A few things to say:
1. Where will the game be sold? In Somalia? In Viet Nam? Or in England? In America? In France?
2. The different empires in Africa and Asia where bigger (area controlled) because there were less poeple (try to have a big city in the middle of the Sahara or the Gobi). Europe was denser. Look at a civ3 world map with reall starting locations: Europe gets lots of OCC civ, China gets dozens of cities, Mongol too, Zulus got half a continent, etc.
3. What do you know the best? The history of Mali or the history of France?
4. The game is made by Occidentals for Occidentals, and if the game was to be sold in Africa, well lets go Mali, Somalia, and all the other Africa empire I don't know about.
I voted 7-8, for these:
Greece, Rome, France, England, Russia, Spain and Germany.
@ Nyvin: France to represent Europe from Middle Ages to now???? No. What do you do with Victorian time? And Spain? Didn't it lead most of the Americas? Germans have brought Rome down (well, not necessarly the same as the next ones), started Protestantism, they have built beautiful cathedrals, conquered most of Europe (alone against every one), and lots of other things I don't remember. Russia is the largest country in the world, and called Russia or USSR, it must be in the game in some way (and not as a barbarian camp)
Little question: Are Ottomans counted in the European civ?