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Central Europe

Region of Europe / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Central Europe is a geographical region of Europe between Eastern, Southern, Western and Northern Europe.[3][4] The concept of "Central Europe" emerged in Germany and Austria in the 19th century as "Mitteleuropa".[5][6] Central Europe is known for its cultural diversity;[7][8] however, countries in this region also share certain historical and cultural similarities.[9][10]

Different views of Central Europe
Central Europe according to The World Factbook (2009),[1] Encyclopædia Britannica, and Brockhaus Enzyklopädie (1998). There are numerous other definitions and viewpoints.
The cultural-spatial borders of Europe according to the Standing Committee on Geographical Names, Germany. The map displays two different segment-bordering ways superimposed on each other.[2]

The region comprises most of the former territories of the Holy Roman Empire and those of the two neighboring kingdoms of Poland and Hungary. At its height, the Ottoman Empire controlled the vast majority of the Kingdom of Hungary, engulfing southern parts of present-day Slovakia.[11][12] By the 18th century, the Habsburg monarchy extended its dominion to include Hungary and parts of Poland,[13] at which point the monarchy also reigned over the territories of Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, alongside parts of Germany, Switzerland and Italy.[14]

The countries that make up Central Europe have historically been, and in some cases continue to be,[15] divided into either Eastern or Western Europe.[16][17] After World War II, Central Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain[18] into two parts, the capitalist Western Bloc and the communist Eastern Bloc, although Switzerland, Yugoslavia, and Austria declared neutrality. The Berlin Wall was one of the most visible symbols of this division.[19] Respectively, countries in Central Europe have historical, cultural and geopolitical ties with these wider regions of Europe.[20][21][22][23]

Central Europe began a "strategic awakening" in the late 20th and early 21st century,[24] with initiatives such as Central European Defence Cooperation, the Central European Initiative, Centrope, and the Visegrád Four Group. This awakening was triggered by writers and other intellectuals, who recognized the societal paralysis of decaying dictatorships and felt compelled to speak up against Soviet oppression.[5]

All of the Central European countries are considered to be of "very high human development" by the Human Development Index, with Switzerland and Germany having the highest index values.[25] However, some Central European countries, namely Poland and Hungary, are still considered as having "emerging market and developing economies" by the IMF.[26]

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