The second smallest of all the continents, Europe nevertheless has the third largest population after Asia and Africa. Rich, fertile soils, a variable but hospitable climate, and abundant natural resources have made it easy for people to live in Europe for thousands of years, establishing more than 40 nations and much wealth. shifting land borders and inhabitants of wide ethnic diversity have caused conflict, but Europe is politically stable and is a major whole power. Europe position and varied landscape greatly affect its climate. Apart from the far north where it is always cold, European winters are generally cool, and summer warm or hot. Deciduous woodland Broad leaved woods and forests are found in many parts of Europe. Large area of Europe such as the central Meseta region of Spain and the steppes of Southern Russia and South eastern Verlaine are covered in vast expanses of grassland. Europe has played a much more important role in world history than its small population or size would suggest. Twenty-five countries have joined together to form the European Union. In the 15th century, European nations built up empires. Most Europeans live in densely populated towns and cities many of which lie on the fertile north European plain.