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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.
Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Europe is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Europe is generally considered as separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways of the Turkish Straits.
Islands are generally grouped with the nearest continental landmass, hence Iceland is generally considered to be part of Europe, while the nearby island of Greenland is usually assigned to North America.
Nevertheless, there are some exceptions based on sociopolitical and cultural differences.
During the Cold War, Europe was divided along the Iron Curtain between NATO in the west and the Warsaw Pact in the east, until the revolutions of 1989 and fall of the Berlin Wall.
The primarily physiographic term "continent" as applied to Europe also incorporates cultural and political elements whose discontinuities are not always reflected by the continent's current overland boundary with Asia.
The European Anthem is "Ode to Joy" and states celebrate peace and unity on Europe Day.
For the second part compare also the divine attributes of "grey-eyed" Athena (γλαυκῶπις, glaukōpis) or ox-eyed Hera (βοῶπις, boōpis).
Cyprus is closest to Anatolia (or Asia Minor), but is usually considered part of Europe both culturally and politically and is a member state of the EU.
Malta was considered an island of North Africa for centuries.