The difference between Eastern Europe and Central Europe is a matter of perspective and personal definition. Simply put, there is no clear-cut, universally-accepted definition clearly defining which countries are included in Central Europe and which are in Eastern Europe. In some cases, some countries may make both lists, further adding to the ambiguity of the terms.
The United Nations does have a clearly defined term for Eastern Europe. It includes the following countries: Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, and Ukraine. However, the United Nations remains silent on what may represent Central Europe, preferring instead to separate the European continent into Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western regions.
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Historically, since the middle of the 20th Century, the term Eastern Europe has come to mean those countries which were separated from Western Europe by political philosophy. Much of this definition had to do with the countries that were linked to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. However, since the fall of many of those Communist governments, the countries defining this region have been subject to change.
Central Europe, on the other hand, may include many of those countries as well. Again, because there is no universal definition, it can be very difficult to say what countries are in Central Europe. However, some countries have attempted to define themselves. The Central European Countries Travel Association includes the nations of Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
As seen from this association, the fall of some Communist regimes have confused the definition of Eastern Europe. In fact, because the political divisions are no longer as extreme, Central Europe may soon come to represent a clearer definition. This travel association is made up of both countries that would have been considered Eastern and Western Europe during the Cold War. Thus, as we move further away from the 20th Century, the term Central Europe may become more clearly defined.
Often, some organizations skirt around the definition of Central and Eastern Europe altogether. They do this by combining both groups into the same category and may even include the two geographical areas in their official names.