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EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE

General Information
The countries of Eastern/ Central Europe are considered to be those countries, which were
behind the Iron Curtain before 1989:
o Russia
o Czech Republic
o Poland
o Hungary
o Romania and Moldova
o Croatia
o Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
o Slovenia
o Slovakia
o Bulgaria
o Ukraine and Belarus
o Serbia
o Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina
o Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia
Physical Geography
Territorial Boundaries:
o North: Baltic Sea
o South: Mediterranean
o East: Russia, West Asia
o West: Western Europe
Largest:
o By Area: Ukraine603,628km2
o By Population: Ukraine 45,461,000 (est. July 2013)
Smallest:
o By Area: Montenegro 13,812km2
o By Population: Montenegro 620,000 (est. July 2013)
Climate

Major Landforms
Highest Point:
o Musala (Bulgaria)
2,925m (9,596ft)
Highest peak in Bulgaria and the entire Balkan peninsula
Means near God or place for prayer
Also the coldest place in the Balkan peninsula
Lowest Point:
o Adriatic Sea (Albania)
0m (0ft)
Body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula
The Croatian National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan identified more than
7,000 animal and plant species in the Adriatic Sea. The Central Adriatic is
especially abundant in endemic plant species, with 535 identified species of
green, brown and red algae.
The biodiversity of the Adriatic is relatively high, and several marine protected
areas have been established by countries along its coasts.
Other Major Landforms:
o Balkan Mountains: These mountains extend from Yugoslavia across Bulgaria. Additional
ranges run through Albania, Greece and Macedonia. Its most famous mountain is Mt.
Olympus, the highest and most awe-inspiring peak in all of Greece. In ancient times it
was the mythical home of Zeus, and was declared the first national park in Greece in
1939. It stands at 9,568 ft. (2,918 m).
o Carpathian Mountains: This mountain system located in eastern Europe is the source of
the Dniester, Tisza and Vistula Rivers. They form the natural border between Slovakia
and southern Poland, and then extend southward through Ukraine and into Romania.
There are major subdivisions, and the highest point is Mt. Gerlachovkain in northern
Slovakia, standing at 8,711 ft. (2,655 m).
o Caucasus Mountains: Stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, these volcanic
mountains have many peaks above 15,000 ft. (4,572 m). The highest point (and the
highest point in Europe) is located here; Mt. Elbrus at 18,506 ft. (5,642 m).
o Great Hungarian Plain: Located in southeastern Europe, and surrounded by mountains,
the land features several small forests and large patches of grassland. It averages only

100 meters above sea level and often suffers from dry conditions, thus relying on winter
snow run-off from the Alps and Carpathian Mountains.

Natural Wonders
The following have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites:
o The Plitvice Lakes National Park is the best known in Croatia, where a veritable
paradise of green water flows between 16 interconnected lakes and around a hundred
waterfalls. The thick forests of beech, fir and pine are home to bears, wolves and many
rare bird species / Croatian Tourist Board
o Dating back to 8000 BC, Poland's Bialowieza Forest is the only remaining example of
the original forests that once covered much of Europe. Many large mammals live here,
including wolves and lynx, as well as some 300 European Bison which have been reintroduced into the protected area / Polish Tourist Board
Resources
More specifically some parts of Poland and the Czech Republic were included in the early
industrial movement of Europe due to the fact that they had large amounts of coal and iron
deposits.
Agriculture can be found in much of this region, seeing as many of them export goods they farm.
Eastern Europe is specifically known for its grain production, the most prominent being wheat, as
well as its livestock such as cattle.
Much of the Eastern European countries rely on agriculture and industry to boost their economy,
and have done a good job doing so.

Cultural Geography
General Cultural Characteristics
People

Population Trends

A large number of the population lives in urban-industrial areas on either side of


the borders between Czech and Slovak Republics and southern Poland.
Although it seems like a large enough number, this region's population is barely
growing, and in some areas is not at all.

Ukraine
Poland
Romania
Czech
Hungary
Belarus
Serbia
Bulgaria
Slovakia
Croatia
Moldova
Lithuania
Bosnia
Albania
Latvia
Macedonia
Slovenia
Estonia
o

Population
(millions)

Population
Growth (%)

46.8
38.1
26.1
10.3
10.1
9.7
9.5
7.7
5.4
4.4
4.0
3.4
3.9
3.2
2.3
2.0
2.0
1.3

-0.8
-0.0
-0.2
-0.1
-0.3
-0.6
0.1
-0.5
0.0
-0.2
-0.2
-0.4
0.1
0.8
-0.5
0.2
-0.0
-0.2

Races and Ethnicities

Folk and Popular Culture


o TRADITIONS

Under15/Over
65
14% / 16%
17% / 13%
16% / 14%
15% / 14%
16% /16%
16% / 14%
19% / 15%
14% / 17%
17% / 12%
16% / 16%
20% / 10%
17% / 15%
16% / 14%
27% / 8%
15% / 17%
21% / 11%
14% / 15%
15% / 17%

Infant
Mortality
Rate
10
6.4
16.8
3.4
6.1
8
10
10.4
6.8
6.1
12
7
7
8
7
11.3
3.9
6

Percent
Urban

GNI PPP
68
62
55
77
65
72
52
70
56
56
45
67
43
45
68
59
49
69

6,720
13,490
8,940
20,140
16,940
7,890
-----8,630
15,760
12,750
2,150
14,220
7,790
5,420
13,480
7,080
22,160
15,420

Customs are often very old, originating thousands of years ago when nomads
and farmers, the Slavic peoples, began to populate that part of the world.
The traditions that are practiced today combine ancient pagan rituals
relating to the seasons and agricultural cycles with the holidays of
Christianity (often Eastern Orthodoxy), and even the festival celebrations
of the former Soviet Union.
Christmas in Eastern Europe is an important holiday that is celebrated
according to the religious calendar observed in each country.
o Some countries celebrate Christmas on December 25.
o The Orthodox countries observe Christmas on January 7.
Easter in Eastern Europe is a huge holiday whether those celebrating are
Orthodox or Catholic - the two predominant religions in Eastern Europe
that celebrate this springtime holiday.
o Depending upon religious following, Easter is celebrated either
according to the Gregorian calendar, which is followed by the
West, or the Julian calendar, which Orthodox religious
celebrations adhere to. Orthodox Easter falls (typically one
week) later than Catholic Easter.
o Easter in Eastern Europe is celebrated with special foods, Easter
markets, Easter festivals, the decorating of Easter Eggs, and
church services.
FESTIVALS:
Festival of the Kukeri (Bulgaria): The days between New Year's and Lent are
known as MrasniDni ("Dirty Days"), a time when it is said that the gates to
heaven and hell are left open and demons walk the earth.
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Czech Republic): This is the place
to see and be seen. Each summer (in early July), the country's film stars,
celebrities, and wealthy folks, supported by a cast of international luminaries, can
be spotted taking part in one of Europe's biggest film festivals. Nine venues
screen more than 300 films during the 10-day festival.
September Wine Festival (Budapest, Hungary): The first weekend of September
celebrates the first wheat harvest of the season and the crushing of the grapes. A
parade of traditionally costumed dancers and musicians starts the celebration
with a march up to Castle Hill, signaling the opening of the weekend-long wine
festival. Each year a different country is invited to share its wine heritage.
Winter Customs Festival (Maramures, Romania): Countless festivals occur
throughout the year, but a favorite is over the Christmas holidays when the small
town of Sighet, near the Ukraine border, comes to life on December 27 for the
Winter Customs Festival, good old-fashioned fun filled with folkloric symbolism.
Participants dress up in traditional costumes and young men run around with
grotesque masks, cowbells dangling from their waists.
New Year's Day (Russia): This is the major holiday of the Russian year. It's a
family event centered on a fir tree, a huge feast, and gift-giving traditions
transferred by Soviet leaders from Christmas to the more secular New Year's
Day.
White Nights in St. Petersburg (Russia): Two weeks of festivities in late June
celebrate the longest day of the year, when the northern sun never dips below
the horizon.
PASSION COMMUNITIES:
The most popular sport is football.

Basketball is also popular.


The traditional basketball-playing countries of Eastern Europe are the exYugoslavia (especially Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia).

Beliefs/ Ideology
2002: Most of Eastern Europe is Christian like Western Europe
o 31% are Roman Catholic or Protestant
o 44% are Orthodox Christians (Russian, Greek, Albanian, or Georgian)
o 16% is Muslim
Economy
Industrialization
o Eastern Europe has been industrialized since the early to mid 20th century but suffered
from contraction in the 1990s when the inefficient heavy industry based manufacturing
sector crippled after the collapse of communism and the introduction of the market
economy.
o In the 21st century the manufacturing sector in Eastern Europe picked up because of the
accession of Eastern European states to the EU and resulting accession to the European
Common Market. This caused Western European firms to move jobs from their
manufacturing sector to Eastern Europe, which sparked Eastern European industrial
growth and employment.
Agriculture:
o Agricultural restructuring in Eastern Europe is a part of the restructuring of the economy
as a whole. After democratic changes, Eastern European countries have fallen into a
deep crisis. There are several reasons for this, including the large debt burden,
decreased export opportunities, and monetary restrictions. The major reasons, however,
are the lack of a clear economic policy at the governmental level and lack of confidence
in the future of enterprises. In the industry and service sectors, ownership conditions are
uncertain, and this hinders investing from both private investors and managers of state
owned enterprises.
o An unambiguous situation can be created only by rapid privatization. Privatization is slow
and difficult, however, and there is no agreement even on its form.
Organization

Communication
The languages of Eastern Europe are, for the most part, Slavic languages - like Russian and
Polish.
o The Slavic languages themselves can be broken into more specific categories.
o The West Slavic languages comprise Polish, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, and Old Church
Slavonic.
o Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian are classified as South Slavic
languages.
o East Slavic languages are Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian

Other language groups have also found purchase in Eastern Europe.


o Hungarian language is a part of the Uralic language group.
o Romanian is a Latin language.

.
Current Events and Issues
Only several of the Eastern European countries are members.
o Bulgaria (2007)
o Croatia (2013)
o Czech Republic (2004)
o Estonia (2004)
o Hungary (2004)
o Latvia (2004)
o Lithuania (2004)
o Poland (2004)
o Romania (2007)
o Slovakia (2004)
o Slovenia (2004)
o Others are desperate for help as their companies and economies are buffeted by
currency fluctuations and declines.
o Euro zone members are given greater priority in terms of loans from the European
Central Bank
Gender Equality

Laws guaranteeing equal opportunities for women, in line with European standards and
norms, have been adopted throughout the region, the researchers said.
However, "the level of implementation of legislative measures remains very low"
and women in all nine countries continue to face disparities in terms of jobs,
wages and political representation.
Ex. Womens unemployment rates improved relatively, but they still have
lower paying jobs
Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovakia, where women are paid 25 per cent to 30
per cent less than men
What is more, those disparities appear to be increasing throughout the region.