Although you might know what it takes to drive the width of a particular state in the United States, you might not know how that compares to driving across countries in Europe, but there are some notable comparisons between state sizes and those of European countries. Knowing how the United States compares to Europe in size will greatly help when you're planning your trip to Europe and trying to calculate driving times.
Using handy tools like our "European Distance Calculator and Map" can also help you plan your 10-day vacation overseas by providing known travel times between some of Europe's major cities, which all seem to be about 300 miles apart.
In terms of landmass, the United States and Europe are similar in size—the United States is 9,833,000 square kilometers while Europe is 10,180,000 square kilometers—however, European countries are closer in size to eastern states in America (which are smaller and closer together than western states).
Why People Get Confused
It's understandable that you might not implicitly grasp how the United States and Europe measure up compared to one another; after all, geography classes and even maps in the U.S. are America-centric, conflating the size of the country and oftentimes centering it on world maps.
However, if you place in-scale renderings of the United States over other countries around the world, you'll begin to grasp a better understanding of how these places actually compare to one another. Several maps are available to help put the United States' size in perspective and illustrate just how many countries are indeed larger or comparable to the U.S.
The last map of the 19 linked above is called the Gall-Peters Projection World Map, which is meant to represent a more accurate depiction of the world's countries and continents as they actually compare to one another in terms of landmass.
Historically, most maps created in the Western and "developed" world undercut African, South American, and other "third-world" countries by depicting them as much smaller than Europe or North America when in fact the opposite is true.
A good way to get perspective and better understand how to plan your driving or train trip across Europe is to develop comparable frames of reference between travel time crossing U.S. states and similarly-sized European countries.
Traveling from the eastern border of France to its western border, for instance, is at most a 590-mile journey, which is about 200 miles shorter than the distance across Texas. However, driving across France can take up to three days to complete because of its winding roads whereas driving across Texas can take just one day due to its direct east-to-west highways. Similarly, driving across Spain and Germany would take about the same amount of time.
Driving down from north to south in one of Europe's longest countries, Italy, would take just about as much time as it would to travel from the tip of Maine to the top of Florida in the United States. Interestingly, the Ukraine is about the same size as Texas (818 miles at its longest compared to 801 miles for Texas) and is the second-largest country in Europe.