The Balkan Peninsula, popularly referred to as the Balkans, is a geographical and cultural region of Southeast Europe. The region gets its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the east of Bulgaria to the very east of Serbia. The term "The Balkans" is sometimes used to describe only the areas in the Balkan peninsula: Moesia, Macedonia, Thrace, Kosovo, Šumadija, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, Thessaly, Epirus, Peloponnese and others, but more often it includes the rest of former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia) and several provinces in Romania, namely Vojvodina, Slavonia, Banat, Wallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, and others.
The region is mostly inhabited by Slavic ethnic groups (Bulgarians, Macedonians, Serbs, Croats, Gorani, Montenegrins, Bosniaks, Bunjevci), but also by Romanians, Greeks, Turks, Albanians, and other ethnic groups. The largest religion on the Balkans is Orthodox Christianity, followed by Catholic Christianity and Sunni Islam.
The total area of the Balkans is 257,400 square miles (666,700 square km) and the total population is 59,297,000 (2002). The Balkans meet the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, 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) on the Rila mountain range in Bulgaria.
“The geographical position of the Balkan countries brings considerable benefits to these countries, as they are situated at the crossroads of the European and Asian routes. Combined with serious problems of the region such as the lack of rule of law, chronic political instability, high unemployment rate, widespread corruption, and porous borders, this strategic geographical position brings tremendous benefits to the organized crime groups, as well. Numbers are supportive of this argument, as 200,000 of the estimated 1 million women forced into prostitution worldwide are trafficked into the whole of Europe through the Balkans. A similar study indicates that 32% of the trafficking victims detected in West and Central Europe originated from the Balkans between 2005 and 2006.”
(Alda, Bilgen. "Trafficking of Women in the Balkans: A Modern-Day Slavery."
European Strategist. (2012): n. page. Web. 31 Jul. 2012.)
Area: 603,628 km2
Population: 59,297,000 (2002)
Time Zone: UTC+1, UTC+2