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Europe, in particular Italy and ancient Greece, was the birthplace of Western civilization. The fall of the Western Roman Empire during the Migration Period marked the end of ancient history and the beginning of an era known as the Middle Ages. Renaissance Humanism, exploration, art, and science led to the modern era. From the Age of Discovery onwards, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs. Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European powers controlled at various times the Americas, most of Africa, Oceania, and the majority of Asia. The Age of Enlightenment, the subsequent French revolution and the Napoleonic wars shaped the continent culturally, politically, and economically from the end of the 17th century till the first half of the 19th century. 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. 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.




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