Eastern Europe


Examine the physical geography, politics, and culture of the Baltic republics.
Discuss the land, economy, and culture of Poland.
Describe the geography of Hungary.
Compare the geographies of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Note geographical similarities and differences among the Balkan countries.

     Chapter Overview

Chapter 13: Eastern Europe

The end of communist rule in 1989 brought many changes to Eastern Europe. Poland is a large country with southern mountains and northern plains. In 1989 Poland began to move from a communist state to a free market society. Most Poles are Roman Catholic and are strongly influenced by their religion. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are small republics that border the Baltic Sea. From 1940 until 1991 they were controlled by the Soviet Union. Today these countries are working to increase manufacturing and service industries.

Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are located in the center of Eastern Europe. The Great Hungarian Plain in eastern Hungary has excellent soil for farming and grazing animals. Most Hungarians are Magyars, descendants of nomads who came to the Danube River valley about 1,000 years ago. Compared to other countries of Eastern Europe, the people of the Czech Republic enjoy a high standard of living. Because of corruption by some government officials, Slovakia has had difficulty moving to a free market economy.

The Balkan Peninsula lies between the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea. Romania, which lies at the northeastern edge of the Balkans, faces many challenges left over from the Soviet era. Despite abundant resources, the country still struggles. Ethnic conflict has torn apart the former Yugoslav Republics.

     Quick Notes

The Baltic Republics

The Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania share a Baltic Sea coastline.
After decades of communist rule, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are now independent democracies.


Most of Poland's farms, factories, and cities lie on a vast plain.
Poland's economy changed from communism to free enterprise.
Most Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church.


Landlocked Hungary depends on the Danube River for trade.
Most Hungarians belong to an ethnic group known as Magyars.
Hungarian businesses grow through foreign investments.

The Czech Republic

Cultural differences led Czechs and Slovaks to form two separate nations in 1993.
Mountains, rolling hills, and plains sweep across the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Both republics are industrialized, with large urban populations.

The Balkan Countries

The Balkan Peninsula has many different ethnic groups speaking several different languages.
The breakup of Yugoslavia has led to civil war in the region.

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