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Baltic CountriesDespite the many linguistic and cultural differences between Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, the three tend to be lumped together in Soviet/Russian pop culture. Some of the common stereotypes of Balts include:
- They are cold-blooded, emotionless, reserved, and brooding. The only thing that flares them up is national issues (see below).
- Their women are uniformly tall, blonde, and either quite pudgy (if not outright Brawn Hilda material) or lithe and skinny. The men are Aryan athletic hunks not unlike Swedes (see above).
- In the USSR, the three republics were viewed as "our very own Europe", with marvellous Gothic and Baroque architecture, easily available imported goods, a lot of hip and cool design and pop culture of their own, and much more laid-back, tolerant, and liberal than the rest of the country.
- In Soviet movies, Baltic actors tended to be typecast as villains, Westerners, aristocrats, or any combination thereof. Their lines were almost always overdubbed due to their heavy accent. Cities like Riga and Tallinn were (over)used as stand-ins for Western European capitals.
- In much of Russian media of the last 20 years, Baltic countries are portrayed as being run by ultra-nationalists who seek to weed out the vestiges of Russian presence (banning Soviet symbols, harassing the Russian-speaking population, etc.) and glorify surviving Waffen-SS members as "fighters against Bolshevism" while persecuting Communist resistance and Red Army vets.
- Latvians are mostly depicted as potato- and fish eating numbheads with poor grammar. Also seen as the resort of Russia.
- Estonians have a lot of jokes about Latvians supposedly having six toes on each feet.
- Also as having bad roads and eating lots of ice cream.
- Lithuanians call Latvians "horse heads".
- Latvians are a bit more open and friendly than the other two Baltic countries.
- Most Estonian stereotypes in Russia are almost completely interchangeable with Finns (see the Western Europe section).
- Latvians and Lithuanians depict Estonians as being slow, but rational and determined as well.
- Their economy and medical system are said to be the most advanced among the three Baltic countries.
- Though they did create one thing of international fame: the Skype software. It's true that a Dane and a Swede contributed along, but the other developers were all Estonians.
- They are particularly successful in business.
- And you might also known them for composer Arvo Pärt, whose composition "Spiegel im Spiegel" has been used in many films, most recently Gravity.
- Very few stereotypes of note exist about Lithuania specifically. Most have trouble telling it apart from Latvia, and the two countries tend to be confused a lot.
- In the 19th century Lithuanians were apparently seen by Russia as troublemakers and the most dangerous out of the Baltics due to the old association with Poland.
- They're talented at basketball.
- They hate the Polish, though they hate the Russians much, much more.
- Lithuania is also infamous for its high suicide rate.
- Lithuanians only drink vodka and speak Russian (and Polish)-both of which are untrue.
- Some people even think Lithuania is still a part of Russia, which, again, is not true. Lithuania joined the EU as an independent country in 2004.
- It is common for people to assume that there are no televisions or cities in Lithuania ("How many people live in your village?" and "Do you have televisions in Lithuania?" are stereotypical questions asked to Lithuanians), as well as the fact that everyone owns a horse.
- Very insistent that they are not Eastern European, preferring instead to link themselves to German Catholic culture (all countries in this region are majority-Catholic). Still they'll often be categorized as the Balkan or the former Eastern Bloc. To most foreigners they are interchangeable with Russians, the most well known Eastern European country.
- The most general image of Central Europe is that of a romanticized Ruritania with an Überwald, based on many ancient legends and several gothic horror novels and films, most notably Dracula. This evokes images of large forests, dark castles and people still living very close to nature. All Eastern Europeans are poor, miserable peasants who live in fear of foreigners, vampires, bears, (were)wolves and their own government.
- All Central Europeans will be depicted wearing traditional peasant clothing. The one thing that sets them apart from Russia is their jumpy, catchy, dizzy making folk dance music, which always sounds as if it's twirling around.
- All Eastern European countries and regions will have names ending in "-sylvania", "-davia", "-akia" or "-gary" .
- Despite the Cold War being over since 1991 many stereotypes about Eastern Europe are still based on imagery from this time period, especially the idea that everyone there is a spy or a member of the local military.
- Eastern European Animation is also famous, though sometimes ridiculed as being nothing more than surrealistic, colorful, cut-and-paste forest animal stories full of heavily distorted imagery with scratchy lines and scribbles like "Worker and Parasite" on The Simpsons. Also expect some hidden anti-Soviet messages in them.
- Central Europe also has an association with Roma culture. Cue to all the stereotypes associated with these people. They are proud, but poor nomads who live in mobile homes and just travel from one region to another before being chased away by local authorities. They spent their time with stealing money, babies and other belongings, or rip you off with con-games, Tarot card reading and fortune telling. Yet they will also enjoy playing guitar and violin by moonlight around the camp fire while everybody dances. They all wear ear rings.
- Since the end of the Cold War Central Europe has a bad reputation for being a criminal walhalla. The Russian mafia is strong and human trafficking of young beautiful women to be forced to work as prostitutes in Western Europe is a huge problem.
- To this day you'll find people still referring to it as "Czechoslovakia", despite being split in two countries since 1993. Czechs are seen as essentially identical to Germans and not Slavs, and rarely distinguished from Slovaks either.
- Czechs have a strong cultural heritage, exemplified by their numerous castles, marionette theatres, puppet films and literary classics like The Golem, The Good Soldier Svejk and the novels of Franz Kafka.
- Kafka in particular is the most famous Czech of all time. Expect people visiting the Czech Republic to get lost in kafkaesque bureaucracy or other odd situations.
- Ironically, Kafka himself, who was a German-speaking Jew, considered himself an Austrian who's just living in Prague, and never associated with the Czech culture at all. National question in the former Habsburg Empire was, ahem, interesting, to say the least.
- The Czechs also produced author Karel Čapek, whose play "R.U.R." gave us the word Robot. And then the famous journalist, anarchist and bohemian Jaroslav Hašek broke all the proprieties with The Good Soldier Švejk — the greatest Armed Farce of all times.
- Musically the country also produced very popular folk music, which has often been used as the basis for the work of many famous Czech composers like Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, Gustav Mahler and Leoš Janáček. The polka, despite being associated with Poland, is actually a Czech word.
- Kafka in particular is the most famous Czech of all time. Expect people visiting the Czech Republic to get lost in kafkaesque bureaucracy or other odd situations.
- The capital, Prague, is usually thought of as being fairly glamourous for the region of Europe in which it is located. Owing to the Czech Republic's relatively low taxes on filmmaking, Prague is also often featured as either a template East European or generic Central European city in a wide variety of media, and the Barrandov Studios are a popular filming location for Hollywood movies such as xXx, Blade II, Mission: Impossible and The Bourne Identity, where the city is either used in name, or where an ambiguously generic "Euro" location is required (much like Vienna, while Prague boasts a number of historical landmarks and amazing monuments of European architecture, none of them can really be described as globally recognizable in the way the Eiffel Tower or the Brandenburg Gate are). If a film/videogame/book carelessly suggests a location as being somewhere in Eastern Europe, you can bet Prague is the template city.
- The most famous Czech region is Bohemia, which gave us the setting to the French opera La Bohčme and "The Bohemian Girl", the word "bohemian" and Queen 's "Bohemian Rhapsody". Interestingly enough all these associations were not thought up by the Czechs themselves.
- The meaning of word "Bohemian", as in "unconventional lifestyle", is of French origin. Apparently, one of their term for Gipsies was "bohémiens", because they came to France via Bohemia. This lifestyle is not quite standard for the Czech people, considered by many Slavic neighbours as cold "half-Germans".
- One famous Bohemian thing that the Czechs did create is Bohemian crystal and art glass.
- The most enduring Czech stereotype is that they are crazy beer drinkers. The "Pilsner" and "Budweiser" beers being their international greeting card.
- As the country holds the title of highest beer consumption per capita in the world, it is more Truth in Television than stereotype.
- Their northern neighbours perceive them as a nation of good-natured simpletons, perhaps due to the influence of the novel The Good Soldier Svejk and their language (which sounds to Poles as if it's made from lisp and diminutives).
- Czech girls and women are generally portrayed as beautiful (inspired probably by Czech supermodels like Karolina Kurkova or Eva Herzigova), often combined with kinky and loose attitude towards sex life.
- Czech taxi drivers are often thought to be tricksters of foreign tourists. Sadly, this has been proved to be Truth in Television several times, but if such cases are reported, measures against it are taken.
- Historically the 15th century priest Jan Hus (burned at the stake for heresy) laid the foundations for making the Czech Republic the quite irreligious country that it is today. It has one of the world's highest proportions of atheists (a sharp contrast from their northern neighbor Poland, which is one of the most religious European countries).
- Of course, what Hus and his followers really did was make the Czech lands very religious for many centuries; it was particularly the subsequent recatholisation connected with foreign rule that really led to the more recent Czech scepticism towards organised religion. In the 19th and early 20th century struggles for national freedom, the hussite period was heavily romanticised, leading to one of the Czechs' stereotypes about their own history.
- During the Cold War they were best known for producing the Škoda car, the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution. After the Cold War ended, Škoda inverted its traditional reputation and the jokes that went with it, to achieve top 10 placings in global car reliability indexes.
- They are also quite skillful tennis players, with Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova as the most iconic examples.
- A small, cosy brothel is an indispensable institution in every single village.
- Some souvenir shops in Prague sell Russian matryoshka dolls. Apparently, all Slavic cultures are the same. Doubly hilarious when one remembers that matryoshkas aren't even traditionally Russian — they're a late XIX century adaptation of a Japanese toy that unexpectedly took off specifically as a souvenir novelty.
- Hungary is known as the birthplace of goulash (which is completely different from the American version), and for its communist era, which may not be over yet. Its language has a reputation as being very bizarre and difficult (which is probably Truth in Television, as it's one of the few languages in Europe that isn't Indo-European).
- Stereotypically the country is poor and economically still stuck in the 1980s, with old compact cars and bombed-out bridges contrasting with beautiful old cities.
- Hungarians are likely to be eccentric Funny Foreigner types and may be typecast as academics; this is probably due to well-known mathematicians such as Paul Erdős and Imre Lakatos. The country is famous for inventions such as the Rubik's Cube.
- The breeding place of Neonazis and right-wing loons. The Fourth Reich. Their discrimination of Roma, the fact that the current right-wing administration submitted a law that allows the government to play watchdog with all inner-country media and their recent dismissive attitude to the refugee crisis certainly don't help.
- Among at least some Europeans, Hungary is also (in)famous for its porn industry, which exploded after The Great Politics Mess-Up.
- Occasionally also shares the Transylvanian stereotypes (Vampires, torches and pitchforks etc.) mentioned in detail under Romania, thanks mostly to messy local history and Bela Lugosi.
- In America, there are a lot of jokes about the pigheaded stubbornness and stupidity of the Polish people. (Many Americans are of German descent, and once upon a time a lot of propaganda was spread in Germany about Polish stupidity. The German diaspora brought it with them and it took hold, especially because Polish immigrants and their descendants tended to be working-class. Few Americans, however, are aware of the origins of the stereotype.) Curiously, in Eastern Europe the Polish stereotype is the exact opposite - thought of as being soulful, a little mysterious, highly educated and proud as hell. The Polish accent to a native Russian speaker sounds kind of like what a stiff, clipped British accent sounds like to a native speaker of American English, too.
- Because of its unusual religious tolerance at certain points in history, Jews flocked to Poland and so Jews have made up a large portion of the Polish population for a long time. Poland had the largest Jewish population in the world until, well, those Nazis again. There was a massive post-war emigration and a lot of the Polish Jews ended up in America (and Israel—during the first 20-30 years of its existence, Knesset debate would sometimes be held in Polish as angry MKs of Polish origin lapsed into their native tongue). Perhaps because of that, in America most of the Polish people floating around in the cultural consciousness is of Jewish descent and identifies mostly with Jewish culture (Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jerzy Kosinski, etc.) so there tends to be some conflation between Jewish and Polish stereotypes in the American media.
- In foreign media Poles generally have names ending in Slavic inflections like -ski or -icz. In reality, not all Polish names have endings like these—only most of them.
- Poles are often stereotyped in a clichés similar to Russians, particularly for being huge drinkers. They are known for being devout Catholics and may be insistent everyone else be, too.
- There is also a "Polish catholic" stereotype: an old man or woman with right-wing political views, who goes to the church frequently, votes for Pi S (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice), the main Polish left-leaning party and watches TV Trwam, a heavily religious TV station, viewing its founder, Tadeusz Rydzyk, as nearly a god.
- An important Polish stereotype is also the "dresiarz" - a young, dumb person living in the countryside or in a tower block, wearing tracksuits, using swear words frequently, beating people up, going to soccer matches just to start a fight and ricing his car (usually a VW Golf Mk 3 or an E36 BMW). They're basically the same as their counterparts in Russia, but also for example United Kingdom (minus the cricket or golf clubs).
- In Russia, Poles are usually seen as very arrogant, boastful and unpresentable people that no one takes seriously.
- In the UK, Polish immigrants are always associated with cheap manual labour and waitressing — and little else besides. Similar to the Mexican immigrant US stereotype. On a positive note though, Poles are seen to be hardworking, friendly, and keen to assimilate. Since the proliferation of Polish store, Polish cuisine, particularly beer and sausages, have earned popularity. Brits are able to purchase things which are commonplace in the US and Europe but otherwise hard to find in the UK (Lays chips, Cheetos, Nestea, and various Polish beers, to name a few things).
- Poles eat kielbasa and sauerkraut constantly and are obsessed with bigos. No other dishes exist in Polish cuisine according to popular culture.
- Poles love to argue — this is actually more Truth in Television than most other stereotypes on this page, and even the famous "Jews Love to Argue" trope partially comes from here — remember that most of the Jews in Europe were Ashkenazi, and most Ashkenazi lived in Poland before the WWII, and there's been enough mutual exchange between the cultures. In fact the Polish Sejm — their origial parliament — allowed a right of veto for any of its members, which included potentially all nobles of the Kingdom, so if any of them didn't like the proposed decision, he could easily block it. Which, unfortunately, has led to no decisions actually being done and the eventual collapse of the Polish Kingdom.
- Poland has a somewhat undeserved reputation for losing wars which is probably due to it being the first country invaded in World War II (exemplified by the erroneous story of Polish cavalry charging German tanks). In reality, Poland has defeated Russia, Germany and other major powers several times in its military history. This likely relates to the stereotype of Poles as stupid and incompetent. Of course, Poles lost far more wars than they had won, where the whole stereotype has started, though this is has more to do with the previous stereotype of them being huge squabblers than with them being bad soldiers.
- Poles also have a reputation for thievery. Two common jokes:
- "Come to Poland; your car is already here."
- Q: Why did the Russian steal two cars in Germany? A: He had to pass through Poland first.
- Other Eastern Europeans often perceive Poles, just like the Ukrainians, as a bit too much dwelling on being The Woobie — they are thought to have a sorta martyrdom culture, taking a perverse pride in their losses and misfortunes.
- And of course, as matter of a joke, Poland will be confused with the North Pole and/or the South Pole.
- When it exists in popular culture, it's essentially "the Czech Republic but poorer". A passing reference may be made to mountains. Extra points for noting the capital is Bratislava and not something else.
- Generally stereotyped as being extremely patriotic, even when it doesn't matter, hating all their neighbors, but especially hating the Turks.
- However, the Greeks will make sure to tell you that they have nothing against the Turks.
- It's not a region- it's an ethnic-religious cluster fuck.
- The term balkanization, meaning to divide into small quarrelsome units, refers to the long history of ethnic strife in the region.
- To most people Ancient Greece is perhaps the country's most famous stereotypical image. Apart from the beaches and the uncountable islands Greek musea and ancient buildings are the number one tourist attraction. The Greeks themselves are very proud for being part of the world's heritage. Ancient Greece was the first great European civilization, which blossomed over several centuries. Their society was a pioneer in painting, sculpture, architecture, pottery making, literature, theatre, language, politics, law, warfare, the justice system, philosophy, medicine, math, geometry, biology, sports, astronomy,... to such a high degree that they remained the standard even long after their civilization crumbled. Ancient Rome copied a lot from them and ever since The Renaissance the ancient Grecian-Roman society has been held in high regard.
- Greece is also famous for philosophy. They have produced several famous and influential philosophers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Diogenes of Sinope, Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, Anaximander, Thales, Epicurus, Parmenides, Epimenides, Democritus, Xenophon, Zeno of Alea, Gorgias, Pyrrho, ...
- Ancient Greek, along with Latin, is still highly regarded in many schools and universities. The Greek alphabet was influential on our modern alphabet and several words, idioms and expressions have been derived from Greek language.
- Several Greek locations also thank their fame due to their association with Ancient Greek society: Athens, Sparta, Delphi, Lesbos, Crete, Mount Olympus, Rhodes, Thessaloniki, Corinthe, Epidaurus, ...
- The downside about this is that ancient Greece is still their only huge and well known achievement to mankind's history. It seems that ever since the ancient Greek civilization came to an end the country never did anything noteworthy that other countries could praise or remember. Except for the Byzantine Empire, of course. Compare them to Italy, who did survive the ancient Roman time period and kept making their mark on history, culture and science in the centuries that followed.
- For instance, Greece is nowadays still internationally famous for the Olympic Games, which is again a hangover from their ancient civilization. It brings up images of athletes running the marathon, throwing discuses, carrying the Olympic torch, lighting the Olympic flame, chariot racing, wrestling,... Since the late 19th century the Olympic Games have returned as the world's most famous and watched sports event, but it took a Frenchman, Pierre de Coubertin, to revive the games and up to now these modern Olympic Games have only been held in Athens twice: in 1896 and 2004.
- The most enduring modern Greek stereotype are the Greek soldiers ("evzones"), immediately recognizable for their traditional military uniforms, recognizable due to the "fustanella", a kilt-like garment.
- In the 1960s Greece managed to become internationally famous again, thanks to actress Melina Mercouri, Zorba the Greek, Jacqueline Kennedy's marriage to Greek businessman Aristotle Onassis and unfortunately, the Greek colonel dictatorship that ruled the country from 1967 until 1973. The latter also inspired the famous political protest movie Z.
- The 1964 film Zorba the Greek has fed the image that all Greeks love to dance the "Sirtaki". The famous musical piece "Zorba's Dance" is still used to provide a soundtrack to Greek images and has lead to the wrong impression that both the composition and the Sirtaki dance are part of traditional Greek folklore. They are not: they were composed by Mikis Theodorakis.
- A Greek musician will always be playing the bouzouki.
- Perhaps the most modern of all Greek stereotypes (most popular in the rest of the EU) is Greece as the monetary black hole, unable to cope with the 2008 stock market crash until this very day◊.
- All Greeks are either Greek Orthodox or still worship gods from Greek Mythology.
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding is full of Greek stereotypes (everyone is Orthodox Christian, named Nick, and very proud of their Greek heritage).
- All Greeks are each others' nephews, a stereotype also found in Asterix at the Olympic Games.
- Greek men all have a Overly Long Name. They are very hairy over their entire body, sometimes exemplified by a moustache, but this not mandatory. They also wear large ostentatious gold jewelry and watches.
- Greek parents are very caring and overprotective about their children, well until their kids are beyond their adult years.
- Greek women are usually homely mothers who mostly cook. The rest of the time they will be gossiping.
- Just like Italian stereotypes Greeks have a reputation for being unable to keep their voice down. They love to shout and argue passionately, even in public places. A fist- or knife fight might break out afterwards.
- This European post card sarcastically depicts the Greeks as being disorganized.
- Greece is famous for its shipping industrynote , which shouldn't be surprising, considering the fact that they are surrounded by water and have hundreds of small, often inhabitated islands. Whenever a rich Greek businessman is depicted in popular culture he will always be a shipping magnate and be based on Aristotle Onassis, for instance: Percicles Parnassus in Rocky and Bullwinkle and Aristotle Amadopolis in The Simpsons.
- If a Greek doesn't own a shipping empire he will be cast as a restaurant owner. He will mostly serve traditional Greek dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, feta cheese, ouzo and lots, lots, lots of olives. Olive oil will be added to every meal.
- Greeks and Turks have a rivalry that goes back many centuries when both countries went to war against each other. To this day Greeks don't like to be compared to Turks (and vice versa), despite the fact that they obviously have a lot in common due to sharing a similar historical tradition.
- For instance, both Greeks and Turks have a reputation for being smokers.
- Greece also has a centuries old reputation for homosexuality. The word "lesbian" is derived from the Greek isle Lesbos. In Ancient Greece homosexual relationships were fairly common and the male body was idealized more than the female one.
- Greece also has a reputation for providing great warriors such as Alexander the Great and Leonidas of Sparta.
The former Yugoslavia
- To most other countries it is mostly known for producing Gavrilo Princip, the man who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and gave other countries an excuse to start World War I. During the Cold War it was mostly known for Josip Broz Tito and in the 1990s it became synonymous with civil war and genocidal war criminals on the loose.
- Slovenes are stuck up, melancholic bureaucrats with no sense of humor and an impeccable sense of frugality.
- Croatians have a reputation for being fanatically patriotic. They are also known for being talkative, to the point of being quarrelsome. Historically the country is known for giving us the first fountain pens and the invention of the cravat (though the original version looked different from the modern one).
- Bosnians manage to be both very cynical and utter simpletons who consider stubbornness the greatest virtue.
- Serbs are stereotyped as murderous maniacs pissed off by things that happened centuries ago. They would rather fight among their own people than unite against a common enemy. And since A Serbian Film they are not likely to gain a reputation for good taste any time soon...
- Montenegrins are allergic to work and you'll never see one stand up or, God forbid, walk somewhere.
- Macedonians either don't exist or are a mish-mash of Bulgaria and Albania. If one Macedonian is mentioned it will be Alexander the Great, even though Alexander The Great and other Ancient Macedonians were actually Greeks and have no relation to modern day Slavs occupying the country.
- And of course all these people are repeatedly confused with each other, much to their own chagrin.
- Tribalistic in temperament, settle all their issues with violence, love tracksuits and are either owners of an eatery or work for the mob - Muslim Italians with a weird language nobody understands, apparently.
- May still be Dirty Communists (this is at least partially based on fact since Albania remained communist longer than almost any other country in Europe, but is not true today).
- Owners of possibly the most Obviously Evil-looking flag◊ in Europe, perhaps the world. Seriously, it looks like it was created by M.Bison.
- Much like Bulgarians often stereotyped as criminals, human traffickers, gangsters, spies and/or evil militarians.
- Transylvania is the only place that exists. Its inhabitants are pitchfork wielding peasants who fear God and supernatural beings, especially vampires, werewolves and Frankenstein's monster.
- So engrained is Transylvania as a fantastical locale in modern culture, that many people probably don't even realize that it's even a real place, let alone a region within Romania.
- As said, Romania is most famous in popular culture for its Uberwald-vibe and oh so many books, games and movies involve Dracula and other associated creatures of the night, with examples including Van Helsing, Castlevania, and so on.
- If anything, a large percent of Romanians are just as superstitious, only that anything to do with Dracula is a Berserk Button for them.
- They are frequently lumped together with Slavic countries despite Romanian being a language closer to Latin than Slavic languages. The fact that most Romanians are Eastern Orthodox (as opposed to Catholic like other Romance peoples) doesn't help either.
- Romanians, seemingly moreso than other nations, get very bad press throughout the rest of Europe for their pick-pocketing gangs and squatters, who bus into neighboring countries and plague top tourist destinations like London, Paris and Madrid.
- Another popular stereotype is the freakishly flexible Romanian female gymnast, and (unfortunately) certainly amongst Western Europeans, the association of hellish orphanages with children literally chained to grimy, iron beds.
- They have a reputation for being either Communists or prostitutes. Sometimes both.
- Roma are also often associated with Eastern Europe. After 2006, they are even closer associated with Romania, where they make up large percent of the criminal class (although their absolute number in the general population is not very large).
- They really enjoy eating yoghurt! And love roses!
- They were the Commie Land beach resort. too.
- If an Eastern European villain is needed he'll usually be Bulgarian (if he isn't Russian).
- Culturally the country is best known for their folk music, which has a distinctive extended rhythmical time, which has no equivalent in the rest of European music. Bulgarian singing is also noticeable for its hypnotic rural atmosphere.
- An outdated stereotype about Bulgaria in Central and Eastern Europe, is that Bulgarians has reversed head gestures for saying yes or no. Shaking one's head means "yes" 'and nodding means "no"''. First of all, this stereotype isn't entirely accurate, since their "nod" is upward instead of downward and the head shake is not completely horizontal, but slightly wavy. Secondly, the exposure to Western media has made the younger Bulgarian generation largely abandon these traditional gestures.
Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the rest of Eastern Europe
- Belarus is mostly seen as a mini version of Russia, thus showcasing a lot of the same stereotypes, or, to make an analogy for the Americans, as a Russia's own mini-Canada, culturally similar, but distinct enough to be noticeable.
- A stereotypical image of Belarus in contemporary Russia is as follows: everyone is a redneck who works on a farm, drives a tractor, and lives in a hut; nothing has changed since Soviet times in terms of politics or culture; everything is laughably cheap and everyone is dirt poor, living on a diet of vodka and potatoes; the Belarusian language doesn't exist; in short, "they're not a real country, anyway".
- Belarusians are stereotyped by their neighbouring countries as being reserved, unfriendly, and emotionally cold (or just plain unemotional). Even they themselves agree that "abyyakavast' da zhyttya" ("indifference to life") is one of the darker sides of the national character, probably because of being The Woobie (see below) so much.
- Belarus itself is culturally divided right in the middle - the western, catholic part and the ortodox east. Easterners think of westerners as of cunning, hard-working and calculating people (which seen as a bad thing), and westerners think of easterners as of lazy and unreliable people.
- In the West, Belarus is nicknamed "the last dictatorship in Europe". It's usually seen as a miniature Soviet Union living in a Cold War time warp, or perhaps a European version of North Korea (minus the nukes). Europeans see the inhabitants as prisoners without entertainments or freedom. Many of the locals point to the so-called "opposition"note and ask — "And what's that then?"
- When some attention to the country's history is paid, then Belarus gets regarded as The Woobie of the Eastern Europe, being "the territory the European powers went through to wage war on each other" even more than Poland. The World War II alone destroyed as much as half of the country's population, and Minsk had to be rebuilt basically from scratch, because there was no stone upon the stone left. In short, it's Russian Guy Suffers Most all over again, but somehow even more.
- Europeans think Belarus is full of Soviet-era bloc buildings. It is, see the above bit about "rebuilding from scratch". Luckily, some of the old architecture managed to get preserved in the places where the fighting wasn't that intense, but most large cities aren't them.
- They glorify their guerilla warfare past. Given the scale of destruction the nation suffered during the said war, it is somewhat understandable.
Caucasus In Soviet/Russian culture, stereotypes of peoples from the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia (specifically, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) are as follows:
- Caucassian people love wine, song, and merry-making in general. They are awesome cooks, specialising in meat. Their parties (especially weddings) are week-long affairs where everyone gets drunk several times over.
- Their men are often depicted as wearing tracksuits or leather jackets, beanie hats and full beards. They are also incredibly lecherous and always horny, showering the objects of their affection with flowers, expensive gifts, etc., and then abandoning them after getting what they'd been looking for.
- Caucassian women come only in two flavours: humble and religious, or brash and boisterous (a kind that does not correspond with Muslim traditions at all, though just about half of the Caucasian peoples are actually Christian).
- Expect Caucassian people be very, very patriotic about their country and blaming another Caucasus countries for their sins.
- They are reputed to be filthy rich, mostly from criminal activity. They tend towards conspicuous consumption and flashy displays of wealth.
- No matter where a Caucassian man from, expect him depicted dancing lezginka (sometimes in groups) and/or playing patriotic folk songs on their cellphones.
- Due to two Chechen Wars and an ongoing insurgency in the North Caucasus, they are often suspected of being terrorists, religious fanatics, or ruthless mobsters.
- Caucassian people are often shown to be utterly obsessed with Russian cars with lowered suspension, boosted bass speakers and so on. And, of course, expect lezginka or patriotic songs playing from these cars. A stereotypical car from the Caucasus will be a lowered, gleaming white Lada Prioranote with windows toned to almost complete opacity, sound system that costs at least as much as the car itself, and approximately seventeen tons of the most ridiculous trim human brain can invent.
- Jokes about their love of goats, sheep and donkeys abound.
- Many are also stereotyped as Knife Nuts, who grab a blade if someone even looks at them funny. They are also stereotyped of being Trigger Happy, having sort of a gun fetish and carrying BB or rubber-bullet guns, since firearms are restricted in Russia.
- The oldest stereotypes about Russia are pretty much the same about entire Central and Eastern Europe: a romanticized Ruritania with an Überwald full with harsh, primitive peasants who are miserably poor.
- The entire country is filled with troops on horseback who roam around the taigas and threaten or protect the capital: cossacks, Tartars, kulaks,... Or people pulling boats near the Volga while singing the "Song of the Volga Boatmen".
- Tsarist Russia: The Tsar rules the country in a large fairy tale-like palace. His advisor is usually a Rasputinesque villain who holds the real strings and tries to seduce the Tsarina and the Tsarevitsj.
- All Russians are of Russian orthodox faith and own icons of the Virgin Mary in their house.
- Russian music will be trepaks, troikas, balalaikas, violin music, ballet dances, male army choirs with bassoon voices and preferably the following melodies: "Katyusha" (or "Casatchok"), "Kalinka", "Ochi Chyornye" ("Dark Eyes") and "The Song Of The Wolga Boat Men". Some Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ballet music is also essential. Throw some of their numerous famous composers in the mix as well: Igor Stravinsky, Modest Mussorgsky, Mikhail Glinka, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Sergei Rachmaninoff...
- Just like Germany Russia has an association with fairy tales, set in their huge, thick forests. This probably stems from the fact that the country is the largest one on Earth and therefore so big that a huge part of it is still filled with nature, barely touched by human civilization. In other words: perfect for romanticism. See also: Baba Yaga, The Firebird and Peter and the Wolf.
- Since the Russian Revolution and the Cold War Russia is still seen as the Soviet Union. Several stereotypes about the country evoke U.S.S.R. images:
- Expect references to Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, the red flag or hammer and sickle to be made.
- Everyone either is a spy or is spied upon by the secret police. People are sent to Siberia for minor offenses and work in Gulag camps until their death.
- Russians with Rifles and Reds with Rockets: The only lucrative career is the army. Russia indeed has a powerful military reputation. Both Napoleon and Hitler made the fatal mistake trying to invade this extraordinarily large country where the winters are so harsh that you don't survive unless you are well prepared. Several great military inventions were made in Russia, from the helicopters and planes of Igor Sikorsky and Andrei Tupolev to kalashnikov guns. And the Russians were the first to finalize and perfect the idea of the operational-level of warfare as a distinct link between the strategic and tactical levels.
- On the other hand, ever since the enormous force that fought the Nazis got demobbed by Nikita Khrushchev, the Russian military has always been relatively small for the country's enormous expanses (in fact, it almost always was relatively small, and had to make up for it with ferociousness), and its foreign adventures during the Cold War remained rather few despite its reputation. The Great Politics Mess-Up didn't help either, leaving the military penniless and making it everyone's laughingstock, a reputation it has just started to shed.
- Since the fall of Communism the most modern Russian stereotype is that everybody there is involved in the Russian mafia.
- Husky Russkie: Russian men always have heavy bushy eyebrows, moustaches and/or large beards and wear bearskin hats.They usually drink their misery away with vodka and after finishing a drink they throw their glass over their shoulder whereupon it crashes against the floor or a wall. They are either exuberantly joyful or coldly enraged, and can switch between the two at a moment’s notice. When they are excited they shout with a loud, booming voice. They are nostalgic for Soviet Russia (always referring to it as "The Motherland"), and love to do traditional dances like That Russian Squat Dance and trepaks while drunk. Either that or wrestling grizzly bears with their bare hands.
- The women wear something called a babushka, which inexplicably refers to a type of headscarf (imagine Elizabeth II, who is very fond of it) instead of its actual meaning (grandmother). Sometimes they are depicted as being more masculine than feminine.
- Apparently Russian women go from impossibly hot supermodels to shriveled-up crones over an absurdly short period of time. It is likely they will be tall, leggy blondes who are constantly depressed and mopey despite being incredibly beautiful.
- Related: If Cold War Spy Fiction is anything to go by, all Russian spies are seductive, mysterious Sensual Slavs who turn good after having sex with the hero. So pervasive is this trope that, over twenty years after the Cold War, mysterious female spies are still stereotypically associated with thick Russian accents.
- Also a popular stock character: the old lady with a head scarf who has a large hump and merely communicates thru mumbling. She will usually be searching twigs for the fire.
- Children will play with matryoshka dolls. If they do play videogames, it will ALWAYS be Tetris (Created by a Russian, natch.) Except in gamers' circles, where the stereotype of a Russian player somehow manages to be a G.I.F.T. squared, their impenetrable slang and general habit of communicating in Russian only notwithstanding.
- Russian Guy Suffers Most and Sensual Slavs: Russians endured centuries of famine, freezing weather, dictatorships, oppression, war, invasions, forced labor, attacks by hungry wolves and bears,... This has led to two stereotypes. Either they are a poor, miserable and pitiful The Woobie or a strong and toughened individual who either drinks his or her misery away with vodka or laughs it off with fatalistic, cynical and snarky Russian Humour. If they do show sadness it will be when playing or listening to a violin.
- All Russian leaders are dictators. Period. They will either be a cruel Czar, a communist tyrant or a corrupt president. Democracy (or, at least, a reasonable and moderate government) is seemingly non-existant in Russia whenever depicted in popular culture.
- Russian meals are nothing else but soup, borscht, stew, goulash, caviar, paprika or salami.note The only available drink is vodka. Or tea, if you're very lucky.
- Russians all love Russian Roulette and taking hot baths in icy temperatures. When they travel they go by troika, but since winters are too long, dark and cold they prefer to stay inside instead. They decorate their rooms with at least one samovar.
- Russian Reading: One of their famous pastimes is reading or writing thick Doorstopper novels à la Leo Tolstoy or Fyodor Dostoevsky.
- Russian Language is also a popular stereotypical target. Russians will tend not to use articles (the words "the" and "a"), or to use the wrong ones, since the Russian Language does not have any equivalent to these words. They refer to anyone as 'Comrade'. Their speech often puts a strong emphasis on the letter "r" and "g"-sounds are put in front of words beginning with the letter "h". Other popular cliché expressions are "nyet" ("no") and "da!" ("yes").
- How do you write Russian? Simply write everything backwards and write the letter "r" facing to the left, rather than the right. Add some "da" and "njet" to make it all complete.
- In the USA, thanks to the popularity of comedian Yakov Smirnoff, Russian Reversals are also associated with the country ("In Soviet Russia, TV watches you!").
- Another stereotype is that it is customary in Russian to address people formally by their first name and patronymic (i.e. "Oleg Igorevich") regardless of the situation.
- A funny tidbit about the "Comrade" stereotype: The word "kamrad" has been gaining popularity, but it has nothing to do with communism and is generally synonymous with "friend". The Russian word "tovarishch" (normally translated as "comrade" into English) has quickly fallen out of use since the fall of the USSR and is mostly used in the military for proper address to a superior (form: tovarishch + rank).
- In Romanian popular culture, the Russian (notion which lumps together true Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians, at least as they speak intelligible Russian) is always drunkard, cheerful, braggart, violent, strong and nearly-suicidally brave, born warrior. The trope predates both the Soviet Russian victory in World War II and their loss in World War I.
- When a scene cuts to Moscow: St. Basil's Cathedral and/or the Kremlin will always be seen in the background. In reality, to see both at the same time is only possible from the sole small neighborhood on the Balchug island in Zamoskvorechye, or from the Red Square where both are situated.
- And Moscow will ALWAYS be snowy and cold. Nevermind that in summer, temperatures can rise to +38ºC.note
- Also, every foreigner knows at least one Russian region: Siberia. It's presumably a huge empty place full of pine woods, snow, tribal communities unaware that Czarist Russia is gone, hungry wolves and bears, glaziers, mountains and people working in forced labor in salt mines. If Real Life Siberia has the woods, snow and hundredfold more bears than entire Europe, it's also larger than its fictitious counterpart, it may be thousands of miles to the next human settlement.
- It's also freezing cold. Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk, the coldest towns on earth, are in Siberia. A typical day is subzero.
- Despite this, Southern Siberia is basically a country's grain basket just like the Canada's Prairie Provinces, which are basically its counterpart on the other side of the pond. Its Altai region is also the nation's dairy farm, with up to 50% of Russian cheese and butter produced there.
- To examplify Russia's record as the largest nation of the world characters will travel by Trans Siberian Express spending months on that train,note ideal for developing romances or solving murder mysteries.
- A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Other countries, especially in Europe, still have a centuries old fear and distrust of Russia, mostly fed by the country's largeness. This was then compounded by the fact that it was culturally severed from Europe by the Mongol's for so long left Russia with a distinct legacy of being European, but not quite. It's almost comparable to a huge giant, waiting to strike. This is also where the idea of mysterious Russia comes from. There's so much land, most of it hardly visited by humans, that even Russians themselves have no clue what secrets may be hidden in some of the most remote parts of their own country! Take The Tunguska Event, a mysterious meteorite explosion that took place in 1908. Despite having a huge shockwave and impact that could felt millions of miles away it luckily caused no victims, because it happened to strike in the mostly uninhabitated areas of Siberia.
- If Russia has to be symbolized by an animal it will be a bear.
- When you're in space and you encounter an astronaut who isn't American, it will be a Russian kosmonaut. Russia was the pioneer in space travel and were the first to respectively bring a satellite, an animal and both a human male and a female in outer space. They reached so much progress in such a short notice that even the USA was impressed and felt the urge to rapidly start their own space program.
- Russian athletes will usually be genius chess players or very slender and flexible gymnasts. Other Eastern European countries also fall into this stereotype.
- Their government will usually be injecting doping, hormones or other illegal substances in the athletes' vains to make them stronger. (Was a bit Truth in Television during Communist Russia, but other countries are not shy of doing the same thing, of course. One of the biggest scandals about this took place in East Germany, to start.)
- Russians may also be depicted as virulently anti-Semitic (or sometimes anti-Muslim) due to the historical persecutions of Jews and Muslims in Russia. The word 'pogrom' is even Russian.
- Video game characters from Russia (particularly in beat-em-ups or fighting games) tend to be big, heavy, and powerful Mighty Glaciers, such as Zangief from Street Fighter or the Heavy from Team Fortress 2. See Husky Russkie for more examples.
- Russian men will be named Igor, Vladimir, Nikita, Nicolas, Nikolai, Dmitry, Yuri, Ivan or Boris. Women will be named Nadia, Natalya, Anastasia, Svetlana, Ekatarina, Tatyana, Olga or Valentina.
- Russian diminutives such as Vanya, Anya, Sasha, Tanya, and Natasha are often treated as full names, though this is incorrect. Russian diminutives are used as given names in the US and many European countries (such as Germany, Sweden, Croatia, and Serbia), but not in Russia itself.
- Independent since 1991 and yet, like all other former Russian regions, still thought to be nothing more than a part of Russia.
- Best known for the pop group O-Zone which gave us the 2003 hit song "Dragostea Din Tei" (the "Numa Numa" song).
- People will say "The Ukraine", even though it is simply "Ukraine". Before its independence (1991) it was indeed given the suffix "the", but today this is totally outdated. Still many foreigners think it's part of Russia and that Ukranians speak Russian, which again is totally false — Ukrainian is definitely a language in its own right. Most of them do, though, even the most rabid of the nationalists — it even gets kinda funny when "Moskals to the gallows!" is shouted by guys who cannot connect two words in Ukrainian. The same happens to their capital city, Kiev.
- In Russian culture, Ukrainians are a common object of stereotyping as simple-minded rustic hillbillies. A "typical" Ukrainian wears national (peasant) dress, eats lard and salo (pork fat) in unbelievable amounts, drinks horilka (Ukrainian answer to vodka), speaks in Funetik Aksent and is dim-witted and sly at the same time. Despite being jovial Big Eaters, they are also prone to be stingy and mean ("what I can't eat, I shall bite!").
- All Ukranians enjoy dancing the Hopak, their national folkloric dance, and enjoy painting pysankas, colorfully designed wax-coated Easter eggs.
- Ukrainian girls are uniformly dark-haired, pudgy, gentle and submissive but also slutty. To Americans, Ukraine is the land of beautiful women who want to marry a good man because their own men are misogynistic pigs. Unfortunate Implications abound.
- It should be noted that in Russia Ukranian woman seen as sexy but very greedy, selfish, bitchy and promiscuous. They'll also always attempt to dominate their partner in any relationship. Western stereotype about "gentle and submissive" Ukranian women usually causes Flat "What." reaction.
- They are also stereotyped of being incurably rustic and incapable of sophistication, especially if indeed coming from the country. Even in Ukraine itself a common bon mot says: "You can take the girl out of the village, but you cannot take the village out of the girl". Just as Yanks say about the trailer parks…
- In recent years, Western Ukrainians are stereotyped as rabid nationalists (if not outright Fascists).
- In the same vein, Eastern Ukrainians tend to get the rabble-rousing Dirty Commies treatment. At it's worst, this stereotype surges right into fifth-columnists-for-Russia paranoia.
- The most negative assocation within the country is the nuclear power plant disaster in Chernobyl. Since 1986 the city is now both a Ghost Town Frozen in Time and a paradise for animals and plants who survived the radiation.
- Given the scale of recent events, expect Ukraine to be known for the Euromaidan civil unrests and Russia's response to it above all else for many years to come. Some has already dubbed the resulting civil war the Second Ruin — after the similar civil war that devastated the country in the 17th century.
- Ukranians are often perceived as gloomy people who are always arguing with one another. They're also said to have a loser/martyrdom culture, glorifying their losses and defeats, and generally celebrating being The Woobie, just like the Poles.
- They only speak Russian and nothing else — not actually true; the Ukrainian language does exist and is spoken, though it doesn't stop some from calling it a particularly rustic Russian dialect — which actually was an official position of a Tsarist goverment, Bolsheviks instead turned to develop it into a literary language in its own right. Other languages other than Russian and Ukrainian are also spoken, such as Romanian/Moldovan, Slovak, Polish and Hungarian in the West, and Ukrainian-Russian pidgin called Surzhik on most of the territory.