Eastern Europe

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Regions of Europe as delineated by the United Nations (UN definition of Eastern Europe marked salmon): ██ Northern Europe ██ Western Europe ██ Eastern Europe ██ Southern Europe
Pre-1989 division between the "West" (grey) and "Eastern Bloc" (orange) superimposed on current national boundaries: Russia (dark orange), other countries of the former USSR (medium orange),members of the Warsaw pact (light orange), and other former Communist regimes not aligned with Moscow (lightest orange).

Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe variably defined. It can denote:

  1. The region lying between the variously and vaguely defined areas of Central Europe and Russia. This contemporary delineation is more commonly used to identify the region since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact
  2. A diverse area of land stretching from east to west as follows:
- its eastern limit is either the Ural Mountains within Russia or from the Pacific coast of the Russian Far East
- its western limit is the boundary between the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States (sometimes excluding Kaliningrad).

Politically, "Eastern Europe" may in fact cover all of northeastern Eurasia, since Russia is one single transcontinental geopolitical entity. Cyprus is also frequently taken to be a European state, although geographically it is in Asia. The same approach is also sometimes taken with the post-Soviet states of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus.

The boundaries of Eastern Europe can be subject to considerable overlap and fluctuation depending on the context they are used in, which makes differentiation difficult. As is also true of continents, regions are only social constructs and should not be understood as physical features defined by abstract, neutral criteria.

In recent years, with the spreading of the European Union, many countries Eastern Europe have sharply increased their economies, quality of life and cities. This has also boosted tourism, the film industry, and even, to a lesser extent, immigration.

In many outdated sources, the term "Eastern Europe" still encompasses most, or all, such European countries that until the end of the Cold War (around 1989) were Communist states or countries under Soviet influence, i.e., the former "Eastern Bloc". The majority of people in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia often consider their countries to be part of Central Europe rather than Eastern Europe, while many sources, especially in English-speaking countries continue to classify these countries as Eastern Europe[citation needed].

As a term, the origins of "Eastern Europe" are fairly recent. For many years serfdom and reactionary autocratic governments persisted long after those things faded in the West. It was always a very vague notion, however, and many countries in the region did not fit the stereotypical view.

More recently, the term "Eastern Europe" has been used to refer to all European countries that were previously ruled by Communist regimes - the so-called "Eastern Bloc". The idea of an "Iron Curtain" separating "Western Europe" and Soviet-controlled "Eastern Europe" was dominant throughout the period of Cold War which followed the Second World War. This dualism failed to account fully for some exceptions, as Yugoslavia and Albania were Communist states outside Moscow's control. In recent years, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991), the term "Eastern Europe" is sometimes used to identify a region, in effect retroactively, as consisting only of those European countries that were parts of the Soviet Union itself.

As a cultural and ethnic concept, the term Eastern Europe was defined by 19th century German nationalists to be synonymous with "Slavic Europe", as opposed to Germanic (Western) Europe [citation needed]. This concept was re-enforced during the years leading up to World War II and was often used in a racist terminology to characterize Eastern/Slavic culture as being backwards and inferior to Western/Germanic culture, language, and customs [citation needed]. Eastern Europe would then refer to the imaginary line which divided predominantly German lands from predominantly Slavic lands. The dividing line has thus changed over time as a result of the World Wars, as well as numerous expulsions and genocides.

As the ideological division of the Cold War has now disappeared, the cultural division of Europe between Western Christianity, on the one hand, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Islam, on the other, has reemerged. It follows the so-called Huntington line of "clashing civilizations" corresponding roughly to the eastern boundary of Western Christianity in the year 1500. This line runs along what are now the eastern boundaries separating Norway, Finland, Estonia and Latvia from Russia, continues east of Lithuania, cuts in northwestern Ukraine, swings westward separating Transylvania from the rest of Romania, and then along the line now separating Slovenia and Croatia from the rest of ex-Yugoslavia. In the Balkans this line coincides with the historic border between the Hungarian Kingdom (later Habsburg) and Ottoman empires, whereas in the north it marks the then eastern boundaries of Kingdom of Sweden and Teutonic Order, and the subsequent spread of Lutheran Reformation. The peoples to the west and north of the Huntington line are Protestant or Catholic; they shared most of the common experiences of Western European history -- feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution.

The 1995 and 2004 enlargements arguably brought the European Union's eastern border up to the boundary between Western and Eastern Orthodox civilizations. Most of Europe's historically Protestant and Roman Catholic countries (with the exception of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Croatia, and the various European microstates) were now EU members, while most of Europe's historically Eastern Orthodox countries (with the exception of Greece and Cyprus) were outside the EU. This is, however, temporary, as the 2007 accession of Bulgaria and Romania, both predominantly Eastern Orthodox and located in Southeastern Europe, is going to shift the EU's borders further east to reach the west coast of the Black Sea.

A view that Europe is divided strictly into the West and the East is considered pejorative by many in the nominally eastern countries. For example, many people in Estonia, Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic or Slovenia may feel the label stigmatizing in comparison with countries that successfully have asserted their belonging to "the West" despite their equally, or more, "eastern" location — and history as parts of Imperial Russia (Finland) or Eastern Orthodoxy (Greece).

On the other hand, the approbative term "New Europe" has been coined by neoconservative Americans to describe those former Eastern-Bloc countries which disavow the antipathy towards the politics of the United States that is common in Western Europe.


[edit] Current Eastern Europe

Note:These countries used to be part of the Eastern Bloc

Main article: Eastern Bloc
Image:Eeurope rel84.jpg
Eastern Europe prior to 1989.

The United Nations Statistics Division defines Eastern Europe as:

[edit] Other definitions

[edit] Southeastern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula

Commonly the definition of Eastern Europe is expanded to include these other previously Communist countries:

Note:The parentheis "()" label the The United Nations Statistics Division

Image:Flag of Greece.svg Greece and the European Turkey are usually not included, as they are old NATO members, however they are geographically part of Balkan Peninsula.

[edit] Central Europe

A number of countries that are geographically part of Central Europe became included in "Eastern Europe" during the era of the Cold War due to their being Communist states. Today they are sometimes considered part of Central Europe and sometimes part of Eastern Europe.

Czechoslovakia (became Czech Republic and Slovakia) and East Germany (reunited with West Germany) are two former countries that were also part of this group.

[edit] Baltic States

[edit] Eurasia

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Academic Institutions

ar:أوروبا الشرقية

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Eastern Europe

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