Serbia officially the Republic of Serbia, is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Pannonian Plain and the central part of the Balkans.
Serbia i/ˈsɜrbiə/, officially the Republic of Serbia (Serbian: Република Србија / Republika Srbija, pronounced [rɛpǔblika sř̩bija]), is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Pannonian Plain and the central part of the Balkans. Relative to its small size, history and culture, it is a very diverse country distinguished by a transitional character. Serbia is landlocked and borders Hungary to the north; Romania and Bulgaria to the east; Macedonia to the south; and Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro to the west; also, it borders Albania through the disputed region of Kosovo. The capital of Serbia, Belgrade, is among the largest cities in East-Central Europe.
Following their settlement in the Balkans, Serbs established several states in early Middle Ages. Serbian Kingdom obtained recognition by Rome and Constantinople in 1217, which was raised to Serbian Empire in 1346. By the 16th century, the entire territory of modern-day Serbia was annexed by the Ottoman Empire, at times interrupted by the Habsburgs. In the early 19th century the Serbian revolution established the nation-state as the region's first constitutional monarchy, which subsequently expanded its territory and pioneered the abolition of feudalism in the Balkans. The former Habsburg crownland of Vojvodina united with the Kingdom of Serbia in 1918. Following World War I, Serbia formed Yugoslavia with other South Slavic peoples which existed in several forms up until 2006, when the country retrieved its independence. In February 2008 the parliament of UNMIK-administered Kosovo declared independence as the Republic of Kosovo, with mixed responses from international governments but exercises de facto independence apart from the Serb dominated north which is governed by institutions funded by Serbia.
Serbia is a member of the UN, Council of Europe, OSCE, PfP, BSEC and CEFTA. It is also an official candidate for membership in the European Union and a neutral country.
The name "Serbia" was first mentioned as Greek: Σέρβια, meaning "land of the Serbs". There are many theories regarding the origin of the name of the Serbs. The most likely one is that it is derived from the Old Slavic root *serb-, meaning "to slurp, sup", referring to kinsmen who have been suckled by the same mother or nurse. Another proposed etymology is that of the Indo-European root *ser- "to watch over, protect", akin to Latin servare "to keep, guard, protect, preserve, observe".
The Neolithic Starčevo and Vinča cultures existed in or near Belgrade and dominated the Balkans (as well as parts of Central Europe and Asia Minor) 8,500 years ago. Lepenski Vir and Vinča-Belo Brdo are two important sites of these cultures, located at the banks of the Danube. Around 1000 BC, the Paleo-Balkan peoples known as Thracians, Dacians, Illyrians developed in the Balkans. Ancient Greeks expanded into the south of modern Serbia in the 4th century BC, the north-westernmost point of Alexander the Great's empire being the town of Kale-Krševica. The Celtic tribe of Scordisci settled throughout the lands that eventually became Serbia in the 3rd century BC and built several fortifications, including those at Singidunum (present-day Belgrade) and Naissos (present-day Niš). The Scordisci formed their own tribal state in this area and the capital of that state was Singidunum.
The Romans conquered parts of modern-day Serbia in the 2nd century BC; in 167 BC when conquering the west, establishing the province of Illyricum, and the rest of the central part of present-day Serbia in 75 BC, establishing the province of Moesia Superior. The modern-day Srem region was conquered in 9 BC and Bačka and Banat in 106 AD after the Dacian wars. Despite its small size, contemporary Serbia extends fully or partially over several Roman provinces such as Moesia, Pannonia, Praevalitana, Dalmatia, Dacia and Macedonia. The chief towns of Upper Moesia (and wider) were: Singidunum, Viminacium, Remesiana, Naissus and especially, Sirmium which served as a Roman capital during the Tetrarchy. Seventeen Roman Emperors were born in the area of modern-day Serbia, second only to contemporary Italy. The most famous of these was Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor, who issued an edict ordering religious tolerance throughout the Empire. When the Roman Empire was divided in 395, the region remained under the eastern Byzantine Empire. After the 520s, Slavs appeared in the Byzantine Empire in great numbers.
The Serbs, as Slavs in the vicinity of the Byzantine Empire, lived in so-called Sklavinia ("Slav lands"), territories initially out of Byzantine control and independent. In the 8th century, the Vlastimirović dynasty established the Serbian Principality. In 822, Serbia "stretched over the greater part of Dalmatia", and Christianity was adopted as state-religion in ca 870. In the mid 10th century the state had emerged into a tribal confederation that stretched to the shores of the Adriatic Sea by the Neretva, the Sava, the Morava, and Skadar. The state disintegrated after the death of the last known Vlastimirovic ruler – the Byzantines annexed the region and held it for a century, until 1040 when the Serbs under the Vojislavljević dynasty revolted in Duklja (Pomorje). In 1091, the Vukanović dynasty established the Serbian Grand Principality, based in Rascia (Zagorje). The two halves were reunited in 1142.
In 1166, Stefan Nemanja assumed the throne, marking the beginning of a prospering Serbia, henceforth under the rule of the Nemanjić dynasty. Nemanja's son Rastko (posth. Saint Sava), gained autocephaly for the Serbian Church in 1217 and authored the oldest known constitution, and in the same year Stefan II was crowned King, establishing the Serbian Kingdom. Mrnjavcevic, Lazarević and Branković dynasties ruled the Serbian lands in the 15th and 16th centuries. Constant struggles took place between various Serbian provinces and the Ottoman Empire. After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453 and the Siege of Belgrade, the Serbian Despotate fell in 1459 following the siege of the provisional capital of Smederevo. The Smederevo Fortress is the largest medieval lowland type of fortresses in Europe. After repelling Ottoman attacks for over 70 years, Belgrade finally fell in 1521, opening the way for Ottoman expansion into Central Europe. Taking advantage of the Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347, Dušan doubled the size of his kingdom seizing territories to the south, southeast and east at the expense of Byzantium and conquered almost the entire territory of today's Greece, except the Peloponnese and the islands. After he conquered the city of Serres, he was crowned the Emperor of Serbs and Greeks in Skoplje by the Serbian Patriarch on 16 April 1346. His goal was to become the successor of the Byzantine Emperors. Before his sudden death, Dušan the Mighty tried to organize a Crusade with the Pope against the threatening Turks. He died in December 1355 at the age 47. The Imperial constitution, the Dušan's Code (Serbian: Dušanov zakonik) was enacted in 1349 and added in 1354. The Code was based on Roman-Byzantine law. The legal transplanting is notable with the articles 171 and 172 of Dušan's Code, which regulated the juridical independence. They were taken from the Byzantine code Basilika (book VII, 1, 16–17). Dušan opened new trade routes and strengthened the state's economy. Serbia flourished, becoming one of the most developed countries and cultures in Europe. Medieval Serbia had a high political, economic, and cultural reputation in Europe.
In the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, Ottoman forces defeated a multinational coalition led by Serbian King Lazar Hrebeljanović. Soon after, parts of Serbia accepted Turkish vassalage and Lazar's daughter was married to the Sultan to seal the peace. By 1455, Central Serbia was finally and fully conquered by the Ottoman Empire. Vojvodina resisted Ottoman rule until well into the 16th century.
Ottoman and Austrian rule
After the loss of independence to the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, Serbia briefly regained sovereignty under Jovan Nenad in the 16th century. Three Austrian invasions and numerous rebellions constantly challenged Ottoman rule. One famous incident was the Banat Uprising in 1595 which was part of the Long War between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs. The area of modern Vojvodina endured a century long Ottoman occupation before being ceded to the Habsburg Empire in the 18th centuries under the Treaty of Karlowitz. As the Great Serb Migrations depopulated most of southern Serbia, the Serbs sought refuge across the Danube river in Vojvodina to the north and the Military Frontier in the west where they were granted rights by the Austrian crown under measures such as the Statuta Wallachorum of 1630. Ottoman control over Serbia meant that the once abolished Serbian patriarchate (1459) was reestablished in 1557 - thus providing the continuation of Serbian cultural traditions within the empire. The Patriarchate of Peć was abolished by the Ottomans in 1766 however, and the ecclesiastical center of the Serbs moved to the Metropolitanate of Sremski Karlovci. Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I formally granted Serbs who wished to leave the right to their autonomous crownland following several petitions.
Revolution and independence
The Serbian Revolution for independence from the Ottoman Empire lasted eleven years, from 1804 until 1815. The revolution comprised two separate uprisings which gained autonomy from the Ottoman Empire and eventually full independence in 1835.
During the First Serbian Uprising, led by Duke 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 Serbian revolutionaries and Ottoman authorities. Likewise, Serbia was one of the first nations in the Balkans to abolish feudalism. The Convention of Ackerman in 1826, the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829 and finally, the Hatt-i Sharif, recognized the suzerainty of Serbia. The first Serbian Constitution was adopted on 15 February 1835.
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, Serbia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, proclaiming its 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; this treaty, however, prohibited Serbia from uniting with Bosnia by placing it under Austro-Hungarian occupation. From 1815 to 1903, the Principality of Serbia was ruled by the House of Obrenović, except from 1842 to 1858, when it was led by Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević. In 1882, Serbia became a kingdom, ruled by King Milan. In 1903, following May Overthrow, the House of Karađorđević, descendants of the revolutionary leader Karađorđe Petrović assumed power. The 1848 revolution in Austria lead to the establishment of the autonomous territory of Serbian Vojvodina. By 1849, the region was transformed into the Voivodeship of Serbia and Banat of Temeschwar.
Serbian army retreat across Albania, October 1915.
Liberation wars (1912-1918), unification and creation of Yugoslavia
In the course of the First Balkan War in 1912, the Balkan League, defeated the Ottoman Empire and conquered its European territories, which enabled territorial expansion into Raška and Kosovo. The Second Balkan War soon ensued when Bulgaria turned on its former allies, but was defeated, resulting Treaty of Bucharest. In two years, Serbia enlarged its territory by 80% and its population by 50%; it also suffered high casualties on the eve of World War I, with around 20,000 dead.
On 28 June 1914 the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Young Bosnia organization, led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia. In defense of its ally Serbia, Russia mobilized 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. Serbia won the first major battles of World War I, including the Battle of Cer and Battle of Kolubara – marking the first Allied victories against the Central Powers in World War I. Despite initial success, it was eventually overpowered by the Central Powers in 1915. Most of its army and some people went into exile to Greece and Corfu, where they recovered, regrouped and returned to the Macedonian front to lead a final breakthrough through enemy lines on 15 September 1918, liberating Serbia and defeating the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Bulgaria. Serbia, with its campaign, was a major Balkan Entente Power which contributed significantly to the Allied victory in the Balkans in November 1918, especially by helping France force Bulgaria's capitulation. Serbia was classified as a minor Entente power. Serbia was also among the main contributors to the capitulation of Austria-Hungary in Central Europe.. Serbia's casualties accounted for 8% of the total Entente military deaths; 58% (243,600) soldiers of the Serbian army perished in the war. The total number of casualties is placed around 1,000,000, more than 25% of Serbia's prewar size, and a majority (57%) of its overall male population.
As the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, the territory of Syrmia united with Serbia on 24 November 1918, followed by Banat, Bačka and Baranja a day later, therefore bringing the entire Vojvodina into the Serb Kingdom. On 26 November 1918, the Podgorica Assembly deposed the House of Petrović-Njegoš, and uniting Montenegro with Serbia. On 1 December 1918, Serbian Prince Regent Alexander of Serbia proclaimed the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes under King Peter I of Serbia.
King Peter was succeed by his son, Alexander in August 1921. Serb centralists and Croat autonomists clashed in the parliament, and most governments were fragile and short-lived. Nikola Pašić, a conservative prime minister, headed or dominated most governments until his death. King Alexander changed the name of the country to Yugoslavia and changed the internal divisions from the 33 oblasts to nine new banovinas. The effect of Alexander's dictatorship was to further alienate the non-Serbs from the idea of unity. Alexander was assassinated in Marseille, during an official visit in 1934 by Vlado Chernozemski, member of the IMRO. Alexander was succeeded by his eleven-year-old son Peter II and a regency council headed by his cousin, Prince Paul. Prime Minister Dragiša Cvetković, negotiated a solution to the concerns of the Croatian populace with Vladko Maček. In August 1939 the Cvetković–Maček Agreement established an autonomous Banate of Croatia.
WWII and the Second Yugoslavia
Damage caused by Nazi bombing in Belgrade, 1941
In 1941, in spite of attempts to remain neutral in the war, the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia. Territory of modern Serbia was divided between Hungary, Bulgaria, Independent Croatia and Italy (greater Albania and Montenegro), while the remaining part of Serbia was placed under German Military administration, with a Serbian puppet governments led by Milan Aćimović and Milan Nedić. The occupied territory 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 Axis auxiliary units of the Serbian Volunteer Corps and the Serbian State Guard. Draginac and Loznica massacre of 2,950 villagers in Western Serbia in 1941 was the first large execution of civilians in occupied Serbia by Nazis, with Kragujevac massacre and Novi Sad Raid of Jews and Serbs by Hungarian fascists also being most notorius, with over 3,000 victims each. After one year of occupation, around 16,000 Serbian Jews were murdered in the area, or around 90% of its pre-war Jewish population. Many concentration camps were established across the area. Banjica concentration camp was the biggest concentration camp for Jews, with primary victims being Serbian Jews, Roma, and Serb political prisoners.
The Axis puppet state of the Independent State of Croatia committed large scale persecution and genocide of Serbs, Jews, and Roma. The estimate of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum indicates that between 330,000 and 390,000 ethnic Serb residents of Croatia, Bosnia and northern Serbia were murdered during the Ustaše genocide campaign; same figures are supported by the Jewish Virtual Library. reports that more than 500,000 Serbs were killed overall, whereas official Yugoslav sources used to estimate more than 700,000 victims, mostly Serbs. The Jasenovac memorial so far lists 82,085 names killed at the this concentration camp alone, out of around 100,000 estimated victims (75% of whom were of Serbian origin). Out of roughly 1,000,000 casualties in all of Yugoslavia up until 1944, around 250,000 were citizens of Serbia of different ethnicities, according to Zundhauzen. The overall number of Serb casualties in Yugoslavia was around 530,000, out of whom up to 400,000 in the Independent State of Croatia. The Republic of Užice was a short-lived liberated Yugoslav territory established by the Partisans and the first liberated territory in World War II Europe, organized as a military mini-state that existed in the autumn of 1941 in the west of occupied Serbia. By late 1944, the Belgrade Offensive swung in favour of the partisans in the civil war; the partisans subsequently gained control of Yugoslavia. The Syrmia front was the last sequence of the internal war in Serbia following the Belgrade Offensive. Between 70,000–80,000 people were killed in Serbia during the communist takeover.
General Mihailović during his trial in Belgrade, 1946
The victory of the communist Partisans resulted in the abolition of the monarchy and a subsequent orchestrated constitutional referendum. A single-party state was soon established in Yugoslavia by the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. All opposition was repressed and people deemed to be promoting opposition to socialism or promoting separatism were imprisoned or executed for sedition. Serbia became a constituent republic within the SFRY known as the Socialist Republic of Serbia and had a republic-branch of the federal communist party, the League of Communists of Serbia. Serbia's most powerful and influential politician in Tito-era Yugoslavia was Aleksandar Ranković, one of the "big four" Yugoslav leaders, alongside Josip Broz Tito, Edvard Kardelj, and Milovan Đilas. In 1950, Ranković as minister of interior reported that since 1945 the Yugoslav communist regime had arrested five million people. Ranković was later removed from the office because of the disagreements regarding Kosovo’s nomenklatura and the interests of Serb unity. Ranković's dismissal was highly unpopular amongst Serbs. Pro-decentralization reformers in Yugoslavia succeeded in the late 1960s in attaining substantial decentralization of powers, creating substantial autonomy in Kosovo and Vojvodina, and recognizing a Yugoslav Muslim nationality. As a result of these reforms, there was a massive overhaul of Kosovo's nomenklatura and police, that shifted from being Serb-dominated to ethnic Albanian-dominated through firing Serbs in large scale. Further concessions were made to the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo in response to unrest, including the creation of the University of Pristina as an Albanian language institution. These changes created widespread fear amongst Serbs of being treated as second-class citizens.
Breakup of Yugoslavia and political transition
In 1989 Slobodan Milošević rose to power in Serbia. Milošević promised reduction of powers for the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, where his allies subsequently overtook the power, during the Anti-bureaucratic revolution. This ignited tensions with the communist leadership of the other republics, and awoke nationalism across the country, that eventually resulted in the Breakup of Yugoslavia, with Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia declaring independence. Serbia and Montenegro remained together as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
Fueled by ethnic tensions, the Yugoslav Wars broke out, with the most severe conflicts taking place in Croatia and Bosnia, where ethnic Serb populations opposed independence from Yugoslavia. The FRY remained outside of the conflicts, but provided logistic, military and financial support to Serb forces in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In response, the UN imposed sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in May 1992, which led to political isolation, economic decline and hyperinflation of the Yugoslav dinar. Multiparty democracy was introduced in Serbia in 1990, officially dismantling the single-party system. Critics of Milošević claimed that the government continued to be authoritarian despite constitutional changes, as Milošević maintained strong political influence over the 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. When the ruling SPS refused to accept its defeat in municipal elections in 1996, Serbians engaged in large protests against the government. Between 1998 and 1999, peace was broken again, when the situation in Kosovo worsened with continued clashes between Yugoslav security forces and the KLA. The confrontations led to the Kosovo War.
In September 2000, opposition parties accused Milošević of electoral fraud. A campaign of civil resistance followed, led by the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, a broad coalition of anti-Milošević parties. This culminated on 5 October when half a million people from all over the country congregated in Belgrade, compelling Milošević to concede defeat. The fall of Milošević ended Yugoslavia's international isolation. Milošević was sent to the ICTY. The DOS announced that FR Yugoslavia would seek to join the European Union. In 2003, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was renamed Serbia and Montenegro and the EU opened negotiations with the country for the Stabilization and Association Agreement. Serbia's political climate has remained tense. In 2003, the prime minister Zoran Đinđić was assassinated as result of a plot originating from circles of organized crime and former security officials. Pro- and anti-EU political forces in Serbia have remained sharply divided on the political course of Serbia in regards to its relations with the European Union.
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, which was just above the 55% required by the referendum. On 5 June 2006, the National Assembly of Serbia declared Serbia to be the legal successor to the former state union. In April 2008 Serbia was invited to join the intensified dialogue programme with NATO despite the diplomatic rift with the alliance over Kosovo. Serbia officially applied for the European Union membership in December 2009 and became an official candidate in March 2012.
Located at the crossroads between Central and Southern Europe Serbia is found in the Balkan peninsula and the Pannonian Plain. Including Kosovo, it lies between latitudes 41° and 47° N, and longitudes 18° and 23° E. The country has several notable topographical features: the Pannonian Plain (mainly Vojvodina) and river lowlands, the Balkan and Carpathian Mountains, the Dinaric Alps, along with hillside streching across central part of Serbia. The Danube passes through Serbia with 21% of its overall length, joined by its biggest tributaries, the Sava and Tisza rivers. The province of Vojvodina covers the northern third of the country, and is entirely located within the Central European Pannonian Plain. Dinaric Alps, gradually rising towards south, cover most of western and central Serbia. The easternmost tip of Serbia extends into the Wallachian Plain. The eastern border of the country intersects with the Carpathian Mountain range, which run through the whole of Central Europe.
The Southern Carpathians meet the Balkan Mountains, following the course of the Great Morava, a 500 km long river. The Midžor peak is the highest point in eastern Serbia at 2156 m. In the southeast, the Balkan Mountains meet the Rhodope Mountains. The Šar Mountains of Kosovo form the border with Albania, with one of the highest peaks in the region, Đeravica, reaching 2656 meters at its peak. Dinaric Alps of Serbia follow the flow of the Drina river, overlooking the Dinaric peaks on the opposite shore in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
On the macro-level, the climate of Serbia is under the influences of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea and the landmass of Eurasia. With mean January temperatures around 0 °C (32 °F), and mean July temperatures around 22 °C (72 °F), it can be classified as transitional between oceanic (Köppen climate classification Cfb), humid subtropical (Cfa) and humid continental (Dfa). Rainfall patterns are well-distributed and average about 50 mm/month.
In the north, the climate is more continental, with cold winters, and hot, humid summers with well distributed rainfall patterns. In the south, summers and autumns are drier, and winters are relatively cold, with heavy inland snowfall in the mountains. Differences in elevation, proximity to the Adriatic Sea and large river basins, as well as exposure to the winds account for climate variations. South and South-west Serbia are subject to Mediterranean influences. However, the Dinaric Alps and other mountain ranges contribute to the cooling of most of the warm air masses. Winters are quite harsh in the Pešter plateau, because of the mountains which encircle it.
The average annual air temperature for the period 1961–90 for the area with an altitude of up to 300 m (984 ft) is 10.9 °C (51.6 °F). The areas with an altitude of 300 to 500 m (984 to 1,640 ft) have an average annual temperature of around 10.0 °C (50.0 °F), and over 1,000 m (3,281 ft) of altitude around 6.0 °C (42.8 °F). The lowest recorded temperature in Serbia was −39.5 °C (−39.1 °F) on 13 January 1985, Karajukića Bunari in Pešter, and the highest was 44.9 °C or 112.8 °F, on 24 July 2007, recorded in Smederevska Palanka.
Over 31% of Serbia is covered by forest. National parks take up 10% of the country's territory. Serbia has 5 national parks and 22 nature reserves.
The 1999 NATO bombing caused lasting damage to the environment, with several thousand tons of toxic chemicals stored in targeted factories and refineries being released into the soil, atmosphere and water basins affecting humans and the local wildlife. Recycling is a fledgeling activity in Serbia, with only 15% of its waste being turned back for re-use.
Spanning over 588 kilometers across Serbia, the Danube river is the largest source of fresh water. Other main rivers are Sava, Morava, Tisa, Drina and Ibar. Almost all of Serbia's rivers drain to the Black Sea, by way of the Danube river. One notable exception is the Pčinja which flows into the Aegean. The largest natural lake is Belo Jezero, located in Vojvodina, covering 25 square kilometers. The largest artificial reservoir, the Iron Gate (Đerdap), has a total area of 253 square kilometers divided by Romania and Serbia, with 163 square kilometers on the Serbian side. The largest waterfall, Jelovarnik, located in Kopaonik, is 71 meters high.
|River||Km in Serbia||Total length |
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Serbia is a parliamentary republic with a multi-party system. The unicameral National Assembly is composed of 250 proportionally elected members who serve four year terms. Executive authority is exercised by the prime minister and cabinet members. The president is the head of state, and is elected by popular vote. The post of president is largely a ceremonial role with no executive, legislative, or judicial authority.
The latest general election was held on 6 May 2012. The coalition dubbed Let's Get Serbia Moving led by the Serbian Progressive Party, claimed victory, but was significantly short of an absolute majority. Tomislav Nikolić is the current president following the 2012 presidential election.
Since 1999, the territory of Kosovo has officially been administered by UNMIK as per UNSC Resolution 1244, of the United Nations. The Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, has an assembly and a president. Although the assembly has declared independence from Serbia, Serbia does not recognize the declaration and considers the act illegal and illegitimate.
Prior to 2010, Serbian territory was composed out of provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo, and de facto Central Serbia, which never had its own regional authority. Currently, Serbia is organized into 5 distinct regions: Vojvodina, Belgrade, Šumadija and Western Serbia, Southern and Eastern Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija. In addition, the regions of Vojvodina and Kosovo and Metohija are also autonomous provinces. Belgrade is a separate territorial unit established by the Constitution and law, while Šumadija and Western Serbia and Southern and Eastern Serbia are directly subordinated to country authorities. Serbia is further organized into 150 municipalities and 24 cities, which form the most basic units of local self-government. Of the 150 municipalities, 47 are located in Southern and Eastern Serbia, 52 in Šumadija and Western Serbia, 39 in Vojvodina and 28 (de facto 37) in Kosovo. Of the 24 cities, 6 are in Southern and Eastern Serbia, 10 in Šumadija and Western Serbia, 6 in Vojvodina, 1 in Kosovo, and 1 (Belgrade) has a status of separate territorial unit. Municipalities and cities are gathered into districts, which are regional centers of state authority, but have no assemblies of their own; they present purely administrative divisions. Serbia is organized into 29 districts (8 in Šumadija and Western Serbia, 9 in Southern and Eastern Serbia, 7 in Vojvodina and 5 in Kosovo), while the city of Belgrade presents a district of its own.
Diplomatic missions of Serbia, including embassies (red), consulates (blue) and other representative offices (yellow)
Serbia has a network of 64 embassies, 22 Consulates-Generals in 14 countries, 3 permanent representations to the United Nations and to several other institutions, abroad. Serbia hosts 65 foreign embassies, 5 Consulates-Generals and 4 Liaison offices. Serbia also hosts representatives of the Palestinian National Authority and Sovereign Military Order of Malta and 13 Honorary Consuls, some accredited as Ambassadors.
Serbia is a member of major international organizations such as: the UN, the Council of Europe, OSCE, Interpol, World Bank, Partnership for Peace, Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNOCI, World Tourism Organization, Universal Postal Union, World Confederation of Labor, World Customs Organization, World Meteorological Organization and World Health Organization.
Foreign relations Serbia are conducted through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since 2007, ministry has been headed by Vuk Jeremić. Serbia has inherited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with all of its holdings, after the dissolution of the previous state union with Montenegro. The Serbian foreign ministry continue to serve citizens of Montenegro in countries without diplomatic presence. Former president of Serbia, Boris Tadić referred to relations with the European Union, Russia, the United States and China as the "four pillars" of Serbia's foreign policy.
On 17 February 2008, the province of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, forming the Republic of Kosovo in the process. Serbia, together with Russia, China and many others do not recognize Kosovo as an independent state. Serbia has vowed to fight Kosovo's admission to international organizations. The Republic of Kosovo does not have and has not applied for United Nations membership as of yet. Serbia, in response to nations which have recognized Kosovo as an independent nation, has consistently recalled its ambassadors to these nations for some time, in an act of protest. Serbia does not directly deal with Kosovo, but only through the international intermediaries UNMIK and EULEX. A Series of status neutral talks between Serbia and Kosovo-Albanian authorities are held in Brussels, mediated by the EU.
Serbia officially applied for European Union membership on 22 December 2009. Despite political setbacks, on 7 December 2009 the EU unfroze the trade agreement with Serbia and the Schengen countries dropped the visa requirement for Serbian citizens on 19 December 2009. Serbia received a full candidate status on 1 March 2012.
The Serbian Armed Forces are subordinate to the Ministry of Defence, and are composed of the Army and Air Force. Although a landlocked country, Serbia operates a river flotilla on the Danube. The Chief of the General Staff, which reports to the Defence Minister, is the Chief of the General Staff of the Military of Serbia. He is appointed by the President of Serbia, who is the commander-in-chief.
Violent collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s has greatly affected the condition of the military, which has since suffered from a lack of funding and low enrollment rates. In 2006, with the separation of Serbia and Montenegro, the armed forces of the federation had 65,700 troops, while in 2009 their number had fallen to 30,000. Military spending declined from about 5% of the GDP 1990. Despite this, the Serbian army remains the largest in the region, and in the top end of European militaries
Defence spending stood at 2.08% of GDP in 2011, this represents a drop in overall relation to the GDP as a percentage. The number of active personnel has been significantly reduced since 2004. Serbia abolished mandatory military service on 1 January 2011. Prior to this, mandatory military service lasted 6 months for men. Conscientious objectors could however opt for 9 months of civil service instead.
Serbia participates in the Partnership for Peace program, but so far has shown no intention of full integration into NATO, due to significant social rejection, largely derived from the NATO bombing in 1999. The country also signed the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, and participates in several peacekeeping missions.
Serbia is a large producer and exporter of military hardware in the region. Defence exports were $500 million U.S. dollars in 2009. Serbia exports across the world, notably to the Middle East, Africa, Asia and North America. The defence industry has seen significant growth over the years and it continues to grow on a yearly basis.
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As of October 2011, Serbia (without Kosovo) had an estimated population of 7,120,666. The 2002 census was not conducted in Kosovo, which was under United Nations administration at the time. According to CIA estimates, Kosovo has around 1.8 million inhabitants, the majority of them Albanian with Kosovo Serbs coming in second.
Serbs are the largest ethnic group in Serbia, representing 83% of the total population, excluding Kosovo. With a population of 290,000, Hungarians are the second largest ethnic group in Serbia, representing 3.9% (and 14.3% of the population in Vojvodina). Other minority groups include Bosniaks, Roma, Albanians, Croats, Bulgarians, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Slovaks, Vlachs, Romanians, and Chinese. According to UN estimates, around 500,000 Roma live in Serbia. The German minority in the northern province of Vojvodina was more numerous in the past (336,430 in 1900, or 23.5% of Vojvodina's population).
Serbia has the largest refugee population in Europe. Refugees and internally displaced persons (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, mainly from Croatia, and to a lesser extent from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the IDPs from Kosovo, which are currently the most numerous at over 200,000.
Meanwhile, it is estimated that 300,000 people left Serbia during the 1990s alone, and around 20% of those had college or higher education. Serbia has a comparatively old overall population (among the 10 oldest in the world), mostly due to low birth rates. In addition, Serbia has among the most negative population growth rates in the world, ranking 225th out of 233 countries overall.
Serbia is one of the religiously diverse countries of Europe, with an Eastern Orthodox majority, and Catholic and Islamic minority, among other smaller confessions. While formation of the nation-state and turbulent history of 19th and 20th century has left its traces on the religious landscape of the country; as of 2002, Vojvodina was 68.97% Orthodox, 19.11% Catholic and 3.55% Protestant, while Central Serbia and Belgrade regions were over 90% Orthodox Christian. Kosovo consists of an 89% Albanian Muslim majority.
Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade, the world's largest Orthodox church
|Religion in Serbia (excluding Kosovo) (2002)|
Among the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Serbian Orthodox Church is the largest in the country. 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 Romanians, Vlachs, Macedonians and Bulgarians. Together they comprise about 84% of the entire population.
Roman Catholicism is mostly present in Vojvodina, especially its northern part, which is home to minority ethnic groups such as Hungarians, Croats, Bunjevci, as well as to some Slovaks and Czechs. There are an estimated 388,000 baptized Roman Catholics in Serbia, roughly 5.5% of the population, mostly in northern Serbia.
Protestantism accounts for about 1.1% of the country's population, chiefly among Slovaks in Vojvodina as well as among one number of Reformist Hungarians and Vojvodinian Serbs. Islam has a strong historic following in the southern regions of Serbia – southern Raška and Preševo Valley municipalities in the south-east. Bosniaks are the largest Islamic community in Serbia with 140,000 followers or 2% of the total population, followed by Albanians.
A number of Jews from Spain settled in Serbia after the Inquisition. They were well-accepted and in the ensuing generations the majority assimilated or became secular. Later on, the wars that ravaged the region resulted in a great part of the Jewish Serbian population emigrating from the region. Today, there are approximately 1,185 Jewish Serbians. The Belgrade Synagogue is the only functioning synagogue, saved by the local population during World War II from destruction at the hands of the Nazis.
Serbia has a transitional economy mostly dominated by services, manufacturing and agriculture. The economy is heavily reliant on exports and foreign investment. Since 2000, Serbia has attracted over $25 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI). Although average GDP growth over ten years has been 4.45% per year, Serbia suffers from a high unemployment rate (23.7% as of February 2012) and an unfavorable trade deficit.
Serbia is classed as an upper-middle income economy. GDP (PPP) for 2012 is estimated at $80.282 billion or $10,811 per capita (PPP). GDP per capita stood at 35% of the EU average in 2011.
Serbia has free-trade agreements with the EFTA and CEFTA, a preferential trade regime with the European Union, a Generalized System of Preferences with the United States, and individual free-trade agreements with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.
The major processed vegetable crops in Serbia are potatoes, tomatoes and pepper. Serbia grows about one-third of the world's raspberries and is a leading exporter of frozen fruit.
In July 2010, the credit rating agency Dun & Bradstreet rated Serbia's economy at DB4d, which remained the same since the last rating. There was expressed concern for the slower-than-expected recovery of the economy from the global financial crisis, along with the continuous high business risk due lowered credit capabilities, increasing company bankruptcy and generally poor economic prospects. The Agency also expressed concern for the high credit debt and large number of foreign banks in the financial sector, creating an increased risk of instability.
Most of the energy is currently produced comes from coal or hydroelectric dams. Energy consumption is expected to exceed energy production by 2012 and Elektroprivreda Srbije, Serbia's largest energy producer, is expected to develop Đerdap III, a hydroelectric dam with approximately 2.4 gigawatts of power.
Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS), Serbia's largest petroleum producer, was acquired by Gazprom Neft. The two companies, are planning to build the Serbian portion of the South Stream gas pipeline. The two companies are also building a 300 million cubic meter gas storage at Banatski Dvor, located approximately 60 kilometers northeast of Novi Sad. The South Stream gas pipeline project will be the largest since the 19th century railway construction through Serbia.
Belgrade tram system
The Morava valley route, running across the country in north-south direction, is the easiest route of travel from continental Europe to Greece and Asia Minor. 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), E75 (from Hungarian border to Leskovac), a short segment of E80 (to Niš) as well as smaller road segments including parts of the Belgrade bypass are modern highways of motorway / autobahn standard. Many new motorways (most of which belong to the E road network) are currently being built. Serbia plans to greatly expand its motorway network in the near future. Currently the main motorway construction projects in Serbia are following the routes of Pan-European corridors.
There are four international airports in Serbia: Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, Niš Constantine the Great Airport, Vršac International Airport and Pristina International Airport.
As of 2010, Serbia has 1,953,061 registered cars, 40,129 motorcycles, 9,201 buses, 172,799 trucks, 23,552 special transport vehicles (2009 info), 239,295 tractors and 99,025 trailers.
Although landlocked, there are around 2000 km of navigable rivers and canals, the largest of which are: the Danube, Sava, Tisa, joined by the Timiş River and Begej, all of which connect Serbia with Northern and Western Europe through the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal and North Sea route, to Eastern Europe via the Tisa, Timiş, Begej and Danube Black Sea routes, and to Southern Europe via the Sava river. Belgrade, Novi Sad, and Smederevo are major Danube transit ports.
89% of households in Serbia have fixed telephone lines, and with over 9.60 million users the number of cell-phones surpasses the number of total population of Serbia itself by 30%. The largest cellphone provider is Telekom Srbija with 5.65 million subscribers, followed by Telenor with 3.1 million users and Vip mobile with just over 1 million. 52.1% of households have computers and around 45%-50% (estimate) have cable TV, which puts the country ahead of certain member states of the EU. Serbia is ranked 57th in the world in terms of Internet usage out of 216 states. 55.9% of the population uses the internet, placing Serbia ahead of all Balkan countries.
Tourism in Serbia mainly focuses on the villages and mountains of the country. The most famous mountain resorts are Zlatibor, Kopaonik, and 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 to the many Serbian monasteries across the country and the cruises along the Danube, Sava or Tisza. There are several popular festivals held in Serbia, such as EXIT, proclaimed to be 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.
Education and science
Education in Serbia is regulated by the Ministry of Science and Education. Education starts in either pre-schools or elementary schools. Children enroll in elementary schools at the age of seven, and remain there for eight years. After compulsory education students have the opportunity to either attend a high school for another four years, specialist school, for 2 to 4 years, or to enroll in vocational training, for 2 to 3 years. Following the completion of high school or a specialist school, students have the opportunity to attend university.
The largest public universities in Serbia are:
- University of Belgrade
- University of Kragujevac
- University of Niš
- University of Novi Sad
- University of Pristina
The University of Belgrade is the oldest and currently the largest university in Serbia. Established in 1808, it has 31 faculties, and since its inception, has trained an estimated 330,000 graduates. Other universities with a significant number of faculty and alumni are those of Novi Sad (founded 1960), Kragujevac (founded 1976) and Niš (founded 1965).
The roots of the Serbian education system date back to the 11th and 12th centuries when the first Catholic colleges were founded in Titel and Bač. With the establishment of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian Kingdom in 1217, education was mostly conducted through the monasteries of Sopoćani, Studenica, and Patriarchate of Peć. The oldest college faculty within the current borders 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.
Nikola Tesla, with Ruđer Bošković's book Theoria Philosophiae Naturalis, sits in front of the spiral coil of his high-frequency transformer at East Houston Street, New York.
Serbia has a rich tradition of contributing to the field of science and technology. Scientist, inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla patented numerous inventions and was an important contributor to the birth of commercial electricity in the United States. Other notable Serbian scientists and inventors were Mihajlo Pupin and Milutin Milanković.
- Nikola Tesla was famous for developing the AC motor, the bifilar coil, various devices that used rotating magnetic fields, the alternating current polyphase power distribution systems, the fundamental devices of systems of wireless communication (legal priority for the invention of radio)[neutrality is disputed], radio frequency oscillators, devices for voltage magnification by standing waves, robotics, logic gates for secure radio frequency communications, devices for x-rays, apparatus for ozone generation, devices for ionized gases, devices for high field emission, devices for charged particle beams, methods for providing extremely low level of resistance to the passage of electrical current, means for increasing the intensity of electrical oscillations, voltage multiplication circuitry, devices for high voltage discharges, devices for lightning protection and VTOL aircraft. He also invented the Tesla coil and the Tesla turbine . The tesla is the SI derived unit of magnetic flux density and was named after Tesla.
- Mihailo Petrović is known for having contributed significantly to differential equations and phenomenology, as well as inventing one of the first prototypes of an analog computer.
- Milutin Milanković is known for his theory of ice ages, suggesting a relationship between the Earth's long-term climate changes and periodic changes in its orbit, now known as Milankovitch cycles.
- Mihajlo Pupin discovered a means of means of greatly extending the range of long-distance telephone communication by placing loading coils of wire (known as Pupin coils) at predetermined intervals along the transmitting wire (known as "pupinization").
- Miodrag Radulovacki is best known for postulating the Adenosine Sleep Theory in 1984.
- Josif Pančić discovered and identified the Serbian Spruce in 1875.
- Jovan Cvijić is considered the founder of geography in Serbia. In more than 30 years of intense scientific study, Cvijić published vast number of significant works, many of which have not lost value even today. He founded the Faculty of Philosophy's Geographical institute in 1923, the first geographic institute in Balkans.
For centuries straddling the boundaries between East and West, Serbia had been divided among: the Eastern and Western halves of the Roman Empire; then between Kingdom of Hungary, Bulgarian Empire, Frankish Kingdom and Byzantium; and then between the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, as well as Venice in the south. These overlapping influences have resulted in cultural varieties throughout Serbia and the Serbian-inhabited regions; its north leaning to the profile of Central Europe, while the south being characteristic of the wider Balkans and the Mediterranean.
The Byzantine influence on Serbia was profound, firstly through the introduction of Eastern Christianity (Orthodoxy) in the Early Middle Ages. The Serbian Orthodox Church has had an enduring status in Serbia, with the many Serbian monasteries constituting the most valuable cultural monuments left from Serbia in the Middle Ages.
Serbia has a total of eight sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list: The Early Medieval capital Stari Ras and the 13th-century monastery Sopoćani, and the 12th-century monastery Studenica, and the endangered Medieval Monuments in Kosovo group, comprising the monasteries of Visoki Dečani, Our Lady of Ljeviš, Gračanica and Patriarchate of Peć (former seat of the Serbian Church, mausoleum of Serbian royalty) and finally the Roman estate of Gamzigrad–Felix Romuliana. There are two literary memorials on UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme: The 12th-century Miroslav Gospel, and scientist Nikola Tesla's valuable archive.
Serbia has a well-established theatrical tradition with many theaters. The Serbian National Theatre was established in 1861. The Belgrade International Theatre Festival, founded in 1967, is one of the oldest theatre festivals in the world, and it has become one of the five most important and biggest European festivals. The Serbian cinema is one of the oldest in the Balkans, having its foundation in 1896 with the release of the oldest movie in the Balkans, "Život i dela besmrtnog vožda Karađorđa", a biography about Karađorđe.
The most prominent museum in Serbia is the National Museum of Serbia, founded in 1844; it houses a collection of more than 400,000 exhibits, over 5,600 paintings and 8,400 drawings and prints, and includes many foreign masterpiece collections, including Miroslav Gospel. The museum is currently undergoing renovation.
The official language, Serbian, is written in both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.
There were many famous royal cities and palaces in Serbia at the time of Roman Empire and early Byzantine Empire, traces of which can still be found in Sirmium, Gamzigrad and Justiniana Prima. Serbian medieval monuments, which have survived until today, are mostly monasteries and churches. Most of these monuments have walls painted with frescoes. The most original monument of Serbian medieval art is the Studenica Monastery (built around 1190). This monastery was a model for later monasteries, like: the Mileševa, Sopoćani and Visoki Dečani monasteries. The most famous Serbian medieval fresco is the "Mironosnice na Grobu" (or the "white angel") from the Mileševa monastery.
Kosovo Maiden (1919) by Uroš Predić, based on Serbian epic poetry, which was praised by many famous persons such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jacob Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Carl Spitteler.
Icon-painting is also part of Serbian medieval cultural heritage. The influence of Byzantine Art increased after the fall of Constantinople into the hands of the crusaders in the year 1204, when many Byzantine artists fled to Serbia. Their influence is seen in the building of the church Our Lady of Ljeviš and many other buildings, including the Gračanica Monastery. The monastery Visoki Dečani was built between the years 1330 and 1350. Unlike other Serbian monasteries, this one was built in the Romantic style, under the authority of grand master Vita from Kotor. On the frescoes of this monastery, there are some 1,000 portraits depicting the most important episodes from the New Testament.
Another style of Architecture that followed in Serbia was that of the end of the 14th century, near the river Morava (Moravic school). A characteristic of this style was the wealthy decoration of the frontal church-walls.
During the time of Turkish occupation, Serbian art was virtually non-existent, with the exception of several Serbian artists who lived in the lands ruled by the Habsburg Monarchy. Traditional Serbian art showed some Baroque influences at the end of the 18th century as shown in the works of Nikola Nešković, Teodor Kračun, Zaharije Orfelin and Jakov Orfelin. Serbian painting showed the influence of Biedermeier, Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Realism during the 19th century. Some of the most prominent Serbian artists made their works at that time. Anastas Jovanović was a pioneering photographer in Serbia taking photographs of many leading Serbian citizens. Some of the most important Serbian painters of the 20th century were Paja Jovanović, Milan Konjović, Marko Čelebonović, Petar Lubarda, Uroš Predić, Milo Milunović, Vladimir Veličković, Mića Popović, Sava Šumanović and Milena Pavlović-Barili.
The start of Serbian literacy relates to the activity of the brothers Cyril and Methodius in the Balkans. Monuments of Serbian literacy from the early 11th century can be found, written in Glagolitic. Starting in the 12th century, books were written in Cyrillic. From this epoch, the oldest Serbian Cyrillic book editorial are the Miroslav Gospels. The Miroslav Gospels are considered to be the oldest book of Serbian medieval history. Notable medieval authors include Sava Nemanjić, Nun Jefimija, Stefan Lazarević, Constantine of Kostenets and others.
Baroque trends in Serbian literature emerged in the late 17th century. Notable Baroque-influenced authors were Andrija Zmajević, Gavril Stefanović Venclović, Jovan Rajić, Zaharije Orfelin and others. Dositej Obradović was the most prominent figure of the Age of Enlightenment, while the most notable Classicist writer was Jovan Sterija Popović, although his works also contained elements of Romanticism.
In the era of national revival, in the first half of the 19th century, Vuk Stefanović Karadžić collected Serbian folk literature, reformed the Serbian language and spelling and translated the New Testament into Serbian. The first half of the 19th century was dominated by Romanticism, with Branko Radičević, Laza Kostić, Đura Jakšić and Jovan Jovanović Zmaj being the most notable representatives, while the second half of the century was marked by Realist writers such as Milovan Glišić, Laza Lazarević, Simo Matavulj, Stevan Sremac, Branislav Nušić, Radoje Domanović and Borisav Stanković. The 20th century was dominated by the prose writers Isidora Sekulić, Miloš Crnjanski, Ivo Andrić, Branko Ćopić, Meša Selimović, Borislav Pekić, Dobrica Ćosić, Danilo Kiš, Aleksandar Tišma and Milorad Pavić. There were also many valuable poetic achievements, as seen by the writings of Milan Rakić, Jovan Dučić, Desanka Maksimović, Miodrag Pavlović, Vladislav Petković Dis, Branko Miljković, Vasko Popa, and others.
In the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the most popular Serbian writers were David Albahari, Milorad Pavić, Momo Kapor, Goran Petrović, Svetlana Velmar-Janković, Svetislav Basara and Zoran Živković.
Serbia has a long tradition in music. Traditional Serbian music include various kinds of bagpipes, flutes, horns, trumpets, lutes, psalteries, drums and cymbals. The kolo is the traditional collective folk dance, which has a number of varieties throughout the regions. The most popular are those from Užice and Morava region. Sung epic poetry has been an integral part of Serbian and Balkan music for centuries. In the highlands of Serbia these long poems are typically accompanied on a one-string fiddle called the gusle, and concern themselves with themes from history and mythology. There are records of gusle (гоусли) being played at the court of the 13th-century Serbian King Stefan Nemanjić.
Composer and musicologist Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac is considered one of the most important founders of modern Serbian music. The Serbian composers Petar Konjović, Stevan Hristić and Miloje Milojević, all born in the 1880s, were the most eminent composers of their generation. They maintained the national expression and modernized the romanticism into the direction of impressionism. The best-known composers born around 1910 studied in Europe, mostly in Prague; Ljubica Marić, Stanojlo Rajicić, Milan Ristić who took influence from Schoenberg, Hindemith and Haba. Other famous classical Serbian composers include Isidor Bajić, Stanislav Binički and Josif Marinković.
The former Yugoslav rock scene, which Serbian rock scene was a part of during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, was well developed and covered in the media, which included numerous magazines, radio and TV shows. With the breakout of Yugoslav wars, former Yugoslav rock scene ceased to exist. During the 1990s popularity of rock music declined in Serbia, and although several major mainstream acts managed to sustain their popularity, an underground and independent music scene developed. During the 1990s most of, both mainstream and underground, rock acts expressed their opposition towards the regime of Slobodan Milošević. The first decade of the 21st century saw the revival of the mainstream scene. The most notable Serbian rock acts include Bajaga i Instruktori, Đorđe Balašević, Disciplina Kičme, Ekatarina Velika, Električni Orgazam, Galija, Idoli, Korni Grupa, Partibrejkers, Pekinška Patka, Rambo Amadeus, Riblja Čorba, Smak, Šarlo Akrobata, YU grupa, Van Gogh, and others.
In the 1990s and the 2000s, many pop music performers rose to fame. Željko Joksimović won second place at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest and Marija Šerifović managed to win the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Molitva", and Serbia was the host of the 2008 edition of the Contest.
The so-called "novokomponovana muzika" (newly composed music) can be seen as a result of the urbanization of folk music. In its early days, it had a professional approach to performance, used accordion and clarinet and typically included love songs or other simple lyrics. At a later stage, severak popular performers used more influences from pop music, oriental music, and other genres, which led to the emergence of turbo-folk.
Turbo-folk music emerged during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Turbo-folk used Serbian folk music and "novokomponovana" as the basis, and added influences from rock, pop and electronic dance music. In the first decade of the 21st century turbo-folk featured even more pop music elements, and some of the performers were labeled as pop-folk. The most notable Turbo-folk artists include Ceca and Jelena Karleuša.
Balkan Brass, or "truba" (trumpet) is a popular genre that originated during the First Serbian Uprising (1804–1813) with military marching bands that transposed Serbian folk music. Guča trumpet festival is one of the most popular and biggest music festivals in Serbia, with over 300,000 visitors annually.
Serbian cuisine is a heterogeneous cuisine, sharing characteristics of the Balkans (especially former Yugoslavia), the Mediterranean (especially Greek), Turkish, and Central European (especially Austrian and Hungarian) cuisines. Each region has its own peculiarities and variations. Among traditional Serbian foods are ćevapčići, pljeskavica, sarma, pasulj, burek, gibanica, ajvar. The national drink is Slivovitz (šljivovica).
The most popular sports in Serbia are football, basketball, volleyball, handball, water polo and tennis.
Since the breakup of SFR Yugoslavia, Serbia has developed a reputation as one of the world's biggest exporters of expat footballers. Serbia's national football team made their first appearance during the qualifying rounds for Euro 2008 although they did not qualify for the competition. During the qualifying tournament for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Serbia came first in its group, ahead of France and consequently qualified directly for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The three main football clubs in Serbia are Red Star and Partizan, both from the capital city of Belgrade, and Vojvodina from Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbia. 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 Eastern European football club which played in a European Cup final (in 1966). The matches between the two rival clubs are known as the "Eternal Derby". The Serbian SuperLiga is the highest professional league in the country. The 2011/2012 season champion was Partizan, followed by Red Star Belgrade in second place, and Vojvodina in third.
Serbia is one of the traditional powerhouses of world basketball, winning various FIBA World Championships, multiple EuroBasket and Olympic medals (albeit as FR Yugoslavia). Serbia's national basketball team is the successor to the successful Yugoslavia national basketball team.Serbs that have played in the NBA include: Vlade Divac (FIBA Hall of Fame), Predrag Stojaković, Željko Rebrača, Marko Jarić, Nenad Krstić, Darko Miličić and Vladimir Radmanović. In the domestic scene, the Basketball League of Serbia is the highest professional basketball league in Serbia. For the eighth consecutive year, KK Partizan is the reigning champion of the league, followed by rivals KK Crvena Zvezda. KK Partizan was the European champion in 1992.
Serbian tennis players Novak Đoković, Ana Ivanović, Jelena Janković, Nenad Zimonjić, Janko Tipsarević and Viktor Troicki are very successful and their success has led to a popularisation of tennis in Serbia. Đoković, in particular, is very popular and is currently the # 1 tennis player in the ATP Rankings. He was also the founder of the first ATP tennis tournament in the country, the Serbia Open. Other well-known Serbia-born players are Monika Seles, Jelena Dokić and Slobodan Živojinović. The Serbia men national team won the 2010 Davis Cup.
The Serbian national football team with tifo in the Serbian tricolor being displayed at the Marakana in a game against France
Serbia and Italy were host nations of the 2005 Men's European Volleyball Championship. The Serbia men's national volleyball team is the direct descendant of the Yugoslavia men's national volleyball team. Serbia won the bronze medal at the 2007 Men's European Volleyball Championship held in Moscow, Russia.
The Serbia men's national water polo team recently won the 2009 World Championships in Rome, Italy. Serbia has won four European Championships (2001, 2003, 2006 and 2012), finished as runner-up in 2008, won two World Championships (2005 and 2009) and won bronze medal at 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing.
Milorad Čavić and Nađa Higl in swimming, Olivera Jevtić, Dragutin Topić in athletics, Aleksandar Karakašević in table tennis, Jasna Šekarić in shooting are also very popular athletes in Serbia.
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