The Impact of 20th Century Wars on the Geography of Modern Europe
War in Europe in the past centuries was almost a daily event. It was caused by various reasons both political and religious and as a result, wars and conflict had a great impact on the history of Europe. The wars that were said to have had a great impact on the continent are the twentieth century wars, in this century some of the world’s greatest battles known to man, were fought these included the first world war and the second world war. As a result of these wars, and the cold war that followed a few years later, there were great changes in the geography of Europe.
The world wars resulted in a number of changes in the physical geography of European countries. At the end of World War 1 for example, Austria- Hungary, one of the countries directly involved in the war was dissolved to create Czechoslovakia and at the end of World War 2, the country was separated to from the two sovereign states, Czech Republic and Slovakia. With the fall in some of the European empires, other states arose such as Yugoslavia and Poland.
The conflicts occurring in the twentieth century had major effects on the economy of European countries. The First and Second World Wars led to economic depletion due to the many resources that were used up in the war. Lots of money was spent in the acquisition of firearms and as the war, continued trade was rendered impossible leading to economic strain in most of the European countries. In 1957, a few years after the end of WW2, European Economic Community was created to promote economic recovery.
Cold war on the other hand led to the spread of capitalism and communism in that, countries that were aligned with U.S.A such as Ireland, France and the U.K adopted capitalism while those aligned with the Soviet Union such as Bulgaria adopted communism leading to the formation of COMECON (Johnson and Parta, 259)
At the end of the First World War, the U.S.A emerged as a superpower. The League of Nations was also created to maintain worldwide peace but with the failure of the League of Nations, the Second World War broke out. After the Second World War, the U.N.O, later U.N, was created to replace the League of Nations and Israel was created. Europe was divided into the Eastern and Western Blocks that were aligned to the U.S.S.R and U.S.A respectively and this led to the emergence of the cold war. (Hudman and Jackson, 2003)
Population and Cultural Geography
Both the first and second World wars led to a decline in the number of people due to the death of millions of people. It is estimated that about 60 million deaths occurred in World War 1 alone. Before World War 2, it is believed that there were many and marriages in Europe leading to a higher population but with the war, there was a massive population decrease (May, 285), with more than 10 million civilians murdered in Europe alone. (Kesternich, Bettina, Siflinger, Smith and Winter, 2). The war also led to resettlement and can be said to be the cause of the division in Ukraine in that the Eastern side relates more to Russia and even speak Russian as their first language.
These conflicts also lead to changes in the cultures of many communities. There was a great influx of American culture in most European countries leading to the erosion of some of their culture. This was encouraged since the U.S.A government offered support to the distribution of such abroad.
Hudman, Lloyd. & Richard, Jackson. Geography of Travel & Tourism. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson, 2003. Print.
Johnson, Rose. & Parta, Eugene. Cold War Broadcasting: Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe: a Collection of Studies and Documents. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2010. Print.
Kesternich. Iris, Siﬂinger Bettina, Smith. James,Winter. Joachim, The Effects of World War II onEconomic and Health Outcomes across Europe. Extracted from http://ftp.iza.org/dp6296.pdf