Fast Facts

Population:
7,498,000
Capital:
Belgrade; 1,576,000
Area:
77,474 square kilometers (29,913 square miles)
Language:
Serbian
Religion:
Orthodox, Muslim
Currency:
Dinar
Life Expectancy:
74
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $2,200
Literacy Percent:
96
Flag: Serbia
Map: Serbia

Located in southwestern Europe, Serbia possesses a fertile Danube plain in the north, but the land becomes rugged and mountainous in the south.

Serbia was once the dominant state within Yugoslavia, a republic formed in 1929 to forcibly unify the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The republic was held together by coercion—first under kings then under a communist government—until 1991-92 when Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence. By 1992, all that was left of Yugoslavia was Serbia and Montenegro.

Serbia's brutal war in the southern province of Kosovo, starting in 1998, caused Montenegro to distance itself from Slobodan Milosevic and his Yugoslav government. On February 4, 2003, the name "Yugoslavia" passed into history, replaced by the union of "Serbia and Montenegro."

On June 3, 2006, Montenegro proclaimed independence, and two days later, the Republic of Serbia declared itself the successor state to the union. The move allowed Serbia to inherit the union's seat at the United Nations and at other international organizations, but Montenegro's independence left Serbia landlocked with no direct access to the sea.

Montenegro's peaceful separation from Serbia also brought hope to Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians, who outnumber ethnic Serbs by nearly twenty to one, have long sought sovereignty. On February 17, 2008, Kosovo's Albanian leaders declared the province's independence from Serbia. The move was quickly endorsed by key capitals in the West, but the Serbian government and its ally, Russia, vowed to fight it.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Machine building, metallurgy, mining, consumer goods
  • Agriculture: Cereals, fruits, vegetables, tobacco; cattle
  • Exports: Manufactured goods, food and live animals, raw materials

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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