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
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:
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:
- Austria (see also Austria-Hungary, Assassination in Sarajevo)
- Cyprus (see also Cyprus dispute)
- Hungary (see also Austria-Hungary)
- Italy (see Triest and History of the Venetian Republic)
- Russia (see History of Serbia)
See also the Black Sea Regional organizations
Population composition by nationality and religion
The region's principal nationalities include:
- Romanians (22 million)
- Greeks (10.5 million)
- Turks (10 million)
- Albanians (7.5 million)
- Bulgarians (6.6 million)
- Croats (4.5 million)
- Bosniaks (4.5 million)
- Slovenes (2 million)
- Macedonians (1.3 million)
- Montenegrins (0.3 million)
- others (Roma, ...)
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:
Islam is the principal religion in the following countries:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
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:
- Albania, Demographics of Albania
- Croatia, (4 million Croats, 0.2 million Serbs)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (2.4 million Bosniacs, 1.7 million Serbs, 0.7 million Croats)
- Bulgaria, Demographics of Bulgaria
- Greece, Demographics of Greece
- Montenegro, (0.3 million Montenegrins, 0.2 million Serbs)
- Republic of Macedonia, Demographics of the Republic of Macedonia
- Republic of Kosova,(2 million Albanien)
- Turkey, Demographics of Turkey
Images for kids
Golubac Fortress in Serbia, guarding the Danubian frontier of the Balkans
Apollonia ruins near Fier, Albania.
Ruins of the Roman-era palace Felix Romuliana, UNESCO, Serbia.
The 13th-century church of St. John at Kaneo and the Ohrid Lake in Macedonia. The lake and town were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
State entities on the former territory of Yugoslavia, 2008
View from Santorini in Greece. Tourism is an important part of the Greek economy.
Drvengrad (also known as Mećavnik or Küstendorf), an ethno village in Serbia and home to the annual Kusturica film festival
Approximate distribution of religions in Albania
Balkans Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.