Landscape paintings often have three key elements: mountainous terrain, a body of water, and a variety of vegetation. This is seen as the ideal landscape in both European picturesque artwork and East Asian shanshui artwork. This statistically-based study looks at which countries have a combination of these characteristics. The criteria are as follows:
One-third is weighted for mountainous terrain including density of ultra prominent mountains, percentage of mountain area, average elevation above lowest point, and high point prominence compared to land area. One-third is weighted for an abundance of water including ratio of coastline to area, percentage of land 100km from the ocean, density of 10 hectare lakes, and freshwater surface area. One-third is weighted for a variety of vegetation conditions, including the variance of land cover conditions, such as forests, shrublands, grasslands, croplands, and barren lands. Please see the table of data and sources.
Each country is judged as a whole, so there maybe some very picturesque landscapes in some countries that are low on the list. For example, the English Lake District is famous for its beauty, but it is not representative of the entire country.
The following five European countries were found to have the most picturesque landscape, according to the these three categories:
1) Norway – 75.5
Norway has the most picturesque landscape in Europe, according to the data. The country has a large amount of coastline because it has many fjords and borders the North Atlantic Ocean. It is also extremely mountainous because the Scandinavian Mountains run through a large part of its land. Moreover, Norway has a variety of vegetation conditions. 43% is forested, 18% has sparse vegetation, 12% is grassland, and 6% is barren land.
2) Switzerland – 75.3
Based on the research, Switzerland is another extremely picturesque country. Although the country is landlocked, the country is dotted with many lakes filled with water from its glaciers. Since it is located in the Alps, it is also one of the most mountainous countries in the world. In addition, the country has a variety of vegetation conditions. 37% is forested, 28% is grassland, 14% is cropland, and 8% is barren land.
3) Albania – 74.8
Albania is yet another European country among the top five most picturesque countries, according to the study. Unlike, Norway and Switzerland, the country borders the Mediterranean Sea. Despite having a relatively small land area, the country has six ultra-prominent mountain peaks. Furthermore, the country has a variety of vegetation conditions. 36% of its land is forested, while 48% of its land is cropland.
4) Cyprus – 70.6
Cyprus is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea. It features a diverse landscape that ranges from pristine beaches to rugged mountains The Troodos mountains harbor lush forests, offering a charming contrast to the island’s sandy shores.
5) Greece – 69.9
Greece is yet another country bordering the Mediterranean Sea that makes this list. Since it is located on a peninsula and has many islands, the country has an abundance of coastline. The mountainous country has a captivating landscape that encompasses idyllic islands, crystal-clear waters.
- North Macedonia
- United Kingdom
- Czech Republic