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I am using osm2po software to extract nodes and edges from europe-latest.osm.pbf. When run from terminal, the logs are as follows:

enter image description here

So, there are over 2 billion nodes, but only (or "only") around 197 million "referenced" nodes. Now my question is, what is a referenced node?

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I guess for osm2po "referenced nodes" are nodes which are part of a way.

In OSM XML each way has a list of referenced nodes, defined via <nd ref=""/> attributes:

<node id="298884269" lat="54.0901746" lon="12.2482632" user="SvenHRO" uid="46882" visible="true" version="1" changeset="676636" timestamp="2008-09-21T21:37:45Z"/>
...
<way id="26659127" user="Masch" uid="55988" visible="true" version="5" changeset="4142606" timestamp="2010-03-16T11:47:08Z">
 <nd ref="292403538"/>
 <nd ref="298884289"/>
 ...
 <nd ref="261728686"/>
 <tag k="highway" v="unclassified"/>
 <tag k="name" v="Pastower Straße"/>
</way>

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