The Balkans: History
The Ottoman Era
Full-fledged empire came to the Balkans with the Ottoman Turks, who began their conquests of the region in 1362 by taking Adrianople (modern Edirne, Turkey), and advanced up the Balkan Peninsula over the next century.
Bosnia Between Empires
The disposition of the Balkan territories was a major point of conflict and competition between the Great Powers, with conflict centering on the strategically vital Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The northwestern Balkans came under Hapsburg rule early on. The Hapsburgs acquired the Slovene lands of the Frankish Empire in the 10th century, added Styria, Carinthia and Carniola in the 13th century, and Istria and Trieste in the 14th century.
World War I
As the Ottoman Empire decayed during the late 19th century, the three pre-Ottoman Balkan powers, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria, scented the opportunity to revive their fortunes.
The Yugoslav Kingdom
After the war ended, the Great Powers convened in Paris to decide the fate of the two former empires lands. The 1919 Paris Peace Conference tried to ratify earlier divisions of the Balkans and create new ones.
World War II
Economically dependent on Germany, the Balkans states were immediately polarized by Hitlers rise to power. Austrias merger into the German Reich in 1938 brought Germany to Yugoslavias northern border.
The new Yugoslavia that emerged in 1945 was a federation of six republics, structured to prevent renewed Serbian domination of Yugoslavia. But it also left large Serb minorities in many of the new republics.