Technically, Europe is not a continent. Rather, it is the western peninsula of the Eurasia land mass. Its eastern limits are arbitrary, and usually run along the Ural Mountains and Ural River. On all other sides it is surrounded by sea: the Arctic, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Black and Caspian.

The people of Europe account for around one-ninth of the world’s population and speak nearly 40 major languages. Europe can be the 27 countries of the EU; it can be the 47 countries of the Council of Europe. It can be divided into at least four regions matching the points of the compass, and often into 7 different geographic regions/market areas, each with between 50 million and 100 million consumers. It is a gateway for global investment. It is the number one global destination for FDI.

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Each European location seeking to attract investment seems to promise that it is centrally located, in the middle of the action. So where is the actual geographical centre of Europe? Is it on the island of Saaremaa in Estonia? Is it Suchowola in north-east Poland? Is it the village of Dilove in western Ukraine? If we look only at the 27 member countries of the EU, the geographic centre may be a wheat field outside the German town of Gelnhausen.

Who cares where the middle is? Of much more importance is where you want to be. Where are your future customers? Where are your potential suppliers? Where is the talent you want to employ? Where is the technology you want to use? Europe offers an exciting range of different opportunities. Think of southern Europe, which offers links and access into the north African countries of the Maghreb Union, a fast-growing market of 84 million. Up north, think of the Baltic Sea region, with 100 million residents. Europe also gives access into the big markets of Russia and Turkey, both of which have part of their geography in Europe.

The EU has created a ripple effect, encouraging integration, achieving greater uniformity, reducing risk for investors and creating new market opportunities. While Europe is a bit of a shape shifter, it is guaranteed to take you to some very interesting and profitable places.

Douglas Clark is director of Tenon techlocate, the London-based location consultancy of the Tenon Group, a UK national firm of accountants and business advisers.

E-mail: douglas.clark@tenongroup.com