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The BALKANS, or the BALKAN PENINSULA, is a cultural area in Eastern and Southeastern Europe with various and disputed borders. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the Serbian -Bulgarian border to the Black Sea
Black Sea
.

The Balkan Peninsula
Peninsula
is bordered by the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
on the northwest, the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
on the southwest, the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
and Aegean Sea on the south and southeast, and the Black Sea
Black Sea
on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans
Balkans
is Mount Musala 2,925 metres (9,596 ft) in the Rila
Rila
mountain range.

CONTENTS

* 1 Name

* 1.1 Etymology

* 1.2 Historical names

* 1.2.1 Classical antiquity and the early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
* 1.2.2 Late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
and Ottoman period

* 1.3 Evolution of meaning * 1.4 Southeast Europe * 1.5 Current

* 2 Definitions and boundaries

* 2.1 The Balkan Peninsula
Peninsula
* 2.2 The Balkans
Balkans
* 2.3 Western Balkans
Balkans

* 3 Nature and natural resources

* 4 History and geopolitical significance

* 4.1 Antiquity * 4.2 Early modern period

* 4.3 Recent history

* 4.3.1 World wars * 4.3.2 Cold War
Cold War
* 4.3.3 Post– Cold War
Cold War

* 5 Politics and economy

* 5.1 Regional organizations

* 6 Statistics

* 7 Demographics

* 7.1 Religion * 7.2 Languages * 7.3 Urbanization

* 8 Time zones * 9 Culture * 10 See also * 11 Notes * 12 References * 13 Sources * 14 External links

NAME

ETYMOLOGY

In Turkish , Balkan means "a chain of wooded mountains " (_balkan_), Another possibility to its etymology is related to Persian _bālk_ meaning "mud", and the Turkish suffix _an_, i.e. _swampy forest_. A less popular hypothesis regarding its etymology is that it derived from the Persian _Balā-Khāna_, meaning _big high house_.

HISTORICAL NAMES

Classical Antiquity And The Early Middle Ages

From classical antiquity through the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, the Balkan Mountains
Mountains
had been called by the local Thracian name _ Haemus _. According to Greek mythology, the Thracian king Haemus was turned into a mountain by Zeus
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 word _*saimon_, 'mountain ridge'. A third possibility is that "Haemus" (Αἵμος) derives from the Greek word "haema" (αἵμα) meaning 'blood'. The myth relates to a fight between Zeus
Zeus
and the monster/titan Typhon
Typhon
. Zeus
Zeus
injured Typhon
Typhon
with a thunder bolt and Typhon's blood fell on the mountains, from which they got their name.

Late Middle Ages
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
was in a letter sent in 1490 to Pope Innocent VIII by Buonaccorsi Callimaco, an Italian humanist, writer and diplomat. The Ottomans
Ottomans
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 Peninsula. 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
Ottomans
in Rumelia 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 with the Balkan Daglary (Balkan Mountains) and the Balkan Province of Turkmenistan . English traveler John Morritt 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 Zeune in 1808. 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

As time passed, the term gradually acquired political connotations far from its initial geographic meaning, arising from political changes from the late 19th-century to the creation of post–World War I Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
(initially the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes ). Zeune's goal was to have a geographical parallel term to the Italic and Iberian Peninsula
Peninsula
, and seemingly nothing more. The gradually acquired political connotations are newer and, to a large extent, due to oscillating political circumstances.

After the dissolution of Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
beginning in June 1991, the term "Balkans" again received a negative meaning, especially in Croatia
Croatia
and Slovenia, even in casual usage (see Balkanization ).

SOUTHEAST EUROPE

Main article: Southeast Europe

In part due to the historical and political connotations of the term "Balkans", especially since the military conflicts of the 1990s, the term "SOUTHEAST EUROPE " is becoming increasingly popular even though it literally refers to a much larger area and thus isn't as precise. A European Union
European Union
initiative of 1999 is called the _Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe _, and the online newspaper _Balkan Times_ renamed itself _ Southeast European Times _ in 2003.

CURRENT

In the languages of the region, the peninsula is known as:

* Slavic languages:

* Bulgarian : Балкански полуостров, transliterated: _Balkanski poluostrov_ * Macedonian : Балкански Полуостров, transliterated: _Balkanski Poluostrov_ * Serbian : Balkansko poluostrvo/ Балканско полуострво * Croatian : _Balkanski poluotok_ * Slovene : _Balkanski polotok_ * Bosnian : _Balkansko poluostrvo_

* Romance languages:

* Italian : _Penisola balcanica_ * Romanian : _ Peninsula
Peninsula
Balcanică_

* Other languages:

* Albanian : _Gadishulli Ballkanik_ and _Siujdhesa e Ballkanit_ * Greek : Βαλκανική χερσόνησος, transliterated: _Valkaniki chersonisos_ * Turkish : _Balkan Yarımadası_ (or alternatively: Balkanlar)

DEFINITIONS AND BOUNDARIES

THE BALKAN PENINSULA

The Balkan Peninsula, as defined by the Soča
Soča
–Vipava –Krka – Sava
Sava
Danube
Danube
border. The Peninsula's most extensive definition, bordered by water on three sides and connected with a line on the fourth

The Balkan Peninsula
Peninsula
is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
to the west, the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
Sea (including the Ionian and Aegean seas) and the Marmara Sea to the south and the Black Sea
Black Sea
to the east. Its northern boundary is often given as the Danube
Danube
, Sava
Sava
and Kupa Rivers. The Balkan Peninsula
Peninsula
has a combined area of about 470,000 km2 (181,000 sq mi) (slightly smaller than Spain
Spain
). It is more or less identical to the region known as Southeastern Europe .

From 1920 until World War II
World War II
, Italy
Italy
included Istria
Istria
and some Dalmatian areas (like _Zara_, known as Zadar
Zadar
) that are within the general definition of the Balkan peninsula. The current territory of Italy
Italy
includes only the small area around Trieste
Trieste
inside the Balkan Peninsula. However, the regions of Trieste
Trieste
and Istria
Istria
are not usually considered part of the Balkans
Balkans
by Italian geographers, due to a definition of the Balkans
Balkans
that limits its western border to the Kupa River.

Share of land area within the Balkan Peninsula
Peninsula
by country by the Danube
Danube
- Sava
Sava
definition:

Entirely within the Balkans:

* Albania
Albania
: 27,390 km2 (>99% of total land) * Bulgaria
Bulgaria
: 108,400 km2 (>99%) * Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
: 51,180 km2 (>99%) * Kosovo
Kosovo
: 10,908 km2 (100%) * Macedonia : 25,430 km2 (100%) * Montenegro
Montenegro
: 13,440 km2 (>99%)

Mostly or partially within the Balkans:

* Croatia
Croatia
(southern mainland ): 30,000 km2 (54%) * Greece
Greece
(mainland ): 104,470 km2 (80%) * Italy
Italy
( Trieste
Trieste
and Monfalcone ): 300 km2 (0.1%) * Romania
Romania
(mainland Dobruja ): 12,000 km2 (5%) * Serbia
Serbia
(southern part excluding Vojvodina , northern Belgrade
Belgrade
and Kosovo* ): 54,000 km2 (65%) * Slovenia
Slovenia
(southwestern part ): 5,000 km2 (25%) * Hungary
Hungary
(southwestern part ) 4,429.59 km2 (21%) * Turkey
Turkey
(European part ): 23,764 km2 (3%)

THE BALKANS

The abstract term "The Balkans", unlike the geographical borders of the Peninsula, is defined by the political borders of the states composing it. The term is used to describe areas beyond the Balkan Peninsula, or inversely in the case of the part of Italy
Italy
in the Peninsula, which is always excluded from the Balkans
Balkans
and as a totality is generally accepted as part of Western Europe
Western Europe
and the Apennines .

According to the _ Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
_, the Balkans
Balkans
are usually said to comprise Albania
Albania
, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
, Croatia , Kosovo
Kosovo
, the Republic of Macedonia , Montenegro
Montenegro
, Romania
Romania
, Serbia , Slovenia
Slovenia
, while Greece
Greece
and Turkey
Turkey
are often included (depending on the definition), and its total area is usually given as 666,700 square km (257,400 square miles) and the population as 59,297,000 (est. 2002).

According to an earlier version of the _Britannica_, the Balkans comprise the territories of the states of Albania, Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia
Slovenia
and the European part of Turkey; it notes Turkey
Turkey
as a non-Balkan state and the inclusion of Slovenia
Slovenia
and the Transylvanian part of Romania
Romania
in the region as dubious.

Inclusion of Balkan states in other regions:

* Albania
Albania
(alternatively placed in Southeastern Europe , Southern Europe
Europe
or Eastern Europe ) * Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
(alternatively placed in Southeastern Europe
Europe
, Southern Europe or Eastern Europe ) * Bulgaria
Bulgaria
(alternatively placed in Southeastern Europe or Eastern Europe ) * Croatia
Croatia
(alternatively placed in Central Europe
Central Europe
, Southeastern Europe , Southern Europe or Eastern Europe ) * Greece
Greece
(alternatively placed in Western Europe
Western Europe
, Southern Europe and Southeastern Europe ) * Kosovo
Kosovo
(alternatively placed in Southeastern Europe , Southern Europe
Europe
or Eastern Europe ) * Macedonia (alternatively placed in Southeastern Europe , Southern Europe or Eastern Europe ) * Montenegro
Montenegro
(alternatively placed in Southeastern Europe , Southern Europe or Eastern Europe ) * Romania
Romania
(alternatively placed in or Eastern Europe , Southeastern Europe and Central Europe
Central Europe
) * Serbia
Serbia
(alternatively placed in Southeastern Europe and Southern Europe , Central Europe
Central Europe
or Eastern Europe ) * Slovenia
Slovenia
(alternatively placed in Central Europe
Central Europe
Southern Europe
Europe
, Southeastern Europe , or Eastern Europe ) * Turkey
Turkey
(European part ) (alternatively placed in Western Asia , Southwestern Asia and Southeastern Europe )

WESTERN BALKANS

Further information: 2015 Western Balkans Summit, Vienna Western Balkan countries – Albania
Albania
, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
, Croatia
Croatia
, Macedonia , Montenegro
Montenegro
, and Serbia
Serbia
. The partially recognized Kosovo
Kosovo
is also demarcated. Croatia
Croatia
joined the EU in 2013.

The institutions of the European Union
European Union
have defined the "Western Balkans" as the south-east European area that includes countries that are not members of the European Union, while others refer to the geographical aspects. The Western Balkans
Balkans
is a neologism coined to describe the countries of "ex- Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
(minus Slovenia) and Albania". Thus, the region includes: Serbia, Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania. Each of these countries aims to be part of the future enlargement of the European Union
European Union
and reach democracy and transmission scores but, until then, they will be strongly connected with the pre-EU waiting program CEFTA
CEFTA
. Croatia, which was considered to be part of the Western Balkans, joined the EU in July 2013.

NATURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Panorama of Stara Planina . Its highest peak is Botev at a height of 2,376 m. View toward Rila
Rila
, the highest mountain in the Balkans
Balkans
which reaches 2925 m Golubac Fortress in Serbia, guarding the Danubian frontier of the Balkans
Balkans

Most of the area is covered by mountain ranges running from the northwest to southeast. The main ranges are the Balkan mountains , running from the Black Sea
Black Sea
coast in Bulgaria
Bulgaria
to its border with Serbia , the Rhodope mountains in southern Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and northern Greece
Greece
, the Dinaric Alps in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
, Croatia
Croatia
and Montenegro
Montenegro
, the Šar massif which spreads from Albania
Albania
to Macedonia , and the Pindus range, spanning from southern Albania
Albania
into central Greece
Greece
and the Albanian Alps . The highest mountain of the region is Rila
Rila
in Bulgaria, with Musala at 2925 m, Mount Olympus in Greece, the throne of Zeus, being second at 2917 m and Vihren in Bulgaria
Bulgaria
being the third at 2914 m. The karst field or polje is a common feature of the landscape.

On the Adriatic and Aegean coasts the climate is Mediterranean
Mediterranean
, on the Black Sea
Black Sea
coast the climate is humid subtropical and oceanic , and inland it is humid continental . 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
Bosnia
and Herzegovina, northern Croatia, Bulgaria, Kosovo
Kosovo
, Macedonia, northern Montenegro, the interior of Albania
Albania
and Serbia
Serbia
, while the other, less common climates, the humid subtropical and oceanic climates, are seen on the Black Sea
Black Sea
coast of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and Turkey
Turkey
; and the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
climate is seen on the coast of Albania, the coast of Croatia, Greece, southern Montenegro
Montenegro
and the Aegean coast of Turkey.

Over the centuries many woods have been cut down and replaced with bush . In the southern part and on the coast there is evergreen vegetation. Inland there are woods typical of Central Europe
Central Europe
(oak and beech , and in the mountains, spruce , fir and pine ). The tree line in the mountains lies at the height of 1800–2300 m. The land provides habitats for numerous endemic species, including extraordinarily abundant insects and reptiles that serve as food for a variety of birds of prey and rare vultures .

The soils are generally poor, except on the plains , 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 and grape flourish.

Resources of energy are scarce, except in the territory of Kosovo, where considerable coal , lead, zinc , chromium and silver deposits are located. Other deposits of coal , especially in Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, also exist. Lignite deposits are widespread in Greece. Petroleum
Petroleum
scarce reserves exist in Greece, Serbia
Serbia
and Albania. Natural gas deposits are scarce. Hydropower
Hydropower
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 , chromite , manganese , magnesite and bauxite . Some metals are exported.

HISTORY AND GEOPOLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The Jireček Line
Jireček Line
Apollonia ruins near Fier , Albania. Ruins of the Roman-era palace Felix Romuliana
Felix Romuliana
, UNESCO
UNESCO
, Serbia. Main article: History of the Balkans

ANTIQUITY

The Balkan region was the first area in Europe
Europe
to experience the arrival of farming cultures in the Neolithic
Neolithic
era. The Balkans
Balkans
have been inhabited since the Paleolithic
Paleolithic
and are the route by which farming from the Middle East
Middle East
spread to Europe
Europe
during the Neolithic (7th millennium BC). The practices of growing grain and raising livestock arrived in the Balkans
Balkans
from the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
by way of Anatolia
Anatolia
and spread west and north into Pannonia and Central Europe. Two early culture-complexes have developed in the region, Starčevo culture and Vinča culture . The Balkans
Balkans
are also the location of the first advanced civilizations. Vinča culture developed a form of proto-writing before the Sumerians 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
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
and Greek bodies of the Roman Empire , the destination of a massive influx of pagan Bulgars and Slavs
Slavs
, an area where Orthodox and Catholic
Catholic
Christianity met, as well as the meeting point between Islam
Islam
and Christianity.

In pre-classical and classical antiquity , this region was home to Greeks
Greeks
, Illyrians , Paeonians , Thracians , Dacians
Dacians
, and other ancient groups. The Achaemenid Persian Empire incorporated parts of the Balkans
Balkans
comprising Macedonia , Thrace
Thrace
, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
, and the Black Sea coastal region of Romania
Romania
between the late 6th and the first half of the 5th-century BC into its territories. Later the Roman Empire conquered most of the region and spread Roman culture and the Latin language, but significant parts still remained under classical Greek influence. The Romans considered the Rhodope Mountains
Mountains
to be the northern limit of the Peninsula
Peninsula
of Haemus and the same limit applied approximately to the border between Greek and Latin
Latin
use in the region (later called the Jireček Line
Jireček Line
). The Bulgars and Slavs
Slavs
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 . During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, the Balkans
Balkans
became the stage for a series of wars between the Byzantine Roman and the Bulgarian Empires.

EARLY MODERN PERIOD

By the end of the 16th-century, the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
had become the controlling force in the region after expanding from Anatolia
Anatolia
through Thrace
Thrace
to the Balkans. Many people in the Balkans
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 and Kolokotronis ; and for Serbs
Serbs
, Miloš Obilić
Miloš Obilić
and Tzar Lazar ; for Montenegrins , Đurađ I Balšić
Đurađ I Balšić
and Ivan Crnojević ; for Albanians , George Kastrioti Skanderbeg ; for ethnic Macedonians , Nikola Karev and Goce Delčev
Goce Delčev
; for Bulgarians , Vasil Levski , Georgi Sava Rakovski and Hristo Botev and for Croats
Croats
, Nikola Šubić Zrinjski . Modern political history of the Balkans
Balkans
from 1796 onwards. Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
, an Eastern Orthodox Christian
Eastern Orthodox Christian
cathedral built in the 6th-century in Constantinople
Constantinople
(present-day Istanbul, Turkey), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum.

In the past several centuries, because of the frequent Ottoman wars in Europe
Europe
fought in and around the Balkans
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 Atlantic ), the Balkans
Balkans
has been the least developed part of Europe. According to Halil İnalcık , "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 in harmony with the first findings 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
Ottoman Empire
or the Austro-Hungarian empire ( Greece
Greece
in 1821, Serbia, Montenegro
Montenegro
in 1878, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
in 1908, Albania
Albania
in 1912).

RECENT HISTORY

Tsarevets , a medieval stronghold in the former capital of the Bulgarian Empire
Bulgarian Empire
Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo
. The 13th-century church of St. John at Kaneo and the Ohrid Lake
Ohrid Lake
in Macedonia. The lake and town were declared a World Heritage
World Heritage
Site by UNESCO
UNESCO
in 1980.

World Wars

Austro-Hungarian troops executing Serbian civilians, 1914. Serbia
Serbia
lost about 850,000 people during the war, a quarter of its pre-war population.

In 1912–1913 the First Balkan War broke out when the nation-states of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
, Serbia
Serbia
, Greece
Greece
and Montenegro
Montenegro
united in an alliance against the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
. As a result of the war, almost all remaining European territories of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
were captured and partitioned among the allies. Ensuing events also led to the creation of an independent Albanian state. Bulgaria
Bulgaria
insisted on its status quo territorial integrity, divided and shared by the Great Powers next to the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78)
Russo-Turkish War (1877–78)
in other boundaries and on the pre-war Bulgarian-Serbian agreement. Bulgaria
Bulgaria
was provoked by the backstage deals between its former allies, Serbia
Serbia
and Greece, on the allocation of the spoils at the end of the First Balkan War. At the time, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
was fighting at the main Thracian Front. Bulgaria
Bulgaria
marks the beginning of Second Balkan War
Second Balkan War
when it attacked them. The Serbs and the Greeks
Greeks
repulsed single attacks, but when the Greek army invaded Bulgaria
Bulgaria
together with an unprovoked Romanian intervention in the back, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
collapsed. The Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
used the opportunity to recapture Eastern Thrace
Thrace
, establishing its new western borders that still stand today as part of modern Turkey.

The First World War
First World War
was sparked in the Balkans
Balkans
in 1914 when members of Mlada Bosna , a revolutionary organization with predominately Serbian and pro-Yugoslav members, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina's capital, Sarajevo
Sarajevo
. That caused a war between the two countries which—through the existing chains of alliances —led to the First World War. The Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
soon joined the Central Powers
Central Powers
becoming one of the three empires participating in that alliance. The next year Bulgaria
Bulgaria
joined the Central Powers
Central Powers
attacking Serbia, which was successfully fighting Austro- Hungary
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 , the third one of that war, which soon also became static. The participation of Greece
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
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
Second World War
all Balkan countries, with the exception of Greece, were allies of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
, having bilateral military agreements or being part of the Axis Pact
Axis Pact
. Fascist Italy expanded the war in the Balkans
Balkans
by using its protectorate Albania
Albania
to invade Greece
Greece
. After repelling the attack, the Greeks counterattacked, invading Italy-held Albania
Albania
and causing Nazi Germany's intervention in the Balkans
Balkans
to help its ally. Days before the German invasion a successful coup d\'état in Belgrade
Belgrade
by neutral military personnel seized power.

Although the new government reaffirmed Serbia's intentions to fulfill its obligations as member of the Axis, Germany, using its other two allied countries in the region, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and Hungary, invaded both Greece
Greece
and Yugoslavia. 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
Germany
and Italy, and the Independent State of Croatia
Croatia
, a puppet state of Italy
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 deaths among the poorly fed population), the German invasion had disastrous effects in the timetable of the planned invasion in Russia
Russia
causing a significant delay, which had major consequences during the course of the war.

Finally, at the end of 1944, the Soviets entered Romania
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
Cold War
, most of the countries on the Balkans
Balkans
were governed by communist governments. Greece
Greece
became the first battleground of the emerging Cold War. The Truman Doctrine was the US response to the civil war , which raged from 1944 to 1949. This civil war, unleashed by the Communist Party of Greece
Greece
, backed by communist volunteers from neighboring countries (Albania, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and Yugoslavia), led to massive American assistance for the non-communist Greek government. With this backing, Greece
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
(1948) and Albania
Albania
(1961) fell out with the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia, led by Marshal Josip Broz Tito (1892–1980), first propped up then rejected the idea of merging with Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and instead sought closer relations with the West, later even spearheaded, together with India and Egypt the Non-Aligned Movement . Albania
Albania
on the other hand gravitated toward Communist China , later adopting an isolationist position.

As the only non-communist countries, Greece
Greece
and Turkey
Turkey
were (and still are) part of NATO
NATO
composing the southeastern wing of the alliance.

Post–Cold War

In the 1990s, the transition of the regions' ex-Soviet bloc countries towards democratic free-market societies went peacefully with the exception of Yugoslavia. Wars between the former Yugoslav republics broke out after Slovenia
Slovenia
and Croatia
Croatia
held free elections and their people voted for independence on their respective countries' referenda. Serbia
Serbia
in turn declared the dissolution of the union as unconstitutional and the Yugoslavian army unsuccessfully tried to maintain status quo. Slovenia
Slovenia
and Croatia
Croatia
declared independence on 25 June 1991, followed by the Ten-Day War in Slovenia. Till October 1991, the Army withdrew from Slovenia, and in Croatia, the Croatian War of Independence would continue until 1995 . In the ensuing 10 years armed confrontation, gradually all the other Republics declared independence, with Bosnia
Bosnia
being the most affected by the fighting. The long lasting wars resulted in a United Nations
United Nations
intervention and NATO ground and air forces took action against Serb forces in Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina and Serbia
Serbia
. State entities on the former territory of Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
, 2008

From the dissolution of Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
six republics achieved international recognition as sovereign republics, but these are traditionally included in Balkans: Slovenia
Slovenia
, Croatia
Croatia
, Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina , Macedonia , Montenegro
Montenegro
and Serbia
Serbia
. In 2008, while under UN administration, Kosovo
Kosovo
declared independence (according to the official Serbian policy, Kosovo
Kosovo
is still an internal autonomous region). In July 2010, the International Court of Justice
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 broke in Serbia
Serbia
and Slobodan Milošević , the Serbian communist leader (elected president between 1989 and 2000), was overthrown and handed for trial to the International Criminal Tribunal for crimes against the International Humanitarian Law 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 Macedonia forced the country to give local autonomy to the ethnic Albanians in the areas where they predominate.

With the dissolution of Yugoslavia
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
Yugoslavia
(see Vardar Macedonia ), the federated Republic under the Yugoslav identity had the name Republic of Macedonia on which it declared its sovereignty in 1991. Greece, having a large region (see Macedonia ) also under the same name opposed to the usage of this name as an indication of a nationality. The issue is currently under negotiations after a UN initiation.

Balkan countries control the direct land routes between Western Europe
Europe
and South West Asia
Asia
( Asia Minor
Asia Minor
and the Middle East). Since 2000, all Balkan countries are friendly towards the EU and the USA.

Greece
Greece
has been the member of the European Union
European Union
since 1981 while Slovenia
Slovenia
is a member since 2004, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and Romania
Romania
are members since 2007, and Croatia
Croatia
is a member since 2013. In 2005, the European Union decided to start accession negotiations with candidate countries; Turkey
Turkey
, and Macedonia were accepted as candidates for EU membership. In 2012, Montenegro
Montenegro
started accession negotiations with the EU. In 2014, Albania
Albania
is an official candidate for accession to the EU. In 2015, Serbia
Serbia
is expected to start accession negotiations with the EU.

Greece
Greece
and Turkey
Turkey
have been NATO
NATO
members since 1952. In March 2004, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and Slovenia
Slovenia
have become members of NATO
NATO
. As of April 2009, Albania
Albania
and Croatia
Croatia
are members of NATO
NATO
. Montenegro
Montenegro
joined in June of 2017.

All other countries have expressed a desire to join the EU and NATO at some point in the future.

POLITICS AND ECONOMY

View from Santorini
Santorini
in Greece. Tourism is an important part of the Greek economy. Dubrovnik in Croatia, UNESCO's World Heritage since 1979 Drvengrad
Drvengrad
(also known as Mećavnik or Küstendorf), an ethno village in Serbia
Serbia
and home to the annual Kusturica
Kusturica
film festival

Currently all of the states are republics, but until World War II
World War II
all countries were monarchies. Most of the republics are parliamentary , excluding Romania
Romania
and Bosnia
Bosnia
which are semi-presidential . All the states have open market economies , most of which are in the upper-middle income range ($4,000 – $12,000 p.c.), however, Greece has high income economies (over $12,000 p.c.), and is also classified with very high HDI in contrast to the remaining states which are classified with high HDI. The states from the former Eastern Bloc that formerly had planned economy system and Turkey
Turkey
mark gradual economic growth each year, only the economy of Greece
Greece
drops for 2012 and meanwhile it was expected to grow in 2013. The Gross domestic product ( Purchasing power parity
Purchasing power parity
) per capita is highest in Slovenia
Slovenia
and Greece
Greece
(over $25,000), followed by Croatia
Croatia
(21,000) and then Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia ($10,000 – $15,000), Bosnia, Albania
Albania
and Kosovo
Kosovo
(below $10,000). The 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
and Serbia, on the third level in Greece, Montenegro
Montenegro
and Romania, on the fourth level in Macedonia, on the fifth level in Turkey, and the most unequal by Gini coefficient is Bosnia
Bosnia
at the eighth level which is the penultimate level and one of the highest in the world. The unemployment is lowest in Romania
Romania
(below 10%), followed by Bulgaria, Turkey, Albania
Albania
(10 – 15%), Greece
Greece
(15 – 20%), Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia
Bosnia
(20 – 30%), Macedonia (over 30%) and Kosovo
Kosovo
(over 40%).

* On political, social and economic criteria the divisions are as follows:

* Territories members of the European Union
European Union
: Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania
Romania
and Slovenia * Territories currently in negotiation process for EU membership: Montenegro, Serbia
Serbia
and Turkey * Territories official candidates for EU membership: Albania
Albania
and Macedonia * Territories with "potential candidates " status for EU membership: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
and Kosovo

* On border control and trade criteria the divisions are as follows:

* Territories in the Schengen Area : Greece
Greece
and Slovenia * Territories that are legally bound to join the Schengen Area : Bulgaria, Croatia
Croatia
and Romania * Territories in a customs union with the EU: Turkey * Territories members of the Central European Free Trade Agreement
Central European Free Trade Agreement
: Albania, Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro
Montenegro
and Serbia.

* On currency criteria the divisions are as follows:

* Territories members of the Eurozone
Eurozone
: Greece
Greece
and Slovenia * Territories using the Euro
Euro
without authorization by the EU: Kosovo and Montenegro * Territories using national currencies and are candidates for the Eurozone
Eurozone
: Bulgaria
Bulgaria
(lev ), Croatia
Croatia
(kuna ), Romania
Romania
(leu ) * Territories using national currencies: Albania
Albania
(lek ), Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina (convertible mark ), Macedonia (denar ), Serbia
Serbia
(dinar ) and Turkey
Turkey
(lira ).

* On military criteria the divisions are as follows: Aerial photo of Camp Bondsteel , the main base of the United States Army under KFOR command in Kosovo
Kosovo

* Member territories of NATO
NATO
: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Slovenia
Slovenia
and Turkey * Member territories of the Partnership for Peace with Individual Partnership Action Plan and Membership Action Plan for joining NATO: Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro * Member territories of the Partnership for Peace : Serbia

* On the recent political, social and economic criteria there are two groups of countries:

* Former communist territories: Albania, Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia
Serbia
and Slovenia * Territories with capitalist past: Greece
Greece
and Turkey * During the Cold War
Cold War
the Balkans
Balkans
were disputed between the two blocks. Greece
Greece
and Turkey
Turkey
were members of NATO
NATO
, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and Romania of the Warsaw Pact , while Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
was proponent of a third way and was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement . After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Serbia
Serbia
and Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
kept an observer status within the organisation.

REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP) member states Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe members observers supporting partners

Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) members observers Black Sea
Black Sea
Economic Cooperation (BSEC) members observers

See also the Black Sea
Black Sea
regional organizations

STATISTICS

ALBANIA BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA BULGARIA CROATIA GREECE KOSOVO MACEDONIA MONTENEGRO ROMANIA SERBIA SLOVENIA TURKEY

FLAG

COAT OF ARMS

CAPITAL Tirana
Tirana
Sarajevo
Sarajevo
Sofia
Sofia
Zagreb
Zagreb
Athens
Athens
Pristina Skopje
Skopje
Podgorica Bucharest
Bucharest
Belgrade
Belgrade
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ankara
Ankara

INDEPENDENCE November 28, 1912 March 3, 1992 October 5, 1908 June 26, 1991 March 25, 1821 February 17, 2008 November 17, 1991 June 3, 2006 May 9, 1878 June 8, 2006 June 26, 1991 October 29, 1923

CURRENT PRESIDENT Bujar Nishani Bakir Izetbegović Rumen Radev
Rumen Radev
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
Prokopis Pavlopoulos
Prokopis Pavlopoulos
Hashim Thaçi Gjorge Ivanov Filip Vujanović Klaus Iohannis Aleksandar Vučić
Aleksandar Vučić
Borut Pahor
Borut Pahor
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

POPULATION (2015) 2,886,026 3,791,622 7,153,784 4,225,316 10,955,000 1,836,978 2,069,172 620,000 19,861,400 7,114,393 2,064,188 79,463,663

AREA 28,748 km² 51,209 km² 110,879 km² 56,594 km² 131,990 km² 10,887 km² 25,713 km² 13,812 km² 238,391 km² 88,361 km² 20,273 km² 783,356 km²

DENSITY 98/km² 75/km² 64/km² 76/km² 84/km² 166/km² 80/km² 45/km² 84/km² 92/km² 102/km² 102/km²

WATER AREA % 4.7% 0.02% 2.16% 1.1% 0.99% 1.0% 1.09% 2.61% 2.97% 0.13% 0.6% 1.3%

GDP (NOMINAL) TOTAL (2016) $12.269 billion $16.324 billion $49.364 billion $49.928 billion $194.594 billion $6.471 billion $10.424 billion $4.182 billion $181.944 billion $42.139 billion $43.791 billion $751 billion

GDP (PPP) PER CAPITA (2015) $11,301 $10,492 $19,097 $21,581 $26,449 $9,540 $14,009 $16,123 $20,787 $13,671 $31,007 $18,035

GINI INDEX (2012 ) 29.0 33.0 36.0 32.0 36.7 N/A 43.2 33.2 27.3 29.7 25.6 40.0

HDI (2017) 0.764 (High ) 0.750 (High ) 0.794 (High ) 0.827 (Very High ) 0.866 (Very High ) 0.786 (High ) 0.748 (High ) 0.807 (Very High ) 0.802 (Very High ) 0.776 (High ) 0.890 (Very High ) 0.767 (High )

INTERNET TLD .al .ba .bg .hr .gr

.mk .me .ro .rs .si .tr

CALLING CODE +355 +387 +359 +385 +30 +383 +389 +382 +40 +381 +386 +90

DEMOGRAPHICS

The region is inhabited by Albanians , Aromanians
Aromanians
, Bulgarians , Bosniaks , Croats
Croats
, Gorani , Greeks
Greeks
, Macedonians , Montenegrins , Serbs
Serbs
, Slovenes , Romanians , Turks , and other ethnic groups which present minorities in certain countries like the Romani and Ashkali .

STATE POPULATION (2015) DENSITY/KM2 (2013) LIFE EXPECTANCY NOTES

Albania 2,893,005 101 78.1 years

Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina 3,825,334 75 76.6 years

Bulgaria 7,202,198 67 74.4 years

Croatia 4,225,316 76 76.6 years

Greece 9,282,837 86 80.4 years The population only of Mainland Greece
Greece
, that excludes the Ionian and Aegean Islands
Aegean Islands
, which otherwise has a population of 10,815,197 and a density of 82.

Kosovo
Kosovo
1,804,944 166 71 years

Macedonia 2,069,172 85 76 years

Montenegro 622,099 46 76.4 years

Romania 19,861,408 87 74.9 years

Serbia 7,111,973 82 75.2 years

Slovenia 2,062,874 102 78 years

Turkey 10,620,739 97 78 years The population only of European Turkey
Turkey
, that excludes the Anatolian peninsula , which otherwise has a population of 75,627,384 and a density of 97.

RELIGION

Map showing religious denominations

The region is a meeting point of Orthodox Christianity , Islam
Islam
and Roman Catholic
Catholic
Christianity. Eastern Orthodoxy is the majority religion in both the Balkan peninsula and the Balkan region. 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
Balkans
defines itself as irreligious. Approximate distribution of religions in Albania
Albania

TERRITORIES IN WHICH THE PRINCIPAL RELIGION IS EASTERN ORTHODOXY (WITH NATIONAL CHURCHES IN PARENTHESES) RELIGIOUS MINORITIES OF THESE TERRITORIES

Bulgaria: 59% ( Bulgarian Orthodox Church ) Islam
Islam
(7%) and undeclared (31%)

Greece: 98% ( Greek Orthodox Church ) Islam
Islam
(1%), Catholicism , other and undeclared

Macedonia: 66% ( Macedonian Orthodox Church ) Islam
Islam
(33%), Catholicism

Montenegro: 72% ( Serbian Orthodox Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
, Montenegrin Orthodox Church ) Islam
Islam
(19%), Catholicism (3%), other and undeclared (5%)

Serbia: 84% ( Serbian Orthodox Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
) Catholicism (5%), Islam
Islam
(3%), Protestantism (mainly Lutheranism ) (1%), other and undeclared (6%)

TERRITORIES IN WHICH THE PRINCIPAL RELIGION IS CATHOLICISM RELIGIOUS MINORITIES OF THESE TERRITORIES

Croatia
Croatia
(86%) Eastern Orthodoxy (4%), Islam
Islam
(1%), other and undeclared (7%)

Slovenia
Slovenia
(57%) Islam
Islam
(2%), Orthodox (2%), other and undeclared (36%)

TERRITORIES IN WHICH THE PRINCIPAL RELIGION IS ISLAM RELIGIOUS MINORITIES OF THESE TERRITORIES

Albania
Albania
(58%) Catholicism (10%), Orthodoxy (7%), other and undeclared (24%)

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
(51%) Orthodoxy (31%), Catholicism (15%), other and undeclared (14%)

Kosovo
Kosovo
(95%) Roman Catholicism (2%), Eastern Orthodoxy (1%)

Turkey
Turkey
(99%) Catholicism and Orthodoxy

The Jewish
Jewish
communities of the Balkans
Balkans
were some of the oldest in Europe
Europe
and date back to ancient times. These communities were Sephardi Jews , except in Transylvania
Transylvania
, Moldavia , Croatia
Croatia
and Slovenia
Slovenia
, where the Jewish
Jewish
communities were Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
. In Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina , the small and close-knit Jewish
Jewish
community is 90% Sephardic , and Ladino is still spoken among the elderly. The Sephardi Jewish
Jewish
cemetery in Sarajevo
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
Thessaloniki
, and by 1900, some 80,000, or more than half of the population, were Jews. The Jewish
Jewish
communities in the Balkans
Balkans
suffered immensely during World War II
World War II
, and the vast majority were killed during the Holocaust . An exception were the Bulgarian Jews , most of whom were saved by Boris III of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
, who resisted Adolf Hitler
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
Israel
and elsewhere. No Balkan country today has a significant Jewish
Jewish
minority.

LANGUAGES

_ Ethnic composition map of the Balkans
Balkans
from Andrees Allgemeiner Handatlas _, 1st edition, Leipzig, 1881 Main article: Languages of the Balkans
Balkans
Further information: Balkan sprachbund
Balkan sprachbund

The Balkan region today is a very diverse ethno-linguistic region, being home to multiple Slavic , and Romance languages
Romance languages
, as well as Albanian , Greek , Turkish , and others. Romani is spoken by a large portion of the Romanis living throughout the Balkan countries. Throughout history many other ethnic groups with their own languages lived in the area, among them Thracians , Illyrians , Romans , Celts and various Germanic tribes . All of the aforementioned languages from the present and from the past belong to the wider Indo-European language family, with the exception of the Turkic languages (e.g., Turkish and Gagauz ).

STATE PRINCIPAL LANGUAGE LINGUISTIC MINORITIES

Albania 95% Albanian 3% Greek, 2% Macedonian

Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina 53% Bosnian 31% Serbian, 15% Croatian, 2% other

Bulgaria 88% Bulgarian 5% Turkish, 2% Romani, 2% Macedonian 1% other, 2% unspecified

Croatia 96% Croatian 1% Serbian, 3% other

Greece 99% Greek 1% other

Kosovo
Kosovo
94% Albanian 2% Bosnian, 2% Serbian, 1% Turkish, 1% Macedonian (Gorani dialect)

Macedonia 70% Macedonian 21% Albanian, 4% Turkish, 2% Romani, 1% Serbian, 2% other

Montenegro 43% Serbian 37% Montenegrin (official), 5% Bosnian, 5% Albanian, 5% other, 4% unspecified

Romania 91% Romanian 7% Hungarian , 1% Romani

Serbia 88% Serbian 3% Hungarian, 2% Bosnian, 1% Romani, 3% other, 2% unspecified

Slovenia 91% Slovene 5% Serbo-Croatian, 4% other

Turkey 84% Turkish 12% Kurdish , 4% other and unspecified

URBANIZATION

Most of the states in the Balkans
Balkans
are predominantly urbanized; the exceptions being Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
and Kosovo
Kosovo
each being about 50% rural and 50% urban. Panoramic view of Istanbul
Istanbul

A list of largest cities:

CITY COUNTRY POPULATION AGGLOMERATION YEAR

Istanbul
Istanbul
* Turkey
Turkey
9,000,000 10,000,000 2014

Bucharest
Bucharest
Romania
Romania
1,883,425 2,272,163 2011

Sofia
Sofia
Bulgaria
Bulgaria
1,260,120 1,681,666 2014

Belgrade
Belgrade
Serbia
Serbia
1,233,796 1,659,440 2011

Zagreb
Zagreb
Croatia
Croatia
688,163 1,113,111 2011

Athens
Athens
Greece
Greece
664,046 3,753,783 2011

Skopje
Skopje
Macedonia 811,045 910,218 2014

Tirana
Tirana
Albania
Albania
418,495 800,986 2011

Plovdiv
Plovdiv
Bulgaria
Bulgaria
341,567 404,665 2014

Varna
Varna
Bulgaria
Bulgaria
335,949 344,775 2014

Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Greece
Greece
325,182 1,012,297 2011

Cluj-Napoca Romania
Romania
324,576 411,379 2011

Timișoara Romania
Romania
319,279 384,609 2011

Iași Romania
Romania
290,422 382,484 2011

Constanța Romania
Romania
283,872 425,916 2011

Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Slovenia
Slovenia
279,756 279,756 2016

Novi Sad Serbia
Serbia
277,522 341,625 2011

Sarajevo
Sarajevo
Bosnia
Bosnia
275,524 355,170 2013

Craiova
Craiova
Romania
Romania
269,506 420,000 2011

Çorlu Turkey
Turkey
253,500 273,362 2014

Brașov
Brașov
Romania
Romania
253,200 369,896 2011

* Only the European part of Turkey
Turkey
is a part of the Balkans. It is home to two thirds of the city's 14,025,646 inhabitants.

TIME ZONES

The time zones in the Balkans
Balkans
are defined as the following:

* Territories in the time zone of UTC+01:00 : Albania, Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro
Montenegro
and Serbia * Territories in the time zone of UTC+02:00 : Bulgaria, Greece, Romania
Romania
and Turkey

CULTURE

* Cuisine of the Balkans
Balkans
* Balkan music

SEE ALSO

* Balkan Insight

* Languages of the Balkans

* Balkan sprachbund
Balkan sprachbund

* Balkan Universities Network * Balkanization

* History of the Balkans

* Balkan Wars
Balkan Wars

* List of Roman Catholic
Catholic
dioceses in the Balkans
Balkans
* Music of Southeastern Europe * Orient Express

NOTES

a. ^ Kosovo
Kosovo
is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo
Kosovo
and the Republic of Serbia
Serbia
. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory . The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement . Kosovo
Kosovo
has received formal recognition as an independent state from 111 out of 193 United Nations
United Nations
member states .

b. ^ As _The World Factbook_ cites, regarding Turkey
Turkey
and Southeastern Europe; "that portion of Turkey
Turkey
west of the Bosphorus is geographically part of Europe."

REFERENCES

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Hungary
: Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
. ISBN 978-963-9052-65-9 . Retrieved June 8, 2015. * ^ Lampe, John R. (2014). _ Balkans
Balkans
Into Southeastern Europe, 1914–2014: A Century of War and Transition_. London
London
, United Kingdom : Palgrave Macmillan . ISBN 978-1-137-01907-3 . Retrieved June 8, 2015. * ^ Švob-Ðokic, Nada, ed. (2001). _Redefining Cultural Identities: Southeastern Europe_ (PDF). Zagreb
Zagreb
, Croatia
Croatia
: National and University Library in Zagreb
Zagreb
. ISBN 953-6096-22-6 . Retrieved June 8, 2015. * ^ Istituto Geografico De Agostini, _L'Enciclopedia Geografica – Vol.I – Italia_, 2004, Ed. De Agostini p.78 * ^ "Field Listing: Area". CIA: The World Factbook. Retrieved 20 January 2016. * ^ "The Law of the Sea". * ^ _A_ _B_ "Balkans". Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
. Retrieved 2015-05-03. The Balkans
Balkans
are usually characterized as comprising Albania, Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia—with all or part of each of those countries located within the peninsula. Portions of Greece and Turkey
Turkey
are also located within the geographic region generally defined as the Balkan Peninsula, and many descriptions of the Balkans include those countries too. Some define the region in cultural and historical terms and others geographically, though there are even different interpretations among historians and geographers....Generally, the Balkans
Balkans
are bordered on the northwest by Italy, on the north by Hungary, on the north and northeast by Moldova and Ukraine, and on the south by Greece
Greece
and Turkey
Turkey
or the Aegean Sea (depending on how the region is defined)...For discussion of physical and human geography, along with the history of individual countries in the region, see Albania, Bosnia
Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey. Area 257,400 square miles (666,700 square km). Pop. (2002 est.) 59,297,000. * ^ _A_ _B_ Crampton. _The Balkans
Balkans
Since the Second World War_. * ^ "The World Factbook". _cia.gov_. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ _I_ _J_ "Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings". _ United Nations
United Nations
Statistics Division- Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49)_. Retrieved 20 January 2016. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ "OECD countries". _EuroVoc – Multilingual Thesaurus of the European Union_. Retrieved 20 January 2016. * ^ "The World Factbook". _cia.gov_. * ^ "The World Factbook". _cia.gov_. * ^ Lonnie Johnson, _Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends_, Oxford University Pres * ^ "In the Heavy Shadow of the Ukraine/ Russia
Russia
Crisis, page 10" (PDF). _European Bank for Reconstruction and Development_. September 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2015. * ^ "UNHCR in Central Europe". _UNCHR_. Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. * ^ "Central European Green Corridors – Fast charging cross-border infrastructure for electric vehicles, connecting Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Germany
Germany
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