Depending on whether you’re talking about geography, or you’re taking into consideration historical and cultural factors, the list of countries included in the Balkans vary. Generally, the Balkans include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, mainland Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, part of Turkey, and Slovenia. Throughout the entire Balkan region, you’ll find awe-inspiring architecture, churches, mosques, castles, and museums.
So, without further ado, allow us to take you on a tour with these 44 interesting facts about the Balkans…
What do all Balkan countries have in common?
1. Language and heritage
Based on their common past, language origins, and heritage, the Balkan people share much in terms of culture, superstitions, traditions, and lifestyle.
2. The term “Balkans”
For some observers, the term “Balkans” is freighted with negative references associated with the region’s history of ethnic divisiveness and political upheaval.
3. Neighbouring countries
Generally, the Balkans are bordered by Italy, Hungary, Moldova, and Ukraine, and by Greece and Turkey or the Aegean Sea.
4. A view of the sea
The Balkans is splashed by the Adriatic Sea in the west, the Ionian Sea in the southwest, and the Black Sea in the east.
Countries that would rather not be considered as part of the Balkans…
5. Why is Slovenia a Balkan country?
Slovenia is considered a Balkan country because of its long historical ties with its southeast neighbours and because of its former incorporation in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ).
6. Why Slovenians like to be considered Central European?
Slovenia’s recent independence has allowed the Slovenes to re-proclaim their desire to be considered Central European.
7. Greece’s northern parts
Considered as parts of the Balkans are Greece’s northern parts, but it’s arguably better characterized as primarily a Mediterranean country.
8. Why are the Greeks distancing themselves from the Balkans?
The Greeks, like the Slovenes, also distance themselves from the Balkans and are almost exclusively considered as a part of Southern Europe.
9. Sometimes numbered among Balkan countries
Turkey, too, is sometimes numbered among Balkan countries, as a result of Anatolia’s presence on the peninsula.
10. The Ottoman Turks
They cast a long shadow of political dominance over the region for centuries.
11. The Balkan’s origin
The word Balkan means “mountain” in Turkish, and the Balkan Peninsula is certainly dominated by this type of landform, especially in the west.
Facts about the Republic of Serbia
12. The capital of Serbia
The capital of Serbia and the former capital of Yugoslavia is Belgrade, a city with world-renowned nightlife and history.
A common greeting in Serbia is Ciao, and it’s used for hello and goodbye.
Facts about the Republic of Montenegro
14. The capital of Montenegro
The capital of the newly-founded Republic of Montenegro is Podgorica.
15. The most famous tourist destination
Budva is a famous tourist destination in Montenegro on the Adriatic Coast. Near Budva, you can visit the famous summer retreat of celebrities, Sveti Stefan.
Facts about the Republic of Kosovo
16. The capital of Kosovo
Prishtina is the capital of the disputed Republic of Kosovo and has more to offer than might be expected.
Facts about the Republic of Slovenia
17. The capital of Slovenia
Ljubljana is the capital city of Slovenia.
18. Beautiful natural landscape
In Slovenia, you can enjoy the beautiful natural landscape of lakes called Plitvice Lakes.
Facts about the Republic of Romania
19. The capital of Romania
The Romanian capital is Bucharest, a diverse mosaic of different ideologies and historical periods with hidden charms.
20. Are you a Dracula fan?
Romania is probably best known for Transylvania, the forested region, with its preserved medieval towns, churches, castles, including the famous Bran Castle, associated with the legend of Dracula.
Facts about the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
21. The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo, also known as the “Jerusalem of Europe”, is the Bosnian capital offering many attractions like the old town Baš Čaršija, the Jewish Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Sarajevo War Tunnel.
22. Winter Olympics
In 1984, the XIV Winter Olympic Games were held in Sarajevo. Readers of Yugoslav newspapers chose the mascot and the winner was Vučko, the little wolf, designed by Jože Trobec, a Slovenian designer and illustrator.
Facts about the Republic of North Macedonia
23. The capital city of North Macedonia
Skopje is the capital of North Macedonia with major restoration works underway and landmarks of its Ottoman-dominated past.
24. The most ‘European’ city
Bitola, another city in North Macedonia is considered the most “European” city in the country due to its neoclassical architecture. The people are always dressed up and always have a time for coffee and chat at Wide Alley (Широк Сокак).
25. The jewel in North Macedonia’s crown
That jewel is the city of Ohrid and Lake Ohrid representing a unique heritage of art, history, architecture, and nature, part of the World Heritage List since 1979.
Facts about the Republic of Bulgaria
26. The capital of Bulgaria
Sofia, the Bulgarian capital is famous for its nightlife, old Roman ruins, hot springs, museums, and monuments.
27. The biggest ski resort
Bansko is Bulgaria’s biggest ski resort, situated at the foot of the Pirin Mountains.
28. Bansko’s popularity
Bansko is very popular among European tourists for its affordable prices and authentic Bulgarian atmosphere.
29. The famous Burgas
The city Burgas in Bulgaria is famous for shopping, nightlife, beaches, sand sculptures, and the “Sea Garden” Park. It’s a transportation centre for Bulgarian Black Sea resorts such as Sunny Beach.
30. The ancient town of Sozopol
Near Burgas, you can find the quaint ancient town of Sozopol, known in ancient times as Apollonia.
31. ‘Little Vienna’
Ruse is a city on the Danube River known for its architecture as “Little Vienna”.
Facts about the Republic of Albania
32. The capital of Albania
Tirana is Albania’s capital with a rich history, currently undergoing modernization.
Facts about the Republic of Croatia
33. The capital of Croatia
In Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, you can always enjoy the city with a cup of coffee.
34. The Flower Square
If you like to rest, after all the sightseeing, this square in Zagreb is full of chairs to sit on, rest and enjoy the city.
35. Where to go next?
Zagreb also offers museums, parks, the Jarun Lake, shopping, restaurants, and small bakeries.
36. The most visited place in Croatia
Dubrovnik in Croatia is the most visited place on the Adriatic coast.
The strong Balkan bond
37. Balkan languages
The languages that are spoken in the Balkans include Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Romanian, Slovenian, Serbian, Turkish, and Greece.
38. Former Republic of Yugoslavia
Before nationalist tension rose in Former Yugoslavia, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin were all considered a single language, Serbo-Croatian.
39. South Slavic language group
The national languages of most of the countries in former Yugoslavia and Bulgaria are members of the South Slavic language group.
40. You know one language, you almost know them all
In these Balkan countries, it is possible to communicate if you have a basic understanding of Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian or Bulgarian.
41. Turbulent but charming
While lately, the very word of Balkans may translate to ethnic strife and civil wars, the Balkans has a rich, often turbulent history, wonderful nature, charming multicultural towns, impressive monasteries, vast mountains with beautiful forests, and pleasant lakes.
42. Lovely beaches
Beachgoers won’t be disappointed in the Balkan region, either, due to hundreds of kilometres of coastline on both the Adriatic and Black Seas.
Raise your glasses to the sound of music
43. Folk music
The Balkans is known for their great folk music tradition, both joyful and melancholic.
44. Cheers- Живели! Živjeli! На здравје! На здраве!…
Often loud, but warm at heart the Balkan people brew their own strong alcohol (rakija) and enjoy drinking and socializing!
Do you know any fun facts about the Balkans? Share them in the comments below!
Are you interested in finding out more? Check out these interesting facts about Slovenia