Balkan topo en
Balkan peninsula with northwest border Soča-Krka-Sava
Balkanpeninsula
Current political map of the Balkans.

The Balkans is the historic and geographic area, a peninsula in southeastern Europe. The region has a combined area of 550,000 km² and an approximate population of 55 million people. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains which run through the centre of Bulgaria into eastern Serbia.

Definitions and boundaries

Balkan Peninsula

The Balkans are connected by water on three sides: the Black Sea to the east and branches of the Mediterranean Sea to the south and west (including the Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean and Marmara seas).

The Balkans

The identity of the Balkans is dominated by its geography; historically the area was known as a crossroads of several cultures. It has been a meeting point between the Latin and Greek parts of the Roman Empire. It became an area where Orthodox and Catholic Christianity met, as well as the meeting point between Islam and Christianity. Many Jewish people fled here from Inquisition.

Current common definition

In most of the English-speaking, western world, the countries commonly included in the Balkan region are:

Related countries

Other countries not included in the Balkan region that are close to it and/or play or have played an important role in the region's geopolitics, culture and history:

Regional organizations

CEFTA members 2007
Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA)      members      former members, joined the EU
CEI members
Central European Initiative (CEI) member states

See also the Black Sea Regional organizations

Population composition by nationality and religion

Balkans-ethnique
Ethnic map of the Balkans prior to the First Balkan War.

The region's principal nationalities include:

The region's principal religions are (Eastern Orthodox and Catholic) Christianity and Islam. A variety of different traditions of each faith are practiced, with each of the Eastern Orthodox countries having its own national church with its own patriarch.

Eastern Orthodoxy is the principal religion in the following countries:

  • Bulgaria (Bulgarian Orthodox Church)
  • Greece (Church of Greece)
  • Republic of Macedonia (Serbian Orthodox Church and uncanonical Macedonian Orthodox Church)
  • Montenegro (Serbian Orthodox Church and uncanonical Montenegrin Orthodox Church)
  • Romania (Romanian Orthodox Church)
  • Serbia (Serbian Orthodox Church)

Roman Catholicism is the principal religion in the following countries:

  • Croatia
  • Slovenia

Islam is the principal religion in the following countries:

  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Kosovo
  • Turkey

The following countries have many religious groups which exceed 10% of the total population:

  • Albania: Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosniaks are mostly Muslim, Serbs are mostly Serbian (Eastern) Orthodox and Croats are mostly Catholic.
  • Bulgaria: Islam.
  • Croatia: Serbs are Orthodox.
  • Republic of Macedonia: Albanian population is mostly Muslim.
  • Montenegro: Albanians and Bosniacs are Muslims.
  • Kosova:Albanians are Muslims

For more detailed information and a precise ethnic breakdown see articles about particular states:

Images


Balkans Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.