The people who reside in the nations that make up the Balkans regions come from a huge number of different ethnic roots and they hail from a variety of different tribes and civilizations that have come to meet in this region down through the centuries. This part of Europe is among the most mixed of any geographic area in terms of ethnicity, religion and cultural influences. Massive forces in human civilization have met in this part of the world over and over again. This is the place where Latin and Greek roots of the Roman empire have met and intermixed in antiquity. It is also one of the first places human beings traveled to after leaving the area known as the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. As a result of so much intermixing, it can be difficult to sort out all of the various influences which have combined here to create such a unique blend of heritages. What can be said clearly is that most of the cultures in the Southern part of Europe and the Western part of the Middle East have made their way into the Balkans in one shape or form and left their mark here. Continental European culture, Middle Eastern culture and Mediterranean culture all have played very important roles in shaping each of the populations of the nations that make up the Balkans today.

Many different languages thrive today in the Balkans, whether or not they are official, and most of these spring from two primary sources: Greek language and Slavic tongues of the Southern Slavic language system. No matter whether one is discussing Croatian or Montenegrin language, nearly all of the languages here derive from one of those two roots with significant influences being present from Middle Ages Latin. 

Religions play a very big part of the lives of the people in this region of the world and the dominant forces are Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism and Islam. In Eastern Orthodoxy, every nation has a state church and the countries which feature these as the primary religion are: Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro. The Roman Catholic Church is the dominant religion in Croatia and Slovenia, but it is Islam that holds sway in Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Aside from these, there are many other smaller minority religions including variations of the Jewish faith which populate much of this region, albeit in much smaller numbers.

Filed Under: The Balkans

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