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Eastern Europe Map

The countries of Eastern Europe provide many compelling reasons why you should travel to them. Colorful, inviting, full of charm and history, these countries offer travelers a fresh look at a Europe that has kept its cultures intact even as their cities transform into modern metropolitan areas.

Eastern Europe Map

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Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe is a perceived grouping of countries on the European continent. Today, the term Eastern Europe is often used to designate the European countries under (former) communist regimes.

Their populations do not see themselves as Eastern Europeans, and many consider it a pejorative term. Most countries prefer to include themselves in other groups, associating themselves with Germany in Central Europe, with Scandinavia in Northern Europe or with Italy and Greece in Southern Europe.

As a term its origins are fairly recent. For many years Europe was divided on a North South axis. With the southern Mediterranean states having much in common, and the northern Atlantic Ocean and Baltic Sea bordering states also having much in common. The term first arose in the 18th and 19th century and to describe an area that was falling behind the rest of Europe economically. It was seen as a region where serfdom and autocratic governments persisted long after those notions were fading in the west. It was always a very vague notion, however, and many countries in the region did not fit the stereotypical view.

Much of Eastern Europe has ties to both the east and west. While all of the countries were heavily influenced by Roman Catholic or Protestant Christianity and have very close historical and cultural ties to Germany, Italy, France or Scandinavia (e.g. the Hanseatic league in the Baltics), many countries also had relations with the East. Russia was under the control of the Mongols for centuries and inherited political and social conventions from them. Further south the Ottoman Empire and Islam had a very strong influence. The nations of the Balkans as well as Hungary and Romania were all at one time controlled by the Turks.

The concept of Eastern Europe was greatly strengthened by the domination of the region by the Soviet Union after the Second World War and the takeover of the nations of the region by communist governments. The idea of an "Iron Curtain" separating Eastern and Western Europe was an extremely common view throughout the Cold War. This strict dualism caused problems, however, as it failed to account for the complexities of the region. For instance, Yugoslavia and Albania refused to be controlled by Moscow, but this division was often ignored by many in the west.

What's New in Europe!

Events & Festivals

London events highlights: Japanese crafts, ‘Pop Art’ and gardening all feature in London’s cultural events calendar this summer and beyond.

Royal wedding dress at Buckingham Palace: A special exhibition at Buckingham Palace this summer will recreate the day in 1947 when Princess Elizabeth - now Queen Elizabeth II - married the Duke of Edinburgh in a glittering ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey.

Attractions

Shrewsbury recreates its summer season: Performances by Jools Holland, George Melly and Beverly Knight are among the 370 cultural and artistic events over 100 days at the 'Shrewsbury Summer Season' this year (May 19-Sept. 9).

Scotland’s oldest house marks 900 years: The longest continually inhabited house in Scotland is 900 years old. Once a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland (it hosted 27 monarchs over the years), the Stuarts of Traquair House supported Mary, Queen of Scots and the doomed Jacobite cause.

News

Ceramics Festival in The Potteries: Designers, studio potters, experts and collectors will be making their way to The Potteries this autumn for the Stoke-on-Trent Ceramics Festival 2007 (Oct.5-7).

Macdonald Hotels transforms Cheshire golf venue: Three championship golf courses and the largest indoor golf academy in Europe at The Portal Golf Club venue are to be part of the new four star Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf and Spa in Cheshire when it opens in July.