What is Balkan? A Comprehensive Guide to the Region

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What exactly is Balkan?

It’s an important region in Europe that was previously part of the Ottoman Empire, but many people don’t know much about it beyond that basic fact. In this comprehensive guide to the Balkan region, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this fascinating area, including its history, famous and infamous figures, and how you can travel there.


First, let’s get a few things straight: Balkans is not just an ethnic or cultural term—it’s a geographic one. In its most simple form, it means The Land of Mountains. The region refers to a large chunk of southeastern Europe that includes various nations and territories spread over about ten countries—including Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, and Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia. If you’re looking for a way to wrap your head around all these countries, think of them as pieces in a jigsaw puzzle; they each have distinct borders but are part of a larger region. And while they may be different on paper, they share some commonalities: history, language, and culture.

Origins of the term Balkan

The term Balkan stems from a 15th-century Turkish word meaning mountainous or wooded. The term referred to a geographical region encompassing parts of Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Albania, Greece, and (historically) Turkey. Some scholars credit Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII (r. 945–959) with introducing the term into everyday use about a potential alliance of South Slavic nations against their common enemy—the Ottoman Empire. The Byzantines developed an extensive and highly corrupt civil service, and the imperial capital’s wealth acted as a dangerous magnet, drawing ambitious Balkan leaders to it with disastrous results.

Countries included in the Balkan region.

Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia.

Things you can do when visiting a country in Balkans
There are lots of things that make the Balkans enjoyable. You will be able to enjoy different types of food, traditional dance performances, and excellent music when visiting any country in the Balkans. You can also see several historical attractions, visit a beautiful national park or go for a walk in the forests if you want to relax for a while. All those things are possible during your holidays in the Balkans, so don’t miss out on that opportunity!

balkans definition

Balkan is Turkish for “mountains.”

Balkan is Turkish for “mountains.” The Balkan region is located in southeastern Europe and is home to several ethnic groups. The three main groups are the Slavs, the Greeks, and the Turks. The Slavs make up most of the population, followed by the Greeks and Turks.

The Balkan region has a long history of conflict. The most recent conflict was the Balkan War of 1992-1995. This war was fought between the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Croats. The war began after the breakup of Yugoslavia. The Bosnian Serbs wanted to create their own country, “Republika Srpska.” The Bosnian Croats wished to develop their own country, “Herceg-Bosna.” The war ended with the Dayton Peace Agreement, which created two separate countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska.

The Balkan region is a fascinating place with a rich history and culture. It is a region that is worth exploring. The history of the Balkans dates back to ancient times when it was part of the Greek world. In the Middle Ages, the area became known as the Byzantine Empire, which lasted from 330 AD until 1453.

balkan region

Lake Bled

Lake Bled is a lake in the Julian Alps of Slovenia. It lies at an elevation above sea level and covers an area. The town of Bled is located on its southern shoreline, while the village of Kobarid is situated on the northern side. This national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Croatia is home to an awe-inspiring series of 16 lakes that pour from one to the next down a series of waterfalls.

Slovenia’s second-largest lake, Lake Bohinj, is located nearby. Other lakes include Lake Soča, Lake Cerknica, Lake Krkonoše, and Lake Otočec. The highest peak in the surrounding mountains is Triglav, at.

The name of the lake comes from the Slovenian words bled (“clear”) and ledenje (“water”). The first written record about the lake is found in the Annales Fuldenses, dating from 1317.

The oldest surviving building in Bled is the Romanesque Church of St. Donatus, built around 1160. The church contains many items of interest, including a painting of St. George slaying a dragon.

The castle of Bled was originally built in the 9th century, but most of what we see today was reconstructed in the 19th century. The castle consists of four parts: the keep, the chapel, the residential buildings, and the gardens.

In addition to being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Slovenia, Bled is also famous for its natural beauty. The town sits at the bottom of a steep valley surrounded by towering peaks. There are over 200 waterfalls within 20 minutes drive of Bled.

In addition to these natural features, there are also numerous manmade sights such as museums, churches, and chapels. More notable ones include the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Prehistoric Man, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Protestant Church. The capital city is also well known for its annual music festival, the Julijski marathon, held every July. The 5th century saw devastation by, among others, the Alani, the Goths, and the Huns.

The Balkan Peninsula is surrounded by water.

The Balkan Peninsula is surrounded by water on three sides, and the only land border with a neighboring country is between Greece and Albania. The region has been inhabited for thousands of years, but it was not until the late 19th century that the area experienced significant political change.

The region has a long history of conflict, especially during World War I and II. During the Cold War, Yugoslavia was split into two separate states—Yugoslavia and Serbia, and Montenegro. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence in 1992, followed by Kosovo in 2008.

Balkan countries have a high degree of ethnic diversity. This can be seen in their languages, religions, and cultures. In addition to this, they share common characteristics, such as mountainous terrain, rugged coasts, and large rivers. These factors make them attractive to tourists seeking adventure and relaxation.

Visas In The Balkan Countries

The visa requirements for the countries of the former Yugoslavia, as well as Albania and Macedonia, are described in this article.

Visa Requirements For Visiting The Former Yugoslav Republics

Citizens from most western European countries can enter Bosnia and Herzegovinain without a visa. However, citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States need visas to visit the country. Bus travel reigns supreme in the Balkans (but that doesn’t mean they always run on time).

Citizens of the following countries do not require a visa to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the UK.

Citizens of the following countries must obtain an entry visa before entering Bosnia and Herzegovina: Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and North Korea.

balkan borders

Citizens of other countries are welcome to apply for citizenship, but they must prove that they have lived in the country for at least five years. If you want to become a citizen of another country, it is essential to understand what this means and how it works. You will need to provide proof of your identity, residency status, and financial resources. This is particularly important for long-term travelers as the days spent in those three Balkan nations are not included in the 90-day Schengen Zone limit.

However, one of the most significant difficulties for Balkan travel is finding reliable information on timetables, costs, and points of departure. Greece is also famous worldwide for its thousands of islands dotting the Ionian and Aegean Seas. The most challenging country to travel around is Albania, where public transport is based on fourgons (minibusses), and usually, there is no fixed schedule or even bus stations.

Banja Luka

Banja Luka is the capital of Republika Srpska and one of two cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is located on the right bank of the Sava River at its confluence with the Una river. The city has been called “the Athens of the Balkans” because of its historical importance. In addition to being the seat of government, Banja Luka is home to the University of Arts in Sarajevo, founded in 1867 by Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The city’s name comes from the Slavic word banj (“meadow”).

Atlantic Coast

Heat and humidity in the Southeast region create a warm, humid zone that stretches from the Atlantic Coast into Texas. Other pretty landmarks here not to miss include the Bishop’s Palace and, a little further out, the Novi Sad Synagogue.

Lake Ohrid

Villa Dudinka in Ohrid – perfect location, amiable owners, and spacious rooms with a view of Lake Ohrid.


Interesting facts about the Balkans

Through conquests, migrations, and settlements over many centuries, various peoples have made their home in The Balkans. Many of them have had considerable influence on modern-day culture and identity. Here are some interesting facts about some of these groups:

  • The first human habitation in Europe has located along the Danube River Valley around 30,000 BC.
  • Slavs are a branch of Indo-European peoples who have inhabited Central and Eastern Europe since 500 AD.
  • The Greeks established colonies in what is now Albania as early as 1000 BC.
  • Albanians speak an Indo-European language that traces its roots to Latin and Greek.
  • Albanian folk music uses instruments similar to Greeks and Serbs, such as violins, clarinets, and drums.
  • Did you know that the world’s oldest tree is located in the Balkans? The tree is a Bosnian pine and is over 1,500 years old! The tree is located in the village of Zavizan and is a popular tourist attraction.
  • The Saracen’s Tower in Malta is the world’s oldest freestanding fortification. The tower was built in the 12th century and is a popular tourist destination.
  • The Balkans is home to the world’s deepest lake. Lake Baikal is located in Russia and is over 5,000 feet deep. The lake is a popular tourist destination and is home to various fish and other wildlife.


What is the Balkan region?

The Balkans are geographically located in southeastern Europe, bordered by the Black Sea to the west, Turkey, and Greece to the north, Bulgaria and Romania to the east, and Serbia and Montenegro to the south. The name comes from the Greek word for “sunrise” (Balkon), referring to when the sun rises above the horizon in this part of the world.

What is the difference between the Balkans and the Republic of Macedonia?

The Republic of Macedonia is a country located in North-East Europe. It borders Greece, Bulgaria, Kosovo, and Albania. Its capital is Skopje, and it covers an area of just under 300 square miles.

Bosnia & Herzegovina is a small but beautiful country located in southeast Europe. It borders Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Albania. It is also known as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What is the Balkan region known for?

The Balkan Peninsula, also called the Balkans, is a peninsula in southeastern Europe. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times and was part of the Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Yugoslavia, and then independent states.

The most famous landmark in the Balkans is Mount Athos, located on the northern coast of Greece and is home to monasteries. Another notable site is the Orthodox Church of St. George in Veliko Turnovo, which dates back to the 14th century.

What is the difference between Baltic and Balkan?

The Baltic Sea, which includes Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, etc., is part of Europe; At the same time, the Balkans are a region in Southeastern Europe that includes Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, and parts of Hungary, Italy, Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam.

Where is the Balkan peninsula in the world?

Balkan Peninsula is a geographic and cultural region of Europe. It is situated between two seas, the Adriatic Sea to the south and the Ionian Sea to the north. The peninsula has an area of about 10,000 km2 and is bounded by the Black Sea to its west, the Aegean Sea to the northeast, the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast, and the Dardanelles Strait to the southwest. It is separated from mainland Europe by the Balkan Mountains.

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