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The name of the Balkan peninsula was coined by the German geographer August Zeune in 1809, in his book Gea: Versuch Einer Wissenschaftlischen Erdbeschreibung. Zeune called the peninsula Balkanhalbeiland, using the name of the Balkan mountain range, known in classical times as Haemus, in present-day Bulgaria. The term soon gained wide currency because of the need for a convenient way of referring to a region and a diverse collection of peoples — and, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, new countries — which had previously lurked little noticed under the cloaks of the Austro- Hungarian and the Ottoman Empires. The Balkan territories of the Ottomans, which comprised some two-thirds of the peninsula, were commonly referred to as ‘Turkey-in-Europe’ or the ‘Near East’, a term whose ghostly presence is felt — like the twitching of a severed limb — in the way we continue to refer to the Middle and the Far East even today. As an increasing number of Western travellers visited the Balkans and wrote about the peninsula, and as the independence movements gradually achieved their objectives in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the region's collection of borderlands and peripheries slowly crystallized into a new Balkan identity in what resembled a version of a geo-political Rorschach test.
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