The Cold War has provided many opportunities for viewing historic sites, and while not all of these sites are remembered for good reasons, they are very interesting to travellers.
The Cold War began in 1945 at the conclusion of World War II (World War II in Europe and the Pacific War) and continued until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, leaving the United States standing as the world's sole superpower. It was a key period in modern history, because it occurred primarily due to rivalries between capitalist and communist societies, and was also a power struggle between the world's superpowers of the Soviet Union and the United States. While there are still communist countries as of 2019, most of them are only communist in name but capitalist in practice, and generally, it is considered that capitalism won the war.
During the Cold War, the border between the capitalist and communist parts of Europe was known as the Iron Curtain. While the two superpowers never went to war with each other, both sides were often indirectly involved in various proxy wars through their respective allies.
However, in many ways, the Cold War is a very present thing. North Korea remains a communist country, and China is politically quite similar, though it has adopted a capitalist economic system since 1978. Who knows what places may become historic sites one day.
The use of the terms "first world" and "third world" to refer to developed and developing countries respectively had its origins in the Cold War. During the Cold War, the United States, its Western allies and Japan were called the "first world", the Soviet Union and its communist satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe were called the "second world", and all other countries, which were mostly poor and underdeveloped, were called the "third world".
- World War II (in Europe) for information about the world war that came just before the Cold War, and for the war that preceded WWII, see our article for World War I.
- See also the Wikivoyage article for World War II in the Pacific, which was of particular importance to the United States.
Multiple topics cover the Cold War era:
Key rivalries in this time period include:
- The Korean War, which left a bitterly-divided North Korea and South Korea divided by a heavily-fortified demilitarized zone
- The ongoing nuclear arms race between the United States of America and the Soviet Union
- The Cuban revolution, Cuban missile crisis and U.S. embargo of the island nation
- The Indochina Wars, which ended in a humiliating U.S. withdrawal and full communist control over Vietnam
- The Chinese Civil War pitted the Kuomintang (Nationalists) against the Chinese Communist Party, resulting in a win for the Communists in the mainland and the retreat of the Nationalists to Taiwan in 1949.
- The race for space, which began with Sputnik in 1957 and ended with multiple US moon landings in 1969-1972.
- The civil war in Nicaragua, beginning with the fall of (U.S.-backed) Somoza and ending with a bizarre combination of military victory and electoral defeat for the left wing FSLN
- Cape Canaveral, the location of Kennedy Space Center, was important in the space race
- Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, U.S. ICBM site in South Dakota
- Mödlareuth, Franconian border village divided by the East German border wall
- Berlin; the city was divided at the Brandenburg Gate and some sections of the Berlin Wall have been preserved