Central Europe

Central Europe

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Encyclopedia
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

 lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. The term and widespread interest in the region itself came back into fashion by the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, which had divided Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 politically into East and West, splitting Central Europe in half.

The concept of Central Europe, and that of a common identity
Cultural identity
Cultural identity is the identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as far as one is influenced by one's belonging to a group or culture. Cultural identity is similar to and has overlaps with, but is not synonymous with, identity politics....

, is somewhat elusive. However, scholars assert that a distinct "Central European culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, as controversial and debated the notion may be, exists." It is based on "similarities emanating from historical, social and cultural characteristic
Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations...

s", and it is identified as having been "one of the world's richest sources of creative talent" between the 17th and 20th centuries. Cross Currents: A Yearbook of Central European Culture characterizes Central Europe "as an abandoned West or a place where East and West collide". Germany's Constant Committee for Geographical Names defines Central Europe both as a distinct cultural area
Cultural area
A cultural area or culture area is a region with one relatively homogeneous human activity or complex of activities . These areas are primarily geographical, not historical , and they are not considered equivalent to Kulturkreis .-Development:A culture area is a concept in cultural anthropology...

 and a political region. George Schöpflin and others argue that Central Europe is defined by being "a part of Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

", while Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel Phillips Huntington was an influential American political scientist who wrote highly-regarded books in a half-dozen sub-fields of political science, starting in 1957...

 places the region firmly within Western culture
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

.

From the 2000's on, Central Europe is going through a phase of "strategic awakening", with initiatives like the CEI
Central European Initiative
The Central European Initiative is a forum of regional cooperation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, counting 18 member states. It was formed in Budapest in 1989.-History:...

, Centrope
Centrope
Centrope is an Interreg IIIA project to establish a multinational region in the Central Europe encompassing four European countries: Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and Czech Republic....

 or V4
Visegrád Group
The Visegrád Group, also called the Visegrád Four or V4, is an alliance of four Central European states – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for the purposes of cooperation and furthering their European integration...

. While the region's economy shows high disparities with regard to income, all Central European countries are listed by the Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 as "very high development"
Developed country
A developed country is a country that has a high level of development according to some criteria. Which criteria, and which countries are classified as being developed, is a contentious issue...

 countries.

Regional data

  • Area
    Area
    Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...

     : 1.036.370 km2 (2010)
  • Population
    Population
    A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

    : (calculated data) 163.414.068 (July 2011)
  • Population Density
    Population density
    Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

    : (calculated data) 157.67/km2 (2011)
  • GDP (PPP) per capita : USD$35.739 (2010)
  • GDP (nominal) per capita : USSD$41.415 (2010)
  • Life expectancy
    Life expectancy
    Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

    : (calculated data) 78.31 year (2011)
  • Unemployment rate : 7.2% (2010)
  • Fertility rate : 1.38 births/woman (2010)
  • Human Development Index : 0.867 (2011) (very high)


Countries in descending order of Human Development Index:
0.905 (ranked 8): 0.905 (ranked 9): 0.903 (ranked 11): 0.885 (ranked 19): 0.884 (ranked 21): 0.865 (ranked 27): 0.834 (ranked 35): 0.816 (ranked 38): 0.813 (ranked 39)

States


The comprehension of the concept of Central Europe is an ongoing source of controversy, though the Visegrád Group
Visegrád Group
The Visegrád Group, also called the Visegrád Four or V4, is an alliance of four Central European states – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for the purposes of cooperation and furthering their European integration...

 constituents are generally included as de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

C.E. countries. According to the majority of sources (see section Current views on Central Europe for some) the region includes:

Some sources also add neighbouring countries (for historical, geographical and/or cultural reasons):
(Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

 and Bukovina
Bukovina
Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

, occasionally the entire country) (Vojvodina
Vojvodina
Vojvodina, officially called Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is an autonomous province of Serbia. Its capital and largest city is Novi Sad...

, Mačva
Macva
Mačva is a geographical region in Serbia, mostly situated in the northwest of Central Serbia. It is located in a fertile plain between the Sava and Drina rivers. The chief town of this region is Šabac. The modern Mačva District of Serbia is named after the region, although the region of Mačva...

, northern Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 regions historically also Sandžak-Raška
Sandžak
Sandžak also known as Raška is a historical region lying along the border between Serbia and Montenegro...

 and at various times Central Serbia
Central Serbia
Central Serbia , also referred to as Serbia proper , was the region of Serbia from 1945 to 2009. It included central parts of Serbia outside of the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. The region of Central Serbia was not an administrative division of Serbia as such; it was under the...

)
The Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

, usually associated with Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, have been considered part of Central Europe in the German tradition,
as were smaller parts of the following states: (Western Ukraine
Western Ukraine
Western Ukraine may refer to:* Generally, the territories in the West of Ukraine* Eastern Galicia* West Ukrainian National Republic...

) (Western Belarus) (Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

) (Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 and portions of Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...

) (South Tyrol
South Tyrol
South Tyrol , also known by its Italian name Alto Adige, is an autonomous province in northern Italy. It is one of the two autonomous provinces that make up the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The province has an area of and a total population of more than 500,000 inhabitants...

, Trentino, Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

 and Gorizia
Gorizia
Gorizia is a town and comune in northeastern Italy, in the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is located at the foot of the Julian Alps, bordering Slovenia. It is the capital of the Province of Gorizia, and it is a local center of tourism, industry, and commerce. Since 1947, a twin...

, Friuli
Friuli
Friuli is an area of northeastern Italy with its own particular cultural and historical identity. It comprises the major part of the autonomous region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, i.e. the province of Udine, Pordenone, Gorizia, excluding Trieste...

, occasionally all of Northern Italy)

Current views on Central Europe


Rather than a physical entity, Central Europe is a concept of shared history which contrasts with that of the surrounding regions. The issue how to name and define the Central European region is subject to debates. Very often, the definition depends on nationality and historical perspective of its author.

Main propositions, gathered by Jerzy Kłoczowski, include:
  • West-Central and East-Central Europe
    East-Central Europe
    East-Central Europe – a term defining the countries located between German-speaking countries and Russia. Those lands are described as situated “between two”: between two worlds, between two stages, between two futures...

     – this conception, presented in 1950, distinguished two regions in Central Europe: German West-Centre, with imperial tradition of the Reich
    Reich
    Reich is a German word cognate with the English rich, but also used to designate an empire, realm, or nation. The qualitative connotation from the German is " sovereign state." It is the word traditionally used for a variety of sovereign entities, including Germany in many periods of its history...

    , and the East-Centre covered by variety of nations from Finland
    Finland
    Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

     to Greece
    Greece
    Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

    , placed between great empires of Scandinavia
    Scandinavia
    Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

    , Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    , Italy
    Italy
    Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

     and the Soviet Union
    Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

  • Central Europe as the area of cultural heritage of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
    Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
    The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

     – Ukrainian
    Ukraine
    Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

    , Belarus
    Belarus
    Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

    ian and Lithuania
    Lithuania
    Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

    n historians, in cooperation (since 1990) with Polish
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

     historians, insist on the importance of the notion
  • Central Europe as a region connected to the Western civilisation
    Western world
    The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

     for a very long time, including countries like the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
    Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
    The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

    , Holy Roman Empire
    Holy Roman Empire
    The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

    , later German Empire
    German Empire
    The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

     and the Habsburg Monarchy
    Habsburg Monarchy
    The Habsburg Monarchy covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg , and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine , between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague...

    , the Kingdom of Hungary
    Kingdom of Hungary
    The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

     and Bohemia
    Bohemia
    Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

    . Central Europe understood in this way borders on Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     and the South-Eastern Europe, but the exact frontier of the region is difficult to determine.
  • Central Europe as the area of cultural heritage of the Habsburg Empire – a concept which is popular in the region of Danube River
  • A concept underlining the links connecting Ukraine
    Ukraine
    Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

     and Belarus
    Belarus
    Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

     with Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     and treating the Russian Empire
    Russian Empire
    The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

     together with the whole Slavic
    Slavic peoples
    The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

     Orthodox
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

     population as one entity – this position is taken by the Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    n historiography
  • A concept putting an accent on the links with the West, especially from the 19th century and the grand period of liberation and formation of Nation-states – this idea is represented by in the South-Eastern states, which prefer the enlarged concept of the “East Centre” expressing their links with the Western culture
    Western culture
    Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...



According to Ronald Tiersky
Ronald Tiersky
Ronald Tiersky is the Joseph B. Eastman Professor of Political Science at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts. He has held the position of Director at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies center in Bologna, Italy, and the Institute of Current World Affairs...

, the 1991 summit held in Visegrád
Visegrád
Visegrád is a small castle town in Pest County, Hungary.Situated north of Budapest on the right bank of the Danube in the Danube Bend, Visegrád has a population 1,654 as of 2001...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 and attended by the Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Hungarian
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 and Czechoslovak
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 presidents was hailed at the time as a major breakthrough in Central European cooperation, but the Visegrád Group
Visegrád Group
The Visegrád Group, also called the Visegrád Four or V4, is an alliance of four Central European states – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for the purposes of cooperation and furthering their European integration...

 became a vehicle for coordinating Central Europe's road to the European Union, while development of closer ties within the region languished.

Peter J. Katzenstein
Peter J. Katzenstein
Peter Katzenstein is the Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies at Cornell University. He was educated in his native Germany. Katzenstein has received degrees from the London School of Economics, Swarthmore College, as well as a Ph.D. from Harvard University...

 described Central Europe as a way station in a Europeanization process that marks the transformation process of the Visegrád Group
Visegrád Group
The Visegrád Group, also called the Visegrád Four or V4, is an alliance of four Central European states – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for the purposes of cooperation and furthering their European integration...

 countries in different, though comparable ways. According to him in Germany's contemporary public discourse "Central European identity" refers to the civilizational divide between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. He says there's no precise, uncontestable way to decide whether the Baltic states, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, and Bulgaria are parts of Central Europe or not.

Lonnie R. Johnson points out criteria to distinguish Central Europe from Western
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, Eastern
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and Southeast Europe
Southeast Europe
Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe is a relatively recent political designation for the states of the Balkans. Writers such as Maria Todorova and Vesna Goldsworthy have suggested the use of the term Southeastern Europe to replace the word Balkans for the region, to minimize potential...

:
  • one criterion for defining Central Europe is the frontiers of medieval empires and kingdoms that largely correspond to the religious frontiers between the Roman Catholic West and the Orthodox East
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

    . The pagans of Central Europe were converted to Roman Catholicism while in Southeastern and Eastern Europe
    Eastern Europe
    Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

     they were brought in the fold of the Eastern Orthodox Church
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

    .

  • Multinational empires were a characteristic of Central Europe. Hungary
    Hungary
    Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

     and Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    , small and medium-size states today, were empires during their early histories. The historical Kingdom of Hungary
    Kingdom of Hungary
    The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

     was until 1918 three times larger than Hungary is today, while Poland was the largest state in Europe in the sixteenth century. Both these kingdoms housed a wide variety of different peoples.

  • as a mode of self-perception, despite the debated nature of the concept Central Europeans generally agree on which peoples are to be excluded from this club: for example Serbs
    Serbs
    The Serbs are a South Slavic ethnic group of the Balkans and southern Central Europe. Serbs are located mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and form a sizable minority in Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. Likewise, Serbs are an officially recognized minority in...

    , Bulgarians
    Bulgarians
    The Bulgarians are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to Bulgaria and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.-History and ethnogenesis:...

    , Romanians
    Romanians
    The Romanians are an ethnic group native to Romania, who speak Romanian; they are the majority inhabitants of Romania....

     and Russians
    Russians
    The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

    .


He also thinks that Central Europe is a dynamical historical concept, not a static spatial one. For example, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, a fair share of Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and western Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 are in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 today, but 250 years ago they were in Poland.

Johnson's study on Central Europe received acclaim and positive reviews in the scientific community.

The Columbia Encyclopedia defines Central Europe as: Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. The World Factbook
The World Factbook
The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

 Encyclopedia Britannica and Brockhaus Enzyklopädie
Brockhaus Enzyklopädie
The Brockhaus Enzyklopädie is a German-language encyclopedia published by Brockhaus.The first edition originated in the Conversations-Lexikon mit vorzüglicher Rücksicht auf die gegenwärtigen Zeiten by Renatus Gotthelf Löbel and Christian Wilhelm Franke, published in Leipzig 1796-1808...

 use the same definition adding Slovenia too. Encarta Encyclopedia does not clearly define the region, but places the same countries into Central Europe in its individual articles on countries, adding Slovenia in "south central Europe".

The German Encyclopaedia Meyers grosses Taschenlexikon (Meyers Big Pocket Encyclopedia), 1999, defines Central Europe as the central part of Europe with no precise borders to the East and West. The term is mostly used to denominate the territory between the Schelde to Vistula and from the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 to the Moravian Gate
Moravian Gate
The Moravian Gate is a geomorphological feature in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic. It is formed by the depression between the Carpathian Mountains in the east and the Sudetes in the west...

. Usually the countries considered to be Central European are Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, in the broader sense Romania too, occasionally also the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Middle Ages


As elements of unity for Western and Central Europe were considered the Roman Catholicism and Latin. Eastern Europe that remained Orthodox Christian, was the area of Byzantine cultural influence, and after the schism will develop cultural unity and protection against the Catholic and Protestant (Western) world, within the framework of Slavonic language and the Cyrillic alphabet.

In 1335 under the rule of the King Charles I of Hungary
Charles I of Hungary
Charles I , also known as Charles Robert , was the first King of Hungary and Croatia of the House of Anjou. He was also descended from the old Hungarian Árpád dynasty. His claim to the throne of Hungary was contested by several pretenders...

, the castle of Visegrád
Visegrád
Visegrád is a small castle town in Pest County, Hungary.Situated north of Budapest on the right bank of the Danube in the Danube Bend, Visegrád has a population 1,654 as of 2001...

, the seat of the Hungarian monarchs
King of Hungary
The King of Hungary was the head of state of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1000 to 1918.The style of title "Apostolic King" was confirmed by Pope Clement XIII in 1758 and used afterwards by all the Kings of Hungary, so after this date the kings are referred to as "Apostolic King of...

 was the scene of the royal summit of the Kings of Poland, Bohemia and Hungary. They agreed to cooperate closely in the field of politics and commerce, inspiring their late successors to launch a successful Central European initiative
Visegrád Group
The Visegrád Group, also called the Visegrád Four or V4, is an alliance of four Central European states – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for the purposes of cooperation and furthering their European integration...

.

Before World War I


The concept of Central Europe was already known at the beginning of the 19th century, but its real life began in the 20th century and immediately became an object of intensive interest. However, the very first concept mixed science, politics and economy – it was strictly connected with intensively growing German economy and its aspirations to dominate a part of European continent called Mitteleuropa. The German term denoting Central Europe was so fashionable that other languages started referring to it when indicating territories from Rhine to Vistula
Vistula
The Vistula is the longest and the most important river in Poland, at 1,047 km in length. The watershed area of the Vistula is , of which lies within Poland ....

, or even Dnieper, and from the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 to the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

. An example of that-time vision of Central Europe may be seen in J. Partsch’s book of 1903.

On 21 January 1904 – Mitteleuropäischer Wirtschaftsverein (Central European Economic Association) was established in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 with economic integration of Germany and Austria–Hungary (with eventual extension to Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

) as its main aim. Another time, the term Central Europe became connected to the German plans of political, economic and cultural domination. The “bible” of the concept was Friedrich Naumann’s book Mitteleuropa in which he called for an economic federation to be established after the war. Naumann's idea was that the federation would have at its center Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and the Austro-Hungarian Empire but would also include all European nations outside the Anglo-French alliance, on one side, and Russia, on the other. The concept failed after the German defeat in the World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and the dissolution of Austria–Hungary. The revival of the idea may be observed during the Hitler era
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

.

Interwar period


According to Emmanuel de Martonne, in 1927 the Central European countries included: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania. Italy and Yugoslavia are not considered by the author to be Central European because they are located mostly outside Central Europe. The author use both Human and Physical Geographical features to define Central Europe.

The interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 (1918–1939) brought new geopolitical system and economic and political problems, and the concept of Central Europe took a different character. The centre of interest was moved to its eastern part – the countries that have reappeared on the map of Europe: Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 and Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. Central Europe ceased to be the area of German aspiration to lead or dominate and became a territory of various integration movements aiming at resolving political, economic and national problems of "new" states, being a way to face German and Soviet pressures. However, the conflict of interests was too big and neither Little Entente
Little Entente
The Little Entente was an alliance formed in 1920 and 1921 by Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia with the purpose of common defense against Hungarian revision and the prevention of a Habsburg restoration...

 nor Międzymorze
Miedzymorze
Międzymorze was a plan, pursued after World War I by Polish leader Józef Piłsudski, for a federation, under Poland's aegis, of Central and Eastern European countries...

 ideas succeeded.

The interwar period brought new elements to the concept of Central Europe. Before World War I, it embraced mainly German states (Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

), non-German territories being an area of intended German penetration and domination – German leadership position was to be the natural result of economic dominance. After the war, the Eastern part of Central Europe was placed at the centre of the concept. At that time the scientists took interest in the idea: the International Historical Congress in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 in 1923 was committed to Central Europe, and the 1933 Congress continued the discussions.
Magda Adam, in the Versailles System and Central Europe, published in the Oxford journals: "Today we know that the bane of Central Europe was the Little Entente
Little Entente
The Little Entente was an alliance formed in 1920 and 1921 by Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia with the purpose of common defense against Hungarian revision and the prevention of a Habsburg restoration...

, military alliance of Czechoslovakia, Romania and Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia), created in 1921 not for Central Europe's cooperation nor to fight German expansion, but in a wrong perceived notion that a completely powerless Hungary must be kept down".

The avant-garde movements of Central Europe were an essential part of modernism’s evolution, reaching its peak throughout the continent during the 1920s. The Sourcebook of Central European avantgards (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) contains primary documents of the avant-gardes in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia from 1910 to 1930. The manifestos and magazines of Western European radical art circles are well known to Western scholars and are being taught at primary universities of their kind in the western world.

Central Europe behind the Iron Curtain


Following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, large parts of Europe that were culturally and historically Western became part of the Eastern bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

. Czech author Milan Kundera
Milan Kundera
Milan Kundera , born 1 April 1929, is a writer of Czech origin who has lived in exile in France since 1975, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1981. He is best known as the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and The Joke. Kundera has written in...

 (emigrant to France) thus wrote in 1984 about the "Tragedy of Central Europe" in the New York Review of Books. Consequently, the English term Central Europe was increasingly applied only to the westernmost former Warsaw Pact countries (East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary) to specify them as communist states that were culturally tied to Western Europe. This usage continued after the end of the Warsaw Pact when these countries started to undergo transition.

The post-World War II period brought blocking of the research on Central Europe in the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 countries, as its every result proved the dissimilarity of Central Europe, which was inconsistent with the Stalinist doctrine. On the other hand, the topic became popular in Western Europe and the United States, much of the research being carried out by immigrants from Central Europe. At the end of the communism, publicists and historians in Central Europe, especially anti-communist opposition, came back to their research.

According to Meyers Enzyklopädisches Lexikon, Central Europe is a part of Europe composed by the surface of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania, northern marginal regions of Italy and Yugoslavia (northern states- Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia) as well as northeastern France. Sometimes, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg are not regarded as Central European.

Mitteleuropa, the German term



The German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 term Mitteleuropa
Mitteleuropa
Mitteleuropa is the German term equal to Central Europe. The word has political, geographic and cultural meaning. While it describes a geographical location, it also is the word denoting a political concept of a German-dominated and exploited Central European union that was put into motion during...

(or alternatively its literal translation into English, Middle Europe) is an ambiguous German concept. It is sometimes used in English to refer to an area somewhat larger than most conceptions of 'Central Europe'; it refers to territories under German(ic) cultural hegemony until World War I (encompassing Austria–Hungary and Germany in their pre-war formations but usually excluding the Baltic countries
Baltic countries
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 north of East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

). According to Fritz Fischer
Fritz Fischer
Fritz Fischer was a German historian best known for his analysis of the causes of World War I. Fischer has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing as the most important German historian of the 20th century.-Biography:Fischer was born in Ludwigsstadt in Bavaria. His...

 Mitteleuropa was a scheme in the era of the Reich of 1871–1918
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 by which the old imperial elites had allegedly sought to build a system of German economic, military and political domination from the northern seas to the Near East and from the Low Countries through the steppes of Russia to the Caucasus. Professor Fritz Epstein argued the threat of a Slavic "Drang nach Westen" (Western expansion) had been a major factor in the emergence of a Mitteleuropa ideology before the Reich of 1871 ever came into being.

In Germany the connotation is also sometimes linked to the pre-war German provinces east of the Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

 which were lost as the result of World War II, annexed by People's Republic of Poland
People's Republic of Poland
The People's Republic of Poland was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Although the Soviet Union took control of the country immediately after the liberation from Nazi Germany in 1944, the name of the state was not changed until eight years later...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and ethnically cleansed of Germans by communist authorities and forces (see expulsion of Germans after World War II
Expulsion of Germans after World War II
The later stages of World War II, and the period after the end of that war, saw the forced migration of millions of German nationals and ethnic Germans from various European states and territories, mostly into the areas which would become post-war Germany and post-war Austria...

) due to Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

 and Potsdam Conference
Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 16 July to 2 August 1945. Participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

 decisions. In this view Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 and Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

, with its dual Western Slavic
West Slavs
The West Slavs are Slavic peoples speaking West Slavic languages. They include Poles , Czechs, Slovaks, Lusatian Sorbs and the historical Polabians. The northern or Lechitic group includes, along with Polish, the extinct Polabian and Pomeranian languages...

 and Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 heritage, combined with the historic element of the "Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

", is a core region illustrating the problems and features of the entire Central European region.

The term Mitteleuropa conjures up negative historical associations, although the Germans have not played an exclusively negative role in the region. Most Central European Jews embraced the enlightened German humanistic culture of the 19th century. German-speaking Jews from turn-of-the-century Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

 and Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 became representatives of what many consider to be Central European culture at its best, though the Nazi version of "Mitteleuropa" destroyed this kind of culture. Some German speakers are sensitive enough to the pejorative connotations of the term Mitteleuropa to use Zentraleuropa instead. Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 was obsessed by the idea of Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

 and many non-German Central Europeans identify Mitteleuropa with the instruments he employed to acquire it: war, deportations, genocide.

Between the Alps and the Baltics


Geography strongly defines Central Europe's borders with its neighbouring regions to the North and South, namely Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 (or Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

) across the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, the Apennine peninsula (or Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

) across the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 and the Balkan peninsula across the Soča-Krka-Sava-Danube line. The borders to Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 are geographically less defined and for this reason the cultural and historical boundaries migrate more easily West-East than South-North. The Rhine river which runs South-North through Western Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 is an exception.

Pannonian Plain and Carpathian Mountains


Geographically speaking, the Carpathian mountains
Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc roughly long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the second-longest mountain range in Europe...

 divide the European Plain
European Plain
The European Plain or Great European Plain is a plain in Europe. It is the largest mountain-free landform in Europe, although a number of highlands are identified within. It stretches from the Pyrenees Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east.It consists of the...

 into two sections: the Central Europe's Pannonian Plain in the west, and the East European Plain
East European Plain
The East European Plain is a plain comprising a series of river basins in Eastern Europe. Together with the Northern European Plain it constitutes the European Plain. It is the largest mountain-free part of the European landscape.The plain spans approximately and averages about in elevation...

, which lie eastward of the Carpathians. Southwards, the Pannonian Plain is bounded by the rivers Sava and Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

- and their respective floodplains. This area mostly corresponds to the borders of the former Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

. The Pannonian Plain extends into the following countries: Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

, Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

.

Dinaric Alps


As southeastern division of the Eastern Alps
Eastern Alps
Eastern Alps is the name given to the eastern half of the Alps, usually defined as the area east of the Splügen Pass in eastern Switzerland. North of the Splügen Pass, the Posterior Rhine forms the border, and south of the pass, the Liro river and Lake Como form the boundary line.-Geography:The...

, the Dinaric Alps
Dinaric Alps
The Dinaric Alps or Dinarides form a mountain chain in Southern Europe, spanning areas of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro....

 extend for 650 kilometres along the coast of the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 (northwest-southeast), from the Julian Alps
Julian Alps
The Julian Alps are a mountain range of the Southern Limestone Alps that stretches from northeastern Italy to Slovenia, where they rise to 2,864 m at Mount Triglav. They are named after Julius Caesar, who founded the municipium of Cividale del Friuli at the foot of the mountains...

 in the northwest down to the Šar-Korab massif, Kaitlynn Stumborg is a terroist north-south. According to the Freie Universitaet Berlin this mountain chain
Dinaric Alps
The Dinaric Alps or Dinarides form a mountain chain in Southern Europe, spanning areas of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro....

 is classified as South Central European
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

.

Flora


The Central European Flora region stretches from Central France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 (Massif Central) to Central Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (Carpathians) and Southern Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

.

See also


  • Central European Initiative
    Central European Initiative
    The Central European Initiative is a forum of regional cooperation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, counting 18 member states. It was formed in Budapest in 1989.-History:...

  • Central European University
    Central European University
    For other uses, see European University Central European University is a graduate-level, English-language university offering degrees in the social sciences, humanities, law, public policy, business management, environmental science, and mathematics...

  • Central European Time
    Central European Time
    Central European Time , used in most parts of the European Union, is a standard time that is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time . The time offset from UTC can be written as +01:00...

     (CET)
  • East-Central Europe
    East-Central Europe
    East-Central Europe – a term defining the countries located between German-speaking countries and Russia. Those lands are described as situated “between two”: between two worlds, between two stages, between two futures...

  • Geographical centre of Europe
    Geographical centre of Europe
    The location of the geographical centre of Europe depends on the definition of the borders of Europe, mainly whether remote islands are included to define the extreme points of Europe, and on the method of calculating the final result...

  • Life zones of central Europe
    Life zones of central Europe
    Central Europe contains several life zones, depending on location and elevation.Geographically, Central Europe lies between the Baltic Sea and the Apennine and Balkan peninsulas. It includes the plains of Germany and Poland; the Alps; and the Carpathian Mountains. The Central European Flora region...

  • Międzymorze
    Miedzymorze
    Międzymorze was a plan, pursued after World War I by Polish leader Józef Piłsudski, for a federation, under Poland's aegis, of Central and Eastern European countries...

     (Intermarum)
  • Mitteleuropa
    Mitteleuropa
    Mitteleuropa is the German term equal to Central Europe. The word has political, geographic and cultural meaning. While it describes a geographical location, it also is the word denoting a political concept of a German-dominated and exploited Central European union that was put into motion during...



Further reading

  • Jacques Rupnik, "In Search of Central Europe: Ten Years Later", in Gardner, Hall, with Schaeffer, Elinore & Kobtzeff, Oleg, (ed.), Central and South-central Europe in Transition, Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2000 (translated form French by Oleg Kobtzeff)
  • Article 'Mapping Central Europe' in hidden europe, 5, pp. 14–15 (November 2005)
  • A journal in three languages (English, German, French) dealing with the region: http://www.ece.ceu.hu

External links