The dike between North Sea and Ijsselmeer
The afsluitdijk, taken from the tower of the landmark in the middle of this 30 km dike that separates the North Sea from the Ijselmeer. The "Monument op de afsluitdijk" is build on the spot where the final gap in the dike was closed during construction.The dike structure was completed in 1932 as a measure to protect the land behind a weak and irregular 250 km patchwork of anti-flood measures around the Ijsselmeer former Zuiderzee against tide and floods. The flood of 1916 triggered this project. Ir. Cornelis Lely played an important role in design, politics and realization. The state owned landmark with tower and restaurant is designed by Willem Marinus Dudok in 1918 and was build in 1933.
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Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.
The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.
Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".
Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.
Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights.
In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states.
Text by Steve Smith.