The Radiance of Europe

Awesome Austria

Saint Anton in the Tyrol, Austria, is a Ski-Resort
Saint Anton in the Tyrol, Austria, is a Ski-Resort

Austria, like Czechoslovakia, was a part of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire before becoming an independent state after World War I in 1918. Austria was divided into four occupied zones at the end of WWII (Great Britain, America, France, and Russia), and regained independence in 1955. Vienna, the capital, has always been a cultural hotspot, particularly for music, particularly Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Mahler. When you look at the map, you'll notice that it shares borders with a lot of other countries, including Czechoslovakia, Italy, Hungary, Germany, and Switzerland. Despite its small population, the country is very mountainous, with little flat land for settlement and difficult communications. Agriculture is the main source of income, with crops and livestock being produced, as well as vineyards. Timber accounts for 38% of Austria's land area and is a valuable source of wealth. Heavy industries are also centred on the iron ore deposits and oil deposits found in Eastern Austria. In the mountains, hydroelectric power is being developed. Following WWII, the countries of Eastern Europe became associated with and dependent on the Soviet Union. In recent years, these ties have loosened; in fact, countries like Yugoslavia, despite being communist, are completely self-sufficient.


Cheerful Czechoslovakia

A large steelworks in Czechoslovakia
A large steelworks in Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia is surrounded by Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Poland in the heart of Europe. Invaded by Hitler in 1938 and 1939, the state established in 1918 was occupied for the duration of the war. As a result, the country suffered significant hardship and was on the verge of economic collapse by the end of the war. To establish a Communist economy, the postwar Communist government implemented a series of five-year plans. During the 1960s, strict controls over action and speech began to erode, and in January 1968, reform pressures led to the removal of Communist Party Secretary Novotny, who was replaced by the moderate Alexander Dubcek, who began enacting new laws to ensure greater democracy and freedom of action. However, fearing retaliation from other Communist countries, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia with Soviet, Polish, East German, Hungarian, and Bulgarian troops, forcing the Czech leaders to return to a hardline policy and abandoning the new reforms. Czechoslovakia is now divided into the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic, each with its own government reporting to the National Council, the legislative body. From the ages of six to fifteen, education is compulsory; basic five-year schools educate nearly two million children, with another million attending secondary and technical schools, out of a total population of nearly fourteen million. In Czechoslovakia, there are six universities that are free and open to everyone. The oldest of them is Prague's Charles University, which was founded in 1348; there are also numerous other institutions with university status and nearly a hundred thousand students. Agriculture is one of the most common occupations in Czechoslovakia, and the country's numerous colleges educate farm workers in modern production methods.


Happily Hungary

A Hungarian peasant farm
A Hungarian peasant farm
Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to World War I. It became a kingdom in 1920, then a republic dominated by the Soviet Union after WWII. Hungary has become more self-sufficient and independent in recent years. Hungary, like Czechoslovakia, attempted to break away from the Soviet Union's hard-line policy in 1956, but the uprising was crushed by Soviet troops. Hungary is primarily an agricultural country, as are most Eastern European countries, but it is working hard to improve its heavy industry. It has coal and bauxite deposits, which is the ore from which aluminium is extracted. Budapest, the capital, is one of Europe's most beautiful cities. It is divided into two cities by the Danube: Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank. It is Hungary's main trading centre, with industries such as chemicals, textiles, and machine tools operating there.


Radiance of Romania

A peasant farmer and his family going to market in Romania
Romania derives its name from the word 'Roman,' and much of the country was once divided into Roman provinces. Until 1866, Turkey ruled over the majority of what is now Romania. In 1878, it became an independent kingdom. Transylvania was taken from Hungary and given to Romania after the First World War, greatly expanding the country's size. The country was no longer a kingdom after WWII, and it became a Communist republic. Bessarabia and North Buko-vina, which had been part of Romania since the end of the First World War, were given to the Soviet Union. Romania has some of the world's richest grain-growing districts, and on the lower slopes of the Carpathians, a diverse range of fruit crops are grown. Gold, mica, natural gas, and petroleum are also abundant in the country, particularly at the Ploesti oil wells. A large area of forest, which supports a thriving timber industry, is another valuable asset.


Gorgeous Greece

Ancient Greek Monuments
Ancient Greek Monuments
The majority of Greeks today are peasant farmers who grow and export tobacco and fruits; currants are named after Corinth, the city where they were first grown. Thousands of tourists visit Greece each year to see its magnificent antiquities, particularly in Athens, the capital, whose people gave the world the concept of democracy. There are also many islands for tourists to enjoy, particularly Rhodes and Crete. Because of the Greeks' contribution to western civilization, it may be beneficial to learn about their history. The Greeks were divided into three major races in ancient times: Ionians, Aeolians, and Dorians. The Ionians of Asia Minor were the ones who pioneered Greek science, literature, and art. By 700 BC, Greek trade was thriving, and the city of Athens became the epicentre of Greek culture, influencing European civilization for the rest of time. Under the leadership of Darius and Xerxes, the Persians attempted but failed to conquer Greece. Following repeated Persian attacks, the city states of Greece formed a confederation, which led to the establishment of the Athenian Empire under the leadership of Pericles. However, Athens and her rival Sparta went to war. The Peloponnesian War took place between 431 and 401 BC. Following the war, Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great, rose to power and ruled not only Greece but a vast empire that stretched all the way to India. After Alexander's death, the Empire did not last long, and Greece was conquered by Rome in 146 BC. After the fall of Rome, the Goths and Vandals invaded Greece, followed by the Slavs in the sixth century. Greece was a part of the Byzantine Empire until the thirteenth century, when the Turks conquered the country in 1460. It was under their control until 1821. The Greeks rose up in revolt against the Turks in that year, but Greece did not gain complete independence until 1830. After her liberation, Greece became a monarchy, despite the fact that some Greeks desired a republic, which later resulted in unrest and discontent. Invasion of Greece by Italy in 194I resulted in Greece joining the Allies. Civil war erupted in the country after the war ended, exacerbating the people's suffering. Greece was able to gradually recover and rebuild the country. In 1967, the king went into exile, and the country was declared a republic in 1973. A referendum on the restoration of the monarchy was held in 1975, but a large majority voted to keep the country as a republic.

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