The Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain at the end of the 18th century, gave rise to radical economic, cultural, and social change in Western Europe, and eventually the wider world.
Both world wars took place for the most part in Europe, contributing to a decline in Western European dominance in world affairs by the mid-20th century as the Soviet Union and the United States took prominence.
Anaximander placed the boundary between Asia and Europe along the Phasis River (the modern Rioni River) in the Caucasus, a convention still followed by Herodotus in the 5th century BC.
Herodotus mentioned that the world had been divided by unknown persons into three parts, Europe, Asia, and Libya (Africa), with the Nile and the Phasis forming their boundaries—though he also states that some considered the River Don, rather than the Phasis, as the boundary between Europe and Asia.
The prevalent definition of Europe as a geographical term has been in use since the mid-19th century.
Europe is taken to be bounded by large bodies of water to the north, west and south; Europe's limits to the far east are usually taken to be the Urals, the Ural River, and the Caspian Sea; to the southeast, including the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
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.