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Coordinates: 50.0000N 30.


Eastern Europe
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eastern Europe, also known as East Europe, is the

eastern part of the European continent. There is no Eastern Europe
consensus on the precise area it covers, partly because
the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical,
cultural, and socioeconomic connotations. There are
"almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there
are scholars of the region".[1] A related United Nations
paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is
essentially a social and cultural construct".[2]

One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural

(and econo-cultural) entity: the region lying in Europe
with main characteristics consisting in Byzantine,
Orthodox, and some Turco-Islamic influences.[2][3]
Another definition was created during the Cold War and Geographic features of Eastern Europe
used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern
Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly communist European states outside the Soviet Union as
Eastern Europe.[3] Historians and social scientists generally view such definitions as outdated or
relegating,[4][5][6][7][8] but they are still sometimes used for statistical purposes.[9][10][11]

1 Definitions
1.1 Geographical
1.2 EuroVoc
1.3 Central Intelligence Agency
1.4 Political, military and economic
1.4.1 Historical
1.4.2 Contemporary
1.5 Cultural
1.6 Religious
1.7 Contemporary developments
1.7.1 Baltic states
1.7.2 Transcaucasia
1.7.3 Other former Soviet states
1.7.4 Central Europe
1.7.5 Southeastern Europe
2 History
2.1 Classical antiquity and medieval origins
2.2 Interwar years
2.3 World War II and the onset of the Cold War
2.3.1 Eastern Bloc during the Cold War to 1989
2.4 Since 1989
3 See also
3 See also
4 Notes
5 Further reading
6 External links

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


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


Eurovoc, a multilingual thesaurus maintained by the Publications

Office of the European Union, provides entries for "23 EU
languages"[13] (Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English,
Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian,
Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian,
Spanish and Swedish) plus languages of candidate countries
(Albanian, Macedonian and Serbian). Of these, those in italics are
classified as "Eastern Europe" in this source.[14] Other official web-
pages of the European Union classify some of the above-mentioned
countries as strictly Central European (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia,
European sub-regions according to
EuroVoc: Blue Northern Europe;
Czech Republic, Slovenia).[15][16][17][18][19]
Green Western Europe; Red
Eastern Europe; Yellow Southern Central Intelligence Agency
Europe; Grey Territories not
considered part of Europe CIA defines Eastern Europe as Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
Moldova, Russia (transcontinental), Turkey (transcontinental) and

Political, military and economic


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. Countries which had communist governments in the postwar era (1945-1991), and neutral
countries were classified by the nature of their political regimes.
The Cold War increased the
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).

The economic organisation

Political situation in Europe during connecting the countries was the
the Cold War. Council for Mutual Economic

This view is now generally viewed as outadated.

CIA World Factbook which defines
Contemporary Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia,
Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey as
After the fall of the USSR, a new boundary of Eastern Europe primarily or entirely in Asia, and
emerged defined by the membership in political and economic Cyprus as in the Middle East:
organisations such as the Commonwealth of Independent States Eastern Europe
(CIS), and more recently the Eurasian Economic Union.
Southeastern Europe

Commonwealth of Commonwealth of Eurasian Economic

Independent States Independent States Union
Free Trade Area

Union State of Russia

and Belarus


Cultural view excludes from the definition of Eastern Europe states historically and culturally different,
Cultural view excludes from the definition of Eastern Europe states historically and culturally different,
constituting part of the so-called Western world. This could potentially refer to various formerly
communist countries of Central Europe, the Baltics, and the Balkans which have different political,
religious, cultural, and economic histories from their eastern neighbors (e.g., Russia and Ukraine). (See:
Classical antiquity and medieval origins section).

Countries where
Cultural map of Distribution of the
Europe by Stndiger Cyrillic script a Slavic language is
Ausschuss fr worldwide. the national language

The EastWest Schism is the break of communion and theology between what are now the Eastern
(Orthodox) and Western (Roman Catholic, as well as from the 16th century also Protestant) churches
which began in the 11th century and lasts until this very day. It divided Christianity in Europe, and
consequently the world, into Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity.
Division between the Religious division in Countries by Countries by
Eastern and Western 1054[22] percentage of Eastern percentage of
Churches[20][21] Orthodox Christians Catholics (Western
(Eastern Church). Churches).

Countries by
percentage of
Protestants (Western

Contemporary developments

The fall of the Iron Curtain brought the end of the EastWest division in Europe,[23] but this geopolitical
concept is sometimes still used for quick reference by the media.[24]

Baltic states

EuroVoc, National Geographic Society, Committee for International Cooperation in National Research in
Demography, STW Thesaurus for Economics and majority of modern sources place the Baltic states in
Northern Europe whereas the CIA World Factbook & UNESCO place the region in Eastern Europe with a
strong assimilation to Northern Europe. The Baltic states have seats in Nordic Council as observer states.
They also are members of Nordic - Baltic 8 union other way known as NB8 whereas Eastern European
countries formed their own alliance called Visegrd Group. Northern Future Forum, Nordic Investment
Bank as same as Nordic Battlegroup are perfect examples to show that the Baltic states are Northern
European countries.


The Transcaucasia nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are included in definitions of Eastern
The Transcaucasia nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are included in definitions of Eastern
Europe and/or histories of Eastern Europe. They are located in the transition zone of Eastern Europe and
Western Asia. They participate in the European Union's Eastern Partnership program, and are members of
the Council of Europe, which specifies that all three are geographically in Asia but have political and
cultural connections to Turkey and Europe. Georgia has sought membership in NATO and the European

The World Factbook and National Geographic Society atlases, and the United Nations Statistics Division,
have always listed and/or shown the three states within Asia. As with the Baltic states, the Transcaucasian
nations differ somewhat, with Christian Georgia and Armenia culturally oriented more toward Eastern
Europe, and Shiite Muslim Azerbaijan culturally oriented more toward the Asian Middle East.


Disputed states:

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
South Ossetia

Other former Soviet states

Several other former Soviet republics may be considered part of Eastern Europe

Russia is a transcontinental country where the Western part is in Eastern Europe and the rest is
in Asia.
Kazakhstan is a transcontinental country, predominantly in Asia, with a relatively small section in

Disputed states:


Central Europe

The term "Central Europe" is often used by historians to designate states formerly belonging to the Holy
Roman Empire or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including parts of modern-day Belarus and
Ukraine. "Central Europe" thus overlaps with "Eastern Europe." The following countries are labeled Eastern
European by some commentators and as Central European by others.[25][26][27]

Czech Republic
Slovenia (most often placed in Central Europe but sometimes in Southeastern Europe)[33]

Southeastern Europe

Most Southeastern 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. Some can be considered part of
Southern Europe.[10] 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.[34]

Albania belongs to Southeastern Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria is in the central part of the Balkans; geographically belongs to Southern/Southeastern
Europe and sometimes included in the North-Eastern Mediterranean, but can also be included in
Eastern Europe in the Cold War.
Cyprus is geographically situated in the eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of west Asian
mainland, however due to its political, cultural, and historical ties to Europe, it is often regarded as
part of Southern, and Southeastern Europe.
Greece is a rather unusual case and may be included, variously, in Western,[35] Southeastern[36]
or Southern Europe.[37][38]
Macedonia belongs to Southeastern Europe.
Montenegro belongs to Southeastern Europe.
Romania can be included in Eastern Europe in the Cold War context, but is commonly referred
to as belonging to Southeastern Europe[39] or Central Europe.[40]
Serbia is included in notions of Southeastern, Southern and Central Europe
Turkey lies partially in Southeastern Europe: only the region known as East Thrace, which
constitutes 3% of the country's total land mass, lies west of the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara,
and the Bosphorus.

Disputed states:

Kosovo belongs to Southeastern Europe.

Northern Cyprus

Classical antiquity and medieval origins

Ancient kingdoms of the region included Orontid Armenia Albania, Colchis and Iberia. These kingdoms
were either from the start, or later on incorporated into various Iranian empires, including the Achaemenid
Persian, Parthian, and Sassanid Persian Empires.[41] Parts of the Balkans and more northern areas were
ruled by the Achaemenid Persians as well, including Thrace, Paeonia, Macedon, and most of the Black Sea
coastal regions of Romania, Ukraine, and Russia.[42][43] Owing to the rivalry between Parthian Iran and
Rome, and later Byzantium and the Sassanid Persians, the former would invade the region several times,
although it was never able to hold the region, unlike the Sassanids who ruled over most of the Caucasus
during their entire rule.[44]
The earliest known distinctions between east and west in Europe originate in the history of the Roman
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 eastwest 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 Eastern Europe was invaded and occupied by the Mongols.

The conquest of the Byzantine Empire, center of the Eastern Orthodox Church, by the 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. Armour points out that the Cyrillic alphabet use is not a strict determinant for Eastern
Europe, where from Croatia to Poland and everywhere in between, the Latin alphabet is used.[45] Greece's
status as the cradle of Western civilization and an integral part of the Western world in the political,
cultural and economic spheres has led to it being nearly always classified as belonging not to Eastern, but
to Southern and/or Western Europe.[46] During the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries Eastern
Europe enjoyed a relative high standard of living. This period is also called the east-central European
golden age of around 1600.[47]

Interwar years
A major result of the First World War was the breakup of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman
empires, as well as partial losses to the German Empire. A surge of ethnic nationalism created a series of
new states in Eastern Europe, validated by the Versailles Treaty of 1919. Poland was reconstituted after
the partitions of the 1790s had divided it between Germany, Austria, and Russia. New countries included
Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine (which was soon absorbed by the Soviet Union),
Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. Austria and Hungary had much reduced boundaries. Romania, Bulgaria
and Albania likewise were independent. All the countries were heavily rural, with little industry and only a
few urban centers. Nationalism was the dominant force but most of the countries had ethnic or religious
minorities who felt threatened by majority elements. Nearly all became democratic in the 1920s, but all of
them (except Czechoslovakia and Finland) gave up democracy during the depression years of the 1930s,
in favor of autocratic or strong-man or single party states. The new states were unable to form stable
military alliances, and one by one were too weak to stand up against Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union,
which took them over between 1938 and 1945.

World War II and the onset of the Cold War

Russia, defeated in the First World War, lost territory as the Baltics and Poland made good their
independence. The region was the main battlefield in the Second World War (193945), with German and
Soviet armies sweeping back and forth, with millions of Jews killed by the Nazis, and millions of others
killed by disease, starvation, and military action, or executed after being deemed as politically
dangerous.[48] During the final stages of World War II the future of Eastern Europe was decided by the
overwhelming power of the Soviet Red Army, as it swept the Germans aside. It did not reach Yugoslavia
and Albania however. Finland was free but forced to be neutral in the upcoming Cold War. The region fell
to Soviet control and Communist governments were imposed. Yugoslavia and Albania had their own
Communist regimes. The Eastern Bloc with the onset of the Cold War in 1947 was mostly behind the
Western European countries in economic rebuilding and progress.
Western European countries in economic rebuilding and progress.
Winston Churchill, in his famous "Sinews of Peace" address of March
5, 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, stressed the
geopolitical impact of the "iron curtain":

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.

Eastern Bloc during the Cold War to 1989

Pre-1989 division between the
The Soviet secret police, the NKVD, working in collaboration with "West" (grey) and "Eastern Bloc"
local communists, created secret police forces using leadership (orange) superimposed on current
trained in Moscow. As soon as the Red Army had expelled the borders:
Germans, this new secret police arrived to arrest political enemies Russia (the former RSFSR)
according to prepared lists. The national Communists then took (dark orange)
power in a normally gradualist manner, backed by the Soviets in Other countries formerly part
many, but not all, cases. They took control of the Interior Ministries,
of the USSR (medium orange)
which controlled the local police. They confiscated and redistributed
Members of the Warsaw Pact
farmland. Next the Soviets and their agents took control of the mass
media, especially radio, as well as the education system. Third the (light orange)
communists seized control of or replaced the organizations of civil Other former Communist
society, such as church groups, sports, youth groups, trade unions, states not aligned with Moscow
farmers organizations, and civic organizations. Finally they engaged in (lightest orange)
large scale ethnic cleansing, moving ethnic minorities far away, often
with high loss of life. After a year or two, the communists took
control of private businesses and monitored the media and churches. For a while, cooperative non-
Communist parties were tolerated. The communists had a natural reservoir of popularity in that they had
destroyed Hitler and the Nazi invaders. Their goal was to guarantee long-term working-class
solidarity.[49][50] Eastern Europe after 1945 usually meant all the European countries liberated and then
occupied by the Soviet army. It included the German Democratic Republic (also known as East Germany),
formed by the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. All the countries in Eastern Europe adopted
communist modes of control. 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. Under pressure from Stalin these nations rejected grants from the American Marshall plan.
Instead they participated in the Molotov Plan which later evolved into the Comecon (Council for Mutual
Economic Assistance). When NATO was created in 1949, most countries of Eastern Europe became
members of the opposing Warsaw Pact, forming a geopolitical concept that became known as the Eastern

First and foremost was the Soviet Union (which included the modern-day territories of Russia,
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova). Other countries dominated by the Soviet
Union were the German Democratic Republic, People's Republic of Poland, Czechoslovak Socialist
Republic, People's Republic of Hungary, People's Republic of Bulgaria, and Socialist Republic of
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY; formed after World War II 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
Aligned Movement, an organization created in an attempt to
avoid being assigned to either the NATO or Warsaw Pact 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.
The Socialist People's Republic of 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 away from China.
Albania and especially Yugoslavia were not unanimously The political borders of Eastern
appended to the Eastern Bloc, as they were neutral for a large Europe were largely defined by the
part of the Cold War period. Cold War from the end of World
War II to 1989. The Iron Curtain
separated the members of the
Warsaw Pact (in red) from the
European members of NATO (in
blue). Dark grey indicates
members of the Non-Aligned
Movement and light grey indicates
other neutral countries.

Following the disappearance of the

Iron Curtain in 1989, the political
situation changed and some of the
former members of the Warsaw
Pact gradually joined NATO.
members Membership
Candidate not goal
countries Undeclared
Promised intent

Since 1989

With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989,

With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989,
the political landscape of the Eastern 2004-2007 EU enlargements Cold War Iron Curtain
Bloc, and indeed the world, changed. In
the German reunification, the Federal
Republic of Germany peacefully absorbed
the German Democratic Republic in
1990. In 1991, COMECON, the Warsaw
Pact, and the Soviet Union were existing existing
dissolved. Many European nations which members members
had been part of the Soviet Union new members new members
regained their independence (Belarus, US-led NATO
in 2004 in 2007
Moldova, Ukraine, as well as the Baltic
USSR-led Warsaw
States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia).
Cyprus Bulgaria Pact
Czechoslovakia peacefully separated into
Czech Romania (dissolved in
the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.
Republic 1990/1991)
Many countries of this region joined the
Estonia Bulgaria
European Union, namely Bulgaria, the
Hungary Czechoslovakia
Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia,
Latvia East Germany
Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
Lithuania Hungary
Malta Poland
Poland Romania

See also
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations
Enlargement of the European Union
Eurasian Economic Union
Geography of the Soviet Union
Slavic peoples
Russian explorers
European Union

European geography:

Central Europe
Northern Europe
Southeast Europe
Western Europe
Central and Eastern Europe
East-Central Europe
European Russia
Geographical midpoint of Europe
Eastern European Group
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Further reading
Applebaum, Anne. Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 19441956 (2012)
Berend, Ivn T. Decades of Crisis: Central and Eastern Europe before World War II (2001)
Frankel, Benjamin. The Cold War 1945-1991. Vol. 2, Leaders and other important figures in the Soviet
Union, Eastern Europe, China, and the Third World (1992), 379pp of biographies.
Frucht, Richard, ed. Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe: From the Congress of Vienna to the Fall of
Communism (2000)
Gal, Susan and Gail Kligman, The Politics of Gender After Socialism, Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 2000.
Ghodsee, Kristen R.. Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam
in Postsocialist Bulgaria. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.
Ghodsee, Kristen R.. Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism, Duke
University Press, 2011.
Held, Joseph, ed. The Columbia History of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century (1993)
Jelavich, Barbara. History of the Balkans, Vol. 1: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (1983); History
of the Balkans, Vol. 2: Twentieth Century (1983)
Lipton, David (2002). "Eastern Europe". In David R. Henderson (ed.). Concise Encyclopedia of
Economics (1st ed.). Library of Economics and Liberty. OCLC317650570 (https://www.worldcat.or
g/oclc/317650570), 50016270 (https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/50016270), 163149563 (https://w
Myant, Martin; Drahokoupil, Jan (2010). Transition Economies: Political Economy in Russia, Eastern
Europe, and Central Asia. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN978-0-470-59619-7
Ramet, Sabrina P. Eastern Europe: Politics, Culture, and Society Since 1939 (1999)
Roskin, Michael G. The Rebirth of East Europe (4th ed. 2001); 204pp
Simons, Thomas W. Eastern Europe in the Postwar World (1991)
Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2011)
Swain, Geoffrey and Nigel Swain, Eastern Europe Since 1945 (3rd ed. 2003)
Verdery, Katherine. What Was Socialism and What Comes Next? Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1996.
Walters, E. Garrison. The Other Europe: Eastern Europe to 1945 (1988) 430pp; country-by-country
Wolchik, Sharon L. and Jane L. Curry, eds. Central and East European Politics: From Communism to
Democracy (2nd ed. 2010), 432pp

External links
Eastern Europe Economic Data (http://www.databasece.com/e Wikimedia Commons has
n/macro-summary) media related to Eastern

Wikiquote has quotations

related to: East/Central
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Categories: Eastern Europe Regions of Europe

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