Although large for an island, Britain does not rank among the bigger countries of western Europe. The land surface of the island is 230,000 square kilometres: that of France, the largest west European country, is 552,000 square kilometres; Spain is almost as large as France (505,000 square kilometres), while Germany (357,000 square kilometres) and Italy (301,000 square kilometres) are also substantially larger than Britain. If, for purposes of comparison, western Europe is taken to consist of the area now comprising the Scandinavian countries, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Britain, Ireland and the Iberian peninsula, then Britain occupies only 5.7 per cent of the land surface of western Europe. In the early modern period the British population did not greatly exceed the total to be expected from its proportionate share of the land surface of western Europe. For example, in 1680 the population of Britain was about 6.5million, or 7.6 per cent of the west European total of about 86 million. Yet in 1840 the British share had risen to 10.5 per cent (18.5 million out of a total of 177 million). By 1860 the comparable totals were 23.1 and 197 million and the British percentage had reached 11.7, an increase of almost 60 per cent compared with the situation 180 years earlier. Since 1860 there has been a further rise in the British share of the west European total, but it has been much slower and more modest. In 1990 the population of Britain was 56 million, 13.1 per cent of the west European total of 429 million.