The whole of what may be called the trunk or massif of the Balkan peninsula, bounded on the north by the rivers Save and Danube, on the west by the Adriatic, on the east by the Black Sea, and on the south by a very irregular line running from Antivari (on the coast of the Adriatic) and the lake of Scutari in the west, through lakes Okhrida and Prespa (in Macedonia) to the outskirts of Salonika and thence to Midia on the shores of the Black Sea, following the coast of the Aegean Sea some miles inland, is preponderatingly inhabited by Slavs. These Slavs are the Bulgarians in the east and centre, the Serbs and Croats (or Serbians and Croatians or Serbo-Croats) in the west, and the Slovenes in the extreme north-west, between Trieste and the Save; these nationalities compose the southern branch of the Slavonic race. The other inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula are, to the south of the Slavs, the Albanians in the west, the Greeks in the centre and south, and the Turks in the south-east, and, to the north, the Rumanians. All four of these nationalities are to be found in varying quantities within the limits of the Slav territory roughly outlined above, but greater numbers of them are outside it; on the other hand, there are a considerable number of Serbs living north of the rivers Save and Danube, in southern Hungary. Details of the ethnic distribution and boundaries will of course be gone into more fully later; meanwhile attention may be called to the significant fact that the name of Macedonia, the heart of the Balkan peninsula, has been long used by the French gastronomers to denote a dish, the principal characteristic of which is that its component parts are mixed up into quite inextricable confusion.
Of the three Slavonic nationalities already mentioned, the two first, the Bulgarians and the Serbo-Croats, occupy a much greater space, geographically and historically, than the third. The Slovenes, barely one and a half million in number, inhabiting the Austrian provinces of Carinthia and Carniola, have never been able to form a political state, though, with the growth of Trieste as a great port and the persistent efforts of Germany to make her influence if not her flag supreme on the shores of the Adriatic, this small people has from its geographical position and from its anti-German (and anti-Italian) attitude achieved considerable notoriety and some importance.
Of the Bulgars and Serbs it may be said that at the present moment the former control the eastern, and the latter, in alliance with the Greeks, the western half of the peninsula. It has always been the ambition of each of these three nationalities to dominate the whole, an ambition which has caused endless waste of blood and money and untold misery. If the question were to be settled purely on ethnical considerations, Bulgaria would acquire the greater part of the interior