Definite articles and geographical descriptions

In English only a few countries use an article with their name (The Netherlands). In French in contrary to English articles are used with country names and continents (except for Israël, Cuba, Madagascar).

L' Europe a fait beaucoup de progrès.
--- Europe has made many of progresses.
Beaucoup de gens confondent l' Amérique avec les États Unis.
Many of people mix   America with the United States.
L' Asie est très grande.    
  Asia is very big.    
La capitale de la France c'est Paris.
The capital of   France this is Paris.
L' Italie est un beau pays.  
  Italy is a beautiful land.  
L' Allemagne se trouve au (a + le) milieu de l'Europe.
  Germany itself finds in the middle of Europe.

If the name of the country is used with the preposition en (to, in) there is no article.

No article after en  
Il habite en Allemagne.
  He lives in Germany.
Elle va en Italie.
  She goes to Italy.
En Europe on paye moins.
  In Europe one pays less.

Further please note that there are no articles with names of cities.

No article with cities  
Paris est une belle. ville.
  Paris is a beautiful city.
Madrid est la capitale de l' Espagne.
  Madrid is the capital of   Spain.

With rivers again there are articles, as they are also in English.

With rivers articles are used.  
Le Rhin est la frontière entre la France et l' Allemagne.
  The Rhine is the border between   France and   Germany.
La Seine traverse Paris.
  The Seine crosses Paris.

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