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Eastern Europe is formed by countries with dominant Eastern Orthodox churches, like Belarus, Bulgaria, Greece, Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine for instance.The schism is the break of communion and theology between what are now the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman Catholic from the 11th century, as well as from the 16th century also Protestant) churches.The earliest known distinctions between east and west in Europe originate in the history of the Roman Republic.As the Roman domain expanded, a cultural and linguistic division appeared between the mainly Greek-speaking eastern provinces which had formed the highly urbanized Hellenistic civilization.There are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region".One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural entity: the region lying in Europe with the main characteristics consisting of Greek, Byzantine, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, and some Ottoman culture influences.Estonia and Slovenia have the highest average wage in this region.
Since the Great Schism of 1054, Europe has been divided between Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in the West, and the Eastern Orthodox Christian (many times incorrectly labeled "Greek Orthodox") churches in the east.
Ancient kingdoms of the region included Orontid Armenia Albania, Colchis and Iberia (not to be confused with the people of Iberian Peninsula in Western Europe).
These kingdoms were either from the start, or later on incorporated into various Iranian empires, including the Achaemenid Persian, Parthian, and Sassanid Persian Empires.
Due to this religious cleavage, Eastern Orthodox countries are often associated with Eastern Europe.
A cleavage of this sort is, however, often problematic; for example, Greece is overwhelmingly Orthodox, but is very rarely included in "Eastern Europe", for a variety of reasons, the most prominent being that Greece's history, for the most part, was more so influenced by Mediterranean cultures and contact.
The Northern Future Forum, the Nordic Investment Bank and Nordic Battlegroup are other examples of Northern European cooperation that includes the three Baltic states that make up the Baltic Assembly.