Take a look at the history of Eastern Europe for your next research paper

Good research topics can be hard to find. Those studying the history of Europe often focus on the ancient history of Greece and Rome. Or they review the western countries of France, England, Spain and Germany. But if you’re looking for unique research paper ideas then think about Eastern Europe.

Prague, a beautiful area of Eastern Europe. (Credit: Travel55)

Prague, a beautiful area of Eastern Europe. (Credit: Travel55)

This area of the world includes the countries of Russia, Hungary and Poland among others. You’ll find exciting events and interesting people in your focus on Eastern Europe.

Countries of Eastern Europe

What countries comprise Eastern Europe? The Moffitt Library at the University of Berkeley in California created a resource page with info and links to resources.

The Moffitt Library’s list of Eastern European countries includes:

  • Armenia
  • Albania/Bosnia/Herzegovina
  • Croatia/Serbia/Yugoslavia
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russia/Soviet Union/Belarus/Moldova

When you’re doing your online searches for information on Eastern Europe, good keywords to try would include:

  • Iron curtain
  • Balkan wars
  • Bohemia
  • Polish Solidarity Movement

Key figures in the history of Eastern Europe include:

  • Lech Walesa
  • Vaclav Havel
  • Eduard Benes

When narrowing the focus of your research paper, you might want to start with a country, then choose a time period and then focus on a key figure or political movement that was important in that time period.

Eastern Europe: The other Europe

Resources on Eastern European history can be hard to find so a good place to start is Questia. You’ll find millions of full-text books, articles, newspapers, magazines and encyclopedias.

Within the category of Eastern European history are many books and articles including The Other Europe: Eastern Europe to 1945 by E. Garrison Walters.

Early in the book Walters explains why there is a difference between Eastern and Western Europe. The two regions developed both politically and economically on different timelines with the West taking the lead.

Factors that affected development of the two regions included:

  • Geography and climate: the west tends to be warmer and has more precipitation than the east and is more favorable to agricultural development.
  • Access to waterways: the West has seacoasts and many navigable rivers whereas the East suffers from severe ice in the winter. Waterways are important in economic development because of the ability to transport goods.
  • The presence of natural, easily defensible boundaries: the East was hampered in its development by the many invasions from Mongols and Turks. In the West the development of the feudal system made it possible to defeat the Viking invaders.

According to Walters, “The new society in the west took full advantage of Western Europe’s natural geographical advantages. Secure frontiers permitted cultivation that was both more extensive and more intensive than in the east and in a more favorable climate. “


Resources to help you create your research paper on the history and culture of Eastern Europe:

  • Library of Congress: Search by region or country to locate resources in text and audio formats. You’ll find artwork and photos too that can be used to augment your research paper.
  • Eurasianet [www.eurasianet.org/]: Information and analysis about political, economic, environmental and social developments in the countries of Central Asia including: Ukraine, Moldova, Turkey and Southwest Asia.
  • CNN European edition [edition.cnn.com/WORLD/europe/archive/]: News stories from Europe and Russia.
  • Nations Online [www.nationsonline.org]: This site offers information, statistics, maps and flags from countries around the world. Check out the section on Europe to find links to information on the countries of Eastern Europe.
  • Wall Street Journal blog [blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/]: Emerging Europe is a blog with timely posts about events in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Turkey.

Now that you’ve done your homework on Eastern Europe, try a quiz just for fun. Take the “Quiz: how well do you know eastern Europe?” from TheGuardian.com.

Learn more about East European history at Questia.

Who is your favorite person from Eastern European history? Tell us in the comments.

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