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The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...

Europe
with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the
Balkan Mountains The Balkan mountain range ( Bulgarian and Serbian: Стара Планина, Stara Planina, "Old Mountain"; ; ) is a mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The range runs 557 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak on Bulgaria ...
that stretch throughout the whole of
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the
Adriatic Sea The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...
in the northwest, the
Ionian Sea The Ionian Sea ( el, Ιόνιο Πέλαγος, ''Iónio Pélagos'' ; it, Mar Ionio ; al, Deti Jon ) is an elongated bay of the Mediterranean Sea. It is connected to the Adriatic Sea to the north, and is bounded by Southern Italy, including Ca ...

Ionian Sea
in the southwest, the
Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated Bay, embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between Europe's Geography of Europe, Balkan peninsula and Asia's Anatolia peninsula. The sea has an area of some 215,000 square kilometres. In t ...
in the south, the
Turkish Straits 300px, View of the Dardanelles, taken from the Landsat 7 satellite in September 2006. The body of water at the upper left is the Aegean Sea, while the one on the upper right is the Sea of Marmara. The long, narrow upper peninsula is Gallipoli ...
in the east, and the Black Sea in the northeast. The northern border of the
peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though ...

peninsula
is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is
Mount Musala Musala ( bg, Мусала ); from Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffre ...
, , in the
Rila , photo = Страшното езеро.jpg , photo_caption = Strashnoto ezero (The Dreadful Lake) , country = Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Ре ...

Rila
mountain range, Bulgaria. The concept of the Balkan Peninsula was created by the German geographer
August ZeuneJohann August Zeune (12 May 1778 –14 November 1853) was a German teacher A teacher (also called a schoolteacher or formally, an educator) is a person who helps Student, students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue. ''Informally'' ...
in 1808, who mistakenly considered the Balkan Mountains the dominant mountain system of Southeast Europe spanning from the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea. The term ''Balkan Peninsula'' was a synonym for
Rumelia Rumelia ( ota, روم ايلى, ''Rūm-ėli''; Modern Turkish: ''Rumeli''; el, Ρωμυλία), etymologically "Land of the Romans", was the name of a historical region in Southeastern Europe that was administered by the Ottoman Empire, corresp ...
in the 19th century, the provinces of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th a ...
in
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criter ...

Southeast Europe
. It had a geopolitical rather than a geographical definition, which was further promoted during the creation of the
Kingdom of Yugoslavia The Kingdom of Yugoslavia ( sh, Kraljevina Jugoslavija / Краљевина Југославија; sl, Kraljevina Jugoslavija) was a state in Southeast Europe, Southeast and Central Europe that existed from 1918 until 1941. From 1918 to 1929, ...
in the early 20th century. The definition of the Balkan Peninsula's natural borders do not coincide with the technical definition of a peninsula; hence modern geographers reject the idea of a Balkan peninsula, while scholars usually discuss the Balkans as a region. The term has acquired a stigmatized and pejorative meaning related to the process of
Balkanization Balkanization refers to the fragmentation, or sub-fragmentation, of a larger region or state into smaller regions or states, which may be hostile or uncooperative with one another. When sponsored or encouraged by a sovereign third party, the term ...
, and hence the preferred alternative term used for the region is
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criter ...

Southeast Europe
.


Name


Etymology

The origin of the word ''Balkan'' is obscure; it may be related to
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
''bālk'' 'mud', and the Turkish suffix ''an'' 'swampy forest' or Persian ''balā-khāna'' 'big high house'. Related words are also found in
Turkic languages The Turkic languages are a language family of at least 35 documented languages, spoken by the Turkic peoples of Eurasia from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe to Central Asia, East Asia, North Asia (Siberia), and Western Asia. The Turkic langua ...

Turkic languages
.''Oxford English Dictionary'', 2013
''s.v.''
/ref> The term is stated for the first time in
HungarianHungarian may refer to: * Hungary, a country in Central Europe * Kingdom of Hungary, state of Hungary, existing between 1000 and 1946 * Hungarians, ethnic groups in Hungary * Hungarian algorithm, a polynomial time algorithm for solving the assignmen ...
sources from the 12th century. It was used mainly during the time of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th a ...
. In
modern Turkish Turkish ( , ), also referred to as Istanbul Turkish (''İstanbul Türkçesi'') or Turkey Turkish (''Türkiye Türkçesi''), is the most widely spoken of the Turkic languages The Turkic languages are a language family of at least 35 documente ...

modern Turkish
' means 'chain of wooded mountains'.


Historical names and meaning


Classical antiquity and the early Middle Ages

From
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
through the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, similarly to the Post-classical, Post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roma ...
, the Balkan Mountains were called by the local
Thracian The Thracians (; grc, Θρᾷκες ''Thrāikes''; la, Thraci) were an Indo-European speaking people who inhabited large parts of Eastern and Southeastern Europe in ancient history.. "The Thracians were an Indo-European people who occupied ...
name ''
HaemusIn Greek mythology, King Haemus (; , ''Haîmos'') of Thrace, was the son of Anemoi#Boreas, Boreas, the north wind. Mythology Haemus was vain and haughty and compared himself and his wife, Queen Rhodope, to Zeus and Hera. The gods changed him and ...

Haemus
''. According to Greek mythology, the
Thracian The Thracians (; grc, Θρᾷκες ''Thrāikes''; la, Thraci) were an Indo-European speaking people who inhabited large parts of Eastern and Southeastern Europe in ancient history.. "The Thracians were an Indo-European people who occupied ...
king
HaemusIn Greek mythology, King Haemus (; , ''Haîmos'') of Thrace, was the son of Anemoi#Boreas, Boreas, the north wind. Mythology Haemus was vain and haughty and compared himself and his wife, Queen Rhodope, to Zeus and Hera. The gods changed him and ...

Haemus
was turned into a mountain by
Zeus Zeus or , , ; grc, Δῐός, ''Diós'', label=genitive In grammar In linguistics, the grammar (from Ancient Greek ''grammatikḗ'') of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' compos ...

Zeus
as a punishment and the mountain has remained with his name. A reverse name scheme has also been suggested. D. Dechev considers that Haemus (Αἷμος) is derived from a
Thracian The Thracians (; grc, Θρᾷκες ''Thrāikes''; la, Thraci) were an Indo-European speaking people who inhabited large parts of Eastern and Southeastern Europe in ancient history.. "The Thracians were an Indo-European people who occupied ...
word ''*saimon'', 'mountain ridge'. A third possibility is that "Haemus" () derives from the Greek word "haima" () meaning 'blood'. The myth relates to a fight between
Zeus Zeus or , , ; grc, Δῐός, ''Diós'', label=genitive In grammar In linguistics, the grammar (from Ancient Greek ''grammatikḗ'') of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' compos ...

Zeus
and the monster/titan
Typhon Typhon (; el, Τυφῶν, ), also Typhoeus (; ), Typhaon () or Typhos (), was a monstrous serpentine giant and one of the deadliest creatures in Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, a ...
. Zeus injured Typhon with a thunder bolt and Typhon's blood fell on the mountains, from which they got their name.


Late Middle Ages and Ottoman period

The earliest mention of the name appears in an early 14th-century Arab map, in which the Haemus mountains are referred to as ''Balkan''. The first attested time the name "Balkan" was used in the West for the mountain range in
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
was in a letter sent in 1490 to Pope
Innocent VIII Pope Innocent VIII ( la, Innocentius VIII; 1432 – 25 July 1492), born Giovanni Battista Cybo (or Cibo), was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 29 August 1484 to his death. Son of the viceroy of Naples, Battista spent ...
by Buonaccorsi Callimaco, an Italian humanist, writer and diplomat. The
Ottomans The Ottoman Turks (or Osmanlı Turks, tr, Osmanlı Türkleri) were the Turkish-speaking people of the Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ota, دولت عليه عثمانيه ', literally "The Sublime Ottoman State"; Modern Turkish ...
first mention it in a document dated from 1565. There has been no other documented usage of the word to refer to the region before that, although other Turkic tribes had already settled in or were passing through the region. There is also a claim about an earlier Bulgar Turkic origin of the word popular in Bulgaria, however it is only an unscholarly assertion. The word was used by the Ottomans in
Rumelia Rumelia ( ota, روم ايلى, ''Rūm-ėli''; Modern Turkish: ''Rumeli''; el, Ρωμυλία), etymologically "Land of the Romans", was the name of a historical region in Southeastern Europe that was administered by the Ottoman Empire, corresp ...
in its general meaning of mountain, as in ''Kod̲j̲a-Balkan'', ''Čatal-Balkan'', and ''Ungurus-Balkani̊'', but especially it was applied to the Haemus mountain. The name is still preserved in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sovi ...

Central Asia
with the
Balkan Daglary The Uly Balkan, also known as the ''Great Balkan Range'' is a mountain range in Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ;), also known as Turkmenia, is a sovereign country in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia w ...
(Balkan Mountains) and the
Balkan Province Balkan Region ( tk, Balkan welaýaty, russian: Балкан велаяты) is the westernmost of five regions of Turkmenistan Turkmenistan is divided into five regions or ''welaýatlar'' (singular ''Wilaya, welaýat'') and one capital city (' ...
of
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ;), also known as Turkmenia, is a sovereign country in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afgh ...

Turkmenistan
. English traveler
John Morritt John Bacon Sawrey Morritt (1772? – 1843) was an English traveller, politician and classical scholar. Early life Born about 1772, he was son and heir of John Sawrey Morritt, who died at Rokeby Park in Yorkshire on 3 August 1791, by his wife Anne ...
introduced this term into the English literature at the end of the 18th-century, and other authors started applying the name to the wider area between the Adriatic and the Black Sea. The concept of the "Balkans" was created by the German geographer
August ZeuneJohann August Zeune (12 May 1778 –14 November 1853) was a German teacher A teacher (also called a schoolteacher or formally, an educator) is a person who helps Student, students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue. ''Informally'' ...
in 1808, who mistakenly considered it as the dominant central mountain system of Southeast Europe spanning from the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea. During the 1820s, "Balkan became the preferred although not yet exclusive term alongside Haemus among British travelers... Among Russian travelers not so burdened by classical toponymy, Balkan was the preferred term".


Evolution of meaning in 19th and 20th century

The term was not commonly used in geographical literature until the mid-19th century because already then scientists like
Carl Ritter Carl Ritter (August 7, 1779September 28, 1859) was a German geographer. Along with Alexander von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (14 September 17696 May 1859) was a Germans, German polymath, geography, geographer, natu ...

Carl Ritter
warned that only the part South of the Balkan Mountains can be considered as a peninsula and considered it to be renamed as "Greek peninsula". Other prominent geographers who didn't agree with Zeune were Hermann Wagner, ,
Marion Newbigin Marion Isabel Newbigin (1869 – 20 July 1934) was a Scottish geographer, biologist and academic author. She was noted for her book ''Animal Geography'', a key work in the field of animal geography/zoogeography, and as editor of the ''Scottish Geog ...
,
Albrecht Penck Albrecht Penck (25 September 1858 – 7 March 1945) was a German geographer and geologist and the father of Walther Penck. Biography Born in Reudnitz near Leipzig Leipzig (, also , ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germa ...
, while Austrian diplomat
Johann Georg von Hahn Johann Georg von Hahn (11 July 1811 – 23 September 1869) was an Austrian diplomat, philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, ...
in 1869 for the same territory used the term ''Südostereuropäische Halbinsel'' ("Southeasterneuropean peninsula"). Another reason it was not commonly accepted as the definition of then
European Turkey East Thrace landscape in Edirne Province, Turkey East Thrace or Eastern Thrace ( tr, Doğu Trakya or simply ''Trakya''; el, Ανατολική Θράκη, ''Anatoliki Thraki''; bg, Източна Тракия, ''Iztochna Trakiya''), also kn ...
had a similar land extent. However, after the
Congress of Berlin The Congress of Berlin (13 June – 13 July 1878) was a meeting of the representatives of the era's six great powers in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by conventio ...
(1878) there was a political need for a new term and gradually "the Balkans" was revitalized, but in the maps, the northern border was in Serbia and Montenegro without Greece (it only depicted the Ottoman occupied parts of Europe), while Yugoslavian maps also included Croatia and Bosnia. The term Balkan Peninsula was a synonym for European Turkey, the political borders of former Ottoman Empire provinces. The usage of the term changed in the very end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century when was embraced by Serbian geographers, most prominently by
Jovan Cvijić Jovan Cvijić ( sr-cyr, Јован Цвијић, ; 12 October 1865 – 16 January 1927) was a Serbian geographer A geographer is a physical scientist, social scientist and humanist whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth' ...

Jovan Cvijić
. It was done with political reasoning as affirmation for
Serbian nationalism Serbian nationalism asserts that Serbs are a nation and promotes the cultural and political unity of Serbs. It is an ethnic nationalism, originally arising in the context of the general rise of nationalism in the Ottoman Empire, rise of nationalis ...
on the whole territory of the
South Slavs The South Slavs are a subgroup of Slavic peoples Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic language, Balto-Slavic linguistic group of the Indo-European languages. They are n ...
, and also included anthropological and ethnological studies of the South Slavs through which were claimed various nationalistic and racialist theories. Through such policies and Yugoslavian maps the term was elevated to the modern status of a geographical region. The term acquired political nationalistic connotations far from its initial geographic meaning, arising from political changes from the late 19th century to the creation of post–
World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War or "The war to end war, the war ...

World War I
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
(initially the
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy * A realm ruled by: **A king, during the reign of a male monarch **A queen regnant, during the reign of a female monarch Taxonomy * Kingdom (biology), a category in biological taxonomy Arts an ...
in 1918). After the
dissolution of Yugoslavia Dissolution may refer to: Arts and entertainment Books * ''Dissolution'' (''Forgotten Realms'' novel), a 2002 fantasy novel by Richard Lee Byers * ''Dissolution'' (Sansom novel), a 2003 historical novel by C. J. Sansom Music * Dissolution, in mus ...
beginning in June 1991, the term "Balkans" acquired a negative political meaning, especially in Croatia and Slovenia, as well in worldwide casual usage for war conflicts and fragmentation of territory (see
Balkanization Balkanization refers to the fragmentation, or sub-fragmentation, of a larger region or state into smaller regions or states, which may be hostile or uncooperative with one another. When sponsored or encouraged by a sovereign third party, the term ...
).


Southeast Europe

In part due to the historical and political connotations of the term "Balkans", especially since the military conflicts of the 1990s in
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
in the western half of the region, the term "
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criter ...

Southeast Europe
" is becoming increasingly popular. A
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...

European Union
initiative of 1999 is called the ''
Stability Pact for South Eastern EuropeThe Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe was an institution aimed at strengthening peace, democracy, human rights and economy in the countries of South Eastern Europe from 1999 to 2008. It was replaced by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) in ...
'', and the online newspaper ''Balkan Times'' renamed itself ''
Southeast European TimesSoutheast European Times was a United States European Command-sponsored news website dedicated to coverage of Southeast Europe that ended publication in March 2015. The countries covered included Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece ...
'' in 2003.


Current

In other languages of the region, the region is known as: * Slavic languages: **
Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulgarians, a South Slavic ethnic group * Bulgarian language, a Slavic language * Bulgarian alphabet * A citizen of Bulgaria, see Demographics of Bulgaria * Bulg ...
and mk, Балкански Полуостров, transliterated: ' ** Montenegrin and sr, Балканско полуострво; Balkansko poluostrvo ** bs, Balkansko poluostrvo; Балканско полуострво; Balkanski poluotok ** hr, Balkanski poluotok ** sl, Balkanski polotok * Romance languages: **
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
: ''Peninsula Balcanică'' * Turkic Languages: ** tr, Balkan Yarımadası or ''Balkanlar'' * Other languages: ** sq, Gadishulli Ballkanik and ' ** el, Βαλκανική χερσόνησος, transliterated: '


Definitions and boundaries


Balkan Peninsula

The Balkan Peninsula is bounded by the
Adriatic Sea The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...
to the west, the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the ...
(including the and
Aegean Aegean may refer to: *Aegean Sea *Aegean Islands *Aegean Region (geographical), Turkey *Aegean Region (statistical), Turkey *Aegean civilizations *Aegean languages, a group of ancient languages and proposed language family *Aegean Sea (theme), a n ...
seas) and the Marmara Sea to the south and the Black Sea to the east. Its northern boundary is often given as the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the List of rivers of Europe#Rivers of Europe by length, longest river in Europe. Situated ...
,
Sava The Sava (; , , sr-cyr, Сава, Hungarian: Száva) is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry ...

Sava
and
Kupa The Kupa (Croatian pronunciation: ) or Kolpa ( or ; from la, Colapis in Roman times) river, a right tributary of the Sava, forms a natural border between north-west Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztá ...

Kupa
Rivers. The Balkan Peninsula has a combined area of about (slightly smaller than
Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_ ...

Spain
). It is more or less identical to the region known as
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criter ...

Southeast Europe
. From 1920 until
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
, Italy included
Istria Istria ( ; Croatian language, Croatian, Slovene language, Slovene: ''Istra''; Istriot language, Istriot: ''Eîstria''; ruo, Istrie, it, Istria; german: Istrien, ), formerly ''Histria'' (Latin), ''Ίστρια'' (Ancient Greek language, Ancient ...

Istria
and some
Dalmatia Dalmatia (; hr, Dalmacija ; it, Dalmazia; see #Name, names in other languages) is a region on the east shore of the Adriatic Sea, a narrow belt stretching from the island of Rab in the north to the Bay of Kotor in the south. The Dalmatian Hin ...

Dalmatia
n areas (like ''Zara'', today's
Zadar Zadar ( , ; see also Zadar#Etymology and historical names, other names) is the List of oldest continuously inhabited cities, oldest continuously inhabited Croatian city. It is situated on the Adriatic Sea, at the northwestern part of Ravni Kotar ...

Zadar
) that are within the general definition of the Balkan Peninsula. The current territory of Italy includes only the small area around
Trieste Trieste ( , ; sl, Trst ; german: Triest, ) is a city and a seaport File:PorticcioloCedas.jpg, The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola near Trieste, a small local port A port is a maritime law, maritime facility which may comprise ...

Trieste
inside the Balkan Peninsula. However, the regions of Trieste and Istria are not usually considered part of the Balkans by Italian geographers, due to their definition of the Balkans that limits its western border to the Kupa River.Istituto Geografico De Agostini, ''L'Enciclopedia Geografica – Vol. I – Italia'', 2004, Ed. De Agostini p. 78 Share of total area in brackets within the Balkan Peninsula by country, by the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the List of rivers of Europe#Rivers of Europe by length, longest river in Europe. Situated ...
Sava The Sava (; , , sr-cyr, Сава, Hungarian: Száva) is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry ...

Sava
definition, with
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
and
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
occupying almost the half of the territory of the Balkan Peninsula, with around 23% of the total area each: Entirely within the Balkan Peninsula: * : 28,749 km2 (100% of total land) * : 51,180 km2 (100%) * : 110,993.6/ according to other sources 111,002 km2 (100%) * : 10,908 km2 (100%) * : 13,810 km2 (100%) * : 25,713 km2 (100%) Mostly or partially within the Balkan Peninsula: * ( southern mainland): 24,013 km2 (46%)Geographical horizon (Scientific and Professional magazine of the Croatian Geographical Society), article; ''On the north border and confine of the Balkan Peninsula'', No1/2008, year LIV, , pp. 30–33 * (
mainland Mainland is defined as "relating to or forming the main part of a country or continent, not including the islands around it egardless of status under territorial jurisdiction by an entity" The term is often human geography, politically, econo ...
): 110,496 km2 (83.7%)/ according to other sources 106,247 km2 (80.5%)/ 126,023 km2 including islands
adjacent Adjacent or adjacency may refer to: *Adjacent (graph theory), two vertices that are the endpoints of an edge in a graph *Adjacent (music), a conjunct step to a note which is next in the scale See also

*Adjacent angles, two angles that share ...
to the
Balkan Peninsula The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkan Peninsula
(95.5%) * (
Trieste Trieste ( , ; sl, Trst ; german: Triest, ) is a city and a seaport File:PorticcioloCedas.jpg, The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola near Trieste, a small local port A port is a maritime law, maritime facility which may comprise ...

Trieste
and
Monfalcone Monfalcone (; Bisiacco: ; fur, Monfalcon; sl, Tržič; archaic german: Falkenberg) is a town and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipali ...

Monfalcone
): 200 km2 (0.1%) * ( mainland Dobruja): 11,000 km2 (5%) * (
Central Serbia Central Serbia ( sr, централна Србија, centralna Srbija), also referred to as Serbia proper ( sr, link=no, ужа Србија, uža Srbija), is the region of Serbia lying outside the provinces of Vojvodina to the north and the disput ...
) 51,000 km2 (65%) * ( southwestern part): 5,000 km2 (25%) * ( European part): 23,764 km2 (3%)


Balkans

The term "the Balkans" is used more generally for the region; it includes states in the region, which may extend beyond the peninsula, and is not defined by the geography of the peninsula itself. Historians state the Balkans comprise
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...
,
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and Pars pro toto#Geography, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sar ...
,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
,
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
,
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
,
Kosovo Kosovo, or ; sr-Cyrl, Косово officially the Republic of Kosovo,; sr, / is a international recognition of Kosovo, partially recognised state in Southeastern Europe. It lies at the centre of the Balkans, occupying an area of , wi ...

Kosovo
,
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Црна Гора, Crna Gora, lit. "Black Mountain", ) is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is o ...

Montenegro
,
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It borders Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to t ...

Romania
,
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
, and
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes ...

Slovenia
. Its total area is usually given as and the population as 59,297,000 (est. 2002). Italy, although having a small part of its territory in the Balkan Peninsula, is not included in the term "the Balkans". The term
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criter ...

Southeast Europe
is also used for the region, with various definitions. Individual Balkan states can also be considered part of other regions, including
Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern Subregion#Europe, region of Europe. Definitions of Southern Europe, also known as Mediterranean Basin, Mediterranean Europe, may include countries and regions such as: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulga ...

Southern Europe
,
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic connotations. Russia, loca ...
and
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Society, social and cultural identity. The Thirty Years' War between Catholic Church, Catholicism and Protestantism was a signifi ...
. Turkey, often including its European territory, is also included in
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

Western
or
Southwestern Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), human impact characteristics ( human ...
.


Western Balkans

''Western Balkans'' is a political neologism coined to refer to Albania and the territory of the former
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
, except
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes ...

Slovenia
, since the early 1990s. The region of the ''Western Balkans'', a coinage exclusively used in Pan-European parlance, roughly corresponds to the
Dinaric Alps The Dinaric Alps (; , , , Bosnian.html" ;"title="ìnarīdì">[dìnarīdì/nowiki>">ìnarīdì">[dìnarīdì/nowiki>, ), also commonly Dinarides, are a mountain range in Southern Europe, Southern and Southeastern Europe, separating the continental ...
territory. The institutions of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...

European Union
have generally used the term "Western Balkans" to mean the Balkan area that includes countries that are not members of the European Union, while others refer to the geographical aspects. Each of these countries aims to be part of the future enlargement of the European Union and reach democracy and transmission scores but, until then, they will be strongly connected with the pre-EU waiting program CEFTA. Croatia, considered part of the Western Balkans, joined the EU in July 2013.


Criticism of the geographical definition

The term is criticized for having a geopolitical, rather than a geographical meaning and definition, as a multiethnic and political area in the southeastern part of Europe. The geographical term of a
peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though ...

peninsula
defines that the water border must be longer than land, with the land side being the shortest in the triangle, but that is not the case with the Balkan Peninsula. Both Eastern and Western water cathetus from
Odessa uk, одесит, одеситкаrussian: одессит, одесситка , postal_code_type = Postal codes , postal_code = 65000–65480 , area_code = +380 48 , website ...

Odessa
to
Cape Matapan Cape Matapan ( el, Κάβο Ματαπάς, Maniot The Maniots or Maniates ( el, Μανιάτες) are a Greeks, Greek ethnic group native to the Mani Peninsula, located in western Laconia and eastern Messenia, in the southern Peloponnese, Gre ...

Cape Matapan
(ca. 1230–1350 km) and from
Trieste Trieste ( , ; sl, Trst ; german: Triest, ) is a city and a seaport File:PorticcioloCedas.jpg, The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola near Trieste, a small local port A port is a maritime law, maritime facility which may comprise ...

Trieste
to Cape Matapan (ca. 1270–1285 km) are shorter than land cathetus from Trieste to Odessa (ca. 1330–1365 km). The land has a too wide line connected to the continent to be technically proclaimed as a peninsula -
Szczecin Szczecin ( , , ; german: Stettin ; sv, Stettin ; known also by other #Name and etymology, alternative names) is the capital city, capital and largest city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in northwestern Poland. Located near the Baltic Sea an ...

Szczecin
(920 km) and
Rostock Rostock ( , ), officially the Hanseatic and University City of Rostock (german: Hanse- und Universitätsstadt Rostock), is the largest city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and lies in the Mecklenbu ...

Rostock
(950 km) at the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea (in Latin ''Mare Balticum'') is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden and the North European Plain, North and Central European Plain. The sea stretc ...
are closer to Trieste than Odessa yet it is not considered as another European peninsula. Since the late 19th and early 20th-century literature is not known where is exactly the northern border between the peninsula and the continent, with an issue, whether the rivers are suitable for its definition. In the studies the Balkans natural borders, especially the northern border, are often avoided to be addressed, considered as a "fastidious problem" by André Blanc in ''Geography of the Balkans'' (1965), while John Lampe and Marvin Jackman in ''Balkan Economic History'' (1971) noted that "modern geographers seem agreed in rejecting the old idea of a Balkan Peninsula". Another issue is the name because the
Balkan Mountains The Balkan mountain range ( Bulgarian and Serbian: Стара Планина, Stara Planina, "Old Mountain"; ; ) is a mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The range runs 557 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak on Bulgaria ...
which are mostly located in Northern Bulgaria are not dominating the region by length and area like the
Dinaric Alps The Dinaric Alps (; , , , Bosnian.html" ;"title="ìnarīdì">[dìnarīdì/nowiki>">ìnarīdì">[dìnarīdì/nowiki>, ), also commonly Dinarides, are a mountain range in Southern Europe, Southern and Southeastern Europe, separating the continental ...
. An eventual Balkan peninsula can be considered a territory South of the Balkan Mountains, with a possible name "Greek-Albanian Peninsula." The term influenced the meaning of
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criter ...

Southeast Europe
which again is not properly defined by geographical factors yet historical borders of the Balkans. Croatian geographers and academics are highly critical of inclusion of Croatia within the broad geographical, social-political and historical context of the Balkans, while the neologism Western Balkans is perceived as a humiliation of Croatia by the European political powers. According to M. S. Altić, the term has two different meanings, "geographical, ultimately undefined, and cultural, extremely negative, and recently strongly motivated by the contemporary political context". In 2018, President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović stated that the use of the term "Western Balkans" should be avoided because it does not imply only a geographic area, but also negative connotations, and instead must be perceived as and called Southeast Europe because it is part of Europe. As the Slovenian philosopher
Slavoj Žižek Slavoj Žižek ( ; ; born 21 March 1949) is a Slovenian philosopher, a researcher at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Arts and international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the Univer ...
put it,


Nature and natural resources

Most of the area is covered by mountain ranges running from the northwest to southeast. The main ranges are the
Balkan mountains The Balkan mountain range ( Bulgarian and Serbian: Стара Планина, Stara Planina, "Old Mountain"; ; ) is a mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The range runs 557 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak on Bulgaria ...
(Stara Planina in
Bulgarian language Bulgarian (, ; bg, label=none, български, bălgarski, ) is a South Slavic languages, South Slavic language spoken in Southeastern Europe, primarily in Bulgaria. It is the language of the Bulgarians. Along with the closely related Ma ...
), running from the Black Sea coast in
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
to the border with
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
, the
Rila , photo = Страшното езеро.jpg , photo_caption = Strashnoto ezero (The Dreadful Lake) , country = Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Ре ...

Rila
- Rhodope
massif In geology, a massif ( or ) is a section of a planet's Crust (geology), crust that is demarcated by geologic fault, faults or Lithospheric flexure, flexures. In the Plate tectonics, movement of the crust, a massif tends to retain its internal st ...
in southern Bulgaria, the
Dinaric Alps The Dinaric Alps (; , , , Bosnian.html" ;"title="ìnarīdì">[dìnarīdì/nowiki>">ìnarīdì">[dìnarīdì/nowiki>, ), also commonly Dinarides, are a mountain range in Southern Europe, Southern and Southeastern Europe, separating the continental ...
in
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and Pars pro toto#Geography, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sar ...
,
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
and
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Црна Гора, Crna Gora, lit. "Black Mountain", ) is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is o ...

Montenegro
, the Korab-Šar Mountains, Šar mountains which spreads from
Kosovo Kosovo, or ; sr-Cyrl, Косово officially the Republic of Kosovo,; sr, / is a international recognition of Kosovo, partially recognised state in Southeastern Europe. It lies at the centre of the Balkans, occupying an area of , wi ...

Kosovo
to
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...
and
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
, and the
Pindus The Pindus (also Pindos or Pindhos) ( el, Πίνδος; sq, Pindet; rup, Pindu) is a mountain range located in northern Greece and southern Albania. It is roughly 160 km long, with a maximum elevation of 2,637m (Smolikas, Mount Smolikas). ...
range, spanning from southern Albania into central Greece and the
Albanian Alps The Accursed Mountains ( sq, Bjeshkët e Nemuna; sh, Prokletije, cyrl, Проклетије, ; both translated as "Cursed Mountains") also known as the Albanian Alps ( sq, Alpet Shqiptare; sh, Albanski Alpi) are a mountain group on the wester ...
, and the
Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, stretching approximately across eight Alpine countries (from west to east): France, Switzerl ...
at the northwestern border. The highest mountain of the region is
Rila , photo = Страшното езеро.jpg , photo_caption = Strashnoto ezero (The Dreadful Lake) , country = Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Ре ...

Rila
in Bulgaria, with
Musala Musala ( bg, Мусала ); from Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffre ...

Musala
at 2,925 m, second being
Mount Olympus Mount Olympus (; el, Όλυμπος ''Olympos'', for Modern Greek also transliterated ''Olimbos'', or ) is the highest mountain in Greece. It is part of the Olympus massif near the Gulf of Thermai, Gulf of Thérmai (Modern Greek: Thermaïkós) o ...
in Greece, with at 2,917 m, and
Pirin , photo=Pirin-mountains-Bansko.jpg , photo_caption=Pirin scenery in winter , country= Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republik ...

Pirin
mountain with
Vihren Vihren ( ) is the highest peak of Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It i ...

Vihren
, also in Bulgaria, being the third at 2915 m. The
karst Karst is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone Limestone is a common type of carbonate rock, carbonate sedimentary rock. It is composed mostly of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are differe ...

karst
field or
polje Image:Livanjsko polje, nejvetsi utvar tohoto druhu na svete (70x40.jpg, Livanjsko Polje in Bosnia (region), Bosnia is the largest polje in the world (Mount Dinara visible in the background). A polje, also karst polje or karst field, is a large fl ...

polje
is a common feature of the landscape. On the
Adriatic The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...
and
Aegean Aegean may refer to: *Aegean Sea *Aegean Islands *Aegean Region (geographical), Turkey *Aegean Region (statistical), Turkey *Aegean civilizations *Aegean languages, a group of ancient languages and proposed language family *Aegean Sea (theme), a n ...
coasts the climate is
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands aroun ...
, on the Black Sea coast the climate is
humid subtropical A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cold to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitudes 25° and 40° (sometimes 45°) a ...
and
oceanic Oceanic may refer to: *Of or relating to the ocean *Of or relating to Oceania **Oceanic climate **Oceanic languages **Oceanic person or people, also called "Pacific Islander(s)" Places *Oceanic, British Columbia, a settlement on Smith Island, Br ...
, and inland it is
humid continental A humid continental climate is a climate, climatic region defined by Russo-German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1900, typified by four distinct seasons and large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and ...
. In the northern part of the peninsula and on the mountains, winters are frosty and snowy, while summers are hot and dry. In the southern part winters are milder. The humid continental climate is predominant in Bosnia and Herzegovina, northern Croatia, Bulgaria,
Kosovo Kosovo, or ; sr-Cyrl, Косово officially the Republic of Kosovo,; sr, / is a international recognition of Kosovo, partially recognised state in Southeastern Europe. It lies at the centre of the Balkans, occupying an area of , wi ...

Kosovo
, northern Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia, the interior of Albania and
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
, while the other, less common climates, the humid subtropical and oceanic climates, are seen on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria and Balkan Turkey (European Turkey); and the Mediterranean climate is seen on the coast of Albania, the coast of Croatia, Greece, southern Montenegro and the Aegean coast of Balkan Turkey (European Turkey). Over the centuries forests have been cut down and replaced with bush. In the southern part and on the coast there is
evergreen In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Anci ...

evergreen
vegetation. Inland there are woods typical of Central Europe (
oak An oak is a tree or shrub A shrub (or bush, but this is more of a gardening term) is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground. Shrubs can be deciduous o ...

oak
and
beech Beech (''Fagus'') is a genus of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia, and North America. Recent classifications recognize 10 to 13 species in two distinct subgenera, ''Engleriana'' and ''Fagus''. The ''Engler ...
, and in the mountains,
spruce A spruce is a tree of the genus ''Picea'' , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal ecosystem, boreal (taiga) regions of the Earth. ''Picea'' is the sole genus ...

spruce
,
fir Firs (''Abies'') are a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also re ...

fir
and
pine A pine is any Pinophyta, conifer in the genus ''Pinus'' () of the family (biology), family Pinaceae. ''Pinus'' is the sole genus in the subfamily Pinoideae. The Plant List compiled by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden a ...

pine
). The
tree line The tree line is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing. It is found at high elevations and high latitudes. Beyond the tree line, trees cannot tolerate the environmental conditions (usually cold temperatures, extreme snowpa ...

tree line
in the mountains lies at the height of 1800–2300 m. The land provides
habitat Ibex in an alpine habitat In ecology, the term habitat summarises the array of resources, physical and biotic factors that are present in an area, such as to support the survival and reproduction of a particular species. A species habitat c ...

habitat
s for numerous
endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest grou ...
species, including extraordinarily abundant insects and reptiles that serve as food for a variety of
birds of prey Birds of prey, also known as raptors, include species of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the Oviparity, laying of Eggshel ...
and rare
vulture A vulture is a bird of prey that scavenges on carrion. The Old World vultures include 15 living species native to Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (no ...

vulture
s. The soils are generally poor, except on the
plain In geography, a plain is a flat expanse of land that generally does not change much in elevation. Plains occur as lowlands along valleys or on the doorsteps of mountains, as coastal plains, and as plateaus or uplands. In a valley, a plain i ...

plain
s, where areas with natural grass, fertile soils and warm summers provide an opportunity for tillage. Elsewhere, land cultivation is mostly unsuccessful because of the mountains, hot summers and poor soils, although certain cultures such as
olive The olive, known by the botanical name ''Olea europaea'', meaning "European olive", is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit o ...

olive
and grape flourish. Resources of energy are scarce, except in
Kosovo Kosovo, or ; sr-Cyrl, Косово officially the Republic of Kosovo,; sr, / is a international recognition of Kosovo, partially recognised state in Southeastern Europe. It lies at the centre of the Balkans, occupying an area of , wi ...

Kosovo
, where considerable
coal Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as rock strata (Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half o ...

coal
,
lead Lead is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Pb (from the Latin ) and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metals, heavy metal that is density, denser than most common materials. Lead is Mohs scale of mineral hardness#Intermediate h ...

lead
,
zinc Zinc is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Zn and atomic number 30. Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature and has a silvery-greyish appearance when oxidation is removed. It is the first element in group 12 ele ...

zinc
,
chromium Chromium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same nu ...

chromium
and
silver Silver is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same n ...

silver
deposits are located. Other deposits of
coal Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as rock strata (Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half o ...

coal
, especially in Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, also exist.
Lignite Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft, brown, combustible, sedimentary rock Sedimentary rocks are types of Rock (geology), rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic matter, organic particles at ...

Lignite
deposits are widespread in Greece.
Petroleum Petroleum (), also known as crude oil and oil, is a #Latent heat of vaporization, naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth, Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels. ...

Petroleum
scarce reserves exist in Greece, Serbia and Albania. Natural gas deposits are scarce.
Hydropower Hydropower (from el, ὕδωρ, "water"), also known as water power, is the use of falling or fast-running water to Electricity generation, produce electricity or to power machines. This is achieved by energy transformation, converting the Pote ...
is in wide use, from over 1,000 dams. The often relentless bora wind is also being harnessed for power generation. Metal ores are more usual than other raw materials. Iron ore is rare, but in some countries there is a considerable amount of copper, zinc,
tin Tin is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers ...

tin
,
chromite Chromite is a crystalline mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in ...

chromite
,
manganese Manganese is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

manganese
,
magnesite Magnesite is a mineral with the chemical formula (magnesium carbonate). Iron, manganese, cobalt and nickel may occur as admixtures, but only in small amounts. Occurrence Magnesite occurs as veins in and an alteration product of ultramafic rocks ...

magnesite
and
bauxite Bauxite is a sedimentary rock Sedimentary rocks are types of rock (geology), rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic matter, organic particles at Earth#Surface, Earth's surface, followed by cementation (ge ...

bauxite
. Some metals are exported.


History and geopolitical significance


Antiquity

The Balkan region was the first area in Europe to experience the arrival of farming cultures in the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of ...
era. The Balkans have been inhabited since the
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek wikt:παλαιός, palaios - old, wikt:λίθος, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone too ...
and are the route by which farming from the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as Codex Alimentarius in food, the World Health Organi ...

Middle East
spread to
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...

Europe
during the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of ...
(7th millennium BC). The practices of growing grain and raising livestock arrived in the Balkans from the
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental orga ...

Fertile Crescent
by way of
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
and spread west and north into Central Europe, particularly through
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empir ...

Pannonia
. Two early culture-complexes have developed in the region,
Starčevo culture The Starčevo culture is an archaeological culture of Southeastern Europe, dating to the Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently i ...
and
Vinča culture The Vinča culture (), also known as Turdaș culture or Turdaș–Vinča culture, was a Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently ...
. The Balkans are also the location of the first advanced civilizations. Vinča culture developed a form of
proto-writing Proto-writing consists of visible marks Communication, communicating limited information. Such systems emerged from earlier traditions of symbol systems in the early Neolithic, as early as the 7th millennium BC in Ancient China, China. They used i ...
before the
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclo ...

Sumer
ians and Minoans, known as the Old European script, while the bulk of the symbols had been created in the period between 4500 and 4000 BC, with the ones on the Tărtăria clay tablets even dating back to around 5300 BC. The identity of the Balkans is dominated by its geographical position; historically the area was known as a crossroads of cultures. It has been a juncture between the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
bodies of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity it included large territorial holdings aro ...

Roman Empire
, the destination of a massive influx of pagan
Bulgars The Bulgars (also Bulghars, Bulgari, Bolgars, Bolghars, Bolgari, Proto-Bulgarians) were Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribes that flourished in the Pontic–Caspian steppe and the Volga region during the 7th century. They became known as nomadi ...

Bulgars
and
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity and language. Most ethnic groups share a first language. However, the term is often used to emphasise ...

Slavs
, an area where
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
and
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ri ...

Catholic
Christianity met, as well as the meeting point between
Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pronounced , or (when the stress is on the first syllable) ( ...
and Christianity. In pre-classical and
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
, this region was home to
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group and nation native to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, namely Greece, Greek Cypriots, Cyprus, Greeks in Albania, Albania, Greeks in Italy, Ital ...

Greeks
,
Illyrians The Illyrians ( grc, Ἰλλυριοί, ''Illyrioi''; la, Illyrii) were a group of Indo-European speaking peoples, who inhabited the western Balkan Peninsula The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in so ...

Illyrians
,
Paeonians Paeonians were an ancient Indo-European people that dwelt in Paeonia. Paeonia was an old country whose location was to the north of ancient Macedonia, to the south of Dardania, to the west of Thrace and to the east of Illyria, most of their lan ...

Paeonians
,
Thracians The Thracians (; grc, Θρᾷκες ''Thrāikes''; la, Thraci) were an Indo-European speaking people, who inhabited large parts of Eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Sh ...
,
Dacians The Dacians (; la, Daci ; grc-gre, Δάκοι, Δάοι, Δάκαι) were a Thracians, Thracian people who were the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the area near the Carpathian Mountains and west of the Black Sea ...
, and other ancient groups. The incorporated parts of the Balkans comprising
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
,
Thrace File:Thraciae-veteris-typvs.jpg, Map of Ancient Thrace made by Abraham Ortelius in 1585, stating both the names Thrace and Europe. Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and hi ...
,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
, and the Black Sea coastal region of
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It borders Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to t ...

Romania
between the late 6th and the first half of the 5th-century BC into its territories. Later the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity it included large territorial holdings aro ...

Roman Empire
conquered most of the region and spread Roman culture and the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
language, but significant parts still remained under
classical Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of languages, nati ...
influence. The
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...

Romans
considered the
Rhodope Mountains - el, Ροδόπη , photo=Родопско зелено.jpg , photo_caption= Vacha Reservoir , country_type= Countries , country= , geology= , orogeny= , area_km2=14735 , range_coordinates= , length_km=240 , length_orientation= west- ...
to be the northern limit of the Peninsula of Haemus and the same limit applied approximately to the border between Greek and Latin use in the region (later called the Jireček Line). However large spaces south of Jireček Line were and are inhabited by
Vlachs Vlachs ( or , or rarely ), also Wallachians (and many other variants), is a historical term from the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It began wi ...
(
Aromanians The Aromanians ( rup, Armãnji, Rrãmãnji) are a Romance ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a co ...
), the Romance-speaking heirs of Roman Empire. The
Bulgars The Bulgars (also Bulghars, Bulgari, Bolgars, Bolghars, Bolgari, Proto-Bulgarians) were Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribes that flourished in the Pontic–Caspian steppe and the Volga region during the 7th century. They became known as nomadi ...

Bulgars
and
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity and language. Most ethnic groups share a first language. However, the term is often used to emphasise ...
arrived in the 6th-century and began assimilating and displacing already-assimilated (through Romanization and Hellenization) older inhabitants of the northern and central Balkans, forming the
Bulgarian Empire In the medieval history of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarde ...
. During the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, similarly to the Post-classical, Post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roma ...
, the Balkans became the stage for a series of wars between the and the
Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulgarians, a South Slavic ethnic group * Bulgarian language, a Slavic language * Bulgarian alphabet * A citizen of Bulgaria, see Demographics of Bulgaria * Bulg ...
Empires.


Early modern period

By the end of the 16th-century, the Ottoman Empire had become the controlling force in the region after expanding from Anatolia through
Thrace File:Thraciae-veteris-typvs.jpg, Map of Ancient Thrace made by Abraham Ortelius in 1585, stating both the names Thrace and Europe. Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and hi ...
to the Balkans. Many people in the Balkans place their greatest folk heroes in the era of either the onslaught or the retreat of the Ottoman Empire. As examples, for Greeks,
Constantine XI Palaiologos Constantine XI Dragases Palaiologos or Dragaš Palaeologus ( el, Κωνσταντῖνος Δραγάσης Παλαιολόγος, ''Kōnstantinos Dragasēs Palaiologos''; 8 February 1405 – 29 May 1453) was the last Byzantine emperor, reign ...
and ; and for
Serbs Serbs ( sr-Cyr, Срби, Srbi, ) are a South Slavic ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a comm ...
,
Miloš Obilić Miloš Obilić ( sr-cyr, Милош Обилић, ) was a legendary Serbian knight who is reputed to have been in the service of Prince Lazar during the Ottoman History of Ottoman Serbia, invasion of Serbia in the late 14th century. He is not me ...
and Tzar Lazar; for
Montenegrins Montenegrins (Montenegrin language, Montenegrin and Serbian language, Serbian: Crnogorci / Црногорци, or ; literal translation, lit. "Black Mountain People") are a South Slavs, South Slavic ethnic group native to Montenegro. Genetic orig ...
,
Đurađ I Balšić Đurađ Balšić ( sr-cyr, Ђурађ Балшић), also known as Đurađ I (Ђурађ I) was the Lord of Zeta between 1362 and 13 January 1378. He was the eldest of the three sons of Balša I, and belonged to the Balšić noble family, Balšić ...
and ; for
Albanians The Albanians (; sq, Shqiptarët, ) are an ethnic group native to the Balkan Peninsula and are identified by a common Albanian Cultural heritage, ancestry, Albanian culture, culture, Albanian history, history and Albanian language, language. T ...

Albanians
,
George Kastrioti Skanderbeg Gjergj Kastrioti (6 May 1405 – 17 January 1468), known as Skanderbeg ( sq, Skënderbej or ''Skënderbeu'' from ota, اسکندر بگ, İskender Bey), was an Albanian nobleman and military commander who led a rebellion against the Ottoman ...
; for
ethnic Macedonians Macedonians ( mk, Македонци, Makedonci) are a nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overt ...
,
Nikola Karev 200px, Autobiography of Georgi Karev where he claims hе was born in Bulgarian family. Nikola Janakiev Karev (Bulgarian language, Bulgarian: Никола Янакиев Карев and Macedonian language, Macedonian: Никола Јанакие ...

Nikola Karev
Considered a Bulgarian in Bulgaria and Goce Delčev; for
Bulgarians Bulgarians ( bg, българи, Balgari, ) are a nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly pol ...
,
Vasil Levski Vasil Levski ( bg, Васил Левски, spelled in old Bulgarian orthography as Василъ Лѣвскій, ), born Vasil Ivanov Kunchev (Васил Иванов Кунчев; 18 July 1837 – 18 February 1873), was a Bulgarian revol ...

Vasil Levski
,
Georgi Sava Rakovski Georgi Stoykov Rakovski ( bg, Георги Стойков Раковски) (1821 – 9 October 1867), known also Georgi Sava Rakovski ( bg, Георги Сава Раковски), born Sabi Stoykov Popovich ( bg, Съби Стойков Поп ...
and
Hristo Botev Hristo Botev ( bg, Христо Ботев, ), born Hristo Botyov Petkov (Христо Ботьов Петков; – ), was a Bulgarian revolutionary and poet. Botev is considered by Bulgarians to be a symbolic historical figure and national ...

Hristo Botev
and for
Croats Croats (; hr, Hrvati, ), also known as Croatians, are a nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more over ...

Croats
, Nikola Šubić Zrinjski. In the past several centuries, because of the frequent
Ottoman wars in Europe The Ottoman wars in Europe were a series of military conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and various European states dating from the Late Middle Ages up through the early 20th century. The earliest conflicts began during the Byzantine–Ottoman ...
fought in and around the Balkans and the comparative Ottoman isolation from the mainstream of economic advance (reflecting the shift of Europe's commercial and political centre of gravity towards the ), the Balkans have been the least developed part of Europe. According to
Halil İnalcık Halil İnalcık (7 September 1916 – 25 July 2016) was a Turkish historian. His highly influential research centered on social and economic approaches to the empire. His academic career started at Ankara University Ankara University ( tr, Ankar ...
, "The population of the Balkans, according to one estimate, fell from a high of 8 million in the late 16th-century to only 3 million by the mid-eighteenth. This estimate is based on Ottoman documentary evidence." Most of the Balkan nation-states emerged during the 19th and early 20th centuries as they gained independence from the Ottoman Empire or the Austro-Hungarian empire: Greece in 1821, Serbia, and Montenegro in 1878, Romania in 1881, Bulgaria in 1908 and Albania in 1912.


Recent history


World Wars

thumb , Austro-Hungarian troops executing Serbian civilians, 1914. Serbia lost about 850,000 people during the war, a quarter of its pre-war population. In 1912–1913 the
First Balkan War The First Balkan War ( bg, Балканска война; el, Αʹ Βαλκανικός πόλεμος; sr, Први балкански рат, ''Prvi Balkanski rat''; tr, Birinci Balkan Savaşı) lasted from October 1912 to May 1913 and invol ...

First Balkan War
broke out when the nation-states of
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
,
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...
,
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...
and
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Црна Гора, Crna Gora, lit. "Black Mountain", ) is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is o ...
united in an
alliance An alliance is a relationship among people A people is a plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and b ...
against the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th a ...
. As a result of the war, almost all remaining European territories of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th a ...
were captured and partitioned among the allies. Ensuing events also led to the creation of an independent
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...
n state. Bulgaria insisted on its status quo territorial integrity, divided and shared by the Great Powers next to the
Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) The Russo-Turkish wars (or Ottoman–Russian wars) were a series of twelve wars fought between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire between the 16th and 20th centuries. It was one of the longest series of military conflicts in History of Europe ...
in other boundaries and on the pre-war Bulgarian-Serbian agreement. Bulgaria was provoked by the backstage deals between its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on the allocation of the spoils at the end of the First Balkan War. At the time, Bulgaria was fighting at the main Thracian Front. Bulgaria marks the beginning of
Second Balkan War The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkan ...

Second Balkan War
when it attacked them. The Serbs and the Greeks repulsed single attacks, but when the Greek army invaded Bulgaria together with an unprovoked Romanian intervention in the back, Bulgaria collapsed. The Ottoman Empire used the opportunity to recapture
Eastern Thrace Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct American airline that operated from 1926 to 1991 *Eastern Air Lin ...
, establishing its new western borders that still stand today as part of modern Turkey. The
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war that began on 28 July 1914 and ended on 11 November 1918. It involved much of Europe, as well as Russia, the Unite ...
was sparked in the Balkans in 1914 when members of
Young Bosnia Young Bosnia () was a revolutionary movement active in the Condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina before World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted f ...
, a revolutionary organization with predominantly Serb and pro-Yugoslav members,
assassinated Assassination is the act of deliberately killing a prominent or important person, such as heads of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of stateb ...
the Austro-Hungarian heir
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria Archduke Franz Ferdinand Carl Ludwig Joseph Maria of Austria (18 December 1863 – 28 June 1914) was the heir presumptive An heir presumptive is the person entitled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honour, but whose positi ...

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
in Bosnia and Herzegovina's capital,
Sarajevo Sarajevo ( ; cyrl, Сарајево, ; ''see Names of European cities in different languages (Q–T)#S, names in other languages'') is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a population of 275,569 in its admi ...

Sarajevo
. That caused a war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, which—through the existing chains of alliances—led to the First World War. The Ottoman Empire soon joined the
Central Powers The Central Powers, also known as the Central Empires,german: Mittelmächte; hu, Központi hatalmak; tr, İttifak Devletleri / ; bg, Централни сили, translit=Tsentralni sili was one of the two main coalitions that fought World W ...
becoming one of the three empires participating in that alliance. The next year Bulgaria joined the
Central Powers The Central Powers, also known as the Central Empires,german: Mittelmächte; hu, Központi hatalmak; tr, İttifak Devletleri / ; bg, Централни сили, translit=Tsentralni sili was one of the two main coalitions that fought World W ...
attacking Serbia, which was successfully fighting Austro-Hungary to the north for a year. That led to Serbia's defeat and the intervention of the Entente in the Balkans which sent an expeditionary force to establish a new
front Front may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''The Front'' (1943 film), a 1943 Soviet drama film * '' The Front'', 1976 film Music * The Front (band), an American rock band signed to Columbia Records and active in the 1980s and e ...
, the third one of that war, which soon also became static. The participation of Greece in the war three years later, in 1918, on the part of the Entente finally altered the balance between the opponents leading to the collapse of the common German-Bulgarian front there, which caused the exit of Bulgaria from the war, and in turn, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, ending the First World War. With the start of the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the gr ...
, all Balkan countries, with the exception of Greece, were allies of
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was t ...

Nazi Germany
, having bilateral military agreements or being part of the Axis Pact. Fascist Italy expanded the war in the Balkans by using its protectorate Albania to invade Greece. After repelling the attack, the Greeks counterattacked, invading Italy-held Albania and causing Nazi Germany's intervention in the Balkans to help its ally. Days before the German invasion, a successful
coup d'état A coup d'état (; French for "blow of state"), often shortened to coup in English, (also known as an overthrow) is a seizure and removal of a government and its powers. Typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a politica ...
in Belgrade by neutral military personnel seized power. Although the new government reaffirmed Serbia's intentions to fulfil its obligations as a member of the Axis, Germany, with Bulgaria, invaded both Greece and Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia immediately disintegrated when those loyal to the Serbian King and the Croatian units mutinied. Greece resisted, but, after two months of fighting, collapsed and was occupied. The two countries were partitioned between the three Axis allies, Bulgaria, Germany and Italy, and the
Independent State of Croatia The Independent State of Croatia ( sh, Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH; german: Unabhängiger Staat Kroatien; it, Stato indipendente di Croazia) was a World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII ...

Independent State of Croatia
, a puppet state of Italy and Germany. During the occupation, the population suffered considerable hardship due to repression and starvation, to which the population reacted by creating a mass resistance movement. Together with the early and extremely heavy winter of that year (which caused hundreds of thousands of deaths among the poorly fed population), the German invasion had disastrous effects in the timetable of the causing a significant delay, which had major consequences during the course of the war. Finally, at the end of 1944, the Soviets entered Romania and Bulgaria forcing the Germans out of the Balkans. They left behind a region largely ruined as a result of wartime exploitation.


Cold War

During the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, which began following World War II. Historians do not fully agree on its sta ...
, most of the countries on the Balkans were governed by communist governments. Greece became the first battleground of the emerging Cold War. The
Truman Doctrine The Truman Doctrine was an American foreign policy with the primary goal of containing Soviet geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek γῆ ''gê'' "earth, land" and πολιτική ''politikḗ'' "politics") is the study of the effects of Earth ...
was the US response to the
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independenc ...
, which raged from 1944 to 1949. This civil war, unleashed by the
Communist Party of Greece The Communist Party of Greece ( el, Κομμουνιστικό Κόμμα Ελλάδας, ''Kommounistikó Kómma Elládas'', KKE) is a List of political parties in Greece, political party in Greece. Founded in 1918 as the Socialist Labour Part ...
, backed by communist volunteers from neighboring countries (Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia), led to massive American assistance for the non-communist Greek government. With this backing, Greece managed to defeat the partisans and, ultimately, remained the only non-communist country in the region. However, despite being under communist governments,
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...
(1948) and
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...
(1961) fell out with the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia, led by Marshal
Josip Broz Tito Josip Broz ( sh-Cyrl, Јосип Броз, ; 7 May 1892 – 4 May 1980), commonly known as Tito (; sh-Cyrl, Тито, links=no, ), was a Yugoslav Communism, communist revolutionary and statesman, serving in various roles from 1943 until his ...

Josip Broz Tito
(1892–1980), first propped up then rejected the idea of merging with
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
and instead sought closer relations with the West, later even spearheaded, together with India and Egypt the
Non-Aligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide. The movement originated in the ...
. Albania on the other hand gravitated toward , later adopting an
isolationist Isolationism is a category of foreign policy, foreign policies institutionalized by leaders who assert that nations' best interests are best served by keeping the affairs of other countries at a distance. One possible motivation for limiting intern ...
position. As the only non-communist countries,
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkans in Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the B ...

Turkey
were (and still are) part of
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Th ...
composing the southeastern wing of the alliance.


Post–Cold War

In the 1990s, the transition of the regions' ex-Eastern bloc countries towards democratic free-market societies went peacefully. While in the non-aligned
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
, Wars between the former Yugoslav republics broke out after Slovenia and Croatia held free elections and their people voted for independence on their respective countries' referenda. Serbia, in turn, declared the dissolution of the union as unconstitutional and the Yugoslavian army unsuccessfully tried to maintain the status quo. Slovenia and Croatia declared independence on 25 June 1991, followed by the
Ten-Day War The Ten-Day War ( sl, desetdnevna vojna), or the Slovenian War of Independence (), was a brief conflict that followed Slovenia's declaration of independence from Yugoslavia on 25 June 1991. It was fought between the Slovenian Territorial Defenc ...
in Slovenia. Till October 1991, the Army withdrew from Slovenia, and in Croatia, the
Croatian War of Independence The Croatian War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 between Croats, Croat forces loyal to the Government of Croatia—which had declared Independence of Croatia, independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) ...
would continue until 1995. In the ensuing 10 years armed confrontation, gradually all the other Republics declared independence, with Bosnia being the most affected by the fighting. The long-lasting wars resulted in a United Nations intervention and
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Th ...
ground and air forces took action against Serb forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina and
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...
. From the dissolution of Yugoslavia six republics achieved international recognition as sovereign republics, but these are traditionally included in Balkans:
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes ...

Slovenia
,
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
,
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and Pars pro toto#Geography, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sar ...
,
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
,
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Црна Гора, Crna Gora, lit. "Black Mountain", ) is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is o ...

Montenegro
and
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
. In 2008, while under UN administration, Kosovo declared independence (according to the official Serbian policy, Kosovo is still an internal autonomous region). In July 2010, the
International Court of Justice The International Court of Justice (ICJ; french: Cour internationale de justice, links=no; ), sometimes known as the World Court, is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental ...

International Court of Justice
, ruled that the declaration of independence was legal. Most UN member states recognise Kosovo. After the end of the wars a
revolution In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such ...
broke in Serbia and
Slobodan Milošević Slobodan Milošević ( sr-Cyrl, Слободан Милошевић, ; 20 August 1941 – 11 March 2006) was a Yugoslav and Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german ...
, the Serbian communist leader (elected president between 1989 and 2000), was overthrown and handed for a trial to the International Criminal Tribunal for crimes against the
International Humanitarian Law International humanitarian law (IHL), also referred to as the laws of armed conflict, is the law that regulates the conduct of war ('' jus in bello''). It is a branch of international law International law, also known as public international la ...
during the Yugoslav wars. Milošević died of a heart attack in 2006 before a verdict could have been released. Ιn 2001 an Albanian uprising in
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
forced the country to give local autonomy to the
ethnic Albanians The Albanians (; sq, Shqiptarët, ) are an ethnic group native to the Balkan Peninsula and are identified by a common Albanian Cultural heritage, ancestry, Albanian culture, culture, Albanian history, history and Albanian language, language. T ...
in the areas where they predominate. With the dissolution of
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
, an issue emerged over the name under which the former (federated) republic of Macedonia would internationally be recognized, between the new country and Greece. Being the Macedonian part of Yugoslavia (see
Vardar Macedonia Vardar Macedonia ( Macedonian and sr, Вардарска Македонија, ''Vardarska Makedonija'') was the name given to the territory of the Kingdom of Serbia The Kingdom of Serbia ( sr, Краљевина Србија, Kraljevina Srbija ...
), the federated Republic under the Yugoslav identity had the name
Republic of Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in 1991 as one of the successor states of Yugoslavia ...

Republic of Macedonia
on which it declared its sovereignty in 1991. Greece, having a large region (see
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
) also under the same name opposed to the usage of this name as an indication of a nationality. The
issue Issue or issues may refer to: * Issue (genealogy), a legal term for a person's descendants * Issue (periodicals), a number to indicate a particular periodical * Social issue, a matter that influences individuals within a society * Environmental iss ...

issue
was resolved under UN mediation and the
Prespa agreement The Prespa agreement ( el, Συμφωνία των Πρεσπών, translit=Symfonia ton Prespon, mk, Преспански договор, translit=Prespanski Dogovor), also known as the Prespes agreement, Prespa accord or Treaty of Prespa, is an ...
was reached, which saw the country's renaming into North Macedonia. Balkan countries control the direct land routes between Western Europe and South-West Asia (
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while be ...

Asia Minor
and the Middle East). Since 2000, all Balkan countries are friendly towards the EU and the US.
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
has been a member of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...

European Union
since 1981, while
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes ...

Slovenia
is a member since 2004,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
and
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It borders Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to t ...

Romania
are members since 2007, and
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
is a member since 2013. In 2005, the European Union decided to start accession negotiations with candidate countries;
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkans in Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the B ...

Turkey
, and
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
were accepted as candidates for EU membership. In 2012, Montenegro started accession negotiations with the EU. In 2014,
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...
is an official candidate for accession to the EU. In 2015,
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
was expected to start accession negotiations with the EU, however this process has been stalled over the recognition of
Kosovo Kosovo, or ; sr-Cyrl, Косово officially the Republic of Kosovo,; sr, / is a international recognition of Kosovo, partially recognised state in Southeastern Europe. It lies at the centre of the Balkans, occupying an area of , wi ...

Kosovo
as an independent state by existing EU member states.
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkans in Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the B ...

Turkey
have been
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Th ...
members since 1952. In March 2004,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It borders Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to t ...

Romania
and
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes ...

Slovenia
have become members of
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Th ...
. As of April 2009,
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is ...
and
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
are members of
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Th ...
.
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Црна Гора, Crna Gora, lit. "Black Mountain", ) is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is o ...

Montenegro
joined in June 2017. All other countries have expressed a desire to join the EU or NATO at some point in the future.


Politics and economy

Currently, all of the states are republics, but until World War II all countries were monarchies. Most of the republics are
parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ...
, excluding Romania and Bosnia which are
semi-presidential A semi-presidential system or dual executive system is a system of government in which a president exists alongside a prime minister and a cabinet, with the latter being responsible to the legislature of the state. It differs from a parliam ...
. All the states have
open Open or OPEN may refer to: Music * Open (band) Open is a band. Background Drummer Pete Neville has been involved in the Sydney/Australian music scene for a number of years. He has recently completed a Masters in screen music at the Australian ...
market economies A market economy is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system of Production (economics), production, allocation of resources, resource allocation and Distribution (economics), distribution of goods and services wit ...
, most of which are in the upper-middle-income range ($4,000–12,000 p.c.), except
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It borders Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to t ...

Romania
,
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
and
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes ...

Slovenia
that have high income economies (over $12,000 p.c.), and are classified with very high HDI, along with Bulgaria, in contrast to the remaining states, which are classified with high HDI. The states from the former
Eastern Bloc The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc, the Socialist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc, was the group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, and Southeast Asia under the influence of the Soviet Union and its ideology ( ...
that formerly had
planned economy A planned economy is a type of economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system of Production (economics), production, allocation of resources, resource allocation and Distribution (economics), distribution of goods and servic ...
system and Turkey mark gradual economic growth each year, only the economy of Greece drops for 2012 and meanwhile, it was expected to grow in 2013. The Gross domestic product ( Purchasing power parity) per capita is highest in Slovenia (over $36,000), followed by Greece (over $30,000), Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania (over $23,000), Turkey, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia ($10,000–15,000) and Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo (below $10,000). The
Gini coefficient In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption o ...

Gini coefficient
, which indicates the level of difference by monetary welfare of the layers, is on the second level at the highest monetary equality in Albania,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It occupies the whole eastern part of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia ...
and Serbia, on the third level in Greece, Montenegro and Romania, on the fourth level in North Macedonia, on the fifth level in Turkey, and the most unequal by Gini coefficient is Bosnia at the eighth level which is the penultimate level and one of the highest in the world. The unemployment is lowest in Romania (below 5%), followed by Bulgaria, Serbia (5–10%), Albania, Turkey (10–15%), Greece, Bosnia, Montenegro (15–20%), North Macedonia (over 20%) and Kosovo (over 25%). * On political, social and economic criteria the divisions are as follows: ** Territories
members Member may refer to: * Military jury, referred to as "Members" in military jargon * Element (mathematics), an object that belongs to a mathematical set * In object-oriented programming, a member of a class ** Field (computer science), entries in a ...
of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...

European Union
: Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania and Slovenia ** Territories currently in negotiation process for EU membership: Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey ** Territories with " potential candidates" status for EU membership: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo * On border control and trade criteria the divisions are as follows: ** Territories in the
Schengen Area The Schengen Area ( , ) is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for internationa ...

Schengen Area
: Greece and Slovenia ** Territories that are legally bound to join the
Schengen Area The Schengen Area ( , ) is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for internationa ...

Schengen Area
: Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania ** Territories in a
customs union A customs union is generally defined as a type of trade bloc A trade bloc is a type of trade pact, intergovernmental agreement, often part of a regional intergovernmental organization, where barriers to trade (tariffs and Non-tariff barriers to tr ...
with the EU: Turkey ** Territories members of the
Central European Free Trade Agreement The Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) is an international trade agreement between countries mostly located in Southeastern Europe. Founded by representatives of Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Polan ...
: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. * On currency criteria, the divisions are as follows: ** Territories members of the
Eurozone The eurozone, officially called the euro area, is a monetary union of 19 Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Union (EU) that have adopted the euro (Euro sign, €) as their primary currency and sole legal tender. Th ...

Eurozone
: Greece and Slovenia ** Territories using the
Euro The euro (currency symbol, symbol: euro sign, €; ISO 4217, code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 of the Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area ...

Euro
without authorization by the EU: Kosovo and Montenegro ** Territories using national currencies and are
candidates A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective recipient of an award or honor, or a person seeking or being considered for some kind of position; for example: * to be elected to an office — in this case a candidate selection procedure occurs. * ...
for the
Eurozone The eurozone, officially called the euro area, is a monetary union of 19 Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Union (EU) that have adopted the euro (Euro sign, €) as their primary currency and sole legal tender. Th ...

Eurozone
: Bulgaria ( lev), Croatia ( kuna), Romania ( leu) ** Territories using national currencies: Albania ( lek), Bosnia and Herzegovina (
convertible mark The Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark ( Bosnian/Croatian/ Serbian: , Bosnian/Serbian: ); sign: KM; code In communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among ...
), North Macedonia (
denar The dinar () is the principal currency unit in several countries near the Mediterranean Sea, and its historical use is even more widespread. The modern dinar's historical antecedents are the gold dinar, the main coin of the medieval Islamic emp ...
), Serbia (
dinar The dinar () is the principal currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray c ...
) and Turkey (
lira Lira is the name of several currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray c ...

lira
). * On military criteria the divisions are as follows: ** of
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Th ...
: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey ** Member territories of the
Partnership for Peace The Partnership for Peace (PfP) is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernme ...
with
Individual Partnership Action Plan Individual Partnership Action Plans (IPAP) are plans developed between NATO and different countries which outline the objectives and the communication framework for dialogue and cooperation between both parties. NATO launched the IPAPs initiati ...
and
Membership Action Plan Enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the process of including new member states in NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the ...
for joining NATO: Bosnia and Herzegovina ** Member territories of the
Partnership for Peace The Partnership for Peace (PfP) is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernme ...
: Serbia * On the recent political, social and economic criteria there are two groups of countries: ** Former communist territories: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia ** Capitalist and aligned to the West during the Cold War: Greece and Turkey ** During the Cold War the Balkans were disputed between the two blocks. Greece and Turkey were members of
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Th ...
, Bulgaria and Romania of the
Warsaw Pact The Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, commonly known as the Warsaw Pact (WP), was a Collective security#Collective defense, collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poli ...
, while Yugoslavia was a proponent of a third way and was a founding member of the
Non-Aligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide. The movement originated in the ...
. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina kept an observer status within the organisation.


Regional organizations

See also the Black Sea regional organizations


Statistics


Demographics

The region is inhabited by
Albanians The Albanians (; sq, Shqiptarët, ) are an ethnic group native to the Balkan Peninsula and are identified by a common Albanian Cultural heritage, ancestry, Albanian culture, culture, Albanian history, history and Albanian language, language. T ...

Albanians
,
Aromanians The Aromanians ( rup, Armãnji, Rrãmãnji) are a Romance ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a co ...
,
Bulgarians Bulgarians ( bg, българи, Balgari, ) are a nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly pol ...
,
Bosniaks The Bosniaks or Bosniacs ( bs, Bošnjaci, ; , ) are a South Slavs, South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to the Southeast European historical region of Bosnia (region), Bosnia, which is today part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A native m ...
,
Croats Croats (; hr, Hrvati, ), also known as Croatians, are a nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more over ...

Croats
, Gorani,
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group and nation native to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, namely Greece, Greek Cypriots, Cyprus, Greeks in Albania, Albania, Greeks in Italy, Ital ...

Greeks
,
Macedonians Macedonian most often refers to someone or something from or related to Macedonia (disambiguation), Macedonia. Macedonian may specifically refer to: People Modern * Macedonians (ethnic group), the South Slavic ethnic group primarily associated w ...
,
Montenegrins Montenegrins (Montenegrin language, Montenegrin and Serbian language, Serbian: Crnogorci / Црногорци, or ; literal translation, lit. "Black Mountain People") are a South Slavs, South Slavic ethnic group native to Montenegro. Genetic orig ...
,
Serbs Serbs ( sr-Cyr, Срби, Srbi, ) are a South Slavic ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a comm ...
,
Slovenes The Slovenes, also known as Slovenians ( sl, Slovenci ), are a South Slavic ethnic group native to Slovenia, and also to Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country co ...
,
Romanians The Romanians ( ro, români, ; dated exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or c ...
, Turks, and other ethnic groups which present minorities in certain countries like the
Romani Romani may refer to: Ethnicities *Romani people The Romani (), also known as the Roma, are an Indo-Aryan people, traditionally nomadic itinerants living mostly in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several ...

Romani
and
Ashkali The Ashkali ( sr, Ашкалије, Aškalije), also Hashkali ( sr, Хашкалије, Haškalije), and Balkan Egyptians (Jevgs; sr, Балкански Египћани, Balkanski Egipćani; sq, Egjiptjant; mk, Ѓупци, Gjupci) are Albani ...
.


Religion

The region is a meeting point of Eastern Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christianity,
Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pronounced , or (when the stress is on the first syllable) ( ...
and Roman Catholic Christianity. Eastern Orthodoxy is the majority religion in both the Balkan Peninsula and the Balkan region, The Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. A variety of different traditions of each faith are practiced, with each of the Eastern Orthodox countries having its own national church. A part of the population in the Balkans defines itself as irreligious. The Jewish communities of the Balkans were some of the oldest in Europe and date back to ancient times. These communities were Sephardi Jews, except in Transylvania,
Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватска :* sk, Chorvátska republika :* sl, Republika H ...

Croatia
and
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes ...

Slovenia
, where the Jewish communities were mainly Ashkenazi Jews. In
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and Pars pro toto#Geography, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sar ...
, the small and close-knit Jewish community is 90% Sephardic, and Judeo-Spanish, Ladino is still spoken among the elderly. The Sephardi Jewish cemetery in
Sarajevo Sarajevo ( ; cyrl, Сарајево, ; ''see Names of European cities in different languages (Q–T)#S, names in other languages'') is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a population of 275,569 in its admi ...

Sarajevo
has tombstones of a unique shape and inscribed in ancient Ladino. Sephardi Jews used to have a large presence in the city of Thessaloniki, and by 1900, some 80,000, or more than half of the population, were Jews. The Jewish communities in the Balkans suffered immensely during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
, and the vast majority were killed during the The Holocaust, Holocaust. An exception was the Bulgarian Jews, most of whom were saved by Boris III of Bulgaria, who resisted Adolf Hitler, opposing their deportation to Nazi concentration camps. Almost all of the few survivors have emigrated to the (then) newly founded state of Israel and elsewhere. Almost no Balkan country today has a significant Jewish minority.


Languages

The Balkan region today is a very diverse ethnolinguistic region, being home to multiple Slavic languages, Slavic and Romance languages, as well as Albanian language, Albanian,
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, Turkic languages, Turkish, and others. Romani language, Romani is spoken by a large portion of the Romani people, Romanis living throughout the Balkan countries. Throughout history, many other ethnic groups with their own languages lived in the area, among them
Thracians The Thracians (; grc, Θρᾷκες ''Thrāikes''; la, Thraci) were an Indo-European speaking people, who inhabited large parts of Eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Sh ...
,
Illyrians The Illyrians ( grc, Ἰλλυριοί, ''Illyrioi''; la, Illyrii) were a group of Indo-European speaking peoples, who inhabited the western Balkan Peninsula The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in so ...

Illyrians
, Ancient Rome, Romans, Celts and various Germanic peoples, Germanic tribes. All of the aforementioned languages from the present and from the past belong to the wider Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family, with the exception of the Turkic languages (e.g., Turkish language, Turkish and Gagauz language, Gagauz).


Urbanization

Most of the states in the Balkans are predominantly urbanized, with the lowest number of urban population as % of the total population found in Kosovo at under 40%, Bosnia and Herzegovina at 40% and Slovenia at 50%. A list of largest cities: Only the European part of Istanbul is a part of the Balkans. It is home to two-thirds of the city's 15,519,267 inhabitants.


Time zones

The time zones in the Balkans are defined as the following: * Territories in the time zone of UTC+01:00: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia * Territories in the time zone of UTC+02:00: Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey


Culture

* Balkan cuisine, Cuisine of the Balkans * Balkan music


See also

* Balkan Insight * Balkan Universities Network *
Balkanization Balkanization refers to the fragmentation, or sub-fragmentation, of a larger region or state into smaller regions or states, which may be hostile or uncooperative with one another. When sponsored or encouraged by a sovereign third party, the term ...
* History of the Balkans ** Balkan Wars * Languages of the Balkans ** Balkan sprachbund * List of Roman Catholic dioceses in the Balkans * Balkan music * Orient Express


Notes


References


Further reading

* * * * * Carter, Francis W., ed. (1977). ''An Historical Geography of the Balkans'' Academic Press. * Francis Dvornik, Dvornik, Francis (1962). ''The Slavs in European History and Civilization'' Rutgers University Press. * John V. A. Fine, Jr., Fine, John V. A., Jr. ''The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century'' [1983]; ''The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest.'' Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, [1987]. * Forbes, Nevill (1915). ''The Balkans: A History of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Rumania, Turkey '' Clarendon Press
online
* * * * * Lampe, John R., and Marvin R. Jackson (1982). ''Balkan Economic History, 1550–1950: From Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations'' Indiana University Press. * Király, Béla K., ed. (1984). ''East Central European Society in the Era of Revolutions, 1775–1856.'' * * * *
online free to borrow
* * Zametica, John (2017). ''Folly and malice: the Habsburg empire, the Balkans and the start of World War One'' London: Shepheard–Walwyn. 416 pp.


External links


Balkan Insight – Analysis from Balkans

Balkanalysis, in-depth research on Balkan geopolitics

Western Balkans Photo impression

''Shared Pasts in Central and Southeast Europe, 17th–21st Centuries''
Eds. G. Demeter, P. Peykovska. 2015. {{Authority control Balkans, Geography of Southeastern Europe Peninsulas of Europe Regions of Europe Southeastern Europe Turkish words and phrases