The term Eastern Europe can defined in several different ways; see the understand section below for discussion. This article uses a fairly narrow definition, covering only Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.
Countries and territories
This article covers three countries.
Europe's last dictatorship.
The world's largest country, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean.
Europe's most fertile soil, with mighty rivers.
Since 2014, the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic are self-proclaimed unrecognized entities in eastern Ukraine with some degree of functional independence. The Crimea is a peninsula in the Black Sea, part of Ukraine until 2014 and still claimed by them, but since then a de facto part of Russia.
- 1 Kazan — the capital of Tatar culture is an attractive city in the heart of the Volga Region with an impressive kremlin
- Kyiv, Ukraine's capital with heritage from the Viking Age
- Minsk, capital of Belarus
- Moscow, Russia's capital
- 2 Odessa – a harbour city on the Black Sea with a mixture of different cultures.
- Saint Petersburg, Russia's gateway to the West
- Sevastopol, a port city on the Crimea
- Sochi, a city on the Black Sea which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics
- 3 Volgograd — formerly called Stalingrad, this city was the scene of perhaps the deciding battle of World War II, and now home to a massive war memorial
- 1 Border of Europe and Asia — it's clearly defined near Yekaterinburg, and a very popular stop for photo ops straddling the continents!
- 2 Golden Ring — a popular loop of pretty historical cities and towns forming a ring northeast of Moscow
- 3 Kamchatka — the region of active volcanoes, geysers, mineral springs and bears walking in the streets.
- 4 Kizhi — one of the most precious sites in all Russia, Kizhi Island on Lake Onega is famous for its spectacular ensemble of traditional wooden churches
- 5 Komi Virgin Forests — profoundly remote, and hard-to-visit, but this is by far Europe's largest wild area, containing Europe's largest National Park, Yugyd Va
- 6 Lake Baikal — the "pearl of Siberia" is the world's deepest and biggest lake by volume and a remarkable destination for all who love the outdoors
- 7 Chernobyl (Чорнобиль, Chornobyl) – tour the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster
- 8 Wooden tserkvas of the Carpathian region - Orthodox churches
- 9 Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park (Нацыянальны парк Белавежская пушча, Natsyyanal’ny park Byelavyezhskaya pushcha) — on the border between Belarus and Poland, this primeval forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This article covers Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, all of which have East Slavic languages, a common heritage going back to the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, and Orthodox Christianity as the dominant religion.
During the Cold War a different definition of "Eastern Europe" was used, at least in the Western press. It included all the Communist countries of Europe which were members of the Warsaw Pact alliance, except for the Soviet Union. In Churchill's phrase, these were the countries behind the "Iron Curtain".
Countries that were included in that definition but are treated in other region articles here are:
- In the Balkans
- In Central Europe
Some countries in Europe were lumped in with Eastern Europe by some because they were Communist, although they were not part of the Warsaw Pact and neither geographically nor linguistically East European. These were:
- Yugoslavia — now Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo
- Albania (was in the pact, but withdrew from it in the 1960s)
A broader definition could include the following former Soviet republics and areas:
- Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, which we cover here
- Moldova and the not-widely-recognised breakaway country of Transnistria
- The Baltic states: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia
- In the Caucasus, in addition to the Russian North Caucasus:
Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian are the east Slavic languages, together with the Rusyn language, which is spoken locally in the Carpathians. The east Slavic languages are written with Cyrillic script, and are to some degree intelligible to each other. Russian was the common language for inter-ethnic communication in the Soviet Union, and it is and commonly used in Belarus and eastern Ukraine.
30 million people in Russia have a mother language other than Russian; see Minority cultures of Russia.
English was not commonly taught during the Soviet era, but can be understood by educated young people.
In such an area covering very different climates there are different cuisines. Due to spontaneous and forced migration inside the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union, traditions from far away can be found in surprising places, and of course in cities such as Moscow. Russian cuisine is the dominant culinary tradition in much of this area. The cuisine of Ukraine is partly more closely related to Polish cuisine. There are also influences from Central European cuisine, Balkan cuisine and Chinese cuisine.
- See also: Tea
Most of this region has cold winters.