Map of Western Europe
Western Europe is distinguished from Central and Eastern Europe by geography and by differences of history and culture. However, these boundaries are subject to considerable overlap and fluctuation, which makes differentiation difficult. The concept of Western Europe is also associated with liberal democracy; its countries are generally deemed to be well within the cultural hegemony of the United States of America.
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Before the Cold War, "Western Europe" was used to describe France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg.
During the Cold War, when Western Europe designated the countries that are part of the NATO treaty and under American influence, the term was often used as a counterbalance to Eastern Europe that was under Soviet influence. The borders between Western and Eastern countries were securely defended, especially on the Eastern side. These borders were also called the Iron Curtain.
Until recently, Western Europe could safely be said to comprise the countries of the European Union plus Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Norway, San Marino, and Monaco. However, many countries that are (or were) located in Eastern or Central Europe, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, are now seeking inclusion into the European Union. It is likely that the increased economic and cultural ties with Western European countries will lead to a westward migration as inclusion occurs. This will lead to yet another change of the definition of Western Europe in the future.
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.