Published on August 23, 2016
The Balkan Peninsula, or the Balkans, is a peninsula and a cultural area in Southeast Europe with different and disputed borders.
The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the eastern border of Serbia to the Black Sea at the east of Bulgaria.
The Balkans are bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the 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 earliest mention of the name appears in an early 14th-century Arab map, in which the Haemus mountains are referred to as Balkan.
The first attested time the name “Balkan” was used in the West for the mountain range in Bulgaria was in a letter sent in 1490 to Pope Innocent VIII by Buonaccorsi Callimaco, an Italian humanist, writer and diplomat.
The Ottomans first mention it in a document dated from 1565. There has been no other documented usage of the word to refer to the region before that, despite the fact that other Turkic tribes had already settled earlier or were passing through the Peninsula.
There exists also a claim about an earlier Bulgar Turkic origin of the word popular in Bulgaria, however it is only an unscholary assertion.
The word was used by the Ottomans in Rumelia in its general meaning of mountain, as in Kod̲j̲a-Balkan, Čatal-Balkan, and Ungurus-Balkani̊, but especially it was applied to the Haemus mountain.