- Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is a general term that refers to the
geopoliticalregion encompassing the easternmost part of the European continent. In some definitions its borders are defined more by culture than by clear and precise geographyFact|date=April 2008. Throughout historyand to a lesser extent today Eastern Europe has been distinguishable from Western Europeand other regions due to cultural, religious, economic, and historicalreasonsFact|date 2008|date=April 2008. Although the term Eastern Europe was largely defined during the Cold War, it still remains much in use. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6720153.stm Q&A: US missile defence] BBC] The term is commonly used in the media and in everyday use both in "eastern" and other regions of Europe.
' Standard Country or Area Codes for Statistical Use (marked red):legend|#00FF00|
Southern Europe] Group of Experts on Geographical Names [ [http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/ungegndivisions.htm United Nations Statistics Division - Geographical Names and Information Systems ] ] :legend|#FF0099|East Central and South-East Europe Division] classification: legend|#CE7B00|Transcontinental]
Several definitions of Eastern Europe exist today, but they often lack precision or are extremely general. Definitions vary both across cultures and among experts and
political scientists, recently becoming more and more imprecise ["Drake, Miriam A. (2005) Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science", CRC Press] . Usually, the term is understood as a region lying between Central Europeand the Uralmountains, or as European countries of the former " Eastern Bloc" - western borders of Eastern Europe depend on the approach.
United NationsStatistics Division considers Eastern Europe to consist of the following ten countries [ [http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm#europe United Nations Statistics Division- Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49) ] ] [ [http://esa.un.org/unpp/definition.html World Population Prospects Population Database ] ] : 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 [ [http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49.htm United Nations Statistics Division- Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49) ] ] .
United NationsGroup of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) was set up to consider the technical problems of domestic standardization of geographical names [ [http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/UNGEGN-Background.htm United Nations Statistics Division - Geographical Names and Information Systems ] ] . 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.
* Eastern Europe, Northern and Central Asia Division [ [http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/ungegndivisions.htm United Nations Statistics Division - Geographical Names and Information Systems ] ] :
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Russian Federation, Ukraineand three countries [Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Uzbekistan.] of Central Asia.
*East Central and South-East Europe Division [ [http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/ungegndivisions.htm United Nations Statistics Division - Geographical Names and Information Systems ] ] :
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.
*Romano-Hellenic Division [ [http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/ungegndivisions.htm United Nations Statistics Division - Geographical Names and Information Systems ] ] : Fourteen countries [including Canada] including
Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Holy See, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Romania, Moldovaand Turkey.
*Baltic Division [ [http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/ungegndivisions.htm United Nations Statistics Division - Geographical Names and Information Systems ] ] :
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
Other agencies of the
United Nations(like UNAIDS[http://www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Regions/NAmerica_WCEurope.asp] , UNHCR[http://www.unhcr.org/country/all.html] , ILO[http://www.ilo.org/global/Regions/Europe/lang--en/index.htm] or UNICEF[http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ceecis.html] ) divide Europe into different regions and variously assign various states to those regions.
CIA World Factbook[ [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/ The CIA World Factbook] ] describes the following countries as located in:
Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakiaand Slovenia
Belarus, Estonia[In the geography section Estonia is described as located in Eastern Europe, but in the economy section as Central European] , Latvia, Lithuania, Moldovaand Ukraine
Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Montenegro, Serbiaand part of Turkey
Russiais defined as a transcontinental country.
Ural Mountainsare 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.
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. These countries had communist regimes imposed upon them, and neutral countries were classified by the nature of their political regimes. The Cold Warincreased the number of reasons for the division of Europe into two parts along the borders of NATOand Warsaw Pactstates.
Since the breakup of the
Soviet Union, other definitions of Eastern Europe have emerged.
Baltic stateswere Soviet republicsbut currently EUmembers that can be included in definitions of both Eastern and Northern Europe. [ Wallace, W. "The Transformation of Western Europe" London, Pinter, 1990] [Huntington, Samuel "The Clash of Civilizations" Simon & Shuster 1996]
Kazakhstan is considered part of
Central Asia, with a small portion west of the Urals in Eastern Europe. [ [http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/RefArticle.aspx?refid=761566451 Kazakhstan - MSN Encarta] ]
Balkanstates can be considered Southern European. Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia are currently EUmembers, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia and Turkey are currently official candidate countries, Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are officially recognised as potential candidates.
Central Europe and other countries
Central European states were communist during the Cold Warbut currently EUmembers. They are often excluded from the definition of Eastern Europe due to economic, historical, religious, and cultural reasons. [ Wallace, W. "The Transformation of Western Europe" London, Pinter, 1990] [Huntington, Samuel "The Clash of Civilizations" Simon & Shuster 1996] [Johnson, Lonnie "Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends" Oxford University Press, USA, 2001]
* often included in Eastern Europe, currently perceived as
Southeastern European [ [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html CIA World Factbook] ] [ [http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/SE_Europe/Background.html Energy Statistics for the U.S. Government] ] or Central European [ [http://www.nato.int/invitees2004/romania/glance.htm NATO 2004 information on the invited countries] ] .
* was sometimes included in Eastern Europe but only in the context of its inclusion in the Warsaw Pact.
* is usually considered part of
Southern Europe, but is sometimes classified as part of Eastern or Southeastern Europe.Fact|date=May 2008
* is generally considered part of Eastern Europe, but is sometimes included in
Southeastern Europe[ [http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/SE_Europe/Background.html Energy Statistics for the U.S. Government] ]
* is a member of the European Union and is therefore culturally and by default considered a part of Southeastern Europe, though it is technically situated in Southwestern Asia. Fact|date=May 2008
Classical antiquity and medieval origins
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 Antiquityand the Middle Agesby a number of events. The Western Roman Empirecollapsed 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.
The conquest of the Byzantine Empire, center of the
Eastern Orthodox Church, by the Muslim Ottoman Empirein 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/ Protestantvs. Eastern Orthodoxconcept 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, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia).
The Cold War divides Europe into the Eastern/Western blocs
legend|#004040|Countries where a
South Slavic languageis the national language] During the final stages of WWII the future of Europe was decided between the Alliesat 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 polarized between two major spheres: the mainly capitalist "West", 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 IIby German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbelsand later Count Lutz Schwerin von Krosigkin 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, 1946at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri:
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.
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 zoneof Germany. All the countries in Eastern Europe adopted communistmodes 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 Planwhich later evolved into the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (short: Comecon). As NATOwas created, the countries of Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia, became members of the opposing Warsaw Pact.
*First and foremost was the Soviet Union (which by itself included
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, etc). Other countries dominated by the Soviet Union were the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia(which later separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia), Hungary, and Bulgaria.
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. It was demonstratively independent from the Soviet Union for most of the Cold War period.
Albaniabroke 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 Statesin 1978, Albania also broke with China.
With the Fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 the political landscape of Eastern Europe, 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.
Czechoslovakiapeacefully separated into the Czech Republicand Slovakiain 1993. Yugoslaviafell apart, creating new nations: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegroand the Republic of Macedonia(see Breakup of Yugoslavia).
Many countries of this region joined the
European Union, namely the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Romania.
*Geographical center of Europe
Enlargement of the European Union
References and notes
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