Basic facts about Southern Europe
Separating different regions is not that easy; it could be either done by geographical location, geopolitical indicators, historical identity or many other criteria. On this blog, Southern Europe is represented as a set of countries located on two major peninsulas in the south of Europe – Balkans, including the Balkan Peninsula and surrounding Balkan countries, and the Apennine Peninsula, which is also known as Italian Peninsula. All those also include many Greek and Croatian islands as well as Italian islands – Sardinia and Sicily, representing Southern Europe as a whole. These countries have a lot in common, being very diverse in the same time. The main similarity of the Southern Europe, in my opinion, is that majority of travellers choose these countries as a destination for enjoying their holidays, especially during the summer.
Balkan countries take its name from the Balkan Mountains and include Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Serbia and other independent countries previously known as parts of Yugoslavia. The Balkan Peninsula is surrounded by by the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Turkish Straits and the Black Sea. The highest mountain, reaching 2,925 metres above the sea level, is Mount Musala in Bulgaria. Total area of the region is about 466,877 square kilometres; for comparison, it is a bit smaller than Spain and slightly bigger than Morocco. Population in total about 55 million. Here in statistics is included Bulgaria and excluded Spain, which also is South European country. On this blog, similarly as for statistical purposes of of the United Nations, Bulgaria belongs to the Eastern Europe.
The Apennine Mountains are the main reason for naming the peninsula. Only one country is located on the Apennine peninsula apart of two microstates – San Marino and Vatican City. There are more than 26 million people living in Italy, its territory, both of peninsula and the northern part of Italy, is around 294 thousand square kilometres; about the same size as Philippines and slightly bigger than New Zealand.
Other interesting facts
On the Balkan peninsula there was a large country Yugoslavia located for most of the 20th century; after World War I as a union of the South Slavic people the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was established, with and officially recognised name of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia from the 3rd October of 1929. After the Second World War, in 1946, Yugoslavia was renamed the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. The Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia consisted of the Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia; nowadays, all those are independent countries.
Contemporary history of Italy is also exciting. For example, I was surprised to find out that Italians abolished their monarchy and established a democratic Republic only in the middle of 20th century, after after a referendum held on 2 June 1946. Another interesting fact – over one third of Italian territory consists of mountains; biggest of them are the Apennine Mountains and the Alps.
See below some travel notes or scroll up to navigate through topics related to the Southern Europe region.