Eastern Europe is a region lying in the Eastern part of Europe. The term is highly context-dependent and even volatile, as there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region". A related UN paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and cultural construct".
One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural (and econo-cultural) entity: the region lying between Central Europe and Western Asia, with main characteristics consisting in Byzantine, Orthodox and limited Ottoman influences. Western advocates of this view include the OECD, the World Bank, and US VP Joe Biden.
Another definition, considered outdated by an increasing number of authors, was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly Communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. These are also described as the constituents of Central and Eastern Europe.
Several definitions of Eastern Europe exist today, but they often lack precision or are extremely general. These definitions vary both across cultures and among experts, even political scientists, recently becoming more and more imprecise.
- The United Nations Statistics Division developed a selection of geographical regions and groupings of countries and areas, which are or may be used in compilation of statistics. In this collection, the following ten countries were classified as Eastern Europe: Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine. The assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories by the United Nations. Rather than being geographically correct, United Nations' definition encompasses all the states which were once under the Soviet Union's realm of influence and were part of the Warsaw Pact.
- The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) was set up to consider the technical problems of domestic standardization of geographical names. The Group is composed of experts from various linguistic/geographical divisions that have been established at the UN Conferences on the Standardization of Geographical Names.
- Eastern Europe, Northern and Central Asia Division: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Uzbekistan.
- East Central and South-East Europe Division:Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine.
- Romano-Hellenic Division: Fourteen countries including Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Holy See, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Romania, Moldova and Turkey.
- Baltic Division: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
The CIA World Factbook describes the following countries as geographically located in:
- Central Europe: Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia
- Eastern Europe: Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine
- Southeastern Europe: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey
- Russia is defined as a transcontinental country.