Balkans facts for kids
The Balkans is a peninsula in 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 and then continue to Slovenia as the Dinaric Alps.
Definitions and boundaries
Balkans comes from the Turkish language meaning “chain of wooded mountains” or 'swampy forest'.
The Balkans are bordered 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 Balkan Peninsula is bordered on the north by the Danube, Sava, and Krča rivers.
Countries in the Balkan region are:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
- Romania (sometimes)
- Slovenia (sometimes)
- Turkey (sometimes)
Other countries that are not in the Balkan region but that are close to it and/or play or have played an important role in the region's politics, culture and history:
- Austria (see also Austria-Hungary, Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria)
- Cyprus (see also Cyprus dispute)
- Hungary (see also Austria-Hungary)
- Italy (see Trieste and History of the Republic of Venice)
- Russia (see History of Serbia)
Population composition by nationality and religion
The region's principal nationalities include:
- Albanians (5 million)
- Bosniaks (4.5 million)
- Bulgarians (6.6 million)
- Croats (4.5 million)
- Greeks (10.7 million)
- Macedonians (1.3 million)
- Montenegrins (0.3 million)
- Romanians (22 million)
- Serbs (8 million)
- Slovenes (2 million)
- Turks (80 million)
- others (Roma, Gorani, Hungarians, Czechs ...)
The most common religions in the Balkans are Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christianity and Islam (mostly Sunni or non-denominational). Many different specific kinds 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 (Greek Orthodox Church)
- Montenegro (Serbian Orthodox Church or uncanonical Montenegrin Orthodox Church)
- North Macedonia (Serbian Orthodox Church or uncanonical Macedonian Orthodox Church)
- Romania (Romanian Orthodox Church)
- Serbia (Serbian Orthodox Church)
Roman Catholicism is the principal religion in the following countries:
Islam is the principal religion in the following countries:
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a special case - 50% are Muslim Bosniaks, 31% are Serbian Orthodox, and 15% are Catholic Croats (therefore 46% are Christian). The remaining 4% adhere to other denominations of Christianity, other religions, or are irreligious.
For more detailed information and a precise ethnic breakdown see articles about particular states:
- Albania (Demographics of Albania)
- Croatia (Demographics of Croatia)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (Demographics of Bosnia and Herzegovina)
- Bulgaria (Demographics of Bulgaria)
- Greece (Demographics of Greece)
- Montenegro (Demographics of Montenegro)
- North Macedonia (Demographics of North Macedonia)
- Turkey (Demographics of Turkey)
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- Mazower, Mark, The Balkans: A Short History, 2000
- Traian Stoianovich; Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe 1994.
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