Central and Western European Region
Central European Region
Central Europe is the region lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe. The term and widespread interest in the region itself came back into fashion after the end of the Cold War, which, along with the Iron Curtain, had divided Europe politically into East and West, splitting Central Europe in half.
The concept of Central Europe, and that of a common identity, is somewhat elusive. However, scholars assert that a distinct “Central European culture, as controversial and debated the notion may be, exists.” It is based on “similarities emanating from historical, social and cultural characteristics”, and it is identified as having been “one of the world’s richest sources of creative talent” between the 18th and 20th century. Cross Currents: A Yearbook of Central European Culture characterized “Central Europe as an abandoned West or a place where East and West collide”.
As of the 2000′s, Central Europe is going through a phase of “strategic awakening”, and multiple Central European countries are routinely listed among the world’s 30 most developed countries. However, in Western popular culture, much of the region is still erroneously associated with Cold War era “backwardness”.
Western European Region
Western Europe refers to the countries generally in the westernmost half of Europe, but the definition is complex and carries political connotations. As a result, geographically eastern countries (Finland, Greece) that steered clear of Soviet influence during the Cold War are usually included, while Western members of the former Eastern Bloc (Czech Republic, Poland) are excluded.
In addition, the term has geographic, economic and cultural aspects. Since the end of World War II, the term has been used to describe the high-income developed countries of western Europe, characterized by democratic political systems, mixed economies combining the free market with aspects of the welfare state, alliance with the United States, and membership in NATO.