived there for several years and I still periodically travel there. I won’t get into the contentious racial/ethnic issues mentioned by Sergi as they really do vary substantially, however, I agree with his main point. The culture, people, and history of Georgia is that of a peripheral European nation trying to survive in the face of hostile outside empires on Europe’s doorstep. Due to its complicated history, Georgia is behind in development and rather poor as well, which may have something to do with how some do not find it “European” (i.e. wealthy nanny states with spoiled, stereotypical ultra-liberal residents…) But I have always seen Georgia as part of the European whole, another, lesser-known side of the same coin.

      I don’t even think it’s fair to compare Georgia to its neighbors in the south since they are so different. In the words of Thomas De Waal: “Georgia’s distinctive character comes from it being the most ‘Caucasian’ of the three countries…Armenians and Azerbaijanis look outward to Iran and the Middle East and beyond, and have one foot outside the South Caucasus—their culture and cuisine blends with that of the greater region around them. Georgia has always been much more a world of its own…”

    • As a Greek, I can completely relate to Georgia’s frustrations. During the economic crisis years ago, I would periodically read condescending articles in some Western media asking whether Greeks are “really” European in light of their “backward” country and struggling economy. It has also led to racist pseudoscience on how present Greeks aren’t “true” Greeks and are really Turks, a vicious lie that has been restated by Michael above. You see, the protestant European elite, which pays lip-service to tolerance and diversity is not so tolerant itself. Whenever something does not fall within their narrow expectations, they will just dismiss it as un-European. Georgia is in the same spot – despite the fact that it has been a European civilization along with Greece back when the north was populated by roaming herdsmen.

      For those interested in this topic, I recommend you read “Welcome to Greece (but Not to Europe)” in the Foreign Policy magazine. It provides a good overview of supposedly liberal Europe’s double standards, especially vis-a-vis Europe’s Orthodox countries. You can just replace Greece with Georgia, everything laid out in the article will still hold true.

  • I’d say the prevailing thought in the rest of Europe (certainly the UK, Germany & the Benelux) is that they are eastern Europe now rather than Asia. As you say, they are closer to Europe in terms of history and linguistics, but what probably helps even more is that they take part in pan-European events like the European football championships or the Eurovision Song Contest (which Azerbaijan even won and hosted). Actually I’d say they’re simply becoming more well known these days rather than people shifting their view as to which continent they’re in – 10 years ago I’m not sure your average Brit would have heard of any of them let alone know where they were! Never underestimate the power of Eurovision to promote awareness of your nation 😉

    • The Eurovision also has Australia and Israel, the Eurovision is completely irrelevant, even if it has the word ‘Euro’ in it. As for the sporting events, no one likes Jews so neither the Asian nor African sporting organizations wanted to accept them, thus Isreal wouldn’t be in any sports if it wasn’t accepted into European sports, so an exception was made. But none of this has anything to do with Geography, Cyprus and Armenia don’t ahve land area either, but are in European sports. Kazakstan interestingly enough, is in UEFA but in athletics they are part of the Asian organization.

      • What do you mean Cyprus does not have land in Europe? According to whom?there are as many versions as there are people… European geography is a political and social construct. Apparently it is European-enough to be member of the EU. And I don’t think Israel is a good counter-example – being included in European sports competitions as a last resort hardly counts.

        • Participatin in the Eurovision does not mean your in Europe , Israel also take part as Armenia Azerbaijan and Geoegia too because they are in the European broadcasting Area , Israel is part of Eufa because in Asia ans Africa they have alot of enemies

      • Michael, can’t you distinguish European civilization from Geography? Yes,Georgia is not geographically in Europe, and only small part of it is in Europe, but culturally it is an European country.

    • Yes, yes, how dare they strive to integrated with Europe! they should just remain in their Soviet Kolkhoz and gulags, it’s so much better there.

        • Hakob, I was being sarcastic. Of course there is nothing good in Soviet gulags! all countries of Eastern Europe should follow Georgia’s example and set course on European integration. Unfortunately, people like Ciros do not want to see that happen. They gladly accept thousands of radical Muslims and north Africans but choose to ignore their fellow European countries, not a good strategy as recent events have shown.

    • Ciros, I wonder where all this hostility is coming from. I hope you are not an offended Russian who resents its neighbors for tilting toward Europe, you are part of it after all.

  • All modern geographic sources I have ever read place at least some portion of Georgian in Europe, so at this point the whole Europe/Asia discussion is pretty tiresome. Nevertheless, I will say that of the three Caucasus countries, where I have traveled extensively, Georgia matched my notion of Europe most closely. The wine, cheese, architecture, religion, people, it was all just like what you would see in Southeastern Europe. In fact, if you were to judge by its landscapes, at times I felt like I was in Switzerland. On the topic of ethno-linguistics, it is true that Georgians are not directly related to anyone in Europe but they are not related to anyone outside either, and this is not unusual in Europe. Unlike its neighbors, which have a strong ethnic foothold in Asia, Georgia is self-contained, encircle by mountains and very much a place of its own. To me Georgia is a European country that got buried under a layer of Ottoman/Soviet decay and is just now cleaning up and being accepted as a legitimate part of Europe. Yes, Georgia is farther east than Turkey but note that it is also entirely to the north of Turkey, which apparently makes a difference in geography. In fact, if Moscow was in the south, it would fall to the east of most of Turkey, as well.

    • 1.Wine Culture is very developed in Caucasus.Let’s not forget that the oldest wineries are discovered in Armenia: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/01/12/oldest.winery/index.html
      2.Armenia is the first Christian country in the world and yes geographically Armenia is between Europe and Asia, but religiously, politically more in Europe.
      3.Wikipedia: Seljuks and the Ottoman Empire
      Main articles: Seljuk dynasty and Ottoman dynasty
      See also: Turkic migration, Mongol invasions of Anatolia, Seljuk Empire, Sultanate of Rum, and Ottoman Empire

      Mevlana Museum in Konya was built by the Seljuk Turks in 1274. Konya was the capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum (Anatolia).[60]
      The House of Seljuk was a branch of the Kınık Oğuz Turks who resided on the periphery of the Muslim world, in the Yabgu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy, to the north of the Caspian and Aral Seas, in the 9th century.[61] In the 10th century, the Seljuks started migrating from their ancestral homeland into Persia, which became the administrative core of the Great Seljuk Empire.[62]

      In the latter half of the 11th century, the Seljuk Turks began penetrating into medieval Armenia and the eastern regions of Anatolia. In 1071, the Seljuks defeated the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert, starting the Turkification process in the area; the Turkish language and Islam were introduced to Armenia and Anatolia, gradually spreading throughout the region. The slow transition from a predominantly Christian and Greek-speaking Anatolia to a predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking one was underway.[63] Alongside the Turkification of the territory, the culturally Persianized Seljuks set the basis for a Turko-Persian principal culture in Anatolia,[64] which their eventual successors, the Ottomans would take over.[65][66]
      4.Armenia and Georgia have a shared history with Germany:all the three have been conquered by The USSR and asa result we have similar soviet architecture, just go to Berlin and then come to Yerevan and you will see.
      5.Don’t forget that our region is called Caucasus and remember that Europids are also called Caucasoids which possibly means that Europeans come from a region called Caucasus or vice versa:)
      6.The first settlers in England were from Armenia, the historic document of this argument is in the British museum.Just look on You-Tube.
      7.The Bavarians have Armenian origin.Yes, do your research and you will see:)
      8.You will never find so many similarities between Armenia,Georgia and Asian countries.

      In general, Armenia and Georgia have uncomparably more shared history with Europe then with Asia.

      • Then why so much middle eastern and Persian influences in Armenia? I am here now and it reminds me more of Turkey and Iran culturally than Europe. The only difference is it is not muslim. The food is middle eastern, music sounds similar and geographically it is in Asia. When figuring what continent geography is more important than culture. Let,s fact it Europe is also more developed. Armenia still has the power outage once or twice a week, the drainage system in Yerevan in the streets is terrible. Hardly EU criteria .They are also not attached to EU but more to Russia and central Asia. To say Azerbaijan is European culturally would be ridiculous too.

        Georgia, yes but Armenia and Azerbaijan are Asia and according to some middle east.

        I do not understand why locals are fighting to be in Europe because it is seen as more developed. They are clearly very different countries and lumping them together make no sense.

        • Traveler, just how ignorant are you? Power outages and poor roads don’t determine whether a country is considered European or not. There are plenty of poor roads and electricity blackouts in the Balkans and places like Moldova. Europe isn’t just Paris and London. Some of us Europeans are rich and others are poor, so what, isn’t it like that everywhere?

        • Armenia was under control of Arabs, Turks, Persians for thousands of years and that is why we share similar foods today, not to mention thousands fled to Lebanon, Syria, Iran to escape the destructive policies of the Ottoman Empire. It doesn’t change the fact Armenia politically and culturally still shares many values European countries do.

  • well most of ur thinking these countries to be in europe cuz u r thinking europe is better than asia.geologically all 3 countries r in asia but Georgia haves a culture of the europeans not the asians still they r part of asia.while Azerbaijan and Armenia r clearly in asia in both culture nd geologically.

    • Basically Georgia and Azerbaijan are transcontinental countries with parts both in europe and asia (but the biggest part in asia) , while Armenia is clearly in the asian contitent but they have sociopolitical and historical ties with europe.. As Georgia.. but no azerbaijan which it’s civilization is asian.

    • It always amuses me when people distinguish between “cultural” and “geographic” boundaries of Europe- the very concept of Europe is cultural, and so are its borders! Rivers, mountains, lakes or any other superficial physical feature means nothing by itself. If Ukrainians were a large Muslim nation who had a history of hostility with Europe and who had narrow eyes, I’m sure some 18th century European “geographer” or “scientist” would come up with a new border definition to exclude them – a river, a forest, anything at all…

      The fact is that most of Asia and Europe, including all of the named countries, are on what’s called the Eurasian Plate and geographically inseparable if not for arbitrary cultural norms. In fact, if you really want to argue, keep in mind that Turkey and Greece are technically more separate from Europe, since they are on Anatolian and Aegean plates, respectively. But just how petty can we get? In the end, I think it all comes down to culture and perceptions.

      • No, it is more geographical than cultural. Philippines has a massive christian influences, Vietnam has French. Maybe we should also call them Europe since geography means noting. I am in Armenia now and it is the least European country I have been in and I have been to all. The Iranian influences are strong.

        • Armenia shares a border with Iran so why would you be shocked to find out that there are Iranian influences there? I was recently in Marseille, France and there are so many Northern African influences and flavors everywhere. Physical proximity blends things together, but it doesn’t make it the same.

      • Frederick, Then you can include Australia and New Zealand as europe since they are part of European culture

  • In fact as I said Armenia Azerbaijan and Georgia are geographicaly in Asia and politicaly and historicaly in Europe. But here in western europe I hear most of people to consider these countries “Eastern Europe” along with Russia Ukraine Belarus etc

  • For us in Northern Europe, Georgia being part of the continent is a given at this point, and there’s no distinction between geographically or mentally or any of that. It’s less so for Azerbaijan, which is really a secular extension of Iran in every sense. But for convenience I think all of Caucasus is included in Europe, largely on Georgia’s merit, as it is the closest and most pro-West area.

  • There was a time in the 1970’s where Baku was divided between Europe & Asia making it just the second Major City besides Istanbul to be split by two continents. Geographic’s , political, cultural are what come into play here. Ninety one percent of Turkey falls in Asia yet E.U. won’t allow Turkey to join. Azerbaijan culture, Language, is similar to Turkey’s. Georgia & Armenia I feel that both can be a part of Europe joining the E.U. as their culture, politics, along with geographic’s could be a part of Europe. In closing despite being East of Turkey, all three nations should be European the E.U. would have more to gain then lose especially with Azerbaijan’s oil wealth making Baku becoming another Dubai with a historic past.. Turkey along with Iran should remain Asia (except the Istanbul Divide of Turkey that’s Europe at the Bosporus River) . That’s where Asia & Europe should meet. Kazakhstan should all belong to Asia rather then 15 percent belongs to Europe, 85 percent to Asia. You have to draw the line somewhere.

    • I agree that politics and culture determine much of what is considered European. I also agree that being east of Turkey is not a determinant of where the country belongs; as someone already stated, Moscow sits farther east than half of Turkey, but one is considered European and the other is not.

      However, I disagree with the other point about Azerbaijan. It seems to me that many Azeris are not that attached to Europe, which may have something to do with the fact that most of their ethnic kin actually live in Iran. Also, politically and culturally speaking, each day Azerbaijan is becoming more like an autocratic, wealthy, tacky Gulf State.

      A friend who has traveled to the region once told me that Georgia was solidly European with a hint of Asia. Armenia equal parts Europe and Asia. Turkey and Azerbaijan felt like Asia with perhaps a hint of Europe, whereas Kazakhstan was unambiguously Asia, period. I feel like this sums up my views as well.

    • Clearly you have never been in Armenia. They do not want in to the EU even. They also could not meet the criteria.

  • I agree that the distinction between Europe and Asia is entirely cultural and political.

    Asia and North America, North America and South America, Africa and Europe, Africa and Asia, Asia and Australasia are all huge land masses with clear geographical designations, and between them short pieces of sea or ocean, all of which is clearly visible from space.

    The geographical border between Europe and Asia is no more distinctive than that between Spain and France or Switzerland and Italy.

  • Georgia was original occupied by the Persians which which makes it European, but then it became Russian and joined the soviet union out of it’s own free will I might add which makes it Asian. So of it’s own free will Georgia chose to be Asian, but then it declared Independence, but since it was last Russian when it declared Independence I think it should be declared Asian .

      • No, Georgia is not in Asia. Here’s a excerpt from my school textbook: “There is no single agreed-upon border that separates Europe from Asia. However, even by the most restrictive geographic definition, at least the northern regions of Georgia (above the Kura River) fall under Europe”

  • I think all 3 countries should be a part of Europe as culturally they are much close to Europe rather than to Asia.
    Go and visit those cities and you will see the European style architecture rather than Asian.
    Specially Azerbaijan with such a great economics could be a great addition to the Europe, what I can not say about Armenia and Georgia (there are some issues with economics), although the political and democracy issues exists in all 3 countries.

  • What? Baku is not all of Azerbaijan and it is more like Dubai or Turkey than Europe. Go to Ganga or Sheki. Baku is nothing like the rest of the country. Well, they have weekly or daily power cuts and infrastructure is nothing like Europe in Armenia. Tbilisi and Batumi are more developed in Georgia but other parts feel similar to Mongolia. Certainly some of the roads are similar.

    • “they have weekly or daily power cuts and infrastructure is nothing like Europe”

      Why do you keep repeating this nonsense? What does electricity have to do with geography? Plenty of countries in Europe have poor electricity supply and infrastructure. You don’t have to be rich to be considered part of Europe. Moldova has plenty of crappy roads and electricity blackouts but we don’t call them Asia. Conversely, Japan is more developed than many European Union members. It’s extremely condescending and inappropriate for you to use poverty as an indication of one’s “Asianess” or “Europeanness”.

  • before judging on whether these three countries are part of Europe or not, lets discover what is Europe and when this term was coined, then look if there were any signs of affiliation between theses areas or not, do not forge, not any Christian wine-drinker is European, or any light-hair and eyed person as well. historically and geographically these countries have been under strong Persian domination and consequently influence and this domination extended up to Derbent in Modern Daghestan where the name is completely Persian. their kings were under Persian command and were severely suppressed when they revolted or betrayed treaties. this was and is politics . their Christianity does not bring about Europeanhood as the Christ himself was from Palestine. what you new travelers see in your recent travels as European-like walk of life in these countries is one hundred percent a Russian influence a countriy not considered European itself. the fact is that time passes and the political players change. now West is expanding its borders, poor Georgians need a protector as usual in their history, this time they chose the West. the rest is story.

    • Why cherry-pick Russian or Persian influence over the Caucasus? Peoples of the Caucasus have been around for millennia, which has seen the influences of not just Russia and Persia, but also Rome, Greeks, and everyone in between. As far as locals were concerned, some of these influences have always been more welcome than others. As an example, for Georgia, allying with Western or European powers is not a “recent” development as you suggest – it has been occurring for centuries. He’s a little historical snippet: “Since at least the mid-15th century, rulers in both western and eastern Georgian kingdoms have repeatedly sought aid from Western European powers to no avail. A notable episode of this type of effort was spearheaded in the early 1700s by a Georgian diplomat Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, who was sent by his former pupil, King Vakhtang VI, to France and the Vatican in order to secure assistance for Georgia. Orbeliani was well received by King Louis XIV and Pope Clement XI, but no tangible assistance could be secured. Lack of Western assistance not only left Georgia exposed but sealed the personal fates of Orbeliani and King Vakhtang – pushed by the invading Ottoman army, both were eventually forced to accept the offer of protection from Peter the Great and escaped to Russia, from where they never returned. In modern-day Georgia, the story of Orbeliani’s diplomatic mission to France would become a symbol of how the West neglects Georgian appeals for protection.”

  • To me, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are as European as Kazakhstan. The historical border between Europe and Asia has been the Bosphorus between the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor, the Caucasus mountains between Upper Caucasus Region and the Middle east, and the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Lake between the rest of the two.
    Armenia is located way below the Caucasus mountains and is definitely not a European country.
    Azerbaijan is an Asian country, with most of it’s northern border running along the Caucasus mountains with a region located above it, in Europe.
    Georgia too is an Asian country that has the upper border running along the Caucasus mountains so it may qualify as a partly European country.
    Also, I’ve seen the points everyone puts up. It’s utterly disgraceful to judge if a country is European or Asia based on pigmentation, religion, infrastructure, language or what not. If you’re country has a significant amount of territory in Europe compared to the rest of the country, and has a significant population living there, then it may qualify to be considered European (like Russia, which has around 30% of its territory and more than 75% of the population in Europe). If not, then sorry. You are Asian no matter how much alike you are with European religion, pigmentation, infrastructure or language.
    Note! Europe and Asia are not separate countries but rather a way to differentiate cultures. They are a part of a bigger landmass called Eurasia. I can’t believe we still teach kids that Europe and Asia are different continents.

    • Your erroneous assessment is based solely on the ASSUMPTION that Europe/Asia border passes through the Caucasus Mountains. You completely ignore the fact that there are countless respectable geographic references that draw the border across other geographic features, such as the Kura River, the Rioni River, or even farther down, which places most, if not all Georgia, in Europe. This is the border definition that most mainstream sources currently support. It was also the definition that Soviet geography favored. I read a book recently that explained this word for word: “The Great Soviet Atlas put the entire Caucasus inside ‘Europe’, as far as the Turkish border with the USSR (Efremov, “Obsuzhdenie’, p. 145); so did the Great Soviet Encyclopedia…” In other words, placing Georgia and the wider Caucasus region in Europe is a longstanding, well-established practice in both Western and Soviet geographies.

      Lastly, I find it a little ironic that a Macedonian would be so eager to exclude countries from Europe based on some preconceived notions. Some would argue that Macedonia is not even a “real” country, so forgive me if I don’t take your word for where Europe begins or ends.

  • This is a very interesting problem, that, of course, needs to be resolved. Regarding fact that I respect all of the propositions assumed and expressed here, I have to say that, as a passionate geographer – amateur, who’s a linguist, and loves geography as a big hobby, – I’ve always been considering the modern Russian border with Georgia and Azerbaijan, established and acknowledged after the decay of the Soviet Union – the official border between the two continents. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that many, of even professional geographers, consider that existence of ,,Eurasia” as a continent a reality, but, of course, they cannot be considered as one unique continent in its wholeness. The things suchlike color, language, culture, gene, architecture, or elctricity, of amount of money, surely cannot be taken as serious references for geographical boundaries. For any country, to be considered a transcontinental one, is interesting, but, we always incline putting one into 1 continent, due to the easier consideration, although it isn’t always like that. I.e., Russia is more an Asian one, but they came from Europe and flew over the Ural mountains, so, we get and mention it as European, rather. Technically, Greece has some parts of its territory in Asia (Rhodes, i.e.), although perhaps many Greeks wouldn’t agree with this. Recently, I found that the geological terms are not the same as strictly geographical ones, so, that the surface of Iceland is devided, perhaps even more belonging to North America, than Europe. Instead, they consider themselves European. I am fasinated by the fact that the Kura river can be taken as a boundary, which makes one of my earlier mental maps little bit moved, although I still believe in Russian border with Georgia and Azerbaijan is the official one. The fact that Georgia can also be a transcontinental country is equally amazing, but because of the different reasons than Iceland. In that case, the Elbrus peak would be considered the Europe’s highest point, and not Mount Blanc. Ragarding fact that perhaps some % of Georgia’s surface can belong to the Old Continent, strictly speaking, this field stays still opened to me, and I’m waiting what the officials will tell, in the end, if ever. Nevertheless, it’s always us who determine the things in the official science, not the Nature. We decide if Pluto is a planet, or a planetoid, and it won’t be offended, even if not. I wonder, if Bashkortostan ever get its independence, which they deserve as a nation, how would they consider themselves, hence the republic spreads across the Ural mountains. And, finally, can Europe be bordering with the Iranian plateau, roughly said, and with the Asia Minor? I guess the Soviets were taking the part across the frontier Caucasus reef European, ’cause, obviously, it was easier that way. Older Russian Empire had held the northern part of today’s Iran, and it is obviously Asia. What if Armenia regain they historical parts, taken away by Turkey? Will thatbe considered Europe? I still stick to R.F. and its border with G and A, as the official border with E and A, in which case Mount Blanc remains the highest peak of Europe, since the Elbrus top lays on the very border, but I’m interested in taking into consideration that possible Georgian parts that are European, if so. And, maybe, Azerbaijan, to, which would be interesting, but Armenia certainly not. Love and respect to all the three countries and nations, I learn the languages of all of them, but, it stays still an interesting issue in geography.

    • Peter, thanks so much for stopping by! I absolutely loved your comment, as it was super informative and thoughtful (as well as thought-provoking). I learned quite a lot from the points you made. I hope you have a great day, and please stop back by again soon!

    • “I found that the geological terms are not the same as strictly geographical ones” – This is probably the most important remark of the whole discussion. Geological terms are clear cut and it does not have to imply anything more than the location of a country.

      Yet, geographical terms are open to interpretations and change over the course of the years (war, invasion, division etc…) which causes even more debate and opens room for manipulation. So a geographical approach is very political which makes it biased as well as dangerous because they are divisive.

      However, I do realize that a geographical terminology is necessary. The problem here is that there is a need for a new concept to define this transitional area between Europe and Asia including Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran (and maybe even Greece) such as the “Balkans” or “Skandinavia”. The concept of the Middle East doesn’t do it as it fails to include non-muslim countries (just because the CIA grouped Georgia and Armenia in some reports as the middle east doesn’t make it true). I also dislike this name because it regards Europe as the center of the world. Alternatively, I would like to offer Cradle as a name, as this region is the cradle of civilization.

      Funny enough, all of these countries want to be set apart from each other but truly they have the closest ties to each other than anywhere else. Believe me, I am Turkish. Their histories are intervened, so their food, music, values, fables are very similar. Yes, some are Muslim, others are Christian but stripped of religious differences they have incredibly much in common.

      All of these countries can be argued to be have strong ties with Europe (I was surprised to see that those who played the ethnicity card failed to mention that Iranians are of Indo-European heritage) but the question should not be if there are European enough. Why such a western view?

      Words make up worlds. It is possible that if these countries were bundled together under one group, they would have grown a sense of kinship as the “Cradle Countries”, and it would be a more peaceful region.

      Then I would have loved to see a discussion on if European countries are “Cradle” enough.

  • The transcaucasian countries lie on the lesser and greater caucasus range. Thus, it should not be considered that the greater caucasus solely makes up the range and the dividing line between asia and europe. Therefore, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are on the edge of southeastern europe geographically. The whole mountain range, including the lesser and greater caucasus are a border to western asia.

    Azerbaijan, during the Russian colonialism over the last 200 + years, has been deiranianized from influences to prior 19th century. Ethnically, they do not seem to resemble iranians who appear to have some degree of dravidian in them. Iranian Azerbaijan is different culturally from the republic of Azerbaijan is absorbed by Iranian culture (Asian).

    Armenia and Georgia are Christian culturally and the former’s church is said to be heavily influenced by Greek orthodoxy. The latter is absorbed in the Russian orthodox church. Both have some distant ties to the Byzantine empire.

    The North caucasus is heavily subdued and absorbed by Russian culture and influences. However, the whole region is under Russia’s thumb and is firmly kept so by Russia. This has been the case since the early 1800’s.

  • Turkey is a European country. The Caucasian countries and Turkey are in southeastern Europe. The Ottoman empire had it’s powerbase in the Balkans and was heavily oriented to Europe. It was run by Greeks, Armenians and Jews and was lenient to these minorities. However, if you wanted to move up in society, you’d have to convert to Islam. Attaturk in the 1920’s realigned Turkey with European standards. Naturally, the peripheral zone of europe to asia would have some asian influences, especially if they are muslim.

Dauntless Jaunter