reform proved to be the final issue that drove the old Soviet empire
apart. In 1990, the Baltic Republics – Estonia, Latvia and
Lithuania – declared their independence. By late 1991, the
Soviet Communist Party voted itself out of existence, and soon the
U.S.S.R. itself was replaced by 15 independent republics. Progress
in establishing a market economy has varied from country to country
in the former Soviet Union. Western aid, loans, and investment have
speeded the transition.