Nature and natural resources

Nature and natural resources

Most of the area is covered by mountain ranges running from the northwest to southeast. The main ranges are the Balkan mountains, running from the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria to its border with Serbia, the Rhodope mountains in southern Bulgaria and northern Greece, the Dinaric Alps in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro, the Šar massif which spreads from Albania to Macedonia, and the Pindus range, spanning from southern Albania into central Greece and the Albanian Alps.

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*Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Meteora, Greece

The highest mountain of the region is Rila in Bulgaria, with Musala at 2925 m, Mount Olympus in Greece, the throne of Zeus, being second at 2917 m and Vihren in Bulgaria being the third at 2914 m. The karst field or polje is a common feature of the landscape.

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Politics and economy in the Balkans

Politics and economy in the Balkans

Currently all of the states are republics, but until World War II all except Turkey were monarchies. Most of the republics are parliamentary, excluding Romania and Bosnia which are semi-presidential.

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All the states have open market economies, most of which are in the upper-middle income range ($4,000 – $12,000 p.c.), however, Greece has high income economies (over $12,000 p.c.), and is also classified with very high HDI in contrast to the remaining states which are classified with high HDI.

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Cold War (Balkan)

Cold War

During the Cold War, most of the countries on the Balkans were governed by communist governments. Greece became the first battleground of the emerging Cold War.

The Truman Doctrine was the US response to the civil war, which raged from 1944 to 1949.

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This civil war, unleashed by the Communist Party of Greece, backed by communist volunteers from neighboring countries (Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia), led to massive American assistance for the non-communist Greek government.

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World Wars (Balkan)

Recent history and World Wars

World war I

In 1912–1913 the First Balkan War broke out when the nation-states of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro united in an alliance against the Ottoman Empire.

As a result of the war, almost all remaining European territories of the Ottoman Empire were captured and partitioned among the allies. Ensuing events also led to the creation of an independent Albanian state.

Bulgaria insisted on its status quo territorial integrity, divided and shared by the Great Powers next to the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) in other boundaries and on the pre-war Bulgarian-Serbian agreement.

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History and geopolitical significance

History and geopolitical significance

Antiquity

The Balkan region was the first area in Europe to experience the arrival of farming cultures in the Neolithic era. The Balkans have been inhabited since the Paleolithic and are the route by which farming from the Middle East spread to Europe during the Neolithic (7th millennium BC).

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The practices of growing grain and raising livestock arrived in the Balkans from the Fertile Crescent by way of Anatolia and spread west and north into Pannonia and Central Europe. Two early culture-complexes have developed in the region, Starčevo culture and Vinča culture.

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The Name ” Balkan “

Name “Balkan

The abstract term “The Balkans”, unlike the geographical borders of the Peninsula, is defined by the political borders of the states comprising it. The term is used to describe areas beyond the Balkan Peninsula, or inversely in the case of the part of Italy in the Peninsula, which is always excluded from the Balkans and as a totality is generally accepted as part of Western Europe and the Apennines.

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The Balkans are usually said to comprise Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, while Greece , Romania ,Italy and Turkey are often included (depending on the definition), and its total area is usually given as 470,000  square km (181,000 square miles) and the population as 59,297,000 (est. 2002).

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Balkan

The Balkan Peninsula, or the Balkans, is a peninsula and a cultural area in Southeastern Europe with various and disputed borders. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the Serbia-Bulgaria border to the Black Sea.

The Balkans are bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea on the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala 2,925 metres (9,596 ft) in the Rila mountain range.

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Etymology

In Turkish, Balkan means “a chain of wooded mountains” (Balkan). Another possibility to its etymology is related to Persian bālk meaning “mud”, and the Turkish suffix an, i.e. Muddy Place. The name is still preserved in Central Asia with the Balkan Daglary (Balkan Mountains) and the Balkan Province of Turkmenistan. A less popular hypothesis regarding its etymology is that it derived from the Persian Balā-Khāna, meaning big high house.

In the languages of the region, the peninsula is known as:

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