50 Interesting Facts About Europe’s Present and Past

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26Sanisettes

Many major cities in Europe offer ‘Sanisettes’: private, self-contained, self-cleaning, public bathrooms. After the user has exited, a wash cycle begins and the entire floor and toilet fixture are automatically sprayed, scrubbed and disinfected.


27. The plagues of the middle ages have made around 10% of Europeans resistant to HIV. These individuals carry a genetic mutation (known as CCR5-Ä32) that prevents the virus from entering the cells of the immune system. Plagues played a part in creating these mutations.


28. In medieval Europe “barber-butchers” were barbers that practiced surgery as well, a profession ranging from amputations to haircuts. The red and white ‘barber swirl’ in front of most barbershops today signifies blood and bandages which was common in their trade.


29. There is an ancient old-growth forest bordering Poland called Białowieża Forest. It resembles what most of Europe looked like before the 14th century. This story of conservation has been well documented over the last 500 years and is almost as rich as the ecosystem the forest supports.


30. 10-20% of Americans and a higher percent of Europeans are infected with a brain parasite from cats that makes them 2.5 times more likely to get in a car accident, change in personality traits, contribute to schizophrenia, and may cause sexual attraction to cat urine.


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31Superfoods

The European Union banned the marketing of products as “superfood” unless accompanied by an authorized health claim supported by factual scientific evidence.


32. Teens in the United States and Europe have similar levels of sexual activity. However, European teens are more likely than U.S. teens to use contraceptives generally and to use the most effective methods. They, therefore, have substantially lower pregnancy rates.


33. Until they were discovered in Australia, black swans were known in Europe as a metaphor for something that could not exist.


34. Jesus’ foreskin is called the “Holy Prepuce” and several European churches have claimed to be in possession of it and that it has miraculous powers.


35. Pantone 448 C, the “world's ugliest color” according to research, is used by many European countries on their tobacco products to dissuade people from smoking.


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36Bronze Sculptures

Unlike most bronze sculptures of Roman emperors, the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius was not melted down during the Middle Ages because Europeans of that time thought it was a statue of Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome.


37. Dutch people, currently the tallest population in the world, actually used to be the shortest population in Europe just 150-200 years ago.


38. As McDonald’s came to the former Communist nations of Eastern Europe, it became a point of national pride to have one, even being included in football chants to taunt those countries who didn't yet have a McDonalds.


39. In many Nordic cities, parents leave their children unattended in buggies in town, for long periods of time, while they have coffee or go shopping.


40. In most of Europe, the dates from 5th October 1582 to 15th October 1582 don't exist due to the change from Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.


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41Irish Monks

Irish Monks and Scholars were instrumental in contributing to the spread of Christianity in Britain and continental Europe. Irish missions had such a profound influence in Germany and the Frankish Empire that Ireland became known as the ''Isle of Saints and Scholars'' to continental Europeans.


42. A million Europeans were enslaved by North African slave traders between 1530 and 1780.


43. France used to be in the same time zone as Britain but during the German occupation the time zone was changed to Central European Time and it remained unchanged.


44. In 1315, a small change in climate caused a great famine in Northern Europe which was so grim that one day even the king of England was left without bread.


45. Vatican City is unable to join the European Union because the EU requires that all member states must be free-market democracies.


46World War 1

So many men died in World War I that serious proposals were made to bring back polygamy. One German expert estimated that Europe had 10 million more women than men, and stated that unless farmers and others were allowed two wives, “30-40% of German women will remain spinsters.”


47. In pre-modern Europe, Outlaw or Outlawry, was one of the harshest punishments available and put the criminal outside of any legal protections, subject to persecution, murder etc. by anybody. It was considered a death sentence but not carried out by the state.


48. Historians have found that European queens have been associated with a 27% increase in wars compared to European kings.


49. Rosacea, a skin disease found mainly in those of Northern European descent and also known as ‘The Curse of the Celts’, is actually an evolutionary adaptation acquired by ancestral Celtic people to fend off bacteria during seasonal periods of low ultraviolet levels.


50. Vikings sold narwhal tusks as unicorn horns for centuries during medieval times, cementing European belief in unicorns and leading to the characteristic portrayal of unicorns having long, spiraling horns.

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