Nature, Wildlife and Natural Resources

As its name, which means ‘A string of forested mountains’ in Turkish, suggests the Balkans are covered in mountain ranges that make up the vast bulk of the terrain. There are the Sar Mountains, the Pindus Mountains, the Dinaric Alps, which run from north to south; and there are the Balkan Mountains and Rhodope Mountains which run east to west. Out of these mountains, perhaps the most famous is Mount Olympus in Greece which is featured as the mountain of the gods in Greek mythology. The vast majority of the region is heavily forested, but there are also plains regions which are suitable to agriculture and here a great deal of food is produced. 

The climate of the region can be divided out into three primary categories: continental, alpine and coastal. The continental areas of the country are where food is grown and these house the bulk of the population in each of the different Balkan nations. Here the summers are hot and the winters generally feature some level of snowfall, often quite heavy. However, in the upper reaches of the mountainous areas, the snow is much more intense and the winters tend to be much longer than the summers, not to mention far colder. The coastal climates are described as Mediterranean in nature which means that the sun shines more throughout the year and rather than any particular extremes, there is a much balmier type of weather. To the north, the Balkan nations have longer, colder winters than in the milder southern parts of the region.

Due to not only the forest areas, but the vast abundance of both lakes and rivers in this part of the world, there are a huge number of different animals to be found here. The lynx is one of the most impressive of the predatory mammals, eagles have impressed many here throughout history and there are even species of turtles that charm visitors to this part of the world. One of the biggest aspects of wildlife flourishing in this part of the world is the fact that many bird species migrate here during certain parts of the year so in places such as Lake Skadar in Montenegro there can often be seen millions of birds in one location. The biodiversity in the Balkans has made it one of the major stars of the ecotourism industry.

Mining also plays a major role in the economies of many nations here and the resources available include: copper, zinc, tin and bauxite. The harvesting of trees continues, as well, and species such as fir, beech, and oak are prevalent here. Oil and natural gas reserves are not as heavy as in other parts of the world, but they are present.

Filed Under: The Balkans

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