The Southern Europe World Heritage region covers the lower areas of the European continent, including the Iberian, Italian and Balkan peninsulas. Most of its countries have coastlines jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea. Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia are landlocked, while Bulgaria and Portugal border the Black Sea and the Atlantic Ocean respectively.
The predominant climate is Mediterranean subtropical, and pine forests, olive trees, small plains and dry hills characterise the beautiful landscape. The Apennines Mountains are the source of most of Italy’s rivers, including the famous Tiber and the Arno. The Balkan Mountains contain Greece’s Mount Olympus, the highest peak in Greece, and the home of the mythical god Zeus.
Early Greek and Latin influences are seen today in the modern Greek and Romance languages typical of the region. There are also smaller pockets of Slavic languages. Germanic tongues, usually found in Northwest Europe, are represented here with English as the second choice of the inhabitants of Malta, and the official language of Gibraltar.
Comfortably mixing ancient with modern, South Europe is a colourful blend of history, modern technology, distinctive cultures, music and regional cuisine.