Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)

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Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)

At a Glance

Official Name: Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Continent: Europe

Area: 39,517 square miles (102,350 sq. km)

Population: 11,206,039

Capital City: Belgrade

Largest City: Belgrade (1,500,000)

Unit of Money: Yugoslav new dinar

Major Languages: Serbian, Albanian

Natural Resources: Oil, gas, coal, antimony, copper

The Place

Yugoslavia, located on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, is made up of Serbia and Montenegro. Yugoslavia's capital and largest city is Belgrade. Yugoslavia is a smaller portion of a larger country, also called Yugoslavia. The name Yugoslavia means, "Land of the South Slavs," and was chosen when the first Yugoslav state was formed in 1918 to unite 3 groups of South Slavs: Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. From 1946 to 1991, Yugoslavia was comprised of 6 republics. In 1991 and 1992, 4 republics—Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia—declared their independence. After extensive fighting, Serbia and Montenegro became a smaller Yugoslavia.

The country is bordered by Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yugoslavia's far southwestern boundary is formed by a coastline on the Adriatic Sea. The country's total land area is 39,517 square miles (102,350 square kilometers), less than half the size of the former Yugoslavia.

The country's major rivers include the Danube, Drava and Sava.

Most of Yugoslavia experiences cold winters and hot summers, except for a narrow coastal zone in the southwest, where the climate is mild and rainy in the winter, and warm and dry during the summer.

The People

The people of Yugoslavia are primarily Serbian and Croatian, and they are evenly divided between the country's urban and rural areas. About 63% of the people are Serbs and 14% are Albanians. Many other ethnic groups, including Montenegrins, Magyars and Muslims, also reside there.

It is estimated that two-thirds of Yugoslavia's population is currently living under subsistence level, and many people are suffering from malnutrition and other health problems. These conditions are the result of nearly 10 years of civil war.

Serbs and Montenegrins practice Orthodox Christianity and speak Serbo-Croatian, officially called Serbian. Yugoslavia's Muslims also speak Serbo-Croatian.

Ethnic Albanians speak Albanian. Most Albanians are Sunni Muslims, but there are also Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic Albanians as well.

Most ethnic Albanians live in Kosovo. There are also ethnic Albanians that live in Montenegro. Life expectancy is 72 years.


Yugoslavian education is compulsory from ages 7 to 15, and primary and secondary education are both provided at no cost.

The overall literacy rate in Yugoslavia is 93%. It is higher for males, at 98%, than for females (89%). Schooling differs between ethnic groups. For example, Albanian girls receive less schooling than girls of other groups do, and Albanians in general have lower literacy rates.

The country's leading universities include the University of Belgrade, founded in 1863, as well as the University of Novi Sad, the University of Nis, the University of Podgorica, and the University of Pristina. However, the University of Pristina, located in Kosovo, has not operated since 1990.


Type: Republic

Structure: Executive

Leader: President/Prime Minister


90,000 army personnel

639 tanks

8 major ships

282 combat aircraft

Popular Culture/Daily Life

Most Yugoslavs are closely tied to their ethnic group. Some Yugoslavians still wear traditional outfits. Most, however, wear contemporary, Western-style clothing, especially in cities.

The diet consists mainly of grilled meats and bread. Desserts range from baklava to tortes, and the most popular drink is plum brandy, called slivovitz.

Montenegrins, however, drink a grape brandy. Coffee is another popular drink.

Sports are very popular, and Yugoslav basketball and soccer teams are among the best in the world. Winter sports such as skiing and hockey are also popular.

Serbia and Montenegro have thriving music industries. Serbian rock groups are popular and creative. Traditional Serbian church music has been revived, largely by the tenor Pavle Aksentijevic.