The Mediterranean Lifestyle - English
TThe original word “Balkan” is Turkish and means “wooded mountains”. In fact, the Balkan is a mountain range officially known as Stara planina (old mountain). This mountain range, stretching across Bulgaria and Serbia, is an extension of the Carpathians, with Mount Botev being the highest peak in Bulgaria at 2,376 m. However, most people who speak of the Balkans mean a much larger area, namely the Balkan Peninsula that lies on the south-eastern edge of the European continent, jutting into the Mediterranean Sea and named after this very mountain range by a geographer 200 years ago.
The mountainous landform dominates the entire region. Mountain ranges such as the Carpathian Mountains in northern Romania, the Dinaric Mountains along the Adriatic coast, the Balkan Mountains mainly in Bulgaria and the Pindus Mountains in Greece cover the area and influence the region's climate. In the north, the weather is similar to Central Europe, with warm summers and cold winters. In the south and along the coasts, the climate is more Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and rainy winters. There is no general agreement on what constitutes ‘the Balkans'. Defining Balkan states is difficult for various reasons. It depends on various factors, including geography, culture, politics, and history. Some define the region culturally and historically, others geographically, and even then there are different interpretations.
The Balkan Peninsula is the easternmost of Europe's three major southern peninsulas (Iberian Peninsula, Apennines and Balkan). It borders Italy to the northwest, Hungary to the north, Moldova and Ukraine to the north and northeast, and Greece and Turkey or the Aegean Sea to the south, depending on how the region is defined.
Because of Greece's geographic location, specifically the northern regions of Epirus and Macedonia, Greece appears on many lists of Balkan countries. However, it is generally characterized more as a Mediterranean country. Likewise Turkey, which is geographically located on two continents. The European part is on the Balkan Peninsula, while the Asian part is not.
Despite some disagreement, these 11 countries are commonly referred to as the Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.
The location has a lot to do with the history of the region, as the Balkan Peninsula is located right between Europe and Asia, but also between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Since ancient times, many peoples have immigrated here and tried to win the region for strategic reasons and to dominate important trade routes.
Today, almost 75 million people with different languages, cultures and religions (more diverse than in other parts of Europe) live in the Balkans. With their stunning architecture, unique cuisine, and picturesque landscapes, each nation has its own culture and fascinating history, and therefore wants to be perceived as an independent country.