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One of the most populated regions in Europe as well as one of the most highly developed and educated regions of the world, Central Europe overlaps Western, Southern and Eastern Europe. Unlike the other regions in Europe, Central Europe is not a physical geographical entity, but a ideological group of countries sharing common cultural, historic and social identity. Most of the countries in this region fall into either Western or Eastern Europe in a geopolitical definition with Slovenia falling into Southern Europe, but tend to differ a lot culturally from the rest of those regions, have their own separate cultural identities and dislike being associated with those regions (the Czechs in particular hate being called Eastern Europeans).
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There are issues regarding how to name and define Central Europe, with definitions tending to differ depending on nationality and historical perspective, but the countries generally regarded to compose Central Europe (seen in the picture above) are Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. Some definitions also include Croatia and/or Serbia, and while the Benelux and Baltic countries are typically considered purely Western and Northern European countries respectively, they are occasionally mentioned in the Central European context due to cultural, historical and linguistic ties. Parts of Italy, Ukraine and Romania can also be considered Central European.

Central Europe was one of the first regions to industrialize in the 1870's, with Germany in particular coming into prominence as a large scientific, political and economic power, eventually uniting the region under the Central Powers into one of the richest and most powerful empires and nation-states on earth. However, calamity would soon strike, resulting in the worst war the world has ever seen and the region would be devastated with millions killed, colossal destruction that took decades to recover from and the world still hasn't fully recovered from, and the view of War Is Glorious forever being shattered.

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Austria-Hungary would split up after the war, the whole landmass of Central Europe needed to be redrawn on the map, and Germany's recovery would be stifled under big political screw-ups by the United States, United Kingdom and France like Article 231 and the Treaty of Versailles, building up political resentment, plus The Great Depression coming into play. Eventually, a certain Austrian and his political party would come into power in Germany, unleashing a whole new horror onto the world, starting another horrible global conflict that would have consequences for decades to come, and committing one of the greatest atrocities in the history of mankind.

After the end of World War II and at the beginning of the Cold War, Germany was split into West Germany by the United States, United Kingdom and France, and East Germany by the Soviet Union, with the Berlin Wall separating the two countries. The region was then divided in two, with West Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein being allied with or at least neutral to the United States under NATO, while East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary were allied to the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia until June 25, 1991, and was neutral to both sides. The Berlin Wall would eventually fall in November 1989, reuniting Germany under the West German government, the Warsaw Pact dissolved in July 1st, 1991, and the Soviet Union collapsed in December 26, 1991, finally ending the Cold War and reuniting the region.

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While the region may be very wealthy and educated, there are still many problems with it, including high disparities with regard to income for the economy, the former Warsaw Pact countries running into problems recovering from the Soviet rule, and the return of nationalism and populism, with Hungary and Poland in particular falling hard under it and electing authoritarian leaders to rule them. The refugee crisis of the Syrian Civil War is definitely not helping things, either, with most refugees moving into Central Europe in particular and many of the countries there being unable to support them properly.

Countries

Capital and Largest City: Vienna
Capital and Largest City: Prague
Capital and Largest City: Berlin
Capital and Largest City: Budapest
Capital: Vaduz
Largest City: Schaan
Capital and Largest City: Warsaw
Capital and Largest City: Bratislava
Capital and Largest City: Ljubljana
Capital: None (de jure), Bern (de facto)
Largest City: Zürich

See also

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