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During the Cold War, Western Europe was mainly a socio-political concept and meant the European countries of the First World. It was distinguished from Eastern Europe by differences of economics, politics, and religion rather than by clear geography.
Today, the term Western Europe has less to do with geography and more to do with economics. The concept is also commonly associated with liberal democracy, capitalism and also with the European Union. Most of the countries in the region share Western culture, and many have economic, and political ties with countries in North and South America and Oceania. In addition, Scandinavia (in Northern Europe) is commonly associated with social democracy and remains fairly neutral throughout international disputes.