Balkans are often mentioned in international politics, history, economics and culture. But too often is not enough knowledge about their geography, their actual belonging to Europe and their contribution to human development and European civilization.
Geographical location, size and borders
Balkan Peninsula is of part of Southern Europe, which includes three large peninsulas - Iberian, Apennine and Balkan. It is located near the Asian continent - but is separated from it by the Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Bosphorus and Dardanelles and the Aegean Sea.
Near the Balkan Peninsula is the continent of Africa. On the Balkan Peninsula are located entirely European countries Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, most of Yugoslavia, most of Croatia, a large part of Slovenia. Small parts of the territory of the peninsula are in the northeastern part of Romania (North Dobrogea), in the south - Turkey (Eastern Thrace) and in the western part - Italy (the region of Trieste). The name Balkan Peninsula is due to the predominant mountainous terrain from the Turkish name of the Old Mountains - Balkan which means mountain. As a synonym for Balkan Peninsula is used just "Balkans".
North of the Balkan Peninsula is widely associated with Central (Central) Europe. Its northern boundary starts from the Gulf of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea and to the north continues along the rivers Isonzo and Socha to the Julian Alps. There it transfer to the valleys of Sora and Sava and east along the river Sava and Danube to the Black Sea. The Black sea, Marmara sea, Aegean sea, and the straits between themBosporus and Dardanelles servers as borders.
The southern boundary of Balkan Peninsula is closely related to eastern part of Mediterranean and in particular the Cretan Sea. To the west the Balkan Peninsula is bordering the Adriatic and Ionian Sea and the wide strait of Otranto. To the north the Balkan Peninsula is the widest and narrows to the south. In the northern part, it has a width of 1280 km between the Gulf of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea and the Danube Delta in the Black Sea. This gives it wedge shape. From north to south its greatest distance between the Iron Gates Gorge and Cape Matapan in the Peloponnese peninsula is 930 km.
Geographically to the Balkan Peninsula belong numerous islands around it, especially in western, southern and part of the eastern coast. The total area of the peninsula is 505,578 square kilometers, of which 21 500 square kilometers or 4.25% are islands. It ranks third in size among other peninsulas on the continent Europe after the Scandinavian and Iberian Peninsula.
Overall, the countries of the Balkan Peninsula are divided into three groups:
- Countries fully located in the Balkans
- Countries to which the majority of their territories are in the Balkans
- Countries that have a very small territory in the Balkans