Loshavn is a beautiful, small 19th century fishing village on the south coast of Norway. It's located about an hour and a half's drive west of Kristiansand, just west of the very southernmost tip of the country. Loshavn is at the south east corner of the lista peninsula which was heavily occupied and fortified by the occupying forces during the Second World War.
The village was founded in the early part of the 1700's when the neighboring port of Eikvåg ran out of building space. The early 19th century was probably the most exciting time in Loshavn's history. The largest houses were built and traffic in the harbour was hectic. Norway, being a Danish colony ended up on the French side during the Napoleonic wars. After the British attack on København harbour and the destruction of the Danish-Norwegian navy, pilots along the southern coast of Norway were given small canon with which to arm their sail boats and permission to attack any British ship attempting to run the blockade of the Baltic. The proceeds of the rather profitable privateering that ensued was often used to build and embellish private property in the ports to which the prizes were taken and the spoils divided up.
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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.