Eastern Europe is an area of Europe that the European Union does not recognize. There are 193 nations and two permanent observers in the United Nations (plus two additional observers). However, the CIA Globe Factbook estimates that there will be 262 countries worldwide by 2022.
The nations included in Eastern Europe’s unofficial categorization may change depending on the source and the context (political, geographical, etc.) in which the list was compiled, as well as the point in history at which the list was compiled.
However, as of 2022, the following are the most widely recognized.
Eastern European countries (World Atlas) include the following nations:
- Czech Republic
At the bottom of the list of European countries is Moldova, Ukraine; Belarus; and Bulgaria. Former Soviet Republics, such as Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine, are blamed by some for their lack of economic progress.
When dealing with Soviet-era impacts, overcoming the present Russian government’s exploitative nature would be difficult. This puts the Russian economy at risk, as well as that of Ukraine, whose growth Russia aggressively hampered even before its February 2022 invasion.
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The population of Belarus, a landlocked nation bordering Russia on the east, is estimated at 9.4 million. A stark contrast to many other ex-Soviet republics is that Belarus retains tight relations with the present Russian administration, even after its independence in 1991.
In power since 1994, Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenko strongly supports Russian President Vladimir Putin, who many suspects of meddling in the country’s next presidential election in 2020.
As part of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Belarus enabled Russia to deploy soldiers and military equipment across Belarusian territory. Minsk is the capital of Belarus.
As Eastern Europe’s southernmost nation, Bulgaria stands on the Black Sea to the east, just above Greece and Turkey. A democratic government was established in 1991, yet corruption remains a major issue in the country’s political institutions.
As a developing nation, Bulgaria has established an upper-middle-income market economy that relies heavily on the service sector, equipment, mining, and agricultural production.
Bulgaria’s various ecosystems make it one of Europe’s most biologically diversified nations, despite its small size (110,994 km2 (42,855 mi2) and a border length of just 2162 km (1,343 mi)).
The Czech Republic, formerly known as Czechoslovakia, is a landlocked nation between Germany to the west (making it the westernmost country in Eastern Europe) and Slovakia to the east. It’s located in Prague.
The Czech Republic is one of Eastern Europe’s most developed nations, offering free public higher education and universal health care. According to the World Health Organization, it’s also one of the world’s safest nations.
Hungary, a communist country until 1989, now has one of Eastern Europe’s most developed and healthiest economies, with low economic disparity and a significant emphasis on international commerce and sectors like food processing, electronics manufacturing, and pharmaceutical manufacture.
Health care is provided to all Hungarians at no cost, and most of the country’s institutions have no tuition. Despite Hungary’s majority Christian population, the Dohány Street Synagogue, Europe’s biggest synagogue, can accommodate up to 3,000 people.
As of 2021, Moldova has a population of over 4 million and a land area of around 33,846 km2 (13,065 mi2).
Moldova, a former Soviet state that proclaimed independence in 1991, is one of Europe’s poorest nations and one of Europe’s lowest-ranking countries in terms of human development (though still higher than most of Africa).
Moldova is landlocked, but a 2005 agreement with Ukraine ensured that the Black Sea would always be accessible to Moldova. Throughout Moldova’s post-Soviet history, Russia and Western Europe have fought for influence in the nation, while a separatist area (Transnistria) has attempted to split away.
With its northern boundary forming the shore of the Baltic Sea, Poland is a nation in Eastern Europe. With a population of 37.7 million, Poland is one of Eastern Europe’s most populous nations, with more than 3.1 million people residing in and around Warsaw, the country’s capital.
Poland is often regarded as Europe’s most religious nation. Poland became the first Eastern European country to join NATO in 1999, along with Hungary and the Czech Republic, then the European Union in 2004.
Under communist leadership during World War II, Romania, once an Axis power, switched sides and became a victim of that regime. In 1989, a violent revolution brought Romania out of communism and into democracy.
A year later, Romania became a member of NATO and the EU. According to Eurostat, the country’s economy has grown at one of the highest rates in Europe, from 44% of the European average in 2007 to 70% of the average by 2019.
Romania’s economy is not uncommon to largely depend on service sectors and imported goods such as oil, power, industrial equipment, software, clothes, and agricultural goods (foods and flowers). The sector of travel and tourism is also on the rise.
Russia, the world’s most populous nation, is also a former Soviet state and the successor to the Soviet Union’s history. Russia is the biggest country globally, as well as in Europe and Asia. Since it is Eastern Europe’s most populated nation with over 145 million inhabitants is also one of the world’s most populous.
Although Russia’s government is relatively stable, it is also widely seen as harsh and corrupt, having been headed by despotic President Putin since 2000. (with a brief detour to Prime Minister from 2008-2012).
Russia has a substantial stockpile of oil and gas, one of the world’s leading producers and export of oil and gas.
However, in reaction to Putin’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, governments throughout the globe imposed severe economic sanctions on Russia, which are projected to have a long-term detrimental influence on the Russian economy.
The Slovak Republic is Eastern Europe’s smallest landlocked nation, just beating out Moldova. A peaceful break known as the Velvet Divorce took place in 1993, separating the Czech Republic from Slovakia, which had been part of Czechoslovakia since WWI.
Through democracy and free enterprise, Slovakia was able to join NATO and the EU in 2004 after years of being a communist state with a socialist economy.
Slovaks now have access to free health care and higher education because of the country’s rapid development. This country’s economy relies heavily on its abundant supply of mountains for winter sports and caverns, medieval castles, and other natural tourist attractions.
Behind only Russia in both size and population, Ukraine has borders with seven other nations and the Black Sea, and the smaller Sea of Azov. Ukraine is Europe’s second-largest country.
One of Europe’s least-developed nations, Ukraine is also one of the world’s leading grain exporters and has considerable reserves of natural gas and other minerals. Despite this, Ukraine is stuck in a tug-of-war between Russia and the West.
Also See: East Asian Countries 2022
Since Russia took Crimea in 2014, has supported separatist insurgents in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, and formally invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, the Ukrainian economy has been severely strained.