Where Are the Balkan States?

Discover Which Countries Are Included in This Region of Europe

Scenic View Of Sea Against Sky
Ronny Junnilainen / EyeEm / Getty Images

The countries lying on the Balkan Peninsula are often called the Balkan States. The region lies on the southeastern edge of the European continent and it is generally accepted to be made up of 12 countries.

Where Are the Balkan States?

The southern coast of Europe has three peninsulas, the easternmost of these is known as the Balkan Peninsula. It is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the Black Sea.

The word Balkan is Turkish of 'mountains' and most of the peninsula is covered with mountain ranges.

  • The Carpathian Mountains in Romania form the northern border.
  • The Dinaric Mountain range runs along the Adriatic coastline.
  • The Balkan Mountains are mostly found in Bulgaria, as are the Rhodopes.
  • Much of Greece includes the Pindus Mountains 

The mountains play a big role in the region's climate as well. To the north, the weather is similar to that of central Europe, with warm summers and cold winters. To the south and along the coasts, the climate is more Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and rainy winters.

Within the many mountain ranges of the Balkans are large and small rivers that are noted for their beauty and as home to a great variety of freshwater animals. Key rivers in the Balkans are the Danube and Sava rivers.

To the north of the Balkan States are the countries of Austria, Hungary, and Ukraine. Italy shares a small border with Croatia on the western edge of the region.

Which Countries Make Up the Balkan States?

It can be difficult to define exactly which countries are included in the Balkan States. It is a name that has both geographic and political definitions, with some of the countries crossing what scholars consider the 'boundaries' of the Balkans.

In general, the following countries are considered part of the Balkans:

  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Kosovo
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia​​

It is important to note that a number of these countries - Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Macedonia - formed the former country of Yugoslavia.

Within the Balkan States, a number of countries are also considered to be "Slavic states" - typically defined as Slavic-speaking communities. These include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.

Maps of the Balkan States will often include the countries listed above, which is based on geographic, political, social, and cultural factors. Other maps that have a strictly geographical approach will include the entire Balkan Peninsula. These maps will add the mainland of Greece as well as the small portion of Turkey that lies northwest of the Sea of Marmara.

What Are the Western Balkans?

When describing the Balkans, there is another regional term that is often used as well. The name "Western Balkans" describes the countries on the western edge of the region, along the Adriatic coast.

The Western Balkans include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.