Balkan Mountains, an extensive range bounding the great plains of Bulgaria S. of the lower Danube. The true Balkan, or ancient Haemus, commences on the Black sea at Cape Emineh or Haemus, lat. 42° 43', and, after making a curve to the north, runs W. S. TV. to the sources of the Maritza, the ancient Hebrus, comprising about four degrees of longitude, dividing Bulgaria from Roumelia or Thrace. Here it is intersected at an acute angle by a range running N. W. and S. E. from Roumelia into Servia, and called by the ancients Rho-dope and Scomius, by moderns Despoto Dagh and Dupansha Dagh. Further west, after making a sharp curve toward the southern frontier of Servia, it becomes the Mount Orbelus of the ancients. Between Servia and Albania it is the Mons Scardus, or Kara Dagh, and thence crosses Albania, joining the Dinaric Alps and approaching the Adriatic sea. The offshoots of the Balkan both N. and S. are very numerous, extending toward the Carpathians on one side, and the mountains of Macedonia on the other. The average elevation of these mountains is about 4,000 ft. The loftiest peaks rise about 4,000 ft. higher.
The Balkan is the natural northern defence of Turkey. It has a number of passes, the principal of which is that of Shumla, by which the Russians under General Diebitsch effected a passage in 1829. Some of the rivers which take their rise in the Balkan are of considerable importance. Those which flow from the northern watershed are tributaries to the Danube, with the exception of a few which run into the Black sea. On the south the Maritza and its tributaries flow into the AEgean sea. From the western range the Morava (Margus) and the Drina (Drinus) flow north through Servia from Mount Orbelus. On the south the Mesta or Kara Su (Nestus), Struma (Strymon), and Vardar (Axius) carry off the waters into the gulfs of Contessa and Salonica, The mountains are principally of granitic formation. Marble is abundant in the southern ranges. Gold and silver were found by the ancients. Copper, iron, and lead mines also exist.