31Historical OverviewBy 4000 B.C., people living on the steppes of present-day Russia and Ukraine first domesticated horses.Many peoples invaded and settled in the region, and missionaries won converts to Christianity and Islam.The region came to be dominated by Poland and Lithuania, the Ottoman Empire, the Austrian Empire, and Russia.The Russian Empire was overthrown in 1918 and replaced with the Soviet Union, which adopted communism and dominated Eastern Europe until it broke up in 1991.
5Physical Characteristics 2Physical CharacteristicsCentral Europe and Northern Eurasia form a huge region with many nations.Some geographers contend the Ural mountains in Russia mark the boundary between Europe and Asia, while others suggest that Europe and Asia should be considered a single continent called Eurasia.The region is flat in the west and rises toward the east and south.
7Much of the region lies in cooler climate regions. 3ClimateMuch of the region lies in cooler climate regions.Subarctic and Tundra stretch across much of Russia.Humid Continental covers much of the south and west.Semiarid lies along the Black and Caspian seas.Several climate zones extend over the Balkans and along the western border of the region.
9Tundra, taiga, and steppe are the most extensive ecosystems. 4EcosystemsTundra, taiga, and steppe are the most extensive ecosystems.Tundra and coniferous forest extend across northern Russia.Mixed forest covers much of the western parts of the region.Temperate grassland stretches from the Black Sea coast east along much of the southern border of Russia.
105People and CulturesWith few natural barriers, easy migration has led to most nations of the region being multiethnic.Orthodox Christianity has been important in Central Europe for centuries.Central Europe and Northern Eurasia are home to dozens of ethnic groups, groups of people who share such things as culture, language, and religion.Many cities in the region show a mixture of traditional architecture and modern businesses.
11Economies, Technology, and Environment 6Economies, Technology, and Environment
12Economies, Technology, and Environment 6Economies, Technology, and EnvironmentSince the late 1980s, economies of the region have moved from communism to some form of capitalism.Women make up more than 50 percent of the workforce in Russia.Manufacturing and trade are based in the western parts of the region, where industry has contributed to acid rain.Commercial farming is important to the southern and western parts of the region.
137DatabaseIn Poland, high-quality medical care is free for most people, and life expectancy is fairly high.Romania has a relatively weak health care system, and high pollution contributes to health problems and a low life expectancy.The health care system in Russia is underfunded and in crisis, with medicine and medical equipment in short supply.The nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986 continues to pose serious health threats to many Ukrainians.