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Eastern Europe

Map of Georgia

Map of Georgia

Map of Georgia

Georgia is a small country of a about 4 million people as of 2017. Situated at the most eastern end of Europe, on the shores of the Black Sea. In Ancient times it was a key point on the famous Silk Road and possibly where Jason and the Argonauts found the Golden fleece.

During the Soviet years it became a backwater and was little considered by the west other than for the Soviet navy bases stationed there. Although recently embroiled in hostilities with Russia, it has come out of this period with a strong sense of self and willingness to embrace the rest of the world. The people are friendly and hospitable. It is definitely a must see if you are touring the other countries in the area.

Map of Kosovo

map of Kosovo

Here we have a map of one of the newest republics of Europe. The Republic of Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008 and has been a hotly disputed territory ever since. With a population of about 1.8 million citizens and a land size of about 10,908 km2, it is one of the smallest also. The capital of the republic is Pristina and the population is heavily dominated by Albanians. They make about 92% of the population and most follow the religion of Sunni Islam. However freedom of religion has been laid down in the new constitution. The Albanians know what religious persecution can do and want to avoid this in the future.

Map of Eastern Europe

Map of Eastern Europe

The countries in Red above make up what is known as Eastern Europe. East Europe as a concept has been in decline since the end of the cold war. Many of the countries on the Western border of the above countries marked in red have either entered the European Union or are moving to join. Joining the European Union is conceptual a step to becoming a Western country. Countries like Slovenia, Poland, Bulgaria and even the Czech Republic. Look at this map for a more complete idea of the countries that make up Western Europe and a list of the countries trying to enter the European Union.

The end of the cold war saw the end of the many large conglomerations of communist nations. The biggest of these was the Soviet Union (The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) which was made up of countries such as Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Ukraine, Georgia and a number of other countries. so the map above is more of a modern representation of the countries that formerly made up East Europe. Other former Communist Nations that split up into smaller countries are  as follows:

  • Yugoslavia – which split into Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo.
  • Czechoslovakia – Which split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

So as you can see even though we still use the terms Western and Eastern Europe, they are quickly becoming an outdated concept and the boundary that separates East and West is blurrier than ever.

here we have a list of the countries that make up Eastern Europe.

Slovakia

slovakia

Slovakia is a small country located in the Central Europe, south of Poland. Most part of the country is rugged and mountainous. Thus, it is a perfect destination for winter sports of all kinds. Bratislava is the capital city of this nation, where population is about 431,000 and still counting. It is the cultural, political and economic centre of Slovakia. This is where a large number of museums, galleries, theatres, universities and other cultural and educational institutions are found.

When you choose to travel Slovakia, you will come across with European style of museums like the largest Slovak National Gallery at Razusovo. This is where you can find the baroque and gothic art, which are truly remarkable. Historically restored both permanent and temporary art exhibitions are also set up in the following palaces in Old Town. Just to name a few, that would be Palffy Palace, Primate Palace, Mirbach and Zichy Palace. The history of Bratislava, especially during the 19th and early 20thcentury life in the city can be seen in one of the city’s museum on Primicialne. It possesses such a wonderful history that you can experience if you choose to travel this country.

If you are looking for a place to visit during this holiday season, consider Slovakia as your one stop destination. This is a not so big country when we speak about space area. However, this place can be good for recreational purposes because it is not overcrowded as compared to other popular countries. Aside from the ski resorts that are often visited by the locals on the south of the country, the capital city of Slovakia has a full directory of different pubs, bars and cafes. Search for a particular place to drink if you want to spend and enjoyable night with friends and families. If you want a martini darling or have some good taste of vodka, Cirkus Barok and Trafo Music Bar are places that you should pay a visit. If gaming is what you desired, sports and Guinness can be experienced at Dubliner Pub. There is certainly a type of activity, which you can enjoy with the different café districts at Bratislava.

Spending an active holiday would also be possible in Slovakia. This country now becomes one of the new winter destinations because of its fantastic site for skiing and snowboarding. If you are a winter sport lover, Slovakia is a good destination for you. Map of Slovakia will show that almost all mountains are suitable and most are properly equipped for a safe and enjoyable skiing, hiking and horse riding. Hiking in Slovakia Mountains is an activity that you should never miss being engaged into. High Tatras are stunningly beautiful and extremely challenging for adventurous and outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking trails on this area are approximately open from July 1 to October 15, depending on the weather.

The capital city Bratislava in Slovakia has a marvelous range of hotels and apartments that you can choose from. You will surely find a place to rest that will suit your budget. Looking for a hotel in Bratislava can be tricky during peak seasons of winter and summer vacations. However, you need not to worry yourself about it because there are other hotels around the place that will not command a much higher price. Therefore, when thinking about the next place to have a vacation, Slovakia is one of the top destinations that you should never fail to spot.

European Gas Pipeline Map and the Ukraine

European gas Pipeline Map and the Ukraine

 

There has been a spotlight shone on the Ukraine this week with the downing of flight MH17 by Ukrainian separatist rebels. However that war has been raging for quite a while now and the European Union has been very reluctant to get involved.

Why?

One theory is the reliance of the European community on Russian natural gas supplies as an energy supply. The Russian gas supply is particularly important in winter, as European household heating requirements increase.

The above map of gas pipelines  produced by Agence France-Presse shows the routes into Europe pass through the Ukraine. This adds a level of complexity to the diplomatic dance over the war in Ukraine. There used to be two parties that could interfere with European gas supply from Russia. The first party being the Russian government and associated government and corporate bodies (Gasprom), as happened back in 2009 . The second being the Ukrainian government. Although this possibility was considered almost negligible until recently as the Ukraine gathers a good commission by on-selling Russian gas.

Now we have a third player. The Russian backed separatist rebels in the east of Ukraine . These rebels seem to be backed by Russia and in fact it is considered highly likely that these rebels used a Russian built self propelled missile battery to down the ill fated flight MH17.

 

Why would the rebels want to interrupt the gas supply?

Currently there are two schools of thought on why the rebels would want to interrupt the European gas supply.

  1. By interrupting the winter gas supply the rebels could force the European community to put pressure on the Pro-west Ukrainian government to be less unyielding at the negotiating table.
  2. The other possibility is to force Russia to help more actively in the fight against the Ukrainian government. Currently it is widely believed that Russia is secretly helping the Ukrainian rebels. The added economic pressure on Russia  that slowing the gas supply would impose, might make Russia take steps to try and end the war earlier. Either by influencing the Ukrainian government or helping the rebels win the war.

In either case we can see that the winter of 2014-2015 is shaping up to be a tense one for European nations.