Mountain range, Balkan Peninsula, southeastern Europe. Extending southeast from Bulgaria through Macedonia and Greece, the range is drained by tributaries of the Maritsa River. It forms an important climatic barrier, protecting the Aegean lowlands from cold northerly winds. The mountains were a refuge for Slavic peoples during the period of Turkish rule (15th–19th century), and ancient customs survive. The lakes, river valleys, and extensive forests form the basis of a tourist industry.
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