Thinking about history and geography

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A Changing World


Today communication and travel around the world are easier than at any other time in history. In this chapter you will read about some of the changes that have taken place in this shrinking world. Many of the changes have resulted in more freedom and opportunities. Others have left people struggling to meet challenges.



A Changing Europe

Focus Activity


How has Europe changed with the fall of communism?


• ethnic group

• per capita income

• European Union


Mikhail Gorbachev

Ronald Reagan

Lech Walesa

Boris Yeltsin



Balkan Peninsula

Read Aloud

In February 1989 an East German man was shot and killed trying to escape over the Berlin Wall. Just nine months later, hundreds of East Germans gathered on and around the wall. They were there to celebrate one of the most memorable days in the twentieth century. The Berlin Wall was about to come tumbling down.


By the middle 1980s the Cold War had been going on for about 40 years. During that time the United States and the Soviet Union spent huge amounts of money to develop nuclear weapons.

Each country also spent vast amounts on military struggles. In Chapter 19 you read about United States' efforts to stop the spread of communism in Vietnam. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet Union used its army to crush movements for democracy in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In the 1970s the Soviet Union invaded the South Asian nation of Afghanistan. The fighting in Afghanistan took its toll in many Soviet and Afghan lives and resources.

Problems were also growing within the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries. Government-run businesses could not provide enough food and other goods to meet people's needs. People could not discuss these problems without risking arrest. The communist system was not working well.



President Mikhail Gorbachev (MIHK el GAWR buh chawf) was the first top Soviet leader born and raised in Soviet society. Earlier leaders had been born before the Russian Revolution. Gorbachev's grandfather had been imprisoned as an "enemy of the people." As you read in Chapter 18, Josef Stalin jailed and killed millions in the 1930s.

As a young man Gorbachev studied law in Moscow and gained a position in the Communist party. By 1985 he had become the leader of the Soviet Union. One of his early actions was to point out the country's need for perestroika (per es TROY kuh), or rebuilding the failing Soviet economy. Gorbachev soon concluded however, that perestroika could not succeed without glasnost (GLAS nohst). Glasnost was his new policy of permission to speak freely.

The communist economy was controlled by the government. Workers had almost no voice in planning. There was little reason for them to work hard or carefully. Wages stayed much the same no matter how hard people worked. Some workers joked, "They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work."

Greater Freedom

Gorbachev believed that workers' views would change only when people had the freedom to speak up. He thought they should have some say in their government. Gorbachev said:

Wide, prompt, and frank information is evidence of (the government's] confidence in the people. . . . It enhances the resourcefulness of the working people.

In the new era of glasnost, political prisoners were released. Some religious freedom was also allowed.

Soviet relations with the United States also began to improve. In 1987 Gorbachev signed a treaty with United States President Ronald Reagan. Both countries agreed to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles. The Soviet Union also agreed to begin pulling troops out of its unpopular war with Afghanistan.

Food shortages in the Soviet Union led to long lines for food (left). Such problems caused Mikhail Gorbachev (above) to begin his policy of perestroika.



The ideas of glasnost and perestroika soon spread to neighboring eastern European nations controlled by the Soviet Union. In just one year-1989these movements helped overturn more than 40 years of Communist rule.

Spring Thaw

In January 1989 Hungary planned its own elections. In 1956 a Hungarian revolt for more democracy had resulted in a fierce Soviet crackdown. Now Soviet troops stood by as Hungarians moved towards democracy. In May Hungarians tore down an electric fence separating Hungary from democratic Austria. In the months to come, many eastern Europeans used this hole in the "Iron Curtain" to escape to western Europe.

In Poland a workers' group called Solidarity won recognition from the government in March 1989. Eight years earlier shipworker Lech Walesa (LEK wuh LEN suh) and other Solidarity leaders had been jailed for protesting poor living conditions. Their group had been outlawed and almost disappeared under government pressure. In June 1989, however, the Solidarity party won many seats in both houses of Poland's Parliament.

Season of Fall

Still more changes took place in East Germany in the fall. Thousands of East Germans jammed city squares to demand changes in their government. East Germany's leader, Erich Honecker, ordered the army to break up the crowds. His command, however, was not followed. On October 15 Honecker stepped down. Twenty one days later East Berlin opened its gates to West Berlin.

Lech Walesa (right) helped end communist rule by defending workers' rights. Boris Yeltsin (below) spoke out against the actions of communists in Russia.

Winter's Discontent

The "Year of Miracles," as 1989 has been called, did not end without bloodshed. In November students in Czechoslovakia protested for democracy. When they sang the American civil rights song, "We Shall Overcome," police beat hundreds of the students. By December, however, the communist government had been overthrown. Citizens elected two new leaders. Both had served time in prison for speaking against the communist government. One year later, nearly all of eastern Europe had freed itself of communism.


The Soviet Collapse

After the "Year of Miracles," the Soviet Union also began to change. You read in Chapter 18 that the Soviet Union's full name was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Many different ethnic groups lived in its 15 republics. An ethnic group is a group of people who share a heritage of common customs, values, and language.

In 1990 and 1991, many republics broke away from Soviet control. This began with the republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In 1991 Russia, the biggest republic of all, held a democratic election. The Russians elected Boris Yeltsin to be their president.

These changes angered some Communist leaders. In August 1991 they tried to overthrow Gorbachev and take power themselves, moving tanks into Moscow. Before glasnost, these actions would have terrified citizens. Now, however, the Soviet people rallied behind Yeltsin, who, standing on top of a tank in Moscow, called these acts illegal. Soldiers refused to follow Communist orders. Without force to back them up, the communists had no chance of success. Yeltsin warned them:

You can build a throne of bayonets but you cannot sit on it for very long. There is no return to the past, nor will there be.

Three days after it began, the revolt came to an end. Just as Yeltsin had predicted, there was no returning to the past. One by one Soviet republics declared their independence. In December 1991, Gorbachev stepped down and the Soviet Union ceased to exist. In its place stood 15 independent republics. Find these new nations on the map.


Many of the republics that once made up the Soviet Union are now independent nations.

1. Which is the largest of these nations?

2. What is the capital of Ukraine?

3. Of which nation is Minsk the capital?

4. Which countries shown only have access to the Black Sea?



There was much to cheer about as the Soviet Union broke apart. The Cold War had ended and the countries of the Warsaw Pact were turning toward democracy. Democracy and free enterprise had won the conflict with communism. Yet now there was much to worry about. Conflicts over nationalism and ethnic differences had replaced Cold War tensions.

Local Wars

One conflict resulting from these differences has involved the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan (ah zur bi JAHN). Armenia, mostly Christian, and Azerbaijan, mostly Muslim, fought a war over territory in 1993. Thousands of people left their homes as the borders shifted during the fighting.

Another place torn apart by war is the area that made up Yugoslavia until 1991. The area is part of the Balkan Peninsula, which has had a long history of ethnic and religious conflict. In 1991 Yugoslavia began to break apart. By 1992, the country had split into five separate republics. One of these republics is still called Yugoslavia. It includes Serbia and Montenegro. The other republics are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia. Find the republics on the map.

Since this breakup, many ethnic conflicts have flared in the republics. A civil war began in 1991 in Croatia between two ethnic groups, Croats and Serbs. Some of the worst fighting began in 1992 in the tiny country of Bosnia. There Bosnian Serbs, who are Orthodox Christians, and the mostly Muslim government battled for control. The fighting has had terrible effects for every group involved. Cities and towns have been destroyed. Thousands of people have been killed or forced to flee. In 1995, however, the region's leaders signed a peace agreement. Today this agreement helps to maintain some peace in the area.

The war in Bosnia has left thousands of people homeless and hungry. Many refugees have fled areas of heavy fighting.



Today the many nations of Europe are working toward greater cooperation and an end to ethnic conflicts.

1. Which nations border Slovakia?

2. What is the capital of Finland?

3. Which sea is located off the east coast of the United Kingdom?

Life after Communism

Conflicts such as the one in Bosnia are among the toughest that European leaders face today. How far should nations go to help their neighbors? Ethnic conflicts in Europe and the debate over how to deal with them threaten to continue in the future. The issue is made more complicated by the reality of nuclear weapons. How can leaders be kept from using these weapons, left from the Cold War, if war breaks out?

Another concern for Europe is the continued struggle of eastern European economies. Years of communist rule left many old factories in need of complete rebuilding. Pollution from uncontrolled industry needs to be cleaned up. Costly rebuilding and repair efforts are moving along slowly, though. Today there is still a huge gap between the nations of western and eastern Europe in per capita income. Per capita income is the amount of money each person of a country would have if that country's total income were divided equally among its people. Look at the Info-graphic on page 602 to learn more about economies in Europe.

In 1995 the most powerful organization in Europe; the European Union (EU), agreed to consider allowing eastern European nations to join. The EU is a group of western European nations working to build a common economy throughout Europe. The EU has already broken down many barriers to trade and movement in western Europe. For example, cars and trucks can now travel freely between the nations of western Europe. German students can apply to British or French universities as easily as to colleges in their hometowns.



Economy of Europe

New businesses and methods of agriculture have strengthened the economies of many nations in Europe. Look at the graph to see the gross domestic product of five European nations. Remember the GDP is the total value of goods and services produced in one year. Which is highest?

With 8.8 million people, Moscow is Europe's largest city and an important Russian economic center.

Coal (above) is an important natural resource for many European countries. It is used for heating and by industries. Cheese from Switzerland (below) is among many products of Europe's vast and profitable agriculture industry.



The EU's pledge to help its eastern neighbors has led many to believe that all of Europe might someday be united. Supporters see much to be gained from strong bonds between European countries. Former enemies like France and Germany have become close partners through the EU. An economic alliance with Western Europe could help the countries of Eastern Europe solve some of their economic problems.

Peace and prosperity in Eastern Europe also depends on its relationship with the rest of the world. In March of 1997 Yeltsin met with United States' President Bill Clinton in Helsinki, Fin- land. There they signed an agreement aimed at improving Russian economic growth and helping Russia join the global economy. Many people feel that agreements such as this are a positive step into the twenty-first century.


The European Union

What does the European Union do?

The European Union distributes funds collected from its member states to improve the economies of Europe. In 1996 the European Union committed 48% of its budget, amounting to $52 billion, to various agriculture programs. The European Union also helps develop poor areas of Europe, funds research and environmental programs, and assists the restructuring of Eastern European countries.

Find out how EU programs are helping the development of Europe today. Use current newspapers or the Internet in your research. Write a paragraph describing the effects of these programs.

Reviewing Facts and Ideas


• Mikhail Gorbachev's program of glasnost sparked pro-democracy movements in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe in the late 1980s.

• Communist governments throughout eastern Europe fell in 1989, called the "Year of Miracles."

• The Cold War ended when the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991. How- ever, new conflicts rooted in national, ethnic, and religious differences arose in Europe.

• The European Union has created a strong partnership between many European nations.


1. Why has 1989 been called a "Year of Miracles" in Europe?

2. What problems and conflicts have arisen in the Soviet Union and the nations of eastern Europe since the fall of communism?

3. FOCUS What are some of the challenges that Europe faces since the Cold War has ended?

4. THINKING SKILL Make Conclusions about how ordinary people brought about the end of the Cold War.

5. WRITE Use what you have learned about European history this year to explain why the European Union can be called a bold experiment in the continent's history.


Thinking Skills

Evaluating Information for Accuracy





In the last lesson you read about the civil war that is raging in Bosnia. Like most historical events, this conflict is complicated and difficult to understand. Many people have said many different things about this war. How will you know which information regarding this issue is accurate?

Being able to evaluate the accuracy of information is crucial to understanding history. To evaluate means to judge something. Accuracy refers to the truth of a statement. When we evaluate information for accuracy, we make a judgment about whether the information is true.

Historians constantly evaluate information for accuracy. "History," in fact, is always an interpretation based on the most accurate information available.

The skill of evaluating information for accuracy combines some of the Thinking Skills presented in this book. For example, you must determine the credibility of the source. To do this, you must also determine the author's point of view. Other Thinking Skills are called on as well, such as comparing information between different sources and distinguishing facts from opinions. You might want to review these skills before going on.


Read these excerpts regarding Bosnia's civil war. Bosnia used to be part of Yugoslavia, but became a republic when Yugoslavia split apart in 1992. Since the Cold War had ended, ethnic differences had caused much tension in the area. The civil war in Bosnia resulted mainly from tensions between two groups, the Bosnian Serbs and the primarily Muslim government. As you read, consider the following questions: What are the points of view of the authors? Does the author have a reason to portray information inaccurately? Does the source have a reputation for being accurate? Does the information agree with information from other sources? Is the information fact or opinion?

Hundreds of thousands of Serbs have been killed for no reason.

from a Serbian Soldier

More than 17,000 have been killed and 110,000 wounded [in Sarajevo].


About 130,000 people in Sarajevo have been killed or injured, including children and women.

from an international news bulletin


How can you determine the accuracy of each piece of information? First, determine the points of view of the authors. The first excerpt is from someone directly involved in the fighting. As a result, he might tend to give less than accurate information so that others would favor his side of the conflict.

Next, determine if the source has a reputation for being accurate and if the information agrees with other credible sources. Only the last two excerpts are from sources that would seem to have a reputation for accuracy. Furthermore, only these two sources agree on the number of people killed and injured in Sarajevo.

Finally, determine if the information presented is fact or opinion. The last two excerpts present only solid facts that can be proven. The first excerpt is mainly an opinion.

Considering all these factors, we can conclude that the second and third excerpts probably contain more accurate information than the first.

Helping Yourself

• Evaluating for accuracy determines which statements can be considered true.

• Determine the author's point of view.

• Analyze the credibility of the source.

• Compare the source to other credible sources.

• Identify facts and opinions.

• Evaluate for accuracy.


Now evaluate the accuracy of this information. Its teenage author, Zlata Filipovic, lived her whole life in Sarajevo until the war forced her and her family to leave. In May 1993 she wrote in her diary:

I have another sad piece of news for you. A boy in my drama club got killed! . . A shell fell in front of the community center and a horrible piece of shrapnel [metal] killed him. His name was Eldin and he was a refugee from Grbavica.

Another innocent victim of this disgusting war, another child among thousands of other children killed in Sarajevo. I feel so sorry, he was a sweet, good boy.

Does the author have a reason to give inaccurate information? Does she provide information that agrees with excerpts from the previous page? What information does she give that is fact? What is opinion? How accurate do think this information is?


1. Why is it important to evaluate information for accuracy? How can you do so?

2. How did you determine the accuracy of the information in Zlata Filipovic's statement?

3. How does this skill combine other Thinking Skills you learned about earlier in the book?

4. How can the ability to evaluate information for accuracy help you in your own life?



A Changing Africa

Focus Activity


What did South Africans do to achieve democracy?


• apartheid

• township

• sanction


• Nelson Mandela

• Frederik Willem de Klerk


• Cape Town

• Soweto

• Johannesburg

Read Aloud

"When I walked to the voting station, my mind dwelt on the heroes who had fallen so that I might be where I was that day, the men and women who had made the ultimate sacrifice for a cause that was now finally succeeding.... I did not go into that voting station alone on April 27 [1994]; I was casting my vote with all of them."

Nelson Mandela wrote these words in his auto-biography. Mandela and millions of other South Africans had finally voted in their nation's first democratic election.


Democracy once seemed like a dream in South Africa. Europeans had ruled much of South Africa since the 1700s. Dutch settlers formed a colony at Cal Town. Find Cape Town on the map on page 607 Their descendants are called Afrikaners. Afrikaners make up 60 percent of South Africa's white population today. However, whites are only about 19 percent of the population. Most of the people are black.

The British took control from the Dutch in 1814. By 1900 Britain had established rule over all of South Africa. A large European population lived in the colony. When South Africa won full independence from Britain in 1961, the white minority continued to rule. Blacks like Nelson Mandela faced a future without freedom or a voice in government.



More than 50 nations are found on the continent of Africa today.

1. What is the capital of Gabon?

2. Which nations border Sudan to the east?

3. Which country has access to two seas shown on the map?


Even after independence, blacks did not gain many rights or freedoms. They could not vote, own land, or move freely in the country. In 1948 white leaders created a system of laws called apartheid (uh PAHR tid). In the Afrikaans (af ri KAHNZ) language spoken by Afrikaners, apartheid means "apartness."

Under apartheid, millions of blacks were forced to give up their land to whites and live in townships, crowded areas for blacks in or near cities. Blacks and other nonwhites could not live or go to school in white neighborhoods. Township schools and services were of poor quality. In some cases, these services did not exist.



The South African police often used force to uphold apartheid. The threat of violence did not stop many black South Africans from protesting, however. An important leader in the fight to end apartheid was lawyer Nelson Mandela. In 1960 the government banned Mandela's group, the African National Congress (ANC), along with other protest organizations. Four years later Mandela was accused of planning to destroy the government. He was put on trial and sentenced to life in jail. Before Mandela was put in jail he declared:

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Nelson Mandela was kept in prison for 27 years.

Thousands of blacks in South Africa took part in protests against apartheid. The police often acted with violence to end protests.

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