The conception of Europe as a distinct division of the earth, separate from Asia and Africa, had its origin in ancient times. The sailors of the Aegean Sea applied the Semitic designations Ereb (sunset, west) and Acu (sunrise, east) to the countries lying respectively west and east of the sea; in this way it became customary to call Greece and the
territory back of it Europe, while Asia Minor and the parts beyond were named Asia. At a later date the mass of land lying to the south of the Mediterranean was set off as a distinct division of the earth with the name of Libya or Africa.
The national histories of the following European nations are available: