Southern Europe

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 – the Balkans, including the Balkan Peninsula and surrounding Balkan countries, and the Apennine Peninsula, which is also known as the 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 at the same time. The main similarity of Southern Europe, in my opinion, is that the majority of travellers choose these countries as a destination for enjoying their holidays, especially during the summer.
Balkan countries take their 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 sea level, is Mount Musala in Bulgaria. The 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. The population in total is about 55 million. Here the statistics include Bulgaria and exclude Spain, which also is a South European country.
On this blog, similarly, as for statistical purposes of the United Nations, Bulgaria belongs to Eastern Europe.
The Apennine Mountains are the main reason for naming the peninsula. Only one country is located on the Apennine peninsula apart from two microstates – San Marino and Vatican City. More than 26 million people are 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 the 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 an 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 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia; nowadays, all those are independent countries.
The 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; the biggest of them are the Apennine Mountains and the Alps.
On this blog, there are many travel notes about the Southern Europe region, here are links to some of them: