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GEOG 101 – World Regional Geography Professor: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue Eastern Europe – Supplementary Notes A - Geographical Context B - Political Geography Geographical Context ■ 1. Redistribution of the Eastern European Map ■ 2. Eastern Europe Redistribution of the Eastern European Map ■ Context • Caught in between the powerful countries of the West and Russia (the Soviet Union for the greater part of the 20th century). • The region has been unstable for many centuries. • The nation-state concept that emerged in Western Europe has not been as strong in Eastern Europe. • The boundaries of Eastern Europe have been redrawn three times in the 20th century. Redistribution of the Eastern European Map ■ Before 1914 • Three powers were dominating Eastern Europe: Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary. • Russia and Germany shared a common border, since Poland did not exist. • Poland was actually dismantled in the 18th and 19th centuries. • Problems between Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. • Pressure between Russia and Romania and Bulgaria. • Pressure between Greece and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). Redistribution of the Eastern European Map ■ Consequences of WWI (1918) • The First World War was triggered by the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian noble in Sarajevo. • The Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismantled with the creation of Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. • Poland was re-created and Germany was divided in two. • Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) became independent. • Creation of Yugoslavia from Serbia, Montenegro, BosniaHerzegonovia, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia. • Some were part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, others were independent entities. Europe Before and After WWI Redistribution of the Eastern European Map ■ Consequences of WWII (1945) • The Second World War had important consequences on the political geography of Eastern Europe. • Poland was “moved” to the west to the gain of the Soviet Union and the loss of Germany. • Germany also lost Koenisburg (Eastern Prussia), which was integrated to Russia. • Germany was divided in the Federal Republic (West Germany) and the Democratic Republic (East Germany). • The Baltic States were attached to the Soviet Union. • Czechoslovakia and Rumania lost some territories to the Soviet Union. Redistribution of the Eastern European Map ■ Consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) • Germany was re-unified. • The Baltic States became independent again. • Czechoslovakia was divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. • Yugoslavia was divided in several smaller countries. Eastern Europe Eastern Europe Western Europe Eastern Europe ■ North European Plain • Much of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia lies on the North European Plain. • Relatively flat area unfortunately located between Germany and historic Russia, two of Europe's major contending powers. • A third, Austria-Hungary, was to the south. • These four states have frequently been in the path of the armies of the greater powers. • Poland: • Partitioned on four occasions among the major powers and had ceased to exist as an independent state. • Recreated after WW I, only to be attacked by Hitler and later subsumed under Soviet dominance, although nominally independent. Eastern Europe ■ Baltic states • Lithuania, the largest, was one of Europe's more powerful states during the late medieval period. • Its territory was difficult to defend and it soon lost that status. • The three regained their independence from the USSR, following 50 years as part of that country. ■ Danubian Plain • Includes most of Hungary and parts of Austria, Yugoslavia, and Romania. • Relatively easy access route from the east and southeast (the Ottoman Empire) and the region has been invaded on numerous occasions. Eastern Europe ■ Balkan Peninsula • Mountainous region. • Limited technology and transportation infrastructure impeded communication among the peoples inhabiting the various parts of the Balkan Peninsula. • Consequently, cultures (including languages) developed in isolation from one another despite their relative proximity. • This situation is common in mountainous areas throughout the world and retards the formation of nation-states. • An ethnic mosaic develops with a rich variety, but political development lagged in this situation. • Balkanization describes the phenomenon of a fractious, highly divided political surface. Eastern Europe • Unity has generally only been maintained through the imposition of authoritarian power, often from the outside. • Thus, at various times, Austria, the Ottoman Turks, the Germans, and the Soviets controlled much of the region. • Each time the authoritarian power is reduced or removed, the natural divisiveness of the region rises to the surface again. Eastern Europe ■ The Danube • Like Western Europe, Eastern Europe has a central river of great importance: the Danube. • Begins not very far from where the Rhine begins, in Switzerland. • Serves 9 countries (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldavia and Ukraine). • Linking Eastern and Western Europe. • Serves most of the great cities of Eastern Europe, such as Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary) and Belgrade (Yugoslavia). • Strong potential for power generation and transportation, although this potential has not been realized. Political Geography ■ 1. The Devolution of Eastern Europe ■ 2. Eastern European Multiethnic States The Devolution of Eastern Europe ■ Definition • Disintegration of the nation-state as the result of reviving regionalism. • The USA's Civil War (1860-65) is an example of devolution. • Economic and cultural differences. • Strong regional identity led to its attempt to withdraw from the union. • Multi-ethnic states are more prone to devolutionary activity than are homogeneous states. • Yugoslavia exemplifies a multi-ethnic state where this is currently occurring. The Devolution of Eastern Europe ■ The formation of Yugoslavia • Political entity only date back to the Treaty of Versailles that officially ended WW I. • Carved up the former Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires into several of the states existing in the region today. • Formerly independent Serbia and Montenegro were joined with Slovenia, Croatia, part of Macedonia, Bosnia, and other territories to form a new state. • This was largely an effort to thwart future Balkanization of the peninsula that might lead to more wars. The Devolution of Eastern Europe ■ Spatial divisions in Yugoslavia • Along ethnic lines occurred at major sub-national levels and there was far less mixing of ethnic groups. • Each group had fairly well-defined territorial limits within which it is dominant. • The authoritarian regime contributed to these divisions through the creation of formal republics within the Yugoslavian union. • Rather than help create a sense of national unity, the individual republics (6) fostered a sub-national sense of ethnic identity. • Led to the devolutionary pressures that eventually tore the country apart. The Devolution of Eastern Europe ■ Devolution • After WW II, Yugoslavia was under authoritarian Communist rule, led by Marshal Tito. • Following his death, leadership rotated among members of a council with representation from the major ethnic groups of that nation of minorities. • The weakening of the authoritarian regime allowed ethnic rivalries and animosity, long suppressed, to rise to the surface. • The current strife in the former Yugoslavia exemplifies this phenomenon. • The Serbians, whose republic includes the former national capital of Belgrade, are seen by the other minorities as having dominated many aspects of the national government. The Devolution of Eastern Europe • Other groups began agitating for greater autonomy or outright independence. • Independence was declared by Slovenia and Croatia during the summer of 1991 and by Macedonia in December of that year. • Yugoslavia has a rebel province: the Kosovo. • The breakup of the former Yugoslavia has brought Europe its greatest conflict since WW II. • The EU has sought to be a mediating party but has met with limited success. Eastern European Multiethnic States ■ Czechoslovakia • Was also artificially created out of the ashes of WW I. • Three main ethnic groups: • Slovaks in the east. • Moravians in the center. • Bohemians in the west. • When created, it also had about 3 million Germans in a region called the Sudetenland. • Used by Hitler as justification for his takeover of Czechoslovakia in early 1939. • The former Czechoslovakia averted tensions by a peaceful division of the country in 1993. Eastern European Multiethnic States ■ Bulgaria • Became independent from the Ottoman Turks in the late 1800s. • Within its boundaries large minorities of Turks and Macedonians continue to live. • The declaration of independence by the Yugoslav Macedonian Republic has caused concern. • Bulgaria's and Greece's Macedonian populations will want to join an independent Macedonian state. • Concern also exists that either Bulgaria or Greece or both will claim the Macedonian Republic to add to its own territory. Eastern European Multiethnic States ■ Romania • Nearly two million ethnic Hungarians, a legacy of AustroHungarian Empire days. • Badly treated under the former authoritarian regime. • Political feud between Hungary and Romania in addition to significant migration of Hungarians from Romania. ■ Baltic States • Large Russian minorities within their small populations.