Ancient Greece and ancient Rome are generally considered to be the birthplaces of Western civilisation: the former due to its impact on philosophy, democracy, science and art; the latter due to its influence on law, warfare, governance, republicanism and architecture. Western civilisation is also founded upon Christianity (particularly Roman Catholicism and various Protestant churches), which is in turn shaped by Hellenistic philosophy, Judaism and Roman culture; the ancient Greeks in turn had been influenced by forms of ancient Near East civilizations. In the modern era, Western culture has been heavily influenced by the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Through expansive imperialism by Western powers in the 15th to 20th centuries, much of the rest of the world has been influenced by Western culture.
The concept of the Western part of the earth has its roots in the theological, methodological and emphatical division between the Western Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. West was originally literal, opposing Catholic Europe with the cultures and civilizations of the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the remote Far East which early-modern Europeans saw as the East.
Western culture was influenced by many older great civilizations of the ancient Near East, such as Phoenicia, Ancient Israel, Minoan Crete, Sumer, Babylonia, and also Ancient Egypt. It originated in the Mediterranean basin and its vicinity; Greece and Rome are often cited as its originators.
Over time, their associated empires grew first to the east and west to include the rest of Mediterranean and Black Sea coastal areas, conquering and absorbing. Later, they expanded to the north of the Mediterranean Sea to include Western, Central, and Southeastern Europe. Christianization of Ireland (5th century), Christianization of Bulgaria (9th century), Christianization of Kievan Rus' (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus; 10th century), Christianisation of Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden; 12th century) and Christianization of Lithuania (14th #century) brought the rest of present-day European territory into Western civilisation.