The Differences Between East and West in Europe Through Maps
We can look at Europe as divided into two distinct parts. Its western, more developed part, and its Eastern, less developed one. The reasons for this can trace their origins way back into history. For starters, the West is far less accessible, since it has the Atlantic Ocean “watching its back”, while the East is exposed on both fronts. Moreover, since the West has access to the ocean, it gave it the opportunity to sail all around the world, and in a sense, conquer it.
But up until the Industrial Revolution starting in the second half of the 18th century, pretty much anyone around the world, with very few exceptions, were equally poor, trying to scrape a living on whatever piece of land they had at their disposal. If we were to take an ancient Roman, living around the time of Julius Caesar, and place him somewhere in rural England at the beginning of the 1700’s, with the exception of the language, he would fit right in.
But after the discovery of the steam engine and the start of the machine age, the world changed beyond recognition. But not the entire world changed at the same pace. Like ripples in a pond, the world began to evolve economically, staring from England, it’s predominantly English speaking colonies (mainly the US and Australia), western Europe and beyond. This is where the divide between the East and West truly began to take shape and look like it does today.
And then there was WWII, its aftermath, and the subsequent Iron Curtain than engulfed Eastern Europe. Isolated from the free market, the region fell behind even further. Below, we’ll be presenting you a series of maps, showing what and how the continent became as it is today; economically divided.
This map above makes a somewhat clear correlation between the moment each country passed passed the $2,000 GDP per capita, and the relative time they came in contact with the revolutionary new technology that would change the world forever; the steam engine.
The colours in the map indicate the estimated population changes between 1990 (the year of unification) and 2015 (based on SEDAC population estimates). The colour shows the expected change in 2015 compared to the year 1990. This is the result of a coupling effect between internal migration to the more prosperous west, and a demographic trend towards an ageing population. Leveling the economic and demographic distribution of the country is still a huge challenge for Germany.