The Cold War has provided many opportunities for viewing historic sites, and while not all of these sites are remembered for good reasons, they are very interesting to travellers.
The Cold War began in 1945 at the conclusion of World War II (World War II in Europe and the Pacific War) and continued until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was a key period in modern history, because it occurred primarily due to rivalries between capitalist and communist societies, and was also a power struggle between the world's superpowers of the Soviet Union and the United States. While there are still communist countries as of 2019, most of them are only communist in name but capitalist in practice, and generally, it is considered that capitalism won the war.
However, in many ways, the Cold War is a very present thing. North Korea remains a communist country, and China is politically quite similar. Who knows what places may become historic sites one day.
The use of the terms "first world" and "third world" to refer to developed and developing countries respectively had its origins in the Cold War. During the Cold War, the United States, its Western allies and Japan were called the "first world", the Soviet Union and its communist satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe were called the "second world", and all other countries, which were mostly poor and underdeveloped, were called the "third world".
The 21st century has brought about what is arguably a new cold war, albeit with China and the United States being the belligerents this time. Russia has also experienced a revival of sorts in the 21st century under Vladimir Putin, though its economic output still lags far behind those of the United States and China, as well as that of the height of the Soviet era.
- World War II (in Europe) for information about the world war that came just before the Cold War, and for the war that preceded WWII, see our article for World War I.
Multiple topics cover the Cold War era:
Key rivalries in this time period include:
- The Korean War, which left a bitterly-divided North Korea and South Korea divided by a heavily-fortified demilitarized zone
- The ongoing nuclear arms race between the United States of America and the Soviet Union
- The Cuban revolution, Cuban missile crisis and U.S. embargo of the island nation
- The Indochina Wars, which ended in a humiliating U.S. withdrawal and full communist control over Vietnam
- The race for space, which began with Sputnik in 1957 and ended with multiple US moon landings in 1969-1972.
- The civil war in Nicaragua, beginning with the fall of (U.S.-backed) Somoza and ending with a bizarre combination of military victory and electoral defeat for the left wing FSLN
- Cape Canaveral, the location of Kennedy Space Center, was important in the space race
- Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, U.S. ICBM site in South Dakota
- Mödlareuth, Franconian border village divided by the East German border wall
- Berlin; the city was divided at the Brandenburg Gate and some sections of the Berlin Wall have been preserved