East Europe: Wikis

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to Eastern Europe article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eastern Europe is a region lying in the Eastern part of Europe. The term is highly Low context culture and even volatile, as there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region".[1] A related UN paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and cultural construct".[2]

One prevailing definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural (and econo-cultural) entity: the region lying between Central Europe and Western Asia, with main characteristics consisting in Byzantine, Orthodox and limited Ottoman influences.[2][3] Western advocates of this view include the OECD, the World Bank,[4] and US VP Joe Biden.[5]

Another definition, considered outdated by an increasing number of authors,[6][7][8][9] was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc, including the countries that historically and geographically belong to Central Europe.[10] A similar definition names the formerly Communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe.[3] These are also described as the constituents of Central and Eastern Europe.



CIA World Factbook classification:      Eastern Europe      Southeastern Europe      Transcontinental
Regions used for statistical processing purposes by the United Nations Statistics Division (Eastern Europe marked red):      Northern Europe      Western Europe      Eastern Europe      Southern Europe
Members of specific Divisions of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names[11]:      Eastern Europe, Northern and Central Asia Division      East Central and South-East Europe Division
Pre-1989 division between the "West" (grey) and "Eastern Bloc" (orange) superimposed on current borders: Russia (dark orange), other countries formerly part of the USSR (medium orange), members of the Warsaw pact (light orange), and other former Communist regimes not aligned with Moscow (lightest orange).

Several definitions of Eastern Europe exist today, but they often lack precision or are extremely general. This definitions vary both across cultures and among experts and political scientists, recently becoming more and more imprecise [12].

The Economist and other sources argue that "Eastern Europe" is a mala fides (consciously misleading and inaccurate) socio-economic and cultural stereotype routinely used by Western conservatives for post-Communist countries.[13][14] It is asserted that the double standard becomes apparent when a comparison between Western Europe and the more developed regions of "Eastern Europe" reveals broad similarity in indicators such as quality of life, budget deficit and corruption. In fact, a global quality of life index by International Living (2010) places four "Eastern European" countries in the top 30 with Hungary leading at the 20th place.[15] "[T]he term 'Eastern Europe' has become meaningless, both as a generic geographic or economic label."[16][17][18][19][20]


The CIA World Factbook[21] describes the following countries as located in:


  • The United Nations Statistics Division developed a selection of geographical regions and groupings of countries and areas, which are or may be used in compilation of statistics. In this collection, the following ten countries were classified as Eastern Europe[23][24]: Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine. The assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories by the United Nations[25]. Rather than being geographically correct, United Nations' definition encompasses all the states which were once under the Soviet Union's realm of influence and were part of the Warsaw Pact.
  • The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) was set up to consider the technical problems of domestic standardization of geographical names[26]. The Group is composed of experts from various linguistic/geographical divisions that have been established at the UN Conferences on the Standardization of Geographical Names.
  1. Eastern Europe, Northern and Central Asia Division[11]: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Uzbekistan.
  2. East Central and South-East Europe Division[11]:Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.
  3. Romano-Hellenic Division[11]: Fourteen countries[27] including Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Holy See, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Romania, Moldova and Turkey.
  4. Baltic Division[11]: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
  • Other agencies of the United Nations (like UNAIDS[28], UNHCR[29], ILO[30] or UNICEF[31]) divide Europe into different regions and variously assign various states to those regions.


The Ural Mountains are the geographical border on the eastern edge of Europe. In the west, however, the cultural and religious boundaries are subject to considerable overlap and, most importantly, have undergone historical fluctuations, which make a precise definition of the western boundaries of Eastern Europe somewhat difficult.

Political and cultural

One view of the present boundaries of Eastern Europe came into being during the final stages of World War II. The area eventually came to encompass all the European countries which were under Soviet influence or control. European These countries had communist regimes imposed upon them, and neutral countries were classified by the nature of their political regimes. The Cold War increased the number of reasons for the division of Europe into two parts along the borders of NATO and Warsaw Pact states. (See: The Cold War section)

A competing view excludes from the definition of Eastern Europe states that are historically and culturally different, constituting part of the so-called Western world. This usually refers to Central Europe and the Baltic states which have significantly different political, religious, cultural, and economic histories from their eastern neighbors. (See: Classical antiquity and medieval origins section)

Contemporary developments

The fall of the Iron Curtain brought the end of the East-West division in Europe.[32] Even if this geopolitical concept is still in use,[33] reference to European geographic and cultural regions is becoming acknowledged.[34]

The Baltic states

The Baltic states were occupied by the Soviet Union and are currently EU members. They can be included in definitions of both Eastern Europe (in the former political sense, due to their communist past) and Northern Europe (due to cultural reasons).[35][36]


To the degree that the countries of the Caucasus region are considered European, they would be Eastern European in the physical geographic, political and cultural sense.

Other former Soviet states

Four other former Soviet republics are considered to be part of Eastern Europe in both political and cultural sense.

Central Europe

Most Central European states had communist governments imposed upon them during the Cold War but are currently EU members. In the post-Iron Curtain era, the label Eastern European is being increasingly regarded as derogatory in a Central European context. "Capitalism against Communism can no longer be used to clarify difference; instead vague and imprecise definitions exist. These too, are slowly being eroded as Eastern and Western Europe merge into a single 'Europe'".[37] The following countries are still being labeled Eastern European by some commentators (in the former political sense, due to their communist past) and as Central European by others (due to economic, historical, religious, and cultural reasons).[35][36][38]

South-eastern Europe

Most South-eastern European states did not belong to the Eastern Bloc (save Bulgaria, Romania, and for a short time, Albania) although some of them were represented in the Cominform. Only some of them can be included in the classical former political definition of Eastern Europe. Due to cultural diversity of the region, affiliation of individual countries may be difficult. All of these states except Bulgaria, Romania and usually Slovenia can be considered as being in Southern Europe.[39] However, most can be characterized as belonging to South-eastern Europe, but some of them may also be included in Central Europe or Eastern Europe[40].

  •  Albania belongs to South-eastern Europe.
  •  Bosnia and Herzegovina may be included in South-eastern Europe and Southern Europe
  •  Bulgaria can be included in Eastern Europe in the Cold War context, but is commonly known to belong to South-eastern Europe.
  •  Croatia may be included in South-eastern Europe and Central Europe.
  •  Cyprus belongs to South-western Asia (Middle East), but because of its historical Hellenic ties with Europe, it may be included into South-eastern Europe or Southern Europe.
  •  Greece may be included in South-eastern[41] and Southern Europe, but the country does not form part of Eastern Europe in the geopolitical sense nor in the colloquial sense.
  •  Macedonia belongs to South-eastern Europe.
  •  Montenegro belongs to South-eastern Europe.
  •  Romania can be included in Eastern Europe in the Cold War context, but is commonly referred to as belonging to South-eastern Europe[42] or Central Europe[43].
  •  Serbia may be included in South-eastern Europe and Central Europe.
  •  Slovenia is commonly referred to as Central European[44], but may less commonly be referred to as South-eastern European because of its status within the former Yugoslavia.
  •  Turkey may be included in South-eastern Europe, as a very small part, namely East Thrace lies geographically in Europe, but the rest of the country belongs to South-western Asia (Middle East).


Classical antiquity and medieval origins

Predominant religious heritages in Europe
     Countries where a West Slavic language is the national language      Countries where an East Slavic language is the national language      Countries where a South Slavic language is the national language
The political borders of Eastern Europe were largely defined by the Cold War. The Iron Curtain separated the members of the Warsaw Pact (in red) from the European members of NATO (in blue). Dark gray indicates members of the Non-Aligned Movement and light gray indicates other neutral countries.
Following disappearance of the Iron Curtain, the political situation has changed and some of the former members of the Warsaw Pact joined NATO.
     Current members     Acceding members     Promised invitation      Intensified Dialogue     Membership not goal     Undeclared intent

The earliest known distinctions between east and west in Europe originate in the history of the Roman Republic. As the Roman domain expanded, a cultural and linguistic division appeared between the mainly Greek-speaking eastern provinces which had formed the highly urbanized Hellenistic civilization. In contrast the western territories largely adopted the Latin language. This cultural and linguistic division was eventually reinforced by the later political east-west division of the Roman Empire.

The division between these two spheres was enhanced during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages by a number of events. The Western Roman Empire collapsed starting the Early Middle Ages. By contrast, the Eastern Roman Empire, mostly known as the Byzantine Empire, managed to survive and even to thrive for another 1,000 years. The rise of the Frankish Empire in the west, and in particular the Great Schism that formally divided Eastern and Western Christianity, enhanced the cultural and religious distinctiveness between Eastern and Western Europe. Much of the Eastern Europe was invaded and occupied by the Mongols.

The conquest of the Byzantine Empire, center of the Eastern Orthodox Church, by the Muslim Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, and the gradual fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire (which had replaced the Frankish empire) led to a change of the importance of Roman Catholic/Protestant vs. Eastern Orthodox concept in Europe, although even modern authors sometimes state that Eastern Europe is, strictly speaking, that part of Europe where the Greek and/or Cyrillic alphabet is used (Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia).

The Cold war divides Europe into the Eastern and Western bloc

During the final stages of WWII the future of Europe was decided between the Allies at the 1945 Yalta Conference, between the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the Premier of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin.

Post-war Europe would be mostly polarized between two major spheres: the mainly capitalist Western Bloc, and the mainly communist Eastern Bloc. With the onset of the Cold War, Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain.

This term had been used during World War II by German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and later Count Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk in the last days of the war; however, its use was hugely popularised by Winston Churchill, who used it in his famous "Sinews of Peace" address March 5, 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri:

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.

As the Cold War continued the use of the term Central Europe declined. Although some countries were officially neutral, they were classified according to the nature of their political and economical systems. This division largely defined the popular perception and understanding of Eastern Europe and its borders with Western Europe till this day, along with the increasing polarization of the West-East relationship.

Eastern Bloc

Eastern Europe was mainly composed of all the European countries liberated and then occupied by the Soviet army. It included the German Democratic Republic, widely known as East Germany, formed by the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. All the countries in Eastern Europe adopted communist modes of government. These countries were officially independent from the Soviet Union, but the practical extent of this independence - except in Yugoslavia, Albania, and to some extent Romania - was quite limited. In some matters they were little more than client-states of the Soviet Union.

Under pressure from Stalin these nations rejected to receive funds from the Marshall plan. Instead they participated in the Molotov Plan which later evolved into the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (short: Comecon). As NATO was created, most countries of Eastern Europe, became members of the opposing Warsaw Pact, forming a geopolitical concept that became known as Eastern Bloc.

  • The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (formed after WWII and before its later dismemberment) was not a member of the Warsaw Pact. It was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, an organization created in an attempt to avoid being assigned to any of the two blocs. The movement was demonstratively independent from both the Soviet Union and the Western bloc for most of the Cold War period, allowing Yugoslavia and its other members to act as a business and political mediator between the blocs.
  • Albania broke with the Soviet Union in the early 1960s as a result of the Sino-Soviet split, aligning itself instead with China. Albania formally left the Warsaw pact in September 1968, after the suppression of the Prague spring. When China established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1978, Albania also broke with China. Albania and especially Yugoslavia were not unanimously appended to the Eastern Bloc, as they were neutral for a large part of the Cold War period.

Since 1989

With the Fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 the political landscape of the Eastern Bloc, and indeed of the world, changed. In the German reunification, the Federal Republic of Germany peacefully absorbed the German Democratic Republic in 1990. COMECON and the Warsaw Pact were dissolved, and in 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

Many European nations which had been part of the Soviet Union regained their independence (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus).

Czechoslovakia peacefully separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) fell apart, creating new nations: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and Macedonia (see Breakup of Yugoslavia). FRY was later renamed to Serbia and Montenegro and, in 2006, it broke up into these two countries. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Many countries of this region joined the European Union, namely the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Three other states, Croatia, Macedonia, and Turkey are currently negotiating membership in the EU.

See also

External links

References and notes

  1. ^ "The Balkans", Global Perspectives: A Remote Sensing and World Issues Site. Wheeling Jesuit University/Center for Educational Technologies, 1999-2002.
  2. ^ a b http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/gegn23wp48.pdf
  3. ^ a b http://books.google.com/books?id=eWmDAd6vr5sC&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=eastern+europe+definition&source=bl&ots=tYi5LhsIpz&sig=rHczwXEiCcPkVGNMUokIYc-sMVE&hl=en&ei=q5CPSt_0C4GN_AaSlK2vAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5#v=onepage&q=eastern%20europe%20definition&f=false
  4. ^ "Intergovernmental agencies like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the World Bank therefore distinguish in practice between "Central Europe" -- Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia -- and "Eastern Europe". There seems to be a historical constant here: these Central European states are behind the West but still ahead of the East and of the Southeast." Lonnie Johnson: Central Europe: Enemies, neighbors, friends, Oxford University Press US, 1996; pp.11-12. http://books.google.com/books?id=e_m13Hk3AFEC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  5. ^ "In Eastern Europe, countries still struggle to fulfill the promise of a strong democracy, or a vibrant market economy. Who to look to better than you? Who to look to better than Central European countries that 20 years ago acted with such courage and resolve, and over the last 20 years, have made such sustainable progress?" http://www.pims.org/news/2009/10/28/the-time-for-central-europe-has-come
  6. ^ http://www.sofiaecho.com/2010/01/10/839942_the-economist-eastern-europe-a-bogus-term
  7. ^ "One very common, but now outdated, definition of Eastern Europe was the Soviet-dominated communist countries of Europe."http://www.cotf.edu/earthinfo/balkans/BKdef.html
  8. ^ "Too much writing on the region has - consciously or unconsciously - clung to an outdated image of 'Eastern Europe', desperately trying to patch together political and social developments from Budapest to Bukhara or Tallinn to Tashkent without acknowledging that this Cold War frame of reference is coming apart at the seams."http://www.ce-review.org/99/1/hanley1.html
  9. ^ "The term 'Eastern Europe' is ambiguous and in many ways outdated." Sten Berglund, Joakim Ekman, Frank H. Aarebrot: The handbook of political change in Eastern Europe, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2004, p.2. http://books.google.com/books?id=HeRzzwzdfPkC&pg=PA2&lpg=PA2&dq=Eastern+Europe+term+outdated&source=bl&ots=LSLHG97Qxj&sig=6WDECgIXGRj7hrP6RNTBMqCvMHE&hl=en&ei=63n9StCdDNjD_gbp0vSMCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CBgQ6AEwBDgU#v=onepage&q=Eastern%20Europe%20term%20outdated&f=false
  10. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=c5veakthzuQC&pg=PA128&lpg=PA128&dq=eastern+europe+definition&source=bl&ots=RboH7AGxWe&sig=PNNe0xzciYbqsdAF6gGA_f3A-2E&hl=en&ei=q5CPSt_0C4GN_AaSlK2vAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10#v=onepage&q=eastern%20europe%20definition&f=false
  11. ^ a b c d e United Nations Statistics Division - Geographical Names and Information Systems
  12. ^ Drake, Miriam A. (2005) Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, CRC Press
  13. ^ http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15213108
  14. ^ http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15213613
  15. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/6943343/Britains-quality-of-life-worse-than-former-Communist-countries.html
  16. ^ http://www.sofiaecho.com/2010/01/10/839942_the-economist-eastern-europe-a-bogus-term
  17. ^ http://www.ce-review.org/99/23/lovatt23.html
  18. ^ http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=E1_PRSTNSV
  19. ^ http://www.alfa.lt/straipsnis/10303006/?Opinion..Lithuania.and.the.double.standards.of.the.European.Central.Bank=2009-12-05_09-00
  20. ^ http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO201B.html
  21. ^ The CIA World Factbook
  22. ^ In the geography section Estonia is described as located in Eastern Europe, but in the economy section as Central European
  23. ^ United Nations Statistics Division- Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49)
  24. ^ World Population Prospects Population Database
  25. ^ United Nations Statistics Division- Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49)
  26. ^ United Nations Statistics Division - Geographical Names and Information Systems
  27. ^ including Canada
  28. ^ http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Regions/NAmerica_WCEurope.asp
  29. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/country/all.html
  30. ^ http://www.ilo.org/global/Regions/Europe/lang--en/index.htm
  31. ^ http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ceecis.html
  32. ^ V. Martynov, The End of East-West Division But Not the End of History, UN Chronicle, 2000 (available online
  33. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6957171.stm
  34. ^ The European Travel Commission - association of National Tourism Organisations, Regions of Europe
  35. ^ a b Wallace, W. The Transformation of Western Europe London, Pinter, 1990
  36. ^ a b Huntington, Samuel The Clash of Civilizations" Simon & Shuster 1996
  37. ^ http://www.ce-review.org/99/23/lovatt23.html
  38. ^ Johnson, Lonnie Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbours, Friends Oxford University Press, USA, 2001
  39. ^ http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm#europe
  40. ^ Bideleux and Jeffries (1998) A History of Eastern Europe: Crisis and Change
  41. ^ Greek Ministry of Tourism Travel Guide, General Information
  42. ^ Energy Statistics for the U.S. Government
  43. ^ NATO 2004 information on the invited countries
  44. ^ The European Travel Commission, association of National Tourism Organisations, Central Europe

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address