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Örjan Martinsson

The Balkans

The Balkan Peninsula is a geographic region in south-eastern Europe that distinguish itself by having orthodox Christianity as the dominating religion and a significant minority of Muslims. These religions are a legacy from the two empires that have shaped the history of the Balkans. Together with Anatolia (the Asiatic part of Turkey) has this region for a long time been ruled from Constantinople, which is an older name for Istanbul. From the fourth century was Constantinople the capital in the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which later would be known as the Byzantine Empire. This Empire was 1453 conquered by the Ottoman Empire, which then controlled the Balkans until the nineteenth century when state after state became independent. The Ottoman retreat was completed in 1913 but the fragmentation of the Balkans has continued well into the 21st century. The latest additions among the independent states of the Balkans are Montenegro and Kosovo.