Landlocked and largely mountainous in the west and south, Serbia lies within several mountain systems: the Dinaric Alps in the west, the Kopaonik range in the southwest, and the Balkan Mts. in the east. Much of Serbia slopes generally north toward the Danube and Sava rivers and is drained chiefly by the Drina (which forms part of the western border), Kolubara, Morava, and Timok rivers and their tributaries. The northeast is part of the fertile Danubian plain; it is drained by the Danube, Sava, Tisa (Tisza), and Morava rivers. Politically, the country consists of Serbia proper with the cities of Belgrade, Niš, and Kragujevac and Vojvodina province with Subotica and Novi Sad.
The population consists primarily of Serbs, with Magyar (Hungarian), Gypsy, Bosniak, Montenegrin, and other minorities. The Serbs are very closely related to the Montenegrins and closely related to the Croats. but have been marked by different historical experiences. The Serbs also distinguish themselves culturally from the Croats through their membership in the Orthodox Eastern rather than Roman Catholic church and through the differences between Serbian and Croatian (forms of Serbo-Croatian), most obviously the use of the Cyrillic rather than the Roman alphabet.
About one third of the population is engaged in farming. Wheat, corn, sugar beets, sunflowers, hemp, and flax are the chief crops; the fertile plains of Vojvodina are the most productive agricultural areas. Serbia proper has extensive vineyards and is one of Europe's major regions for fruit growing (notably plums). Manufacturing is the largest contributor to the economy; manufactures include agricultural machinery; electrical, communications, and transportation equipment; and paper and pulp. Serbia's mineral wealth includes oil and natural gas, coal, iron ore, copper, and zinc. The political turmoil of the 1990s (see under History) greatly exacerbated Serbia's already severe economic problems. Exports include manufactured goods, food, live animals, machinery, and transportation equipment.
Serbia is governed under the constitution of 2006. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is elected by the National Assembly. Members of the 250-seat, unicameral National Assembly are popularly elected to serve four-year terms. Administratively, Serbia is divided into 161 municipalities.
Serbs settled in the Balkan Peninsula in the 6th and 7th cent. and accepted Christianity in the 9th cent. Their petty principalities were theoretically under a grand zhupan, who usually recognized Byzantine suzerainty. Civil strife and constant warfare with their Bulgarian, Greek, and Magyar neighbors characterized the early history of the Serbs. Rascia, the first organized Serbian state, was probably founded in the early 9th cent. in the Bosnian mountains; it steadily expanded from the 10th cent. Bulgaria, meanwhile, challenged Byzantium for suzerainty over the Serbs.
Stephen Nemanja, whom the Byzantine emperor recognized as grand zhupan of Serbia in 1159, founded a dynasty that ruled for two centuries. His son and successor assumed the title king of all Serbia in 1217 with the pope's blessing. However, the king's brother, Sava, archbishop of Serbia, succeeded in having papal influence eliminated from the kingdom; in 1219 he won recognition from the patriarch of Constantinople of an autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church. The Serbian kingdom was at first overshadowed by the rapid rise of the Bulgarian empire under Ivan II (Ivan Asen), but under Stephen Dušan, who became king in 1331 and czar in 1346, Serbia became the most powerful empire in the Balkan Peninsula, much of which it absorbed. Its might contrasted sharply with the decadent Byzantine Empire.
Even among European states, Serbia was noted for its high economic, social, and cultural level. After Stephen's death in 1355, however, the empire decayed and fell victim to the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks. The Serbs suffered defeat at the Maritsa River in 1371; that same year the last czar, Stephen Urosh V, died without male issue. His successor, Lazar, contented himself with the title prince of Serbia. Lazar was slain in 1389 during the battle of Kosovo Field, in which the cream of Serbian nobility was massacred and the fate of independent Serbia sealed. For Serbs, Kosovo retains its symbolic significance, which contributed to Serbia's opposition in the late 20th cent. to Kosovo's separatist movement.
Lazar's son, Stephen, was allowed to rule (1389-1427) over a diminished and divided Serbia by Sultan Beyazid I, to whom he paid tribute. Although he and his successor, George Brankovich (reigned 1427-56), received the title despots (lords) from the Byzantine Empire, the Turks gradually absorbed their lands. The quarrel over the Brankovich succession facilitated the complete annexation of Serbia by Sultan Muhammad II in 1459. Belgrade, then held by Hungary, fell to the Turks in 1521. During the centuries-long Turkish occupation of Serbia, national traditions and the memory of the Dušan's empire were preserved by the Serbian Orthodox Church.Turkish Rule
Serbia became a Turkish province, with its pashas residing at Belgrade. Turkish rule in Serbia was more oppressive than in most Turkish provinces. The Serbian nobility was annihilated and its lands distributed to the Turkish military aristocracy, while the Christian peasants (rayas) were treated like virtual slaves. Although the Serbs were forbidden to possess weapons, frequent insurrections erupted. No attempt was made to curb Christianity; but the Serbian Church was placed in the hands of unpopular Greek Phanariots (see under Phanar). Many Serbs fled to Hungary and Austria to help those countries fight the sultans. Turkish reverses in 17th- and 18th-century wars against Austria and Russia revived Serbian hopes for independence.
The liberation struggle began in 1804, when Karageorge ("Black George," Serbian Karadjordje) led a rebellion that eventually freed the pashalik (province) of Belgrade from the Turks. Russia, also at war with Turkey, then formed an alliance with Serbia. The Treaty of Bucharest (1812) forced Turkish recognition of Serbian autonomy, but Russian preoccupation with Napoleon's invasion allowed the Turks to renew their tyranny in Serbia. A revolt flared in 1815 under Miloš Obrenović, who in 1817 procured the assassination of his rival Karageorge and became prince of Serbia. Turkey proved unable to challenge his power. In 1829, Russia forced the Treaty of Adrianople upon the sultan, who had to grant Serbian autonomy under Russian protection and to recognize Miloš as hereditary prince. Except for garrisons in Belgrade and other fortresses, the Turks evacuated Serbia.Restoration of Serbia
Much of Serbia's ensuing history revolved around the bloody feud between the Karadjordjević and Obrenović families. Miloš's absolutist tendencies caused popular resentment and forced his abdication in 1839; his son, Michael, shared the same fate. In 1842, Alexander Karadjordjević was recalled to the throne. The Congress of Paris, meeting in 1856 at the conclusion of the Crimean War, placed Serbia under the collective guarantee of the European powers while continuing to acknowledge Turkish suzerainty.
Miloš returned to power in 1858 at the behest of the Serbian parliament, but died two years later. Miloš's son Michael returned to the throne in 1860. In 1867 the last Turkish troops left Serbia. Upon the assassination of Michael (1868), his cousin, Prince Milan Obrenović, succeeded.
Milan liberalized the constitution in 1869, granting more power to the Skupchtina (lower house of Parliament). He also supported the rebellion of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Turkish rule and in 1876 declared war on Turkey. The rout of the Serbs led Russia to enter the war on the Serbian side. The Congress of Berlin (1878) recognized Serbia's complete independence and increased its territory. The placing of Bosnia and Herzegovina under Austro-Hungarian administration disappointed the Serbs, however.
Serbia's championship of Pan-Slavism in the Balkans engendered bitter rivalry with Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary. Milan, who was proclaimed king in 1882, harmed Serbian prestige by fighting an unsuccessful war with Bulgaria in 1885 over the question of Eastern Rumelia. The assassinations of King Alexander Obrenović (reigned 1889-1903) and his unpopular queen marked the end of the Obrenović dynasty.
With the accession of Peter I in 1903, the Karadjordjević dynasty entrenched itself. Peter restored the liberal constitution of 1889 and in 1904 appointed as premier Nikola Pašić, leader of the strongly nationalist and pro-Russian Radical party. The strengthening of parliamentary government and expansion of the economy greatly raised Serbia's prestige and exerted a powerful attraction on the South Slavs who remained under Austro-Hungarian rule. Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 was designed to quell sentiment in that region for union with Serbia. The angry Serbs retaliated by creating a Balkan League (Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece) to liberate the Balkan Slavs from both Austro-Hungarian and Turkish rule.
In 1912 the league declared war on and defeated Turkey, but the allies could not agree on division of the spoils. Dissatisfied with its failure to secure a major portion of Macedonia in the first of the Balkan Wars, Serbia in 1913 turned against and defeated its former Bulgarian ally in the Second Balkan War. Serbia's victory made it the foremost Slavic power in the Balkans but greatly increased tensions with Austria-Hungary. When a Serbian nationalist (acting without governmental collusion) assassinated Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914, the empire declared war on Serbia, thus precipitating World War I.
The Serbian army fought bravely, but in 1915, when Bulgaria joined the Central Powers and Germany reinforced the Austrians, Serbia was overrun. The Serbian troops and government were evacuated to Kérkira (Corfu), where in 1917 Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, and Montenegrin representatives proclaimed the union of South Slavs. In 1918 the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, headed by Peter I of Serbia, officially came into existence. After that, the history of Serbia is essentially that of Yugoslavia.Serbia within Yugoslavia
Serbia's predominant position in the new kingdom was a major cause for unrest in Croatia and Macedonia in the period between World Wars I and II. After the conquest and dismemberment of Yugoslavia in World War II, German occupation forces set up a puppet government in a much-diminished Serbia. The Serbs waged guerrilla warfare under the leadership of DraŽa Mihajlović. Later, Marshal Tito and his pro-Communist partisans attracted the majority of the Yugoslav resistance fighters, while Mihajlović's following became mostly restricted to the Serbian nationalists. The Yugoslav constitution of 1946 stripped Serbia of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, which became constituent republics. In the postwar years, Serbia had one of the more conservative Yugoslav Communist governments. The desire of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo for independence or for union with Albania resulted in periodic unrest.
In 1986, Slobodan Milošević became leader of the Serbian Communist party. He and his supporters revived the vision of a "Greater Serbia," comprising Serbia proper, Vojvodina, Kosovo, and the Serb-populated parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Beginning in 1989, Serbia ended Kosovo's autonomy, which had been granted in the 1974 constitution, and sent in troops to suppress the protests of Kosovo's Albanian majority.
In May, 1991, Serbia blocked the ascension of Croatian leader Stipe Mesić to the head of the collective presidency, triggering the breakaway of Slovenia and Croatia and the end of the old Yugoslavia. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, established in 1992 by Serbia and Montenegro, was thoroughly dominated by Serbia, a situation that led by the end of the decade to a strong movement in Montenegro for increased autonomy or independence.
Serbia was the main supplier of arms to ethnic Serbs fighting to expand their control of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In response, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Yugoslavia, which were eased in Sept., 1994, after Yugoslavia announced it was cutting off aid to the Bosnian Serbs, and in late 1995 Serbia signed a peace accord with Bosnia and Croatia. Milan Milutinović was elected president of Serbia in 1997, but most power remained in the hands of Milošević, who became president of Yugoslavia (1997-2000). In Mar., 1999, following the continued repression of ethnic Albanians in the province and the breakdown of negotiations between Albanian Kosovars and Serbia, NATO began bombing military and other targets in Serbia as hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians were forcibly deported from Kosovo. In June, Milošević agreed to withdraw his forces, and NATO peacekeepers entered the province.
The Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) won early parliamentary elections held (Dec., 2000) after Milošević lost the Yugoslavian presidency to Vojislav Koštunica, and formed the first noncommunist, nonsocialist government in Serbia in 55 years. Zoran Djindjić became prime minister. The DOS pledged to create a market economy and to dismantle the authoritarian state Milošević had established., and subsequently (2001) turned the former president over to the UN war crimes tribunal at the Hague.
Relations between Djindjić and Yugoslavian president Koštunica became increasingly strained, with the prime minister more concerned about improving the economy and relations with Western Europe than preserving the Yugoslavian federation, which had become strained as Montenegro demands for greater autonomy turned increasingly into demands for independence. However, in Mar., 2002, a pact designed to preserve the federation was signed by Serbian and Montenegrin representatives. The pact, which was approved by the federal and republics' parliaments, gave both republics greater autonomy while maintaining a shared foreign and defense policy. The federation officially became the "state union" of Serbia and Montenegro in Feb., 2003.
Three elections for Serbian president in late 2002 resulted in a victory for but failed to produce a sufficient turnout to be valid under the constitution; Nataša Mićić was appointed acting president. Djindjić was assassinated in Mar., 2003, and Serbian officials accused a criminal gang of responsibilty. The assassination resulted in extensive arrests of governmental, security, and criminal figures associated with organized crime and the former Milošević regime, and 12 men were convicted of involvement in 2007. Zoran Živkovic was elected as Djindjić's successor.
A fourth attempt to elect a president failed, as the Nov., 2003, balloting again did not draw a sufficient number of voters. The parliamentary elections the following month resulted in a plurality for the the Serbian Radical party, an ultranationalist opposition party. Three pro-reform parties, however, formed a minority government in Mar., 2004, with the support (but not participation) of the Socialist party, and Koštunica became prime minister. That same month Kosovo erupted in anti-Serb violence that appeared designed to drive Serbs from mixed areas. Koštunica called, as he had before, for the partition of province into Albanian and Serb cantons. The United Nations and Albanian Kosovars rejected that solution, but Serbia remains opposed to complete independece for Kosovo, and the ultimate status of Kosovo is unresolved.
In June, 2004, Boris Tadić, a pro-Western reformer and the Democratic party candidate, won the presidency after a runoff, defeating Tomislav Nikolić, the Serbian Radical candidate and front-runner in the first round. When Montenegro finally held a referendum on declaring independence in May, 2006, Montenegrins approved the move, and the following month Montenegro declared its independence from the union of Serbia and Montenegro. Two days later, on June 5, Serbia proclaimed itself a sovereign state and the legal heir of the defunct union. The action marked the complete, if prolonged, dissolution of the former Yugoslavia into the constituent republics that had been established after World War II. In Oct., 2006, one of the parties in Koštunica's coalition withdrew, forcing new elections in Jan., 2007. In November Serbia adopted a new constitution; one of its articles proclaimed Kosovo an inalienable part of Serbia.
In 2007 the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in a case filed by Bosnia that originated in 1993, found that Serbia had violated international law when it failed to prevent genocide against Bosnian Muslims and then failed to prosecute those responsible for it. The ICJ did not, however, find Serbia guilty of genocide, as Bosnia had charged. Such a finding would have required proving intent on the part of Serbia's leaders, and the ICJ had limited access to internal Serbian and Yugoslavian government evidence.
The Jan., 2007, parliamentary elections were inconclusive, with the strongly nationalist Radicals placing first, the president's party second, and the prime minister's third; no party won as much as 30% of the vote. A coalition between the president's and prime minister's parties seemed most feasible, but Koštunica's insistence that a coalition government take a hard line on Kosovo's independence stymied negotiations until mid-May, when the two parties agreed on coalition with two smaller parties. Koštunica remained prime minister, but divisions in the coalition have since threatened the government's stability. In Mar., 2007, UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari, unable to reach a compromise with Serbia and Kosovo, presented a plan for Kosovo's eventual independence to the UN Security Council, but Russia insisted on a solution acceptable to both Kosovo and Serbia, and the year ended without a resolution to the issue.
Tadić was reelected in Feb., 2008. Shortly thereafter, Kosovo declared its independence, an act that Serbia refused to recognize. Tensions in the government over joining the EU, many of whose members had recognized Kosovo, led Koštunica (who objected to proceeding with EU membership) to resign, and new elections were called for May, 2008. Tadić's Democratic party placed first, and after negotiations formed a government (July) with the Socialists, who favored entering the EU; Democrat Mirko Cvetković became prime minister. One apparent effect of the new government's installation was the arrest (July) in Serbia of Radovan KaradŽić, the former Bosnian Serb leader wanted on war crimes charges, and his extradition to The Hague.
See L. S. Stavrianos, The Balkans since 1453 (1958); H. W. Temperly, History of Serbia (1917, repr. 1970); S. K. Pavlowitch, The Albanian Problem in Yugoslavia (1982); L. Lydall, Yugoslavia in Crisis (1989); M. Vickers, Between Serb and Albanian (1998).
Former federated country situated on the west-central Balkan Peninsula of southern Europe. Between 1929 and 2003, three federations bore the name Yugoslavia (“Land of the South Slavs”). After the Balkan Wars of 1912–13 ended Turkish rule in the Balkan Peninsula and Austria-Hungary was defeated in World War I, a Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was established, comprising the former kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro (including Serbian-held Macedonia), as well as Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austrian territory in Dalmatia and Slovenia, and Hungarian land north of the Danube River. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia, officially proclaimed in 1929 by King Alexander I and lasting until World War II, covered 95,576 sq mi (247,542 sq km). The postwar Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia covered 98,766 sq mi (255,804 sq km) and had a population of about 24 million by 1991. In addition to Serbia and Montenegro, socialist Yugoslavia included four other republics now recognized as independent states: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia. The “third Yugoslavia,” inaugurated on April 27, 1992, had roughly 45percnt of the population and 40percnt of the area of its predecessor and consisted of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, which in 2003 abandoned the name Yugoslavia and renamed the country Serbia and Montenegro. By 2006 the republics had become separate countries.
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Serbia (Србија, Srbija), officially the Republic of Serbia (Република Србија, Republika Srbija), is a landlocked country in Central and Southeastern Europe, covering the southern part of the Pannonian Plain and the central part of the Balkans. Serbia is bordered by Hungary to the north; Romania and Bulgaria to the east; the Republic of Macedonia and Albania to the south; and Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to the west. The capital is Belgrade.
For centuries, located at, and shaped by, the cultural boundaries between the East and the West, a powerful medieval kingdom – later renamed the Serbian Empire – occupied much of the Balkans. The Serbian state disappeared by the mid-16th century, torn by domestic feuds, Ottoman-, Venetian-, Hungarian- and later, Austrian occupations. The success of the Serbian revolution in 1817 marked the birth of modern Serbia, centered in the Šumadija region. Within a century it reacquired Kosovo and Metohija, Raška region and Vardar Macedonia from the Ottoman Empire. Likewise, in 1918 the former autonomous Habsburg crownland of Vojvodina proclaimed its secession from Austria-Hungary to unite with the Serbia, preceded by the Syrmia region.
The current borders of the country were established after World War II, when Serbia became a federal unit within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Serbia became an independent state again in 2006, after Montenegro left the Serbia and Montenegro union which had been the last fragment of the former Yugoslavia remaining in the 21st century following the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
In February 2008, the parliament of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. Serbia's government, as well as the UN Security Council, have not recognized Kosovo's independence. The response from the international community has been mixed. Presently, Kosovo is recognised by UN states, opposed by 144 UN states which do not. On October 8th 2008, the majority of the UN states backed Serbia in its judicial move on Kosovo, aimed at determining whether the secession was legal.
Serbia is a member of the United Nationsmember of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the Council of Europe. It is also a potential candidate for membership in the European Union and a militarily neutral country.
Serbia is at the crossroads between Central, Southern and Eastern Europe, between the Balkan peninsula and the Pannonian plain. The country is intersected by several major navigable rivers: the Danube (2850km), Sava (945 km), Tisa (1358km), joined by the Timiş River (350 km) and Begej (254 km), all of which connect Serbia with Northern and Western Europe (through the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal – North Sea route), to Eastern Europe (via the Tisa–, Timiş–, Begej – and Danube – Black sea routes) and to Southern Europe (via the Sava river). Two largest Serbian cities- Belgrade and Novi Sad- are major regional Danubian harbours. The northern third of the country is located entirely within the Central European Pannonian plain. The easternmost tip of Serbia extends into the Wallachian Plain. The north eastern border of the country is determined by the Carpathian Mountain range, which runs through the whole of Central Europe. The Southern Carpathians meet the Balkan Mountains, following the course of the Velika Morava, a 500 km long (partially navigable) river. The Midžor peak is the highest point in eastern Serbia at 2156 m. In the southeast, the Balkan Mountains meet the Rhodope Mountains, connecting the country with Greece. The Šar Mountains of Kosovo form the border with Albania, with one of the highest peaks in the region, Djeravica (2656 m). Dinaric Alps of Serbia follow the flow of the Drina river (at 350 km navigable for smaller vessels only) overlooking the Dinaric peaks on the opposite shore in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Over a quarter of Serbia's overall landmass (27%) is covered by forest.
The Serbian climate varies between a continental climate in the north, with cold winters, and hot, humid summers with well distributed rainfall patterns, and a more Adriatic climate in the south with hot, dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy inland snowfall. Differences in elevation, proximity to the Adriatic sea and large river basins, as well as exposure to the winds account for climate differences. Vojvodina possesses typical continental climate, with air masses from Northern and Western Europe which shape its climatic profile. South and South-west Serbia is subject to Mediterranean influences. However the Dinaric Alps and other mountain ranges contribute to the cooling down of most of the warm air masses. Winters are quite harsh in Sandžak because of the mountains which encircle the plateau.
The verage annual air temperature for the period 1961–90 for the area with an altitude of up to 300m is 10.9 °C. The areas with an altitude of 300m to 500m have an average annual temperature of around 10.0 °C, and over 1000 m of altitude around 6.0 °C.
Following their settlement in the Balkans around 630 A.D. Serbs were ruled by the descendants of the Unknown Archont; its three related medieval dynasties follow a continuous bloodline all the way to the 1400s A.D.
At first heavily dependent on the Byzantine Empire as its vassal, under the Višeslav-Vlastimirović dynasty- Raška (Rascia)- gained independence by expulsion of the Byzantine troops and heavy defeat of the Bulgarian army (847-850). Official adoption of Christianity soon followed (under Prince Mutimir Vlastimirović). First dynasty died out in 960 A.D. with the death of Prince Časlav, who managed to unify all the Serb populated lands, centered between contemporary South Serbia and Montenegro, almost all of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the coastal south of Croatia. The wars of succession for the Serb throne led to incorporation into the Byzantine Empire (971).
An uprising in Duklja around 1040 overthrew Byzantine rule and assumed domination over the Serbian lands between 11-12th centuries under the 2nd dynasty of Vojislavljević (descendants of the 1st dynasty). In 1077 A.D. Duklja became the first Serb Kingdom (under Michael I- ruler of Tribals and Serbs), following the establishment of the catholic Bisphoric of Bar. With the recuperation and rise of Raška from late 12th century onwards, however, the centre of the Serb world (Raska, Duklja, Travunia, Zahumlje, Pagania and Bosnia) has again moved northwards, further from the Adriatic coast. Although fully converted to Christianity as early as 865 AD, this relocation to the north and east also meant a shift towards the Eastern Orthodox rather than the Catholic faith (initially predominant in the south following the East-West Schism). By the beginning of the 14th century Serbs lived in four distinctly independent kingdoms- Dioclea, Rascia, Bosnia and Syrmia.
The House of Nemanjić, descendants of the kings of Duklja, have moved from Duklja to Raška, signaling this shift towards continental Serbia in the late 12th century. Direct result of this was the establishment of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1217, which rivalled the Catholic Bisphoric of Bar. The Serbian apogee in economy, law, military matters, and religion ensued; the Serbian Kingdom of Raška was proclaimed in 1219, joined later by the Kingdom of Syrmia, Banovina of Mačva and Bosnia; finally, the Serbian Empire under Stefan Dušan was formed in 1346. Under Dušan's rule, Serbia reached its territorial peak, becoming one of the larger states in Europe, portraying itself as the heir of the run-down Byzantine Empire. The renowned Dušan's Code, a universal system of laws, was enforced. The Serbian identity has been profoundly shaped by the rule of this dynasty and its accomplishments, with Serbian Orthodox Church assuming the role of the national spiritual guardian.
As a result of internal struggle between rival noble families, and heavy losses inflicted by the Ottomans in the epic Battle of Kosovo, the Serbian Empire had dissolved into many statelets by the beginning of the 15th century. Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, constant struggles took place between various Serbian kingdoms on the one hand, and the Ottoman Empire on the other. The turning point was the fall of Constantinople and its last emperor (of Serbo-Greek ethnicity) Constantine XI, to the Turks. The Serbian Despotate fell in 1459 following the siege of the "temporary" capital Smederevo, followed by Bosnia a few years later, and Herzegovina in 1482. Montenegro was overrun by 1499. Belgrade was the last major Balkan city to endure Ottoman onslaughts, when it joined the Catholic Kingdom of Hungary. Serbs, Hungarians and European crusaders heavily defeated the Turkish in the Siege of Belgrade of 1456. Several Serbian despots ruled in parts of Vojvodina as vassals of the Hungarian kings with the title of Hungarian barons. After repelling Ottoman attacks for over 70 years, Belgrade finally fell in 1521, along with the greater part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Forceful conversion to Islam became imminent, especially in the southwest (Raška, Kosovo and Bosnia). Republic of Venice grew stronger in importance, gradually taking over the coastal areas.
The Early modern period saw the loss of Serbia's independence to the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, interrupted briefly by the revolutionary state of the Emperor Jovan Nenad in the 16th century. Modern times witnessed the rise of the Habsburg Monarchy (known as the Austrian Empire, later Austria-Hungary), which fought many wars against the Ottoman Turks for supremacy over Serbia. Three Austrian invasions and numerous rebellions (such as the Banat Uprising) constantly challenged Ottoman rule. Vojvodina endured a century long Ottoman occupation before being ceded to the Habsburg Empire in the 17th-18th centuries under the terms of the Treaty of Karlowitz (Sremski Karlovci). As the Great Serb Migrations depopulated most of Kosovo and Serbia proper, the Serbs sought refuge in more prosperous (and Christian) North and West were granted imperial rights by the Austrian crown (under measures such as the Statuta Wallachorum in 1630). The Ottoman persecutions ofChristians culminated in the abolition and plunder of the Patriarchate of Peć in 1766. As Ottoman rule in the South grew ever more brutal, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I formally granted the Serbs the right to their autonomous crown land, speeding up their migrations into Austria.
The quest for independence of Serbia began during the Serbian national revolution (1804-1817), and it lasted for several decades. During the First Serbian Uprising led by Karađorđe Petrović, Serbia was independent for almost a decade before the Ottoman army was able to reoccupy the country. Shortly after this, the Second Serbian Uprising began. Led by Miloš Obrenović, it ended in 1815 with a compromise between the Serbian revolutionary army and the Ottoman authorities. The famous German historian Leopold von Ranke published his book "The Serbian revolution" (1829). They were the easternmost bourgeois revolutions in the 19th-century world. Likewise, Principality of Serbia abolished feudalism- second in Europe after France.
The Convention of Ackerman (1828), the Treaty of Adrianople (1829) and finally, the Hatt-i Sharif of 1830, recognised the suzerainty of Serbia with Miloš Obrenović I as its hereditary Prince. The struggle for liberty, a more modern society and a nation-state in Serbia won a victory under first constitution in the Balkans on 15 February 1835. It was replaced by a more conservative Constitution in 1838.
In the two following decades (temporarily ruled by the Karadjordjevic dynasty) the Principality actively supported the neighbouring Habsburg Serbs, especially during the 1848 revolutions. Interior minister Ilija Garašanin published The Draft (for South Slavic unification), which became the standpoint of Serbian foreign policy from the mid-19th century onwards. The government thus developed close ties with the Illyrian movement in Croatia-Slavonia (Austria-Hungary).
Following the clashes between the Ottoman army and civilians in Belgrade in 1862, and under pressure from the Great Powers, by 1867 the last Turkish soldiers left the Principality. By enacting a new constitution without consulting the Porte, Serbian diplomats confirmed the de facto independence of the country. In 1876, Montenegro and Serbia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, proclaiming their unification with Bosnia. The formal independence of the country was internationally recognized at the Congress of Berlin in 1878, which formally ended the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78; this treaty, however, prohibited Serbia from uniting with Principality of Montenegro, and placed Bosnia and Raška region under Austro-Hungarian occupation to prevent unification.
From 1815 to 1903, Serbia was ruled by the House of Obrenović (except from 1842 to 1858, when it was led by Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević). In 1882, Serbia, ruled by King Milan, was proclaimed a Kingdom. In 1903, the House of Karađorđević, (descendants of the revolutionary leader Đorđe Petrović) assumed power. Serbia was the only country in the region that was allowed by the Great Powers to be ruled its own domestic dynasty. During the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), the Kingdom of Serbia tripled its territory by acquiring part of Macedonia, Kosovo, and parts of Serbia proper.
As for Vojvodina, during the 1848 revolution in Austria, Serbs of Vojvodina with the help of Croatia-Slavonia established an autonomous region known as Serbian Vojvodina. As of 1849, the region was transformed into a new Austrian crown land known as the Serbian Voivodship and Tamiš Banat. Although abolished in 1860, Habsburg emperors claimed the title Großwoiwode der Woiwodschaft Serbien until the end of the monarchy and the creation of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918.
On 28 June 1914 the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Gavrilo Princip (a Yugoslav unionist member of Young Bosnia) and an Austrian citizen, led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Kingdom of Serbia. In defense of its ally Serbia, Russia started to mobilize its troops , which resulted in Austria-Hungary's ally Germany declaring war on Russia. The retaliation by Austria-Hungary against Serbia activated a series of military alliances that set off a chain reaction of war declarations across the continent, leading to the outbreak of World War I within a month.
The Serbian Army won several major victories against Austria-Hungary at the beginning of World War I, such as the Battle of Cer and Battle of Kolubara - marking the first Allied victories against the Central Powers in WWI. Despite initial success it was eventually overpowered by the joint forces of the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria in 1915. Most of its army and some people went into exile to Greece and Corfu where they recovered, regrouped and returned to Macedonian front (World War I) to lead a final breakthrough through enemy lines on 15 September 1918, freeing Serbia again and defeating Austro-Hungarian Empire and Bulgaria. Serbia (with its major campaign) was a major Balkan Entente Power which contributed significantly to the Allied victory in the Balkans in November 1918, especially by enforcing Bulgarias capitulation with the aid of France. The country was militarilly classified as a minor Entente power. Serbia was also among the main contributors to the capitulation of Austria-Hungary in Central Europe.
Prior to the war, the Kingdom of Serbia had 4.5 million inhabitants. According to the New York Times, in 1915 alone 150,000 people are estimated to have died during the worst typhus epidemics in world history. With the aid of the American Red Cross and 44 foreign governments, the outbreak was brought under control by the end of the year. The number of civilian deaths is estimated by some sources at 650,000, primarily due to the typhus outbreak and famine, but also direct clashes with the occupiers. Serbia's casualties accounted for 8% of the total Entente military deaths or 58% of the regular Serbian Army (420,000 strong) has perished during the conflict. The total number of casualties is placed around 1,000,000-> 25% of Serbia's prewar size, and an absolute majority (57%) of its overall male population. L.A.Times and N.Y.Times also cited over 1,000,000 victims in their respective articles.
The extent of the Serbian demographic disaster can be illustrated by the statement of the Bulgarian Prime Minister Vasil Radoslavov: "Serbia ceased to exist" (New York Times, summer 1917). In July 1918 the US Secretary of State Robert Lansing urged the Americans of all religions to pray for Serbia in their respective churches.
In response to this Adolf Hitler launched an invasion of Yugoslavia on 6 April. By 17 April, unconditional surrender was signed in Belgrade. After the invasion, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was dissolved and, with Yugoslavia partitioned, the remaining portion of Serbia became part of the Military Administration of Serbia, under a joint German-Serb government, with military power controlled by the German armed forces, while a Serb civil government led by Milan Nedić was permitted to try to draw Serbs away from their opposition to the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia.
Not all of what is present-day Serbia was included as part of the military administration. Some of the contemporary Republic of Serbia was occupied by the Independent State of Croatia, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Bulgaria, the Fascist Italy's Balkan protectorates, the Albanian Kingdom and the Kingdom of Montenegro. In addition to being occupied by the (Wehrmacht), from 1941 to 1945, Serbia was the scene of a civil war between Royalist Chetniks commanded by Draža Mihailović and Communist Partisans commanded by Josip Broz Tito. Against these forces were arrayed Nedić's units of the Serbian Volunteer Corps and Serbian State Guard.
Serbia's society was profoundly affected by the events that took place during World War II, especially in the neighboring Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH), an Axis puppet state which controlled what is modern-day Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and parts of modern-day Serbia. The regime selected to led the puppet state was the Croatian ultranationalist and fascist Ustaše movement. The Ustase promised to purge the state of Serbs, Jews, and Roma who were subject to large-scale persecution and genocide, most notoriously at the Jasenovac concentration camp. The Jewish Virtual Library estimates that between and Serbs were killed at Jasenovac and between and Serbs were victims of the entire genocide campaign. The estimated number of Serbian children who died is between 35,000 and 50,000. The Yad Vashem center reports that over Serbs were killed overall in the NDH, with some people of many nationalities and ethnicities murdered in one camp Jasenovac. After the war, official Yugoslav sources estimated over victims, mostly Serbs. Misha Glenny suggests that the numbers of Serbs killed in the genocide was more than 400,000.
The atrocities that took place in Croatia against Serbs has led to a deep sense of antagonism by Serbs towards Croats, whose relations between each other had already been historically tense, but the war deeply aggravated this division. A number of governments have attempted to lessen. Reconciliation between the two peoples was attempted under Joseph Broz Tito's policy of Brotherhood and Unity. To a degree this succeeded, as during the Tito-era, intermarriages between Serbs and Croats increased, but this effort was destroyed with the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s as rival Croat and Serb nationalism promoted xenophobia towards each other. The most recent attempt was made at the commemoration to the Serb casualties of the Jasenovic concentration camp in April 2003, when the Croatian president Stjepan Mesić apologized on behalf of Croatia to the victims of Jasenovac. In 2006, on the same occasion, he added that to every visitor to Jasenovac it must be clear that the "Holocaust, genocide and war crimes" took place there.
On 29 November 1945, the constitutional assembly established by the Yugoslav Communist party proclaimed the abolition of the Serbian-led monarchy of Yugoslavia - and the royal family was banned from returning to the country. A communist regime was established under a dictatorship led by Yugoslavia's Communist Party leader Joseph Broz Tito. Tito, who was of Croat- Slovene descent personally sought inter-ethnic unity in the aftermath of the violent division of the country in World War II through a policy called Brotherhood and Unity which sponsored cooperation between the peoples and promoted a united Yugoslav identity over existing ethnic or religious identities, repressed nationalists of any nationality, and forced the different peoples to work with each other to solve their differences. This would become highly controversial in Serbia in the latter years of Tito's rule. Serbia was one of 6 federal units of the state, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Socijalistička Federativna Republika Jugoslavija, or SFRJ). Over time Serbia's influence began to wane as reforms demanded by the other republics demanded decentralization of power to allow them to have an equal say as they claimed that the centralized system had allowed Serb hegemony. This began with the creation of the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina which initially held modest powers. However reforms in 1974 made drastic changes, giving the autonomous provinces nearly equal powers to the republics, in which the Serbian parliament held no control over the political affairs of the two provinces, and technically only held power over Central Serbia. Many Serbs, including those in the Yugoslav Communist party, resented the powers held by the autonomous provinces. At the same time, a number of Kosovo ethnic Albanians in the 1980s began to demand that Kosovo be granted the right to be a republic within Yugoslavia, thus giving it the right to separate, a right which it did not have as an autonomous province. The ethnic tensions between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo would eventually have a major influence in the collapse of the SFRY.
Multiparty democracy was introduced in Serbia in 1990, officially dismantling the former one-party communist system. Critics of the Milošević government claimed that the Serbian government continued to be authoritarian despite constitutional changes as Milošević maintained strong personal influence over Serbia's state media. Milošević issued media blackouts of independent media stations' coverage of protests against his government and restricted freedom of speech through reforms to the Serbian Penal Code which issued criminal sentences on anyone who "ridiculed" the government and its leaders, resulting in many people being arrested who opposed Milošević and his government.
The period of political turmoil and conflict marked a rise in ethnic tensions and xenophobia between Serbs and other ethnicities of the former Communist Yugoslavia as territorial claims of the different ethnic factions often crossed into each others' claimed territories. Serbs who had criticized the nationalist atmosphere, the Serbian government, or the Serb political entities in Bosnia and Croatia were reported to be harassed, threatened, or killed by nationalist Serbs.
In 1992, the governments of Serbia and Montenegro agreed to the creation of a new Yugoslav federation called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which abandoned the predacessor SFRY's official endorsement of communism, but instead endorsed democracy.
In response to accusations that the Yugoslav government was financially and militarily supporting the Serb military forces in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia, sanctions were imposed by the United Nations, during the 1990s, which led to political isolation, economic decline and hardship, and serious hyperinflation of currency in Yugoslavia.
Milošević represented the Bosnian Serbs at the Dayton peace agreement in 1995, signing the agreement which ended the Bosnian War that internally partitioned Bosnia & Herzegovina largely along ethnic lines into a Serb republic and a Bosniak-Croat federation.
When the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia refused to accept municipal election results in 1997 which resulted in defeat in municipal municipalties, Serbians engaged in large protests against the Serbian government, government forces held back the protesters.
Reports and accusations of war crimes being committed by Yugoslav and Serbian security forces led to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launching "Operation Allied Force", bombing Yugoslavia for 78 days in order to stop Yugoslav military operations in Kosovo. The bombing ends with the agreement which upheld Yugoslav (and later Serbian) sovereignty over Kosovo but replaced Serbian government of the province with a UN administration, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Serbia's political climate since the fall of Milošević has remained tense. In 2003, Zoran Đinđić was assasinated by a Serb ultranationalist. Nationalist and EU-oriented political forces in Serbia have remained sharply divided on the political course of Serbia in regards to its relations with the European Union and the west.
From 2003 to 2006, Serbia has been part of the "State Union of Serbia and Montenegro." This union was the successor to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ). On 21 May 2006, Montenegro held a referendum to determine whether or not to end its union with Serbia. The next day, state-certified results showed 55.4% of voters in favor of independence. This was just above the 55% required by the referendum.
On 4 February 2003 the parliament of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia agreed to a weaker form of cooperation between Serbia and Montenegro within a confederal state called Serbia and Montenegro. The Union ceased to exist following Montenegrin and Serbian declarations of independence in June 2006.
After the ousting of Slobodan Milošević on 5 October 2000, the country was governed by the Democratic Opposition of Serbia. Tensions gradually increased within the coalition until the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) left the government, leaving the Democratic Party (DS) in overall control.
Serbia held a two-day referendum on 28 October and 29 October 2006, that ratified a new constitution to replace the Milošević-era constitution.
The current President of Serbia is Boris Tadić, leader of the center-left Democratic Party (DS). He was reelected with 50.5% of the vote in the second round of the Serbian presidential election held on 4 February 2008.
Serbia held parliamentary elections on 21 May 2008. The coalition For a European Serbia led by DS claimed victory, but significantly short of an absolute majority. Following the negotiations with the leftist coalition centered around Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and parties of national minorities (those of Hungarians, Bosniaks and Albanians) an agreement was reached to make-up a new government, headed by Mirko Cvetković.
Present-day Serbian politics are fractious and extremely divided between liberal and European Union advocating parties, and anti-EU nationalist parties, the most controversial of which are ultranationalists who demand a national agenda to reintegrate all Serbs in neighbouring territorries and restore historically Serbian territories into one "Greater Serbia". Ultranationalist sentiment has become strong in Serbia since the Yugoslav wars. Other political issues include proposals to restore the Serbian monarchy whose family members have stated that they are interested in forming a constitutional monarchy in Serbia.
Serbia is divided into 24 districts plus the City of Belgrade. The districts and the City of Belgrade are further divided into municipalities. Serbia has 2 autonomous provinces: Vojvodina with (7 districts, 46 municipalities) and Kosovo and Metohija. Kosovo has declared independence but is still presently under the administration of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo; international negotiations began in 2006 to determine its final status (See Kosovo status process); Kosovo declared its independence on 17 February 2008, which Belgrade opposes.
The part of Serbia that is neither in Kosovo nor in Vojvodina is called Central Serbia. Central Serbia is not an administrative division, unlike the two autonomous provinces, and it has no regional government of its own. In English this region is often called "Serbia proper" to denote "the part of the Republic of Serbia not including the provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo", as the Library of Congress puts it. This usage was also employed in Serbo-Croatian during the Yugoslav era (in the form of "uža Srbija", literally: "narrow Serbia"). Its use in English is purely geographical, without any particular political meaning being implied.
Serbia is populated mostly by Serbs. Significant minorities include Hungarians, Bosniaks, Roma, Croats, Czechs and Slovaks, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Romanians, etc. The northern province of Vojvodina is ethnically and religiously diverse.
According to the last official census data collected in 2002, ethnic composition of Serbia is:
The census was not conducted in Serbia's southern province of Kosovo, which is under administration by the United Nations. According to the EU estimates however, the overall population is estimated at 1,350,000 inhabitants, of whom 90% are Albanians, 8% Serbs and others 2%.There are also around 200,000 Serbian and other refugees,who are expelled from Kosovo. Refugees and IDPs in Serbia form between 7% and 7.5% of its population – about half a million refugees sought refuge in the country following the series of Yugoslav wars (from Croatia mainly, to an extent Bosnia and Herzegovina too and the IDPs from Kosovo, which are the most numerous at over 200,000) Serbia has the largest refugee population in Europe. On the other hand, it is estimated that 500,000 people have left Serbia during the '90s alone. Significant amount of these people were college graduates. In January 2006 official estimates of Serbia´s population were placed at 7,395,000- a decline of 1,5% comparing to the previous Census (2002). This heavy depopulation trend leaves Serbia with the fourth oldest overall population on the planet, mostly due to heavy migration and low level of fertility, which is expected to continue in long terms. Cities:
Officially recognized cities (over 100,000 on municipal level) — 2002 census data (2005/2006 data for Novi Sad/Belgrade).
Among the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Serbian Orthodox Church is the westernmost. According to the 2002 Census, 82% of the population of Serbia (excluding Kosovo) or 6,2 million people declared their nationality as Serbian, who are overwhelmingly adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Other Orthodox Christian communities in Serbia include Montenegrins, Romanians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Vlachs etc. Together they comprise about 84% of the entire population.
Catholicism is mostly present in Vojvodina (mainly in its northern part), where almost 20% of the regional population (minority ethnic groups such as the Hungarians, Slovaks, Croats, Bunjevci, Czechs etc. belong to this Christian denomination. There are an estimated 433,000 baptized Catholics in Serbia, roughly 6,2% of the population, mostly in the northern province.
Protestantism accounts for about 1.5 % of the country's population.
Islam has a strong historic following in the southern regions of Serbia - Raska and several municipalities in the south-east. Bosniaks are the largest Muslim community in Serbia at about 140,000 (2%), followed by Albanians (1%), Turks, Arabs etc.
With the exile of Jews from Spain during the infamous Inquisition era, thousands of escaping families and individuals made their way through Europe to the Balkans. A goodly number settled in Serbia and became part of the general population. They were well accepted and during the ensuing generations the majority assimilated or became traditional or secular, rather than remain orthodox Jews as had been the original immigrants. Later on the wars that ravaged the region resulted in a great part of the Serbian Jewish population either being killed or escaping to Yugoslavia and Austria-Hungary.
With a GDP for 2008 estimated at $80.717 billion ($10,911 per capita PPP), Republic of Serbia is considered an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in 2006 was $5.85 billion or €4.5 billion. FDI for 2007 reached $4.2 Billion while real GDP per capita figures are estimated to have reached $7 100 (October 2008). The GDP growth rate showed increase by 6.3% (2005), 5.8% (2006), reaching 7.5% in 2007 as the fastest growing economy in the region.
At the beginning of the process of economic transition (1989), its favorable economic outlook in the region was hampered by politics, its economy being gravely impacted by the UN economic sanctions of 1992–95, as well as the sizable infrastructure and industry damage, suffered during the Kosovo war. Its problems were only augmented by losing the ex-Yugoslavia and Comecon markets. After the ousting of former Federal Yugoslav President Milošević in October 2000, the country experienced faster economic growth, and has been preparing for membership in the European Union, its most important trading partner.
The recovery of the economy still faces many problems, among which unemployment (18.1%) high export/import trade deficit and considerable national debt are most prominent. The country expects some major economic impulses and high growth rates in the next years. Serbia has been occasionally called a "Balkan tiger" because of its recent high economic growth rates, which averaged 6.6 % (in the past three years), with FDI at its record levels.
Serbia grows about one-third of the world's raspberries and is the leading frozen fruit exporter.
89% of households in Serbia have fixed telephone lines, and the number of cell-phone users surpasses the number of population of Serbia itself by 23%, accounting to 9,21 million users (7,5 million citizens). (Telekom Srbija – 5,6 million, Telenor has 3,1 million users and Vip mobile has the rest). 42% of households have computers, 33% use the internet, and 42% have cable TV, which puts the country ahead of the certain member states of the EU.
Serbia is proud of the fact that it owns one of the world's oldest airline carriers, the Jat Airways, founded in 1927. There are 3 international airports in Serbia: Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, Niš Constantine the Great Airport and the Vršac international airport.
The country, especially the valley of the Morava, is often described as "the crossroads between East and West", which is one of the primary reasons for its turbulent history. The Morava valley route, which avoids mountainous regions, is by far the easiest way of traveling overland from continental Europe to Greece and Asia Minor. Modern Serbia was the first among its neighbours to acquire railroads- in 1869 the first train arrived to Subotica, then Austria-Hungary (by 1882 route to Belgrade and Nis was completed). The railway system is operated by Serbian Railways.
European routes E65, E70, E75 and E80, as well as the E662, E761, E762, E763, E771, and E851 pass through the country. The E70 westwards from Belgrade and most of the E75 are modern highways of motorway / autobahn standard or close to that. As of 2005, Serbia has 1,481,498 registered cars, 16,042 motorcycles, 9,626 buses, 116,440 trucks, 28,222 special transport vehicles, 126,816 tractors, and 101,465 trailers.
The Danube River, central Europe's connection to the Black Sea, flows through Serbia. Through Danube-Rhine-Mein canal the North Sea is also accessible. Tisza river offers a connection with Eastern Europe while the Sava river connects her to western former yugoslav republics near the Adriatic Sea.
Tourism in Serbia is mostly focused on the villages and mountains of the country. The most famous mountain resorts are Zlatibor, Kopaonik, and the Tara. There are also many spas in Serbia, one the biggest of which is Vrnjačka Banja. Other spas include Soko Banja and Niška Banja. There is a significant amount of tourism in the largest cities like Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš, but also in the rural parts of Serbia like the volcanic wonder of Đavolja varoš, Christian pilgrimage across the country and the cruises along the Danube, Sava or Tisza. There are several popular festivals held in Serbia, such as the EXIT Festival (proclaimed the best European festival by UK Festival Awards 2007 and Yourope, the European Association of the 40 largest festivals in Europe) and the Guča trumpet festival. 2,2 million tourists visited Serbia in 2007, a 15% increase compared to 2006.
For centuries straddling the boundaries between East and Westm, Serbia had been divided among: the Eastern and Western halves of the Roman Empire; between Kingdom of Hungary, Bulgarian Empire, Frankish Kingdom and Byzantium; and between the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian Empire (later Austria-Hungary), as well as Venice in the south. The result of these overlapping influences are distinct characters and sharp contrasts between various Serbian regions, its north beeing more tied to Western Europe and south leaning towards the Balkans and the Mediterranean sea. Despite these confronting influences Serbian identity is quite solid, beeing described as the "most westernized of the Eastern Orthodox peoples, both socially and culturally" by the Encyclopedia of World History (2001).
The Byzantine Empire's influence on Serbia was profound, through introduction of Greek Orthodoxy from 7th century onwards (today- Serbian Orthodox Church). Different influences were also present- chiefly the Ottoman, Hungarian, Austrian and also Venetian (coastal Serbs). Serbs use both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. The monasteries of Serbia, built largely in the Middle Ages, are one of the most valuable and visible traces of medieval Serbia's association with the Byzantium and the Orthodox World, but also with the Romanic (Western) Europe that Serbia had close ties with back in Middle Ages. Most of Serbia's queens still remembered today in Serbian history were of foreign origin, including Hélène d'Anjou (a cousin of Charles I of Sicily), Anna Dondolo (daughter of the Doge of Venice, Enrico Dandolo), Catherine of Hungary, and Symonide of Byzantium.
Serbia has eight cultural sites marked on the UNESCO World Heritage list: Stari Ras and Sopoćani monasteries (included in 1979), Studenica Monastery (1986), the Medieval Serbian Monastic Complex in Kosovo, comprising: Dečani Monastery, Our Lady of Ljeviš, Gračanica and Patriarchate of Pec- (2004, put on the endangered list in 2006), and Gamzigrad - Romuliana, Palace of Galerius, added in 2007. Likewise, there are 2 literary memorials added on the UNESCO's list as a part of the Memory of the World Programme: Miroslav Gospels, handwriting from the 12th century (added in 2005), and Nikola Tesla's archive (2003).
The most prominent museum in Serbia is the National Museum, founded in 1844 ; it houses a collection of more than 400,000 exhibits,(over 5600 paintings and 8400 drawings and prints) including many foreign masterpiece collections and the famous Miroslavljevo Jevanđelje.Currently museum is under reconstruction. The museum is situated in Belgrade.
Education in Serbia is regulated by the Ministry of Education. Education starts in either pre-schools or elementary schools. Children enroll in elementary schools (Osnovna škola / Основна школа) at the age of seven, and remain there for eight years.
The roots of the Serbian education system date back to the 11th and 12th centuries when the first Catholic colleges were founded in Vojvodina (Titel, Bač). Medieval Serbian education, however, was mostly conducted through the Serbian Orthodox monasteries (Sopocani, Studenica, Patriarchate of Pec) starting from the rise of Raska in 12th century, when Serbs overwhelmingly embraced Orthodoxy rather than Catholicism.
The first university in Serbia was founded in revolutionary Belgrade in 1808 as the Great School, the precursor of the contemporary University of Belgrade. For example, the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law is today a regional leader in legal education. The oldest college (faculty) within current borders of Serbia dates back to 1778; founded in the city of Sombor, then Habsburg Empire, it was known under the name Norma and was the oldest Slavic Teacher's college in Southern Europe.
|1 January / 2 January||New Year's Day (Nova Godina)||non-working holiday|
|7 January||Orthodox Christmas (Božić)||non-working holiday|
|27 January||Saint Sava's Day - Spirituality day (Savindan - Dan Duhovnosti)||working holiday (in memory on the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church)|
|15 February||Candlemas - Statehood day (Sretenje - Dan državnosti)||non-working holiday (in memory on the First Serbian Uprising)|
|25 April||Orthodox Great Friday (Veliki petak)||non-working holiday (date for 2008 only)|
|26 April||Orthodox Great Saturday (Velika subota)||non-working holiday (date for 2008 only)|
|27 April||Orthodox Easter (Vaskrs)||non-working holiday (date for 2008 only)|
|28 April||Orthodox Easter Monday (Veliki ponedeljak)||non-working holiday (date for 2008 only)|
|1 May / 2 May||Labour Day (Dan rada)||non-working holiday|
|9 May||Victory Day (Dan pobede)||working holiday|
|28 June||Saint Vitus' Day - Day of the fallen for the fatherland (Vidovdan - Dan Srba palih za otadžbinu)||working holiday (in memory of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389)|
Also, members of other religions have the right not to work on days of their holidays.
The Sport in Serbia revolves mostly around team sports: football, basketball, water polo, volleyball, handball, and, more recently, tennis. The two main football clubs in Serbia are Red Star Belgrade and FK Partizan, both from capital Belgrade. Red Star is the only Serbian and former Yugoslav club that has won a UEFA competition, winning the 1991 European Cup in Bari, Italy. The same year in Tokyo, Japan the club won the Intercontinental Cup. Partizan is the first club from Serbia to take part in the UEFA Champions League group stages subsequent to the breakup of the Former Yugoslavia. The matches between two rival clubs are known as "Eternal Derby" (Serbian: Вечити дерби, Večiti derbi).
Serbia was host of EuroBasket 2005. FIBA considers Serbia national basketball team the direct descendant of the famous Yugoslavia national basketball team. KK Partizan was the European champion in 1992 with curiosity of winning the title, although playing all but one of the games (crucial quarter-final game vs. Knorr) on foreign grounds; FIBA decided not to allow teams from Former Yugoslavia play their home games at their home venues, because of open hostilities in the region. KK Partizan was not allowed to defend the title in the 1992-1993 season, because of UN sanction. Players from Serbia made deep footprint in history of basketball, having success both in the top leagues of Europe and in the NBA. Serbia is one of the traditional powerhouses of world basketball, winning various FIBA World Championships, multiple Eurobaskets and Olympic medals (albeit as FR Yugoslavia).
Serbian capital Belgrade hosted the 2006 Men's European Water Polo Championship. The Serbia national water polo team represents Serbia in international water polo competitions. It was previously known as the Yugoslavia national water polo team. After becoming independent, Serbia have won 2006 European championship, finished as runner-up in 2008 and won bronze medal at 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing. VK Partizan won 6 titles of European champion and it is the second best European team in history of water polo.
Serbia and Italy were host nations at 2005 Men's European Volleyball Championship. The Serbia men's national volleyball team is the direct descendant of Yugoslavia men's national volleyball team. After becoming independent, Serbia won bronze medal at 2007 Men's European Volleyball Championship held in Moscow.
Serbian tennis players Novak Đoković, Ana Ivanović, Jelena Janković, Nenad Zimonjić and Janko Tipsarević are very successful and led to a popularisation of tennis in Serbia. Serbia Davis Cup team qualified for the 2008 Davis Cup World Group. Monica Seles was born in Novi Sad and competed under Yugoslav flag in 1988 - 1993 period.
Serbia Telecommunications Report 2011 - The Number of Serbian Broadband Connections Increased By 52.5% in 2009 to Reach 792,000.(Report)
Mar 14, 2011; Research and Markets (httpwww.researchandmarkets.com/research/ce3dec/Serbia_telecommuni) has announced the addition of the...