The major mountain range of Bulgaria and the Balkan Peninsula; Also called: Balkan Mountains, Balkan Mountain Range.
Peninsula of SE Europe, stretching into the Mediterranean Sea between the Adriatic and Aegean seas, comprising Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Slovenia, the part of Turkey in Europe, and Yugoslavia. It is joined to the rest of Europe by an isthmus 1,200 km/750 mi wide between Rijeka on the W and the mouth of the Danube on the Black Sea to the East.
The great ethnic diversity resulting from successive waves of invasion has made the Balkans a byword for political dissension. The Balkans’ economy developed comparatively slowly until after World War II, largely because of the predominantly mountainous terrain, apart from the plains of the Save-Danube basin in the North. Political differences have remained strong, for example, the confrontation of Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, and the differing types of communism that prevailed until the early 1990s in the rest. More recently, ethnic interfighting has dominated the peninsula as first Slovenia and Croatia, and then Bosnia-Herzegovina, have battled to win independence from the Serb-dominated Yugoslav federation. Despite international recognition being awarded to all three republics early 1992, fierce fighting between Serb, Croat, and Muslim factions continued in Bosnia-Herzegovina into 1994. To “Balkanize” is to divide into small warring states.