Donauraum (Danube area), comprises Austria, Hungary, former Czechoslovakia, large parts of former Yugoslavia, of Romania and Bulgaria and in a broader sense also south Germany. For centuries the Danube area was mainly the natural economic area of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. After 1918 the Danube countries developed into separate national, economic and cultural regions. From 1938 to 1945 the German Reich dominated the Danube area; from 1945 to 1989 its eastern part was under the influence of the Soviet Union. Since 1989 the reform countries Czech Republic, Republic of Slovakia and Hungary have been more oriented towards western democracies.