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The Eastern Bloc — also known as the Communist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc — were the European communist nations during the Cold War. It is often confused with eastern Europe (geographical term), where the USSR was located, hence the vague and incorrect term Eastern Europe came to usage. Eastern Bloc consisted of countries of eastern Europe and allied countries of central Europe, the Balkans, as well as the Baltic states in the crossroads of central and northern Europe that were once under the domination of the Soviet Union. All of these nations were governed by communist totalitarian dictatorships.
The Soviets had little trouble establishing dominance over these nations, having invaded them at the end of World War II in pursuit of the retreating armies of Nazi Germany, then stuck around for decades after the war ended.
1945 - 1989/90
Northern central European countries absorbed
The Baltic States, which were independent between World War I and its sequel, were absorbed into the Soviet Union after WWII and were therefore not really part of the Bloc:
Countries that don't fit anywhere else on this scheme
- China broke away from the USSR's influence after the Sino-Soviet Split resulting from Stalin's death and the policies of his successor Kruschev. At the same time the Cold War was going on, the Communist world was having a cold war of its own.
- Cuba was obviously under the influence of the Soviet Union. North Korea as well. Both countries' economies took a turn for the worse after the collapse of the USSR, resulting in their main trading partner suddenly vanishing overnight and the subsequent result of a significant amount of trade that kept the Cuban and North Korean economies afloat.
- Vietnam ended up siding with the Soviets against the Chinese.
- The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia were propped up by the Chinese, although the Vietnamese took them down a notch and overthrew their horrendous regime.
- The Soviets also had several puppet regimes established in Africa during this time as well, although these African puppet states would only last barely over a decade each before succumbing to internal troubles.
Nations that became autonomous
Two other nations were originally aligned with the Bloc, but later established their autonomy:
- Albania (autonomous after 1960)
- Yugoslavia (autonomous after 1948)