The European regional grouping according to
The World Factbook
Picture shows also Northern Europe, Western Europe, Central Europe, Southern Europe, Southeastern Europe, Southwestern Europe, and other regions
Several other definitions of Eastern Europe exist today, but they often lack precision, are too general or outdated. These definitions vary both across cultures and among experts, even
 as the term has a wide range of
geopolitical, geographical, cultural, and
There are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region".
 A related
United Nations paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and
While the eastern geographical boundaries of Europe are well defined, the boundary between Eastern and Western Europe is not geographical but historical, religious and cultural.
Ural River, and the
Caucasus Mountains are the
geographical land border of the eastern edge of Europe.
In the west, however, the historical and
cultural boundaries of "Eastern Europe" are subject to some overlap and, most importantly, have undergone historical fluctuations, which make a precise definition of the western geographic boundaries of Eastern Europe and the
geographical midpoint of Europe somewhat difficult.
The East–West Schism which began in the 11th century and lasts until the present, divided Christianity in Europe, and consequently the world, into
Western Christianity and
Western Europe according to this point of view is formed by countries with dominant Roman Catholic and Protestant churches (including Central European countries like
Eastern Europe is formed by countries with dominant Eastern Orthodox churches, like
Republic of Macedonia,
Ukraine for instance.
The schism is the break of communion and theology between what are now the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman Catholic from the 11th century, as well as from the 16th century also Protestant) churches. This division dominated Europe for centuries, in opposition to the rather short lived Cold War division of 4 decades.
Division between the Eastern and Western Churches
Religious division in 1054
Great Schism of 1054, Europe has been divided between
Roman Catholic and
Protestant churches in the West, and the
Eastern Orthodox Christian (many times incorrectly labeled "Greek Orthodox") churches in the east. Due to this religious cleavage, Eastern Orthodox countries are often associated with Eastern Europe. A cleavage of this sort is, however, often problematic; for example,
Greece is overwhelmingly Orthodox, but is very rarely included in "Eastern Europe", for a variety of reasons, the most prominement being that Greece's history for the most part was more so influenced by Mediterranean cultures and contact.
Another definition was used during the 40 years of
Cold War between 1947 and 1989, and was more or less synonymous with the terms
Eastern Bloc and
Warsaw Pact. A similar definition names the formerly
states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe.
fall of the Iron Curtain brought the end of the East–West division in Europe,
 but this geopolitical concept is sometimes still used for quick reference by the media or sometimes for statistical purposes.
Historians and social scientists generally view such definitions as outdated or relegated.
Eurovoc, a multilingual
thesaurus maintained by the
Publications Office of the European Union, has entries for "23 EU languages"
 (Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish), plus the languages of candidate countries (Albanian, Macedonian and Serbian). Of these, those in italics are classified as "Central and Eastern Europe" in this source.
states gradually joined
, a Western military alliance.
Membership not a goal
National Geographic Society,
Committee for International Cooperation in National Research in Demography, STW Thesaurus for Economics place the Baltic states in
Northern Europe whereas the CIA World Factbook and
UNESCO place the region in Eastern Europe with a strong assimilation to
Northern Europe. The Baltic states have seats in the
Nordic Council as observer states. They also are members of the
Nordic-Baltic Eight whereas Eastern European countries formed their own alliance called the
Northern Future Forum, the
Nordic Investment Bank and
Nordic Battlegroup are other examples of Northern European cooperation that includes the three Baltic states that make up the
The Caucasus nations of
Georgia are included in
definitions or histories of Eastern Europe. They are located in the transition zone of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. They participate in the
Eastern Partnership program, the
Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, and are members of the
Council of Europe, which specifies that all three have political and cultural connections to Europe. In January 2002, the
European Parliament noted that Armenia and Georgia may enter the EU in the future.
 However, Georgia is currently the only Caucasus nation actively seeking NATO and EU membership.
There are three de facto independent
Republics with limited recognition in the Caucasus region. All three states participate in the
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations:
Other former Soviet states
Several other former
Soviet republics may be considered part of Eastern Europe
The term "Central Europe" is often used by historians to designate states formerly belonging to the
Holy Roman Empire, the
Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the
In some media, "Central Europe" can thus partially overlap with "Eastern Europe" of the Cold War Era. The following countries are labeled Central European by some commentators, though others still consider them to be Eastern European.
Some countries in Southeast Europe can be considered part of Eastern Europe. Some of them can sometimes, albeit rarely, be characterized as belonging to
 and some may also be included in
In some media, "Southeast Europe" can thus partially overlap with "Eastern Europe" of the Cold War Era. The following countries are labeled Southeast European by some commentators, though others still consider them to be Eastern European.
Partially recognized states: