The five former Soviet republics have become separate states, developing at different rates and in different directions, and with different political and economic regimes. As a result, the cohesion of the region has broken down and economic development is hampered by internal and regional political troubles. Poverty has risen dramatically and bad governance is inhibiting efficient exploitation of natural resources insome countries. The transition to market economies, however, has been largely completed, even if the markets themselves are imperfect. This raises hopes for the long-term future of the region.