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Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia and Montenegro

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Serbia and Montenegro
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 10,677,290
Language(s): Serbian, Albanian
Literacy rate: 93.0%
Area: 102,350 sq km
GDP: 8,449 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 771
Number of Television Sets: 2,750,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 257.6
Number of Radio Stations: 309
Number of Radio Receivers: 3,150,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 295.0
Number of Individuals with Computers: 240,000
Computers per 1,000: 22.5
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 400,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 37.5

Background & General Characteristics

Yugoslavia was born the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes on December 1, 1918. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia disintegrated into the independent constituent republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Yugoslavia in 1991. On March 14, 2002, Yugoslavia ceased to exist. What remained of Yugoslavia emerged as the Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro. Within three years of that date, Montenegro will decide whether or not to seek complete independence. The Serbian province of Kosovo, with an Albanian majority, threatens to secede from Serbia. What remains of modern Serbia could be much less in territory than Serbia's pre-1914 boundaries.

Serbia's history dates to the early history of the Balkan Peninsula. From the eighth to the eleventh centuries, either the Bulgars or the Byzantine Empire controlled the Serbs.

Modern Serbia's sister republic, Montenegro, was incorporated into the first Serbian kingdom during the Middle Ages. Montenegro (or Black Mountain) successfully remained independent of the Ottoman Turks even though Serbia was conquered.

The Paris peace treaties ending World War I accepted the emergence of a south Slav state. Roman Catholic Slovenes and Croats were merged with Eastern Orthodox Serbs, Montenegrins, and Muslim Albanians. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was renamed Yugoslavia (South Slavs) in 1929. In the twentieth century three men, King Alexander II, Marshal Josip Tito, and Serbian Communist Party leader Slobodan Milosevic respectively gave birth to, shaped, and destroyed modern Yugoslavia.

The first Serbian newspapers were published in Kragujevac and in Novi Sad: they were Novine Serbske (1834) and Vestnik (1848) respectively. Serbia's first daily newspaper was published in Novi Sad, the Srbski Dvenik (1852). Montenegro's first newspaper was Crnogorac (1871). Prizren (1880) was Kosovo's first newspaper. The number of newspapers in Serbia increased after the promulgation of the 1889 Constitution granting freedom of the press. Obrenovic King Alexander suspended Serbi's press freedom in 1893. Under Peter I (1903-1921) the 1889 Constitution was replaced with the Constitution of 1903, which restored freedom of the press. In 1905, 20 daily were published in Belgrade, but by 1910 the number of print media numbered over 775 publications.

After World War I the newly created Yugoslavia was given a new constitution in 1920. The Constitution of 1920 was in essence the Serbian Constitution of 1903, expanded to include Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia but not in a federal union of states. Serbia remained the dominant power in the governmental structure and in the Parliament that centralized power in Belgrade. Parliamentary representation and religious freedom were written into the Constitution. In spite of the Constitution's failure to offer adequate protection for individual rights, speech, press, and public meetings, new print media quickly surfaced, spreading rumors about the rise of Communism and revolution. Yugoslavia's new Parliament responded by issuing a decree banning all print media published by the Communist press, including the newspapers Boda and Kommunist. Radical Party print media continued to publish. Other major Yugoslav political party newspapers included Rec for the Independent Democratic Party and the Croatian Republican Peasant Party's newspaper Slobodnidom. An estimate of the number of print media in Yugoslavia between the World Wars varies from over six hundred to over eleven hundred publications. Yugoslavi's first news agency Avila.

The political instability between Yugoslavia's competing political, religious, and ethnic groups forced King Alexander II to suspend the 1920 Constitution in 1929 and declare a royal dictatorship. The public accepted the political change with blame initially placed on the politicians and the press. The press was perceived as having abused its rights, and its members were placed under police control. Any newspaper expressing a distasteful opinion was confiscated. Editors had to confine themselves to reporting the news. All opinions were submitted to the government for review. Acts of terrorism, sedition, or the dissemination of Communist propaganda were punished with either the death penalty or a long prison sentence. Freedom of the press was eliminated. Political parties based on a regional or religious basis were declared illegal. The king assumed the power to remove judges. Yugoslavia became a virtually one-party state. The press was effectively muzzled.

The royal dictatorship ended when Alexander II was assassinated in Marseilles, France, during a state visit in 1934. The late king's cousin, Paul, governed Yugoslavia as regent until Alexander's eldest son, Peter II, came of age in 1941. During the regency Yugoslavia published 50 daily newspapers. Most had small circulations. The major Serbian dailies were Politika, Vreme, and Pravada. Many of Alexander's controversial policies continued, including the banning of political parties. Constitutional reform in Yugoslavia was stalemated over whether or not to give Croatia autonomy. When an agreement was reached on Croatian autonomy, the Slovenes and Serbs vigorously protested because they were still ruled from Belgrade. As the signs of another war grew larger, Yugoslavia found itself more financially dependent on a resurgent Germany. In an attempt to maintain Yugoslav neutrality, Prince Regent Paul signed an alliance with Hitler's Germany. A mutiny within the Yugoslav military against the German alliance forced the Regent from power, and 17-year-old Peter II was proclaimed of age. Peter II reigned less than two weeks before fleeing Yugoslavia to escape the advancing German military. Yugoslavia quickly surrendered and was reduced in size, with regions given to Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Italian-controlled Albania. Independent republics under Italian control were created in Montenegro and Croatia. What was left of Yugoslavia was divided between Italy and Germany.

During World War II King Peter II maintained a government-in-exile in Great Britain. Within Yugoslavia two antifascist organizations emerged fighting the Germans and Italians, the Chetniks under General Draza Mihailovic and the Partisans under Josif Tito. The Chetniks were anti-Communist and supported the king. The Partisans were pro-Communist and directed from Moscow. Borba, long suppressed under royal orders, emerged as the official newspaper for the Partisans. Belgrade's liberation in 1944 restored many of Yugoslavia's print media to active publication, among them Politika. The majority of publications were pro-Communist. Yugoslavia's future was determined by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who gave British support to Tito and the Communists, believing that Mihailovic's Chetniks had not been sufficiently antifascist during the war. In 1945 the monarchy was dissolved in a rigged vote. Yugoslavia became a Communist state.

Under Communist rule Yugoslavia was divided into six republics, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, and the Serbian autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. Under the new Federal People's Republic Constitution, private ownership of the media and business was ended. Press organizations were nationalized along with printing houses, paper mills, and radio transmitters. The press was placed under the Ministry of Information and served as a propaganda tool of the Communist state. A 1946 press law limited the right of political parties to publish, but allowed the government to supply newsprint, equipment, and other materials to the print media. Any publication encouraging revolt, spreading false information, and the threat to harm the socialist state was to be closed and the authors punished. When Tito broke with Moscow in 1948, some of the harsher aspects of press restrictions were loosened. The Communist party in Yugoslavia oversaw the print and broadcast media, but after 1948 allowed more latitude in what was published and broadcast. During the Tito regime it was estimated that Yugoslavia published over 2,500 newspapers and 1,500 periodicals. Each republic and autonomous province was allowed the right to print its own newspapers and have its own broadcast stations. Yugoslavia's newspapers with the largest circulation during the Communist era were the Belgrade-published Vecernje Novosti, PolitikaPolitika Ekspres, and Sport. Major Croatian-published newspapers were Vecernjji List, Sportske Novosti, and Vjesnik. Other major Yugoslav newspapers included the Slovenian Delo, the Bosnian Oslobodenje, and the Dalmatian Slobodna Dalmatija.

In 1974 Yugoslavia adopted a new constitution, which guaranteed freedom and the rights of man and citizens, limited only by the equal freedom and rights of others and the community. The criminal code allowed the punishment of counterrevolutionary activity (Article 114), for hostile propaganda (Article 118), and association to promote hostile activity (Article 136). The 1974 Law on the Cinema banned films whose human, cultural, and educational aims were contrary to a socialist state. Some argue that freedom of expression was evident in Tito's Yugoslavia, as long as it did not enter print or was broadcast. In the 1970s student newspapers were the print media most often denied the right to publish by government decree. In the late 1980s the newspapers of Slovenia challenged Yugoslavia's conventional media norms about self-censorship and published discussions about the future of the Yugoslav and Slovenian republics, and interviews with former Communist official and exiled writer Milovan Djilas. By 1987 Yugoslavia had 2,825 newspapers with a circulation of 2.7 million. Only five newspapers had a circulation of over 100,000, among them, Borba, printed in both Latin and Cyrillic script, and Politika, printed in Cyrillic, but primarily a Belgrade newspaper. Yugoslavia's major newspapers published under the influence and guidance of the pro-Communist Socialist Alliance and the Association of Journalists. Self-censorship was the norm.

In 1987 changes were underway, as Serbia came under the increasing authoritarian nationalism of Serbia Communist Party chief Slobodan Milosevic, first as the president of Serbia (1989-1997) and later as the president of Yugoslavia (1997-2000). TV Belgrade installed its own news network in Kosovo rather than rely on Kosovo's television station. Newspaper editors for Duga, NIN, IntervjuPolitika, and Svet were replaced on Milosevic's orders. The increasing cost of print media forced Yugoslavs to turn to electronic media for information. Federal Yugoslav media by 1989 included only Borba and Tanjung (news agency). In 1990 Croatia established its own state media. In the same year a new press law abolished press censorship and permitted private ownership of the press and the right of foreign journalists to enter Yugoslavia. As each Yugoslav republic severed ties with Belgrade, new constitutions offered press and speech freedoms except in Serbia. With Tito's death in 1980, it was clear that the republics of Yugoslavia lacked sufficient reasons to stay united in a federal state. Centuries of cultural, ethnic, and religious differences were not resolved during the royal dictatorship of Alexander II or the Communist rule of Marshal Tito. The institution of monarchy might have served as a unifying force for Yugoslavia's diverse populations except for the fact that Tito had discredited it, and Yugoslavia's last king, Peter II, died in exile at 49 in less than dignified circumstances. Peter II's son, Crown Prince Alexander, resided in London and seemed undecided about his role in a rapidly changing Yugoslavia.

In Milosevic controlled Serbia, Belgrade denied frequency broadcast rights to television and radio stations. High licensing fees forced many broadcast media to close or forced new entrants to reconsider. The high cost of print media allowed the Milosevic controlled airwaves to spread propaganda by appealing to Serbian national interests. Attempts to close anti-Milosevic newspapers witnessed the emergence of new newspapers to counter government influence and regulation. The NATO intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, and NATO's destructive bombing of Serbia ultimately contributed to Milosevic's downfall. Milosevic's election defeat to Vojislav Kostunica in 2000 was a shock to the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This time Milosevic misunderstood the will of the Yugoslav people. Kostunica's assumption of the Federal Yugoslav presidency provided the opportunity to restructure the remaining Yugoslav republics and autonomous provinces within the context of a multiparty democracy. The desire of Montenegro to declare its independence was discouraged by the United States and the European Union, once Milosevic was gone from power and transported to The Hague for trial as a war criminal.

Based on the March 14, 2002, accord signed by representatives of the Yugoslav republics of Serbia and Montenegro, the two republics are semi-independent states that share a common defense and foreign policy but maintain separate economies, currencies, and customs services. Serbia's population is over 10 million people, while Montenegro's population numbers only 650,000 citizens. Serbia and Montenegro will jointly share the United Nations seat of the former Yugoslavia with their United Nation's representative alternatively between a Serb and a Montenegrin. Serbia has two autonomous provinces, Kosovo in the southwest and Vojvodina in the north.

The Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro share a chief of state, prime minister, cabinet, and a court. Article 36 of Yugoslavia's Constitution guarantees freedom of the press and other forms of public information. Citizens have the right to express and publish their opinions in the mass media. The publication of newspapers and public dissemination of information by other media shall be accessible to all, without prior approval, after registration with the competent authorities. Radio and television stations shall be set up in accordance with the law. Under Article 37 the right to publish false information, which violates someone's rights or interests must be corrected with damage compensation and entitlement. The right to reply in the public media is guaranteed. Article 38 prohibits censorship of the press and other forms of public information. No one may prevent the distribution of the press or dissemination of other publications, unless it has been determined by a court decision that they call for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order or violation of the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, violate the guaranteed rights and liberties of man and the citizen, or foment national, racial, or religious intolerance and hatred. Freedom of speech and public appearance is guaranteed in Article 39. A citizen's right to publicly criticize the work of the government and other agencies and officials, to submit representations, petitions, and proposals, and receive an answer is guaranteed in Article 44. Article 45 offers freedom of expression of national sentiments and culture, and the use of one's mother tongue.

The existing bicameral federal assembly (Savezna Skupstina ) consists of a Chamber of Republics with 40 seats evenly divided between Serbs and Montenegrins serving four-year terms. The lower house or Chamber of Deputies has 138 seats with 108 allocated to Serbs and 30 to Montenegrins. Under the 2002 arrangement the Savezna Skupstina will be replaced with a unicameral legislature. A president of Serbia and Montenegro will be chosen by the Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro who will propose a council of ministers of five: foreign affairs, defense, international economic affairs, internal economic affairs, and protection of human and minority rights. A Court of Serbia and Montenegro has constitutional and judicial functions reviewing the actions of the Council of Ministers and bringing the judicial systems into accord. In addition to the federal assembly, each republic has its own president, prime minister, and popularly elected legislature.

There are over 2,650 publications in the Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro2,511 in Serbia and 165 in Montenegro. Daily newspapers printed in Serbia (with 1995 circulations in parentheses) are the Federal/ Serbian daily Borba (85,000) and the Serbian morning dailies Narodne Novine (7,000), Politika (260,000), Politika Ekspres (130,000), and Privredni Pregled (7,000).Vcernje Novosti (300,000) is an evening daily published in Serbia. Koha is an Albanian language morning daily with a circulation of 4,000. The Hungarian language daily Magyar Szo has a circulation of 12,500. Four newspapers are associated with political parties, Srpska Rec (Serbian Renewal Movement), Velika Srbija and Istok (Serbian Radical Party), and Bujku (Democratic Alliance of Kosovo). Politika, Ekspres, and Novosti are considered close to the government but are frequent critics of it. During the Milosevic era the newspapers Borba, Jedinstvo, Dnevnik, and Pobjeda were considered to be under the direct influence of the Communist government. Montenegro's leading newspaper is Pobjeda with a circulation of 25,000.

Major general interest periodicals all published in Serbia (with 1995 circulations in parentheses) are the fortnightlies Duga (160,000) and Srpska Rec (19,000),and the weeklies Intervju (25,000), Nin (35,000), and Vreme (35,000). Montenegro's major general interest periodical is Monitor (7,000). Special interest periodicals are the fortnightly women's magazine Bazar (60,000), the weeklies Ekonomska Politika (8,000), Illustrovanna Politika (65,000), and the children's publication Politikin Zabavnik (40,000). The Journalists Federation publishes the fortnightly magazine Madjunarodna Politika (3,000). The International Economic Institute publishes the quarterly Medjunarodni Problemi (1,000). The labor publication Rad (10,000) is published monthly. The Tanjung News Agency publishes the monthly Yugoslav Life (30,000). The bimonthly illustrated Vojska has a circulation of 50,000, and the biweekly student published magazine Student has 10,000 readers. Additional weekly periodicals include Nedeljni Telegraf, IntervjuSvedok, Svet, ProfilStudentDT PecatPolisLiberalOnogost Standard, ArgumentNovi komunistNedeljni Dnevnik, Revija 92, and Stop. There are over 150 newspapers and magazines published in the minority languages of Albanian, Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian, Ruthann, Turkish, Bulgarian, and Romani (Gypsy). Fifty-two are printed in Albanian. The Republic of Serbia and the autonomous province of Vojvodina fund 16 minority publications.

Article 35 of the Constitution of Montenegro guarantees freedom of the press and public information. The media are free to provide uncensored information to the people without government consent. However, during the elections of 2000, the Montenegrin government forbade the state-run media from covering the elections.

In 1998 Serbia and Montenegro had 27 dailies with a circulation of 830,000. Six hundred and forty-three other newspapers published with a circulation of 3,880,000. The print media included 647 periodicals, and 4,777 book titles were published with 958 of them by foreign authors. In Serbia the print media does not have the same influence as the broadcast media. There are 13 major dailies printed in Serbia, 7 of which are privately owned, Blic, Nasa BoraDemocratijaDnevni Telegraf, Danas, 24 Casa, and Gradjanin. Three Serbian newspapers have strong ties to the government, Politika, Ekspres, and Novosti. Major Serbian weekly newspapers areVreme, Nin, and Nedeljni Telegraf. There are 7 daily newspapers publishing in the province of Kosovo. With the end of the Milosevic era the nation's leading 15 newspapers are Borba, PolitikaVecernje Novosti Ekspres, PobjedaDnevnikNasa BorbaBlicDemokratija, GradjaninDnevni Telegraf24 CasaDanasVijesti, and NT Plus. Magyar Szo and Magyarsag are the autonomous province of Vojvodina's Hungarian dailies. Kosovo's leading newspapers are Jedinstvo (Serbian) and the Albanian language's Bujku and Koha Ditore. Major regional newspapers are Narodne Novine, Lid, andPuls.

In Montenegro the print media were allowed greater freedom to publish as part of the Montenegrin government's overtures to the European Union and the United States in a strategic plan to become independent of Serbia (Yugoslavia). In 2000 Montenegro had 135 print publications. Montenegro has 3 major dailies, Probjeda, considered a pro-government newspaper, Vijesti, a privately owned publication, and the Socialist People's Party newspaper Dan. Two major weeklies in Montenegro are the Monitor and Grafiti. Foreign publications and foreign broadcasting are freely available to Montenegrins.

Economic Framework

The Republics of Serbia and Montenegro are comprised of Serbs (62.6 percent), Albanians (16.5 percent), Montenegrins (5 percent), Hungarians (3.3 percent), and a variety of ethnic groups comprise the remaining 12.6 percent of the population. Serbs and Montenegrins are practicing Christians of the Eastern Orthodox rite (65 percent). Albanians are members of the Muslim faith (19 percent), and Hungarians are usually practicing Roman Catholics (4 percent). One percent of the population is Protestant, and the remainder of the population (11 percent) either does not follow a religion or worships in another faith.

The death of President Tito in 1980 is regarded as a watershed event in Yugoslav history because he was perceived as the firm hand that could keep Yugoslavia's diverse ethnic and religious groups together. Instead Tito failed to create institutions that could adapt to the changing needs of Yugoslavia and Yugoslavia's changing place in the European and world contexts. By 1983 Tito's successors and the Yugoslav people discovered the huge financial debt the nation had acquired in maintaining its unique brand of Communism. With the increasing likelihood of Communism's collapse, Yugoslavia was no longer an important nation that the West offered financial credits. In the decade after Tito's death, Yugoslav living standards declined, state industry was highly inefficient, and unemployment kept rising. The failure of the federal government of Yugoslavia to resolve economic crises led to ethnic, religious, and regional disagreements. A Yugoslavia governed by its Serb politicians was unable to adjust to a rapidly changing world and the imminent breakup of the republic into its constituent members.

Slovenia prospered from manufacturing and food processing. Croatia drew large numbers of tourists and tourists' dollars to its medieval cities and Adriatic beaches. Serbia feared the loss of economic clout should the Yugoslav state be restructured financially and politically. Should ethnicity define the republics of Yugoslavia, Serbs living in Croatia and Bosnia would be seriously affected if not directly discriminated against. Slobodan Milosevic began the symbol of Serbian nationalism and Serbian political and economic supremacy. In 1991Yu-goslav military attacks to keep Slovenia within the Yugoslav federation were repulsed within two weeks. Slovenia declared its independence and suffered the least of the former Yugoslav republics. Protecting Serbs and Serb interests in Croatia and Bosnia led to war first between Croatia and Serbia, and when Croatia successfully became independent, between Bosnia and Serbia. Almost half of the territory and population in Bosnia was Serbian. A Serbian republic was created and still exists, but in union with the Bosnian state of Croats and Muslims. The war between the Yugoslav republics led to considerable devastation in Bosnia and parts of Croatia. The war eventually came to Serbia when the Yugoslav Army began to suppress the Albanian population of Serbia's former autonomous province of Kosovo, and NATO forces retaliated. Much of Serbia's infrastructure was destroyed in the war over Kosovo. Montenegro remained outside the conflict and refused to support repeated Yugoslav (Serbian) requests for assistance.

The collapse of the Yugoslav federation in 1991 and a decade of war leading to the creation of the independent nations of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and civil war in Kosovo destroyed Yugoslavia's perceived economic prosperity of the previous three decades. The breakup of the Yugoslav republics resulted in significant losses for Serbia and Montenegro in mineral resources, technology support, industry, trade links, and markets. A decade of war further reduced the economic viability of Serbia. Before the devastation of war, Serbia and Montenegro manufactured aircraft, trucks and automobiles, tanks and weapons, electrical equipment, agricultural machinery, and steel. Serbia and Montenegro exported raw materials including coal, bauxite, nonferrous ore, iron ore, and limestone, and food and animals. Serbia sustained considerable destructive damage from NATO bombings of the capital Belgrade, the nation's factories, and transportation networks. Montenegro's increasing autonomy from Serbia was sanctioned by the European Union and NATO nations to weaken Serbia. Serbia continues to use the dinar as its currency, while Montenegro used first the German deutsche mark and now the Euro. Montenegro escaped the ravages of war and did not need its infrastructure rebuilt. With former President Milosevic on trial for war crimes, the West has offered a variety of economic packages to rebuild Serbia, provided suspected Serbian war criminals still-at-large are captured and turned over to NATO forces.

Press Laws & Censorship

The overthrow of the repressive Milosevic regime ended much of the press and media censorship that burdened the Yugoslav nation. Media closures, government takeovers, and the arrest of journalists and broadcast media personnel were drastically reduced. The 1998 Law on Public Information, restricting the type of information printed or broadcast, remains in effect and was approved while Yugoslavia was under attack by NATO forces. The law made it permissible for citizens and organizations to bring legal action against the media for printing or broadcasting material considered unpatriotic or against the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of the country. All foreign broadcasts were banned in Yugoslavia. Under the Milosevic regime journalists were beaten, equipment destroyed, and foreign journalists detained. Under the Public Information Act, the Milosevic government frequently fined the independent media. The fines amounted to almost 2 million dollars. In 1999 the Yugoslav government issued new laws determining how the media could report the NATO attacks and the Albanian rebels fighting the Yugoslav army in Kosovo. Information about military movements and casualty reports could not be reported. All independent media were eventually shut down during the 1999 NATO bombings. After the war only 20 of the 33 independent radio and television stations went back on the air. The Yugoslav Minister of Telecommunications temporarily suspended the reallocation of broadcast frequencies and allocation of new ones until new regulations were approved. The many crises facing the republics of Serbia and Montenegro delayed a proper review of the existing media laws. It is assumed that the old laws are unlikely to be enforced.

The Ministry of Information for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has been dissolved. The Ministry of Justice and Local Government assumed responsibility for media registration. The Bureau of Communications is responsible for: informing the public of government policies and the work of individual ministries, communications support for events of consequence in Serbia, coordination of the public relations operations of individual ministries, organizing and conducting media campaigns for important governmental programs, and the preparation of reviews and analyses of domestic and foreign media reporting.

The print media in Serbia is regarded as less influential than the broadcast media and therefore has made a faster transition to more independent news reporting. Newspapers previously loyal to the Milosevic regime switched their loyalties and announced journalistic independence. Serbia's most reliable newspapers during the Milosevic era and after are the dailies Danas, Blic, and Glas Javnosti and the weekly newspapers Vreme and NIN. Beta News Agency remains the most respected private independent news agency.

With the end of the Milosevic era Yugoslavia has adopted very liberal regulations and simplified the procedure to allow the foreign press to enter the nation. Radio and television broadcasts from other nations are beamed to Yugoslavian receivers with short-wave broadcasts of foreign radio stations 24 hours a day. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has over 350 permanently accredited foreign correspondents from 40 countries working at 29 news agencies, 77 newspapers, and 59 radio and television stations.

On April 4, 2002, the Serbian government adopted a new draft law for broadcasting prepared by the Association of Serbian Journalists and the Independent Association of Lawmakers working with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe to bring all Yugoslav media in line with European Union standards. The new law regulates the situation in the broadcasting field by creating a 15-member Broadcasting Agency to oversee all broadcast media for radio and television programming, issuing and revoking licenses, and levying fines. The state-run Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) becomes a public company to both serve and be financed by the people of Serbia. RTS will be operated outside any government controls and will not have a single Serb or foreign owner to avoid conflicts of interest. The Law of Telecommunications will allow RTS to keep at least two but no more than four national frequencies. The existing Law on Information is being reviewed for revision in the summer of 2002.

News Agencies

Tanjung is Serbia and Montenegro's federal government news agency, although there are plans to privatize it. There are four other news agencies serving Serbia, Beta, FonetBina, and Tiker. Montenegro's only news agency is the state-owned Montena Fax. There are an increasing number of major press associations serving Serbia and Montenegro, the International Press Centre (MPC), Journalists Federation (SNJ), Publishers and Booksellers Association, Independent Journalists' Association for Serbia and Montenegro, the Association of Private Owners of the Media, Media Center, and Right for Picture and Word.

Broadcast Media

In the Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro twenty-three television stations (19 in Serbia and 4 in Montenegro) are fully licensed. The other television stations and all the radio stations are in the process of applying for the right to broadcast. Jugoslovenksa RadioTelevizija is Yugoslavia's state information station. Major Serbian radio stations are Radio Belgrade, and Radio Novi Sad. Radio Podgorica is Montenegro's leading radio station, while Radio Pristina serves the province of Kosovo. State-run broadcast media include the Serbian Radio, the Serbian Television, and the Montenegrin Radio stations. Radio stations in Vojvodina broadcast in eight languages. In 1996, 2 independent radio stations were closed on orders of the Milosevic government.

Major television stations serving the Serb population are Belgrade TV, Radio-TV Srbije, and TV Novi Sad. Pristina TV broadcasts to Kosovo's Albanian population, while Podgorica TV serves the Montenegrin population. The largest opposition television station, Studio B, was closed by President Milosevic in 2000 but reopened after his overthrow. Prior to 2000, six private television stations broadcast, BK, TV Studio Spectrum Cacak, Kanal 9 Kragujevac, Pink, Palma, and Art Kanal. The Politika Publishing Company owns Politika, and the Municipal Government of Belgrade owns Studio B. The state-run Kosovar Radio and Kosovar Television broadcast a few hours a week in Albanian. TV Novi Sad broadcasts programs in five languages, Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian, and Ruthann.

The collapse of the Milosevic regime returned independent broadcast media to the airwaves with the pro-Milosevic broadcast media rapidly distancing itself from the government. Radio B92, broadcast via satellite and the Internet after repeated shutdowns during the 1990s, has resumed broadcasting within Serbia and is regarded as Serbia's most reliable independent news outlet. Radio Index and Radio Television Pancevo are increasingly regarded as reliable sources for news reporting. The majority of Serbia's radio stations were regarded as pro-Milosevic and currently attempt to be both neutral and supportive of the government. Unbiased broadcasting is compromised by the state's licensing of broadcast frequencies and the Serbian government's tendency to direct financial support toward traditionally pro-government stations. The federal government is reorganizing the state-run Radio Television Serbia (RTS), once regarded as a Milosevic propaganda tool. The European Institute for Media has recorded a sharp increase in the number of television viewers in Serbia to 75 percent of the population (2000). There are an estimated 120 television stations and 400 radio stations in Serbia with foreign broadcasts from the BBC and CNN now permissible. Foreign investment is influencing a number of former pro-Milosevic television stations including TV Pink.

Montenegro has 14 radio stations in addition to the state-run radio. Ten radio stations are privately owned and include Antena M, Gorica, Free Montenegro, Radio Elmag, and Mir, an Albanian language station. Besides the state-run television station, Montenegro had privately owned stations including NTO Montena, TV Blue Moon, TV Elmag, broadcast from Podgorica, and the Herceg Novi station TV Sky Sat. Because the Montenegrin government sought independence from Serbia, the republic's broadcast media were decidedly anti-Milosevic in tone but sought the support of the Montenegrin state government, which may compromise their objectivity. Independent Serbian broadcast media closed by Milosevic were able to broadcast over Montenegrin stations Montena, Mir, and Radio Kotor. During the war Montenegrin stations Montena, Antena M, Boje, and Free Montenegro broadcast news transmitted by Radio Free Europe, Deutsche Welle, BBC, and The Voice of America.

The Serbian province of Kosovo lacked broadcast media until the arrival of NATO troops. Radio Television Kosovo (RTK) went on the air in 1999 as a public service station, which now broadcasts at least four hours a day. There are an estimated 35 unlicensed broadcast stations on the air in Kosovo. The United Nations has established a temporary set of regulations governing broadcasting in Kosovo, requiring media professionals to follow the rules of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. There are some restrictions on information involving military personnel. There are 5 radio stations and 3 television stations now licensed to broadcast in Kosovo.

Electronic Media

An increase in the number of computers will put more Serbians online. During the Milosevic era, filters were placed on computers at the universities to prevent students from accessing satellite transmissions. Ironically, the Internet contributed to keeping the media free and in bringing down the Milosevic regime. There are four Internet providers for the Serbian province of Kosovo: Pronet, Eunet, Co.yu, and PTT. Pronet is Albanian owned and operated., part of the Kosovo Privacy Project, offers anonymous e-mail to both Serbs and Montenegrins. Internet Yugoslavia is under the Federal Public Institution Radio-Television Yugoslavia entrusted with the responsibility to create web presentations for the needs of the government and Parliament, monitor the Internet, and seek developing trends and other information of interest for the republic. Internet Yugoslavia works with government institutions to develop the Internet and serves in an advisory capacity in discussions about legal regulations pertaining to computer communications.

Education & Training

The University of Belgrade is Serbia's leading institution for the study of media and communications at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Founded in 1905 with 3 faculties (philosophy, law, and engineering) it grew to 7 colleges by 1941. The University of Belgrade currently consists of 30 colleges and 8 scientific institutes enrolling 65,000 undergraduate students and 2,500 students in graduate programs. Over 40 percent of the students are enrolled in the social sciences, with 28 percent in engineering, and 15 percent in medicine. There 5 branches of the University of Belgrade in Novi Sad (1960), Nis (1965), Pristina (1970), Podgorica in Montenegro (1974), and Kargujevac (1976).


The Albanian majority in Kosovo seeks independence from Serbia. The NATO and European Union nations are reluctant to sanction another republic from the former Yugoslavia. Serbia's political and religious historic sites from the Middle Ages are located in Kosovo. Serbian desire to hold on to Kosovo risks conflict with the Albanian majority in the province. The Serbian and Albanian ethnic rivalry inside Serbia affects its relationships with the neighboring states of the Former Republic of Macedonia and Albania. In 2002 Crown Prince Alexander, his wife, and three sons were given Yugoslav passports and invited to return to live in Yugoslavia along with the extended Karadjordje family. Crown Prince Alexander was returned the keys to the royal palace located in downtown Belgrade and the White Palace in the suburbs. While there is renewed interest in the monarchy, it is not clear if the concept of monarchy will be used or can unite a fractious population of what is left of the former Yugoslavia. Since the downfall of Milosevic, Serbia has made dramatic changes in the laws and government policies affecting the media. The Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro has every intention of conforming to European Union standards for the communications industry. Redevelopment of an economy devastated by a decade of war will take time to rebuild, even with substantial foreign aid grants. Serbian banks have a combined debt of over $1.6 billion created by suspected Milosevic manipulations within the banking system.

Industrial production remains low, unemployment high, and there are large numbers of refugees to resettle and financially support. Success will depend on the skills of the politicians, the stability of a multiparty democracy, and how long the people of Serbia are willing to wait for the reforms to be made and become effective. The people of the former Yugoslavia once enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in Eastern Europe. They are not used to being perceived as international pariahs, but it is clear that the people of Serbia and Montenegro are working hard to get beyond the Milosevic era and becoming integrated into the Europe of the European Union.

Significant Dates

  • 1999: Kosovo crisis and NATO military intervention.
  • 2000: Milosevic defeated in a free election.
  • 2001: Milosevic taken to The Hague for trial as a war criminal.
  • 2002: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is replaced by the Federal Republics of Serbia and Montenegro.


Allcock, John B. Explaining Yugoslavia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Dragnich, Alex N. Serbia, Nikola Pasic, and Yugoslavia. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1974.

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Available from .

Glenny, Misha. The Balkans, Nationalism, War and the Great Powers, 1804-1999. New York: Viking, 1999.

Graham, Stephen. Alexander of Yugoslavia. Hamden, CT: Archon Press, 1972.

International Journalists' Network. Available from .

Judah, Tim. The Serbs, History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.

Kaplan, Robert D. Balkan Ghosts. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.

Martin, David. The Web of Disinformation, Churchill's Yugoslav Blunder. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990.

The Media in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Novi Beograd, Yugoslavia: Federal Secretariat of Information, 1997.

Own, David. Balkan Odyssey. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1995.

Turner, Barry, ed. Statesman's Yearbook 2002. New York: Palgrave Press, 2001.

United States Institute of Peace. Special Report: Serbia Still at the Crossroads. March 15, 2002.

World Mass Media Handbook, 1995 Edition. New York: United Nations Department of Public Information, 1995.

William A. Paquette

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Serbia and Montenegro


Major City:

Other Cities:
Bar, Cetinje, Kotor, Nikšié, Niš, Novi Sad, Podgorica, Priština, Subotica


On April 27, 1992, two of the former Yugoslav republics, SERBIA and MONTENEGRO , announced that they had joined together to form a new nation. This new nation, known as the "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," replaces the old six-member "Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" which splintered apart after Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina declared their independence in 1991 and early 1992. The new Yugoslavia, however, has not been formally recognized by the United States, the European Community, or the United Nations.

Serbia and Montenegro became international outcasts for their role in the civil wars that devastated Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbian nationalist militias and the Serbian-controlled Yugoslav Federal Army were accused of massive atrocities against civilians, creating large prison camps, and forcing many non-Serbs to leave homes and villages in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia through a policy of "ethnic cleansing." The United Nations, the European Community, and the United States considered Serbia and Montenegro as the main aggressors in the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and tried to punish Serbia and Montenegro in an attempt to end the fighting. The United Nations imposed sweeping international sanctions against these republics from 1992 until 1995.

On November 21, 1995, the three presidents of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia finally agreed to terms that would end the fighting in Bosnia after four years and an estimated 250,000 casualties. In March 1996 the International War Crimes Tribunal filed its first prosecution charges against Serbian soldiers accused of atrocities.

Editor's Note: Much of the information in this entry reflects conditions in the cities of Serbia and Montenegro prior to the outbreak of hostilities in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and the international sanctions imposed by the world community.



Belgrade, capital of Serbia, is located at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube Rivers. Its altitude varies from 224 to 830 feet above sea level.

Belgrade has had a settlement since the time of the Celts in the fourth century B.C., although little evidence of that culture or of the subsequent Roman civilization remains. Few historical monuments before the late 18th century survive. Minimal evidence exists of the long period of Turkish domination, and only a few baroque buildings mark the pre-World War I Hapsburg influence. Belgrade thus lacks the atmosphere and Old World charm that is characteristic of Eastern European capitals such as Prague (Czech Republic) and Budapest (Hungary). Buildings in the central city are gray and somber, and contrast with a few modern concrete and glass high rises. Parks, tree-lined streets, and numerous sidewalk cafés lend color and charm, particularly in summer.

The fascinating contrast between old and new is evidenced by the young, fashionable Belgraders and the fur-hatted peasant men in Serbian trousers and upturned sandals, with their dirndl-skirted wives in babushkas. They are seen browsing together along the shopping districts in the city's center.

Economic activity centers around government, trade, commerce, industry, and services. Factories within Belgrade produce machine tools, textiles, chemicals, agricultural machinery, building materials, and electrical equipment. The adjacent agricultural area of the Vojvodina is one of Serbia and Montenegro's richest.

The climate in Belgrade is characteristically continental. The mean temperature in winter is 32°F (0°C), and in summer 70°F (21°C), with frequent highs in the 90s. Air pollution is particularly bad in Belgrade during the winter because of the low-grade coal used. Smog is heavy in low-lying areas near the main railway station.

Cultural life is active in this city of about 1.2 million (2000 est.), although less so than in major world capitals. Belgraders have a deep interest in art, and enjoy a long season of opera, ballet, concerts, and drama. The taste for popular music, especially American jazz, is particularly evident among the young. Belgraders are avid movie-goers, and many Western European and American films are shown in the original version with Serbo-Croatian subtitles. Numerous art exhibits of varying quality are presented by contemporary artists.


The International School of Belgrade, a U.S. Government-supported institution, offers kindergarten through grades eight. The school was founded in 1947 and is accredited by both the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the European Council of International Schools. A board of nine members, three appointed by the U.S. ambassador and six elected by parents from the international community, governs operations.

Located in a suburban area of Belgrade, the International School has 14 classrooms, a science lab, computer lab, and a 8,000-volume library. An American-style curriculum is offered with French taught as a foreign language. Extracurricular activities include field trips, school newspaper, computers, and an after-school activity and enrichment program.

The school year extends from late August to mid-June, with vacations in the fall, at Christmas, in late February, and in April.

The International School is located at Temisvarska 19, in a residential area about two miles from the U.S. Embassy. Information and applications for admission may be obtained by writing to: Director, International School of Belgrade, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520. The Belgrade telephone is (011)651-832.

International Nursery School conducts morning sessions for three-year olds and afternoon sessions for four-year olds. Expatriate children in grades nine through 12 attend boarding schools in Italy, Germany, France, England, and Greece.

Among the special educational opportunities available to Americans in Belgrade are the three-month courses offered by Belgrade's Institute and Center for Foreign Languages. Classes in Serbian are taught daily, and there are semi-weekly classes in French, German, Italian, and Russian. Most foreign residents have found the courses excellent.


A number of excursions can be made in the vicinity of Belgrade. About 44 miles (71 kilometers) north of the city is Novi Sad, which has an interesting fortress overlooking the city. Inside the fortress is a hotel and a good restaurant, and a number of artists have workshops there. En route to Novi Sad is the village of Stara Pazova, where Slovak ladies wear colorful dress on Sundays. The wooded hill country known as Fruška Gora, a pleasant picnic area and site of more than a dozen monasteries (including the Hopovo), is also en route.

Avala, a 2,000-foot hill, 12 miles south of Belgrade, offers a good view on a clear day. The ruins of a 15th-century Serbian fort are on the Danube at Smederevo, 25 miles east of Belgrade. En route, it is pleasant to lunch at Grocka, where a good restaurant overlooks the surrounding vineyards.

A hydrofoil makes excursions down the Danube to Kladovo, where a dam was constructed jointly by Romania and Yugoslavia. The boat passes many interesting points, including some remains from Roman times and Smederevo Fort, and crosses the Iron Gate (Djerdap), which resembles an inland fjord.

Serbia also has some interesting monasteries dating from the 13th to 15th centuries. Visits to the monasteries of Manasija, Ravanica, Hopovo, and Krusedol make interesting outings from Belgrade; those in south Serbia, such as Sopoćani, Studenica, Peć, Gračanica, and Dečani can be visited over a long weekend. The frescoes in these monasteries are world famous.

Another fascinating day's outing is a visit to the villages of Serbia's primitive artists. Kovačica and Uzdin may be included on the same drive. Oparić is also a village of artists; they are gracious and hospitable and often invite visitors into their homes. En route to Oparić, at Svetozarevo, is a gallery of primitive art, which has one of the finest collections in the country.

Belgrade has beach areas, but health authorities warn against pollution. Boating is good on the Danube and Sava, although mooring facilities are limited. This area also has rivers suitable for kayaking.

Ice skating rinks are available locally, and skates of good quality can be bought inexpensively.

The hunter will find duck, geese, hare, partridge, pheasant, and fox in the immediate vicinity of Belgrade. Bear, wild boar, roebuck (European stag), wolf, and chamois are also in the area, but unless an invitation is extended for an official hunt, game fees are prohibitively high.

There is fishing in the Danube, Sava, and smaller rivers nearby, but catches appear to be "fisherman's luck." Regular spinning tackle will do, although fly is more useful. Seasonal licenses are inexpensive.

Soccer (European football) is the great spectator sport in Serbia and Montenegro. Belgrade has two large stadiums. Basketball, also popular, is played at several locations in the city. A small track just outside the city has horse and harness racing during summer.

Some joggers have found acceptable routes within Belgrade, but the traffic and pollution, particularly during winter, have led most joggers to drive to Gypsy Island (commonly referred to by its Turkish name, Ada Ciganlija) about three miles away, where there is an excellent flat course relatively free of pollution.


Movies, opera, ballet, concerts, and drama are offered in Belgrade. The opera and ballet seasons run from October through May or June; repertoires include both European and Slavic works. The International Film Festival (Fest) in February, the Belgrade Theater Festival of Avant-garde Drama (Bitef) in September, the Belgrade Music Festival (Bemus) in October, and the Belgrade Jazz Festival in November are outstanding events of the season. Orchestras and chamber music groups are excellent, and frequently present guest conductors and soloists.

Legitimate theater is offered regularly in Belgrade, with a repertoire that includes contemporary plays, classical productions, and musical comedy. These presentations are in Serbo-Croatian, so only those with a knowledge of this language can profitably take advantage of them.

A professional folk song and dance group, the Kolo, performs regularly throughout the year in Belgrade, and other amateur and professional groups give performances frequently in major cities and, during the tourist season, in resort hotels.

Several museums in Belgrade are worth visiting. Among the best are the National Museum, which has a varied collection of French impressionist works; the Fresco Gallery, which contains copies of frescoes found in Serbia's early monasteries; and the Ethnographic Museum, with original examples of peasant costumes, implements, and musical instruments. Several 19th-century houses have been turned into fascinating smaller museums. The Military Museum in Kalemegdan Park is one of the finest in Europe.

The American Club, located in the U.S. Embassy staff housing area, has a restaurant, two-lane bowling alley, lounge bar, the Elbrick Room for parties and videotape shows, and an auditorium for movies and other community events. Special events frequently are scheduled. Membership is open to the staffs of other diplomatic missions and to the American business community in Belgrade. The club shows feature films several evenings a week and holds a Saturday morning screening for children.

Dining out in Belgrade restaurants is a popular social activity. The prices are reasonable and the food good, although variety is limited. Several nightclubs and discotheques are available. A number of casinos are open only during the tourist season.

The American Women's Association (AWA) is an active group open to all American women in Belgrade. It sponsors programs of interest to the membership, and organizes children's parties and fund-raising activities for charity.


The city of BAR is one of Montenegro's major ports. Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Bar is linked by rail with Belgrade and serves as a transport source for Serbian imports and exports. The city offers a ferry service across the Adriatic Sea to Bari, Italy. Bar has a population over 33,000.

The Montenegrin city of CETINJE is situated at the foot of Mt. Lovćen. During Montenegro's brief period as an independent nation (1878-1918), Cetinje served as the capital city. The city has several attractions that are of interest to visitors. These attractions include a 16th-century monastery and a museum which houses the literary works and art collection of famous Montenegrin poet Petrović Njegoš. The city has several small industries which produce household appliances and foot-wear. Cetinje has a population over 20,000.

KOTOR is situated on Montenegro's Adriatic Sea coast. The city, founded by the ancient Romans, has been occupied at various periods in history by Venetians, Hungarians, Turks, French, and Austrians. It is the oldest city in Montenegro. Kotor has many historic treasures, the most impressive of which is the Cathedral of St. Tryphon. This cathedral, along with most buildings in Kotor, was heavily damaged by a severe earthquake in 1979. Some repairs have been made, although the cathedral has not been completely restored. Kotor has an excellent Maritime Museum which contains excellent exhibits of arms collections, uniforms, navigational charts and instruments, as well as models of famous ships. The city's population is over 21,000.

The city of NIKŠIÉ , also located in Montenegro, was settled by the ancient Romans. For over 400 years, from 1455 to 1877, Nikšiéwas controlled by the Turks. Today, it is an industrial center which produces iron, steel, distilled beverages, and wood products. One of Europe's largest bauxite mines is located near Nikšié. Following the end of World War II in 1945, Nikšié under-went massive renovations. Modern buildings, parks, and public works projects were constructed. The city is quite large and had a population of approximately 61,000 in 2002.

NIŠ has long been a geographically significant city. Situated on the Nišava River in Serbia, about 125 miles southeast of Belgrade, it is a road junction and industrial area. Because it lies at the convergence of several river systems, Niš is considered in a vital position between Central Europe and the Aegean Sea. The second-century Greek mathematician Ptolemy noted the importance of this area in his Guide to Geography. Constantine the Great (ca. 280-337) was born here. Niš withstood occupations by Bulgarians, Hungarians, and, especially, Turks. The Soviets assumed control in 1944. Despite its antiquity, this community has a modern look. Badly damaged in World War II, Niš underwent post-war construction. Most of the Turko-Byzantine style is gone; a fifth-century Byzantine crypt is among the landmarks. Activity here includes commerce, a university, and a spa just east of town for cardiovascular disease victims. Niš has a number of industrial enterprises which produce beer, household appliances, electronic materials, tobacco products, and textiles. The 2000 population of Niš was approximately 175,000. Near Niš is the thermal resort of Niska Banja. Brzi Brod has remains of a Roman town.

NOVI SAD , the chief town of the Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodina, lies on the Danube in northern Serbia. It was founded in the 17th century, and became a royal free city of Austria-Hungary. It was here, early in the 19th century, that a vigorous Serbian literary revival was established. After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918, the transfer of Novi Sad to Yugoslavia was confirmed, under Hungarian protest, by the Treaty of Trainon. Novi Sad is a busy commercial city, making electrical equipment, porcelain, soap, and processed food, among other products. The Gallery of Matica Srpska contains 2,500 Serbian paintings. Nearby Fruska Gora is known for its wines. The city had a population of 180,000 in 2000. Current population figures are unavailable.

The city of PODGORICA is the capital of Montenegro and the republic's largest city. In 1946, the city's name was changed to Titograd in honor of the late Communist leader of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito. In March 1992, city residents voted to change the city's name back to Podgorica. Podgorica was founded in 1326 and has been occupied at various periods in history by Turks, Austrians, Italians, and Germans. The city was almost completely destroyed during World War II, but has been rebuilt into a modern city with parks, museums, and theaters. Podgorica had an estimated population of 118,000 in 2000.

PRIŠTINA is a market center located 150 miles southeast of Belgrade. Capital of the Kosovo autonomous region in Serbia, it also has local textile, pharmaceutical, and food processing industries, and nearby mining. Priština served as capital of Serbia until the Turk conquest of 1389. Extensive building after World War II has altered the city's oriental look. The Museum of Kosovo-Metohija contains an archaeology collection and ethnography division. Priština's Albanian population is served by its own college (Priština Fakultet), and some Albanian-language newspapers and radio shows. A main tourist attraction is the Gračanica Monastery, southeast of the city proper. This structure was built by King Milutin in 1321 and is today regarded as an excellent example of Serbian architecture. A highlight of a visit to the monastery is the array of superb frescoes. In 2002, Priština had a population of approximately 194,000.

The city of SUBOTICA , located less than 10 miles south of the Hungarian border, is the major city along the Serbian frontier. Situated nearly 100 miles north of Belgrade, Subotica seems as much Hungarian as Serbian. Many of its citizens are of Hungarian descent. The city is the market center for the Bačka, an important agricultural district specializing in paprika. Its position on the Belgrade-Budapest railroad accounts for much of its strong industrial base of fertilizer production, furniture manufacturing, and power generation. There are a number of educational institutions here, including advanced vocational schools. The area's history dates to at least 1381. Subotica became a part of the former Yugoslavia in 1918 and was occupied by the Hungarians in World War II. The city had a population of 100,000 in 2000.


Geography and Climate

Serbia and Montenegro have a combined area of 51,955 square miles (134,563 square kilometers), which is slightly larger than Alaska. The two combined republics are bordered by Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina on the west, Hungary on the north, Romania and Bulgaria on the east, and Greece, Albania, and Macedonia on the south.

Serbia consists of rather mountainous terrain, particularly in northern regions of the republic. The northern autonomous province of Vojvodina, however, consists of rich fertile plains and is Serbia's major agricultural region. Southeastern Serbia is composed of mountains and hills. Limestone ranges and basins characterize the terrain of eastern Serbia. Serbia's northern region is watered by several rivers, including the Danube, Tisa, Sava, Drava, and Morava Rivers. The climate of Serbia is characterized by hot, humid summers and cold winters.

The topography of Montenegro is mountainous and extremely rugged. Some fertile valleys and coastal lowlands exist in southern Montenegro. Montenegro is the home of Lake Scutari, the largest lake in the former Yugoslavia. Montenegro's coastal region has an Adriatic climate with hot, dry summers and autumns. Further inland, Montenegro has relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall.


The combined population of Serbia and Montenegro was estimated at 10,677,000 in 2001. Ethnic Serbs and ethnic Montenegrins are the dominant groups in their respective republics. Serbs make up 63 percent of Serbia's population. Fourteen percent of the people are of Albanian origin. Most Albanians are concentrated in Serbia's Kosovo region. Hungarians comprise four percent of Serbia's population and are centered in the northern region of Vojvodina. Serbo-Croatian and Albanian are the most common languages used in Serbia. Serbian Orthodox is the predominant religion, although Roman Catholics and several Protestant denominations are represented. Muslims are one of Serbia's largest minorities and are concentrated in southern Serbia.

In Montenegro, 62 percent of the population is Montenegrin. Muslim Slavs and ethnic Albanians make up roughly 25 percent of Montenegro's population. Most Montenegrins speak Serbo-Croatian, although Albanian is also spoken. Serbian Orthodox is Montenegro's dominant religion. However, Muslims and Roman Catholics are well-represented.

In 1997, Serbians had a life expectancy at birth of 69 years for males and 75 years for females. Montenegrins had a life expectancy at birth of 71 years for males and 79 years for females.


The Constitution of Serbia and Montenegro, adopted on April 27, 1992, calls for the creation of a bicameral Federal Assembly or Parliament (Savezna Skupština). The Chamber of Citizens (Vece Gradana) has 138 members, 60 members elected for a four year term in single seat-constituencies and 78 members by proportional representation. In the Chamber of Citizens 108 members are elected from Serbs and 30 members elected from Montenegro. The Council of the Republics (Vece Republika) has 40 popularly elected members, 20 from Serbia and 10 from Montenegro. Members of the Federal Assembly are responsible for electing a federal president. The federal president then chooses a prime minister who cannot be from the same republic as himself. The Federal Assembly must approve the president's choice for prime minister.

In March 2002, Serbia and Montenegro signed the agreement that established the loose federation between the two autonomous entities. The presidency, defense and foreign affairs will remain as a federal concerns, however, each region will retain separate currencies and customs.

There are over 20 different political parties in Serbia and Montenegro, but the top two are Demokratska Stranka Srbije (The Democratic Party of Serbia-moderate nationalist) and Socialisticka Partija Srbije (The Serb Socialist Party-authoritarian).

The flag of Serbia and Montenegro consists of three horizontal bands of blue, white, and red.

Commerce and Industry

On May 27, 1992, the European Community (EC) imposed a trade embargo on Serbia and Montenegro as punishment for the country's role in the ethnic conflicts in neighboring Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. All imports and exports were halted between EC member nations and Serbia and Montenegro. This embargo was particularly painful because over one-half of Serbia and Montenegro's commerce was with EC members. The United Nations launched its own trade embargo on May 30, 1992. The UN ban included the freezing of all of Serbia and Montenegro's foreign assets, an international embargo on all exports to Serbia and Montenegro except for food and medical supplies, a ban on imported goods made in Serbia and Montenegro, and a suspension of all foreign investment and commercial contact with Serbia and Montenegro. On November 16, the United Nations authorized a naval blockade of Serbia and Montenegro in an effort to prevent any violations of the trade embargo imposed on May 30. When peace returned to the region, the sanctions were lifted in 1995.

The economic sanctions by the European Community and the United Nations had a devastating effect on the economy of Serbia and Montenegro. The lack of imported raw materials and the loss of markets for exported goods forced many industries to shut down, causing massive unemployment for hundreds of thousands of workers. Medical supplies are also in short supply despite the embargo's exemption of these items. Hyperinflation caused the prices of most goods and services to soar in 1994, and formal economic activity came to a virtual halt.

Serbia's economy is heavily dependent on both agricultural and industrial production. The fertile plains of Vojvodina produce 80 percent of the cereal production of the former Yugoslavia and most of the cotton, oilseeds, and chicory. Vojvodina also produces fodder crops to support intensive beef and dairy production. Serbia proper, although hilly, has a long growing season and produces fruit, grapes, and cereals. Kosovo province produces fruits, vegetables, tobacco, and a small amount of cereals. The mountainous pastures of Kosovo support goat and sheep husbandry.

Serbia has a well-developed industrial base, with most heavy industry concentrated in and around Belgrade. Serbian industries produce wood products, steel, textiles, and cement. Serbia is rich in copper, chrome, antimony, coal, lead, and silver. However, Serbia's mining industry is underdeveloped. Montenegro is a very poor, underdeveloped republic. Most of the economy is dependent upon the raising of goats, pigs, and sheep. Montenegro has only a small agriculture sector, mostly near the coast, where olives, citrus fruits, grapes, and rice are grown. Montenegro had a burgeoning tourism industry, but it was halted due to the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Serbia and Montenegro have a total roadway network of 28,583 miles (46,019 kilometers). Of this total, 16,739 miles (26,949 kilometers) are paved. Highways connect Belgrade with Ljubljana (Slovenia), Zagreb (Croatia), Skopje (Macedonia), and the Serbian city of Niš, and Serbia's southern neighbor, Greece.

Belgrade's international airport is located 11 miles (19 kilometers) west of the city. Serbia and Montenegro's official airline, JAT, has been prohibited from landing in the United States and many international cities due to the United Nations sanctions.

Serbia and Montenegro has railway links with many cities in Europe and the former Yugoslav republics. Rail lines connect Belgrade with the cities of Vienna, Munich, London, Athens, Paris, Thessaloniki, and Zürich. Zagreb (Croatia), Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Skopje (Macedonia), and Ljubljana (Slovenia) have rail transportation links with Belgrade. One rail line offers a scenic trip through Montenegro. Most train transportation from Serbia and Montenegro has been suspended due to hostilities in the region.


Serbia and Montenegro has an adequate telecommunications system. Long-distance and international calls can be placed at hotels, railway stations, post offices, and airports.

Only one English-language newspaper, Newsday, is published in Belgrade. All other newspapers and periodicals are published in Serbo-Croatian or Albanian.

Several radio and television broadcasting services are located in Serbia. Radiotelevizija Beograd serves Belgrade and the surrounding area. Programs are broadcast in Serbo-Croatian. The northern province of Vojvodina is served by Radiotelevizija Novi Sad, which broadcasts programming in Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, Romanian, Hungarian, and Ruthenian. The city of Priština, located in Kosovo province, is the home of Radiotelevizija Priština. Radiotelevizija Priština broadcasts in Albanian, Serbo-Croatian, Romany, and Turkish. Montenegro has its own radio and television broadcasting network, Radiotelevizija Crne Gore. All programming on Radiotelevizija Crne Gore is broadcast in Serbo-Croatian.


The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Serbia and Kosovo regions of Serbia-Montenegro. Since the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade suspended operations as of March 23, 1999, U.S. citizens who plan on travelling to Serbia-Montenegro despite this Travel Warning are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, which is located at Szabadsag Ter 12, Budapest 1054; telephone [36] (1) 475-4400. U.S. citizens who plan on travelling to Kosovo should register at the U.S. office in Pristina by telephone (873-762-029-525). However, the U.S. office in Pristina cannot provide general consular services such as passport and visa issuance. Visas are not required for entry into Kosovo.


Jan. 1 &2 New Year's Day

Jan. 7 Christmas (Orthodox)

March 28State Day (Observed in Serbia only)


Apr/MayEaster Monday*

Apr. 27Constitution Day

May 1 & 2 May Day

July 7Serbian Uprising Day (Serbia only)



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Boehm, Christopher. Blood Revenge: The Enactment & Management of Conflict in Montenegro & Other Tribal Societies. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.

Browning, C.R. Fateful Months. rev. ed. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1991.

Dragnich, Alex N., and Slavko Todorovich. The Saga of Kosovo: Focus on Serbian-Albanian Relationships. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn College Press, 1985.

Laffan, R.G. The Serbs: Guardians of the Gate. New York: Dorset Press, 1990.

Treadway, John D. The Falcon & the Eagle: Montenegro & Austria-Hungary, 1908-1914. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1983.

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Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia and Montenegro

Official name: Serbia and Montenegro

Area: 102,350 square kilometers (39,518 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Daravica (2,656 meters/8,714 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Western

Time zone: 1 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 492 kilometers (306 miles) from north to south; 378 kilometers (235 miles) from east to west

Land boundaries: 2,246 kilometers (1,396 miles) total boundary length; Albania 287 kilometers (178 miles), Bosnia and Herzegovina 527 kilometers (327 miles), Bulgaria 318 kilometers (198 miles), Croatia 266 kilometers (166 miles), Hungary 151 kilometers (94 miles), Macedonia 221 kilometers (137 miles), Romania 476 kilometers (296 miles)

Coastline: 199 kilometers (124 miles)

Territorial sea limits: Not available


Serbia and Montenegro is located in southeastern Europe, sharing borders with Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has a southwest coastline on the Adriatic Sea. With a total area of about 102,350 square kilometers (39,518 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of Kentucky. Serbia and Montenegro has two nominally autonomous provinces (Kosovo and Vojvodina).


Serbia and Montenegro has no outside territories or dependencies.


Serbia and Montenegro's climate varies greatly from one part of the country to another, due to the many mountain ranges. Most of Serbia's climate is continental, with cold, dry winters and warm, humid summers. The Pannonian Plains have cold winters with hot and dry summers. In Vojvodina, July temperatures average 21°C (70°F) while temperatures in January average about 0°C (32°F).

The Adriatic coast has a more temperate Mediterranean climate, but the Dinaric Mountains prevent the Mediterranean weather from penetrating to inland Montenegro. The average seaside July temperatures are between 23°C (74°F) and 25°C (78°F). Summers are usually long and dry while winters are short and mild. Intense summer heat penetrates the Bojana River Valley over the Lake Scutari basin and upstream along the Morača River. Podgorica, on the Morača River, is the warmest city in Serbia and Montenegro, with July temperatures averaging 26°C (80°F), with highs sometimes reaching 40°C (104°F). January temperatures average around 5°C (41°F), with lows reaching -10°C (14°F).

Annual precipitation in Serbia ranges from 56 to 190 centimeters (22 to 75 inches), depending on elevation and exposure. Heavy rains in spring and autumn frequently cause floods. Snow is rare along the Montenegrin coast and in the Lake Scutari basin. In the inland regions, however, near elevated limestone mountain ranges, the climate is typically sub-alpine, with cold, snowy winters and mild summers. In some of these areas, snow lingers into the summer months; the highest mountain peaks are covered with snow year-round.


Serbia and Montenegro covers the middle of the Balkan Peninsula and extends westward to meet the Adriatic Sea. The southern half, made up of Montenegro and Kosovo, is rugged and mountainous; the northern half, Serbia, contains the Danube River basin and the southern extent of the Pannonian Plain.

Serbia and Montenegro was known as Yugoslavia from 1992 to March 2003, when it became Serbia and Montenegro. It consists of two republics: Serbia, comprising the eastern 86 percent of the country; and coastal Montenegro, which occupies the southwestern 14 percent. Within Serbia are two nominally autonomous provinces: Kosovo (10,887 square kilometers/4,203 square miles), in the south; and Vojvodina (21,506 square kilometers/ 8,303 square miles), in the north.

Located on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate, Serbia and Montenegro is seismically active. Two parallel fault lines extend from northwest to southeast Montenegro. Serbia has thrust fault lines on either side of the river basins surrounding the Velika Morava and Južna Morava Rivers. There is also a tectonic contact line along the eastern border with Romania. These structural seams in the earth's crust periodically shift, causing tremors and occasional destructive earthquakes.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Serbia and Montenegro has a short southwestern coastline on the Adriatic Sea, which is an extension of the Mediterranean Sea. The Adriatic Sea is at its widest between Serbia and Montenegro and southern Italy, with a width of about 200 kilometers (125 miles). This portion of the Adriatic is also the deepest, reaching some 1,330 meters (4,360 feet) at a point about 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of the Gulf of Kotor.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The coast is indented with numerous bays and coves. The largest and most impressive is the Gulf of Kotor, the world's southernmost fjord.

Coastal Features

The slopes of the Dinaric Alps rise very close to the water in most places. Only 52 kilometers (32 miles) of coast can be considered beach. Velika Plaza (Long Beach) at Ulcinj has the longest continuous stretch of sandy beach, at 13 kilometers (8 miles). Since the coastline is so rugged, access to the sea is limited. The port of Bar and the Gulf of Kotor are the main access points.


Lake Scutari (Skadar) is only 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the Adriatic coast in Montenegro. One of forty lakes in Montenegro, it is by far the largest lake in Serbia and Montenegro (as well as in the entire Balkan region). Covering approximately 400 square kilometers (150 square miles), about two-thirds of the lake lies within Serbia and Montenegro's borders, with the rest extending into Albania. Although its surface area is large, its average depth is only 5 meters (16 feet).

High mountains rise to the southwest of the lake, while to the northeast is a wide swamp. Although Lake Scutari is adjacent to the Adriatic Sea, there are about thirty spots, known as oke (singular: oko ) where its bed is under sea level and groundwater springs forth from the bottom of the lake. The Morača River is the largest stream that flows into Lake Scutari.


Most of Serbia and Montenegro's rivers travel eastward towards the Black Sea basin. Serbia and Montenegro's most important river is the Danube, which forms part of the country's border with Croatia, then flows across northern Serbia and along the border with Romania. The Danube rises in the southwestern part of Germany and follows a winding, generally eastern course, traversing over 2,850 kilometers (1,771 miles) through Austria, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, and Romania before finally emptying into the Black Sea. Only 588 kilometers (365 miles) of the river's length is located in Serbia and Montenegro, however. As the second-longest river in Europe, the Danube serves as a vital commercial and transportation route.

Along Serbia and Montenegro's northeastern border with Romania, the Danube flows through the Iron Gate. This is a gorge with rapids where the Danube cuts through the Transylvanian Alps.

The Danube's main tributaries in Serbia and Montenegro are the Tisa, Sava, and Morava Rivers. The Tisa River is 966 kilometers (600 miles) long; 168 kilometers (103 miles) of the river's length flows through Serbia and Montenegro. It enters the country from Hungary and travels south across the Pannonian Plain to the Danube.

The Sava River is 945 kilometers (587 miles) long, entering the country from Bosnia and Herzegovina and flowing east for 206 kilometers (128 miles) before meeting the Danube at Belgrade (Beograd). The Drina is a major tributary of the Sava and makes up part of Serbia and Montenegro's border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Zapadna Morava (308 kilometers/ 191 miles), flowing eastward, and the Južna Morava (295 kilometers/183 miles), flowing towards the north, merge to form the Velika Morava (185 kilometers/115 miles) near the center of the country. The Morava Rivers and their tributary, the Ibar, drain the mountainous areas of central and southern Serbia and flow northward to join the Danube east of Belgrade.


There are no desert regions in Serbia and Montenegro.


Occupying northern Serbia is the Pannonian Plain and the low-lying plains of Vojvodina, where the Danube River is joined by two of its major tributaries, the Sava and Tisa Rivers. The region is mostly flat, with some low hills, and it contains fertile soils used for farmland and grazing. The Pannonian Plain is situated within an ancient dry seabed. It is filled with rich alluvial deposits, forming fertile farmland and rolling hills. Kosovo, at the southern end of the country, covers a montane basin with high plains.


Mountains cover about half of Serbia. Serbia is ringed by the Dinaric Alps on the west, the Sar Mountains and the North Albanian Alps (or Prokletije) on the south, and the Balkan Mountains and the Transylvanian Alps on the east. Many peaks exceed 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level, including thirteen summits that top 2,400 meters (7,870 feet).

Nearly all of Montenegro is mountainous. The name Montenegro (which means Black Mountain) is believed to come from the thick "black" forests that once covered the area. The high Dinaric Alps of Montenegro rise steeply from the Adriatic coastline, framing a narrow ribbon of coastal plain only 2 to 10 kilometers (1 to 6 miles) wide.

The four highest peaks in Serbia and Montenegro are all in Serbia: Daravica, at 2,656 meters (8,714 feet); Crni Vrh, at 2,585 meters (8,481 feet); Gusan, at 2,539 meters (8,330 feet); and Bogdaš, at 2,533 meters (8,311 feet). Bobotov Kuk, which at an elevation of 2,522 meters (8,275 feet) is the fifth-highest mountain in the country, lies in Montenegro. This is the highest point in the Dinaric Alps.


Tara Canyon follows the Tara River along Montenegro's northwestern border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. At a maximum depth of 1,300 meters (4,265 feet), Tara Canyon is Europe's deepest canyon. The Piva and Morača River Basins of Montenegro contain canyons that are about 1,200 meters (3,940 feet) deep.

The Zlotske Caves in eastern Serbia consist of two separate cave systems: the Vernjikica and the Lazareva. The Vernjikica has eleven large chambers. The largest in floor area is Vilingrad (about 29,950 square meters/322,379 square miles), which features a large number of stalagmites shaped like humans and animals. The Gothic Cathedral Hall chamber, also in the Vernjikica, has fine, lace-like carvings in its rock formations. The Coliseum Hall, the largest cavern in the Vernjikica, is so named for its circular shape and column-like formations. The Lazareva has an underground river flowing through the lower of its two levels.


There are no major plateau regions in Serbia and Montenegro.


In 1972, the joint Yugoslav-Romanian Iron Gate Dam, with its two hydroelectric plants, was completed at the gorge of the same name. Because of this dam and other engineering feats, the Danube River is now navigable throughout Serbia and Montenegro. The large reservoir also serves to supply irrigation waters and as a site for farm fishing.


Books and Periodicals

Brân, Zoë. After Yugoslavia. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 2001.

Malcolm, Noel. Kosovo: A Short History. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.

Radovanovic, Ivana. The Iron Gates Mesolithic. Ann Arbor, MI: International Monographs in Prehistory, 1996.

Web Site

The Government of Serbia, Office of Communications, Serbia Info: Online Encyclopedia of Serbia. (accessed May 12, 2003).

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Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia and Montenegro

Country statistics


102,173sq km (39,449sq mi)



capital (population):

Belgrade (1,168,454)


Federal multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Serb 63%, Kosovar-Albanian 18%, Montenegrin 5%, Hungarian 3%, Croat


Serbian 95%, Albanian 5% (both official)


Serbian Orthodox 80%, Muslim 10%, Roman Catholic 6%, Protestant 1%


Yugoslav new dinar = 100 paras

Balkan republic in se Europe, formerly known as Yugoslavia. In 1991, the Yugoslav federation began to disintegrate when Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia declared independence. In 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina followed suit. A narrow coastal strip on the Adriatic Sea includes Montenegro's capital, Podgorica. The interior of Montenegro consists largely of barren karst, including parts of the Dinaric Alps and the Balkan Mountains. Kosovo is a high plateau region. Serbia is dominated by the fertile lowland plains of the Danube, on whose banks lie the capital Belgrade and the n city of Novi Sad. (See individual country/republic articles for pre-1918 history and post-independence events.)

Climate and vegetation

The coastal Mediterranean climate gives way to the bitterly cold winters of the highlands. Forests cover c.25% of the republic, while farmland and pasture cover more than 50%.

History and politics

Serbian-led demands for the unification of South Slavic lands were a major contributing factor to the outbreak of World War I. In 1918, the ‘Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes’ formed under Peter I of Serbia. Alexander I succeeded Peter I in 1921. Alexander formed a dictatorship and renamed the country Yugoslavia in 1929. In 1941, Germany occupied Yugoslavia, abruptly halting Peter II's reign. In World War II, the communist partisans led by Tito and the royalist chetniks mounted stiff resistance to the fascist, puppet regime. In 1945, Tito formed the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1948 the Soviet-dominated Cominform expelled Yugoslavia, and Tito adopted an independent foreign policy. In domestic affairs, agricultural collectivization was abandoned (1953) and new constitutions (1963, 1974) devolved power to the constituent republics in an effort to quell unrest. Following Tito's death in 1980, the country's underlying ethnic tensions began to re-surface.

In 1986, Slobodan Milošević became leader of the Serbian Communist Party. In 1989, he became president of Serbia and called for the creation of a ‘Greater Serbia’. Federal troops suppressed demands for autonomy in Albanian-dominated Kosovo. In 1990 elections, non-communist parties won majorities in every republic, except Serbia and Montenegro. In June 1991, Serbian attempts to dominate the federation led to the formal secession of Slovenia and Croatia. The Serb-dominated Federal army launched a campaign against the Croats, whose territory included a large Serbian minority. In January 1992, a cease-fire was agreed. The European Community (EC) recognized Slovenia and Croatia as separate states. In March 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina's declaration of independence led to a brutal civil war between Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims. In April 1992, Serbia and Montenegro announced the formation of a new Yugoslav federation and invited Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to join. Aid to the Bosnian-Serb campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ led the United Nations to impose economic sanctions on Serbia. Military setbacks prompted Milošević to sever support for the Bosnian Serbs.

In 1995, Milošević signed the Dayton Peace Accord, which ended the Bosnian War. In 1996 local elections, the Serbian Socialist (formerly Communist) Party was defeated in many areas. In 1997, mass demonstrations in Belgrade forced Milošević to acknowledge the poll results. Later that year, Milošević resigned the presidency of Serbia to become president of Yugoslavia. In 1998, fighting erupted in Kosovo between Albanian nationalists and Serbian forces. In 1999, after the forced expulsion of Albanians from Kosovo, NATO launched air attacks against Yugoslavia, forcing the Yugoslav army to withdraw. In 2000 elections, Vojislav Kostunica defeated Milošević, who reluctantly resigned after massive public protests. In 2001, Milošević was extradited to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. In 2002, a constitutional charter for a new union was agreed. In March 2003, Svetozvar Marovic became the first president of Serbia and Montenegro. In 2003, Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindji"c was assassinated.


Civil war and economic sanctions devastated Yugoslavia's lower-middle income economy (2002 GDP per capita, US$2370). In 2000, inflation was at 42% and unemployment at 30%. The war also led to a collapse in industrial production. Natural resources include bauxite, coal, and copper. Oil and natural gas are exploited from the n Pannonian plains and the Adriatic Sea. Under Tito, manufacturing greatly expanded, especially around Belgrade. Industries include aluminium, cars, machinery, plastics, steel, and textiles.

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Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia and Montenegro

Culture Name

Serbian; Montenegrin; also Yugoslav or Yugoslavian

Alternative Names

The local name for the region is Srbija-Crna Gora


Identification. The name Yugoslavia previously designated six republics (Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzogovia, Croatia, and Slovenia), but now includes just Serbia and Montenegro. The word means "land of the southern Slavs." Montenegro, which means "black mountain," takes its name from its rugged terrain. Within Serbia there are several national cultures. In addition to the dominant Serb tradition, there is a large Hungarian population in the northern province of Vojvodina, where Hungarian is the common language and the culture is highly influenced by Hungary (which borders the province to the north). In southern Serbia, the province of Kosovo is primarily Albanian, and has an Islamic culture that bears many remnants of the earlier Turkish conquest.

Location and Geography. Serbia is a landlocked territory in the Balkan Peninsula of Eastern Europe, bordering Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania. Montenegro is to the west of Serbia, also bordering Bosnia and Herzogovina, Albania, and the Adriatic Sea. Serbia covers 34,136 square miles (88,412 square kilometers); Montenegro has an area of 5,299 square miles (13,724 square kilometers). Together they are slightly smaller than the state of Kentucky. The terrain varies widely. In the north there are fertile plains that produce most of Serbia's crops, as well as marshlands along the Sava and Danube Rivers. At the northern border, the Danube River runs along the Iron Gate Gorge. Central Serbia is hilly and forested and is the most densely populated region of the country. In the east, there are the Carpathian and Rhodope Mountains, as well as the Balkan range, which forms the border with Romania. The Dinaric Alps rise in the western central region. Kosovo, in the south, is considered the cradle of Serbian civilization. Its geographical formation is two basins surrounded by mountains, including the highest peak in Yugoslavia, Daravica, with an elevation of 8,714 feet (2,656 meters). Kosovo's rocky soil does not produce much, with the exception of corn and rye, but there are grazing fields for livestock, as well as mineral resources of lead, zinc, and silver. Montenegro, the smallest of the former Yugoslav republics, is largely forested. Its terrain is rough and mountainous, better suited for animal husbandry than for farming. Its coastal plain along the Adriatic is narrow, dropping off to sheer cliffs in the north.

Belgrade is the capital of Serbia and is the largest city in the country, with a population of 1.5 million. It takes its name, which translates as "white fortress," from the large stone walls that enclose the old part of the city. It is in the north of the country, on a cliff overlooking the meeting of the Danube and Sava Rivers.

Demography. Since the civil wars began in the early 1990s, the population has become more heavily Serbian. Many Croats have fled, particularly from Belgrade and Vojvodina, and many ethnic Serbs have fled from other former Yugoslav republics, Bosnia and Croatia in particular. The 2000 estimate for Serbia's population was 9,981,929, and for Montenegro 680,158. However, these numbers are uncertain due to forced dislocation and ethnic cleansing. Serbs constitute 62.6 percent of people in the area; 16.5 percent are Albanian; 5 percent Montenegrin; 3.4 percent Yugoslav; and 3.3 percent Hungarian. The remaining 9.2 percent are composed of other minorities, including Croats, Gypsies, and Magyars.

Linguistic Affiliation. Serbian, the official language, is spoken by 95 percent of the population. It is virtually identical to Croatian, except that Serbian is written in the Cyrillic, or Russian, alphabet, and Croatian uses Roman letters. Five percent of the people speak Albanian, most of these concentrated in the southern province of Kosovo. German, English, and French are commonly learned in school as second languages.

Symbolism. The national symbol of Serbia is a double-headed white eagle, a creature considered the king of animals. The new flag of Serbia and Montenegro is three vertical bars, blue, white, and red (from top to bottom). The flag of the former Yugoslavia was the same but with a red star outlined in yellow in the center.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. There is archaeological evidence that civilization in present-day Serbia dates to between 7000 and 6000 b.c.e. The first known inhabitants were the Illyrians, followed by the Celts in the fourth century, and the Romans a century after that. Slavic tribes, whose descendants today form most of the population of the region, arrived in the sixth century. The Byzantine Empire ruled the Balkans for centuries, until the 1150s, when Stefan Nemanja, a leader of a Serb clan, united many smaller clans to defeat the foreign power. Nemanja became king, and in 1220 passed the crown to his son Stefan II. The Nemanja Dynasty continued to rule for the next two hundred years, a period considered a golden age in Serbian history. During this period the Serb Empire expanded to include Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania, reaching as far as Greece in the south.

The Ottoman Turkish Empire to the south also was growing, however, and in 1389 arrived in Kosovo and demanded that Serbian forces surrender to them. The Turks ruled for nearly five hundred years. During their reign, many of the people were enslaved, and the cultural and economic development of the region was stifled.

Throughout the nineteenth century, however, the Serbs began to reassert their desire for self-rule, and in 1878, with the aid of Russian forces, Serbia defeated the Ottomans. In that same year, the Congress of Berlin declared Serbia independent, but it also partitioned the country so that Bosnia-Herzogovina, a region with a large Serb population, became part of Austria. Overall, the Congress's re-distribution of land decreased the domain of the Turks and the Russians and increased that of Austria-Hungary and Great Britain. This shift in the balance of powers exacerbated tensions among the various nations involved.

National borders in the Balkans shifted again with the First Balkan War of 1912, when Serbia, along with the other Greece and Bulgaria, took Macedonia back from Turkish rule. In 1913, in the Second Balkan War, Serbia took possession of Kosovo from Albania. They also attempted to take Macedonia from Bulgaria, which had claimed it the year before.

Tensions with Austria continued to build, and in 1914 Gavrilo Princip, a Serb nationalist, assassinated the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand. Austria declared war on Serbia, and within several months occupied the entire region. The assassination of the archduke is often named as the immediate act initiating World War I, which would in many ways reconfigure the European continent. When the war ended in 1918, a kingdom uniting Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia was formed. In 1929 this kingdom was named Yugoslavia. Despite strong disagreements among the different regions (particularly Serbia and Croatia) as to how to govern, Serbia prevailed, and Yugoslavia was declared a constitutional monarchy under the rule of the Serb king Aleksandar Karadjordjevic.

In 1941 Yugoslavia joined the Tripartite Alliance of Germany, Italy, and Spain, hoping that this would allow them to expand their borders into Greece. Later that same year, however, they decided to pull out of the alliance, and closed their borders to prevent Hitler from invading. The Germans ignored this move, and proceeded to bomb Belgrade. Hitler divided the Balkans among Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and Hungary. In Croatia, the people greeted German troops as a way to escape the rule of the Serbs, and Croatia, aligned with the Axis powers, became a Fascist puppet state. The Croatian government waged a campaign to rid the territory of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies, ultimately killing 750,000 people.

The end of World War II saw the rise to power of Josip Tito, who ruled Yugoslavia under a Communist dictatorship from 1945 until 1980. All businesses and institutions were owned and managed by the government. Tito declared himself president for life. He did away with the monarchy, and while he greatly consolidated the power of the central government in Yugoslavia, he also gave republic status to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Tito managed to keep his nation unaligned with either the Soviet Union or Western countries. He refused to submit to the control of the Soviet Union, which held sway in many of the other Eastern European nations, and for this reason, in 1948 Joseph Stalin expelled Yugoslavia from the Communist Information Bureau.

When Tito died in 1980, the country established a collective presidency: each republic had a representative, and the body worked together to make decisions; the presidency of the country rotated among these different leaders. Slobodan Milosevic became president in 1989, advocating a vision of "Greater Serbia" free of ethnic minorities. Slovenia and Croatia disagreed with Milosevic's policies, and both regions declared independence in June 1991. Milosevic sent troops in, and thousands of people died before the 1992 cease-fire. The European Community granted recognition to the republics, and two other regions of the former Yugoslavia Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzogovinacalled for independence.

Milosevic refused to recognize the sovereignty of any of these states, and on 27 April 1992 declared Serbia and Montenegro the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. They officially withdrew troops from Bosnia, but many of these forces were Bosnian Serbs, who stayed on of their own accord and continued to perpetrate horrible violence against the Muslims in the area. In May 1992 the U.N. Security Council responded by passing economic sanctions against Yugoslavia.

In 1996 a peace treaty was negotiated between Yugoslavia and Croatia, and Bosnia was divided between Serbs and Croat Muslims.

In that same year, Milosevic was defeated in a presidential election but refused to accept the result. Protests and demonstrations ensued, which the government put down using violence. Elections were held again the following year, and Milosevic won.

In March 1998 the largely Albanian province of Kosovo began fighting for independence. Milosevic's government proceeded to destroy villages and kill thousands of Albanians in the region. An arms embargo by the European nations and the United States had no effect, and in early 1999 NATO intervened on the behalf Kosovo and bombed Yugoslavia. In June 1999 a peace treaty was worked out between Yugoslavia and NATO, but the underlying causes of the conflict were not resolved, and violence continues in the region, which remains under the temporary control of NATO and the U.N. Security Council.

A presidential election in September 2000 resulted in a victory for opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica, but Milosevic refused to admit that he had lost. Protests ensued; Milosevic's troops attempted to put them down, but eventually troops joined the crowds in agitating for the president's ouster. Milosevic was forced to admit defeat. The European Union responded by lifting certain sanctions against Yugoslavia, including bans on commercial flights and oil shipments. Kostunica supports a free-market economy and increased autonomy for Montenegro, and acknowledges the possibility of self-determination for Kosovo. While his stance is much more moderate than Milosevic's, Kostunica has refused to advocate the prosecution of his predecessor as a war criminal.

National Identity. The people of Yugoslavia identify primarily with their region. Serbs are more likely than other groups to subscribe to an identity as Yugoslav; many minorities see this identity as attempting to subsume significant regional, ethnic, and religious differences. Montenegrins also have a tradition of Pan-Slavism, which led them to remain with Serbia even as other republics were demanding independence. However, Montenegro has had differences with Serbia, particularly over policy in Bosnia, Croatia, and, most recently, Kosovo. Religion also plays an important role in national identity, in particular for Muslims, the largest religious minority (and the majority in certain areas, such as Kosovo and parts of Bosnia).

Ethnic Relations. The Balkan Peninsula is a hodgepodge of cultures and ethnicities. While most of the people are of Slavic origin, their histories diverged under the varying influences of different governments, religions, and cultures. For example, Slovenia and Croatia are primarily Roman Catholic, whereas most of Serbia is Eastern Orthodox; in Kosovo and Bosnia there is a large Islamic population. The north has a strong influence from Hungary, and the south displays more remnants of Turkish culture. The union of these different cultures under a repressive regime makes for a volatile situation; for this reason the entire region has been referred to as the "Balkan tinderbox." The virulent animosity among different groups has, in recent years, led to civil war. The Serb government has brutally suppressed virtually all minorities to consolidate Serb power. Under Milosevic, a policy of ethnic cleansing has attempted to rid the country of Croat Muslims in Bosnia and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo when these groups have agitated for self-rule; the results have been ongoing violence and the oppression of ethnic minorities.

Yugoslavia also has one of the world's largest Gypsy populations, who are also treated with intolerance. In the 1980s there was a movement among Yugoslav Gypsies for separate nationhood, but it never materialized and eventually lost steam.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Belgrade is home to the old royal palace of Yugoslavia, as well as current government buildings. Many of these are in an area called New Belgrade, on the outskirts of the city. Belgrade also boasts centuries-old churches, mosques, and several national museums. Due in part to its advantageous location at the junction of two rivers, the city has a history of possession by various foreign powers: It has been captured sixty times (by the Romans, Huns, Turks, and Germans, among others) and destroyed thirty-eight times. Many of the city's older structures were damaged by the Nazis during World War II. Some were later restored, but the recent civil war has again devastated the city.

The largest city in Montenegro is Titograd (known as Podgorica before Tito renamed it in 1946). It is an industrial center. Much of the architecture in Titograd reflects the Turkish influence of the Ottoman Empire.

Pristina, with a population of about 108,000, is the capital of the province of Kosovo. It served as capital of the Serbian Empire before the invasion of the Ottoman Turks in the fourteenth century. The city's architecture, exhibiting both Serbian and Turkish influence, testifies to its long history.

Novi Sad, a city with a population of 179,600, in the northern province of Vojvodina, boasts a fortress from the Roman era, as well as a university and the Serbian National Theater. It also is a manufacturing center.

Subotica, with a population of about 100,000, is Serbia's northernmost city and serves as an important center for commerce, agriculture, and intellectual activity.

In the cities, most people live in apartment buildings, although there are also older houses. In the countryside most houses are modest buildings of wood, brick, or stone. They are generally surrounded by courtyards enclosed by walls or fences for privacy. Even in rural areas, houses tend to be relatively close together. Some villages in Kosovo are laid out in a unique square pattern. The houses have watchtowers, and are surrounded by mud walls for protection from enemies.

Serbia is famous for its religious architecture: Huge, beautiful churches and monasteries are not just in the big cities, but also are scattered throughout the nation. Some date back centuries; others, such as the Church of Saint George in the town of Topola, were built in the twentieth century. They are awe-inspiring structures adorned with elaborate mosaics, frescoes, and marble carvings.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Staples of the Serbian diet are bread, meat, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Breakfast generally consists of eggs, meat, and bread, with a dairy spread called kajmak. Lunch is the main meal of the day and usually is eaten at about three in the afternoon. A light supper is eaten at about 8:00 p.m.

Peppers are a common ingredient in many dishes. The national dish, called cevapcici, is small meat patties, highly spiced and prepared on a grill. Other Serbian specialties include proja, a type of cornbread; gibanica, a thin, crispy dough often served with cheese and eggs; sarma, cabbage leaves filled with meat; and djuvéc, a vegetable stew. Pita (a type of strudel) and palacinke (crepes) are popular desserts. Coffee is prepared in the Turkish style, boiled to a thick, potent liquid and served in small cups. A fruit concoction called sok is another favorite drink. For alcohol there is beer and a fruit brandy called rakija.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. The Christmas feast is an elaborate occasion. On Christmas Eve, people eat Lenten foods (no meat or dairy products) and drink hot toddies (warm brandy with honey). The following day, the meal generally consists of roast pork and a round bread called cesnica. On Krsna Slava, a family's patron saint's day, another round bread, called kolac, is served, as well as zito, a boiled, sweetened wheat dish. For Easter, boiled eggs are a traditional food. The shells are dyed and decorated in elaborate patterns.

Basic Economy. The collapse of the Yugoslav Republic in 1991 wreaked havoc on the economy of the region. Trade links were interrupted, and ongoing warfare has destroyed many physical assets. Economic sanctions further stunted the growth of the economy during these years. There is currently an unemployment rate of 30 percent.

Industry accounts for 50 percent of the GDP and employs a large number of people in the fabrication of machines, electronics, and consumer goods. Three-quarters of the workforce is in the business sector (either agriculture or industry). Agriculture accounts for 20 percent of the GDP. Before World War II, more than 75 percent of the population were farmers. Today, due mainly to advances in agricultural technology, this figure has shrunk to fewer than 30 percent; this includes a million people who support themselves through subsistence farming. Crops include wheat, corn, oil seeds, sugar beets, and fruit. Livestock also are raised for dairy products and meat. A quarter of the labor force is in education, government, or services. The tourist industry, which grew steadily throughout the 1980s, has been virtually extinguished by the civil war of the 1990s.

Land Tenure and Property. Under the Communist system, virtually everything was owned by the government. However, even under Tito, many farmers opposed collective farms, and while the government did run several such large-scale operations, small, privately owned farms were permitted as well. Since Tito's demise, the country has been moving toward a capitalist economy. More privatization has been allowed, and people have begun to open stores and businesses. However, this economic development has been hindered by sanctions and by the chaos of civil war.

Commercial Activities. Serbia produces agricultural products and manufactured goods (textiles, machinery, cars, household appliances, etc.) for sale. However, the civil war has slowed or halted production in many areas, and along with economic sanctions, has created a situation of shortages and rationing. Many goods are bought and sold on the black market; they are brought into the country illegally and sold for high prices. Many people, especially in rural areas, also rely on their own gardens and animals to supplement their diets.

Major Industries. Industries include machine-building (aircraft, trucks, tanks, other weapons, and agricultural equipment), metallurgy, mining, production of consumer goods, and electronics. Serbia has one of the largest hydroelectric dams in Europe, and supplies electricity not just to the former Yugoslav republics but to neighboring countries as well.

Trade. Trade has been restricted by sanctions imposed by many Western countries. Major partners include the former Yugoslav republics of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzogovina, as well as Italy, Germany, and Russia.

Division of Labor. It is traditional for children to continue in the trade or occupation of their parents. However, with more educational opportunities, this is not necessarily the case now. There are approximately two million people in the socialized sector, of which 75 percent are in business (agriculture or industry) and 25 percent are in education, government, and other services. There is also a significant unemployment rate (26 percent in 1996).

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Before World War II the base of society was the peasant class, with a small upper class composed of government workers, professionals, merchants, and artisans, and an even tinier middle class. Under communism, education, Party membership, and rapid industrialization offered possibilities for upward mobility. Since the fall of Tito's government and the rise of the free-market economy, people have been able to attempt to better their status through entrepreneurship. However, economic sanctions have had the effect of decreasing the overall standard of living; shortages and inflation make even necessary items unaffordable or unavailable. This situation has created more extreme differences between the rich and the poor, as those who have access to goods can hoard them and sell them for exorbitant rates.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Most young people and city-dwellers wear Western-style clothing. In the villages, women wear the traditional outfit of a plain blouse, long black skirt, and head scarf. For festive occasions, unmarried women wear small red felt caps adorned with gold braid, and married women don large white hats with starched wings. Albanian men in Kosovo wear small white caps, which reflect their Muslim heritage.

Political Life

Government. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia elects a president for a four-year term (although during his eleven-year tenure, Slobodan Milosevic refused to recognize the outcome of these elections if they were not to his advantage). The president appoints a prime minister. The legislative branch of the government, called the Federal Assembly, consists of two houses. The Chamber of Citizens, with 138 seats (108 from Serbia and 30 from Montenegro), is elected by popular vote. The Chamber of Republics, with 20 representatives from each republic, is chosen by republic assemblies. However, since 1998, Serbia has superseded Montenegro's right to have representatives in the Chamber of Republics.

Both Serbia and Montenegro also have their own governments, which are similar in structure to the federal one. Each has its own president, legislature, and court system. The voting age is sixteen if one is employed, or eighteen otherwise.

Leadership and Political Officials. Serbia has a history of powerful, demagogic leaders who have maintained control by manipulating the media and other forceful methods. This has created a certain distance between the highest government officials and the people, which can manifest itself in the populace as either fear, admiration, or a combination of the two.

Today, there are eleven political parties represented in the Yugoslav Federal Assembly, four from Montenegro and seven from Serbia. Until the September 2000 elections, Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, and Milosevic himself, exercised ultimate power. Kostunica managed to unite eighteen opposition groups as the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, but this coalition is fraught with dissension.

Social Problems and Control. There are local court systems in each republic, as well as a Federal Court, which is the highest court of appeals and which also resolves property disputes among the republics. There is a high rate of corruption in government and in business. Refugees, economic strain, and social unrest have also been major social problems. Political dissidents have been dealt swift and harsh punishments.

Military Activity. The military consists of an army made up of ground forces with border troops, naval forces, and air defense forces. It is under the command of the Yugoslav president, in conjunction with the Supreme Defense Council, which includes the presidents of both Serbia and Montenegro. All men are required to serve one year in the armed forces. The police (both federal and republican) have the responsibility of maintaining order in the country, and in many cases are better armed than the military.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The Communist regime instituted an extensive social welfare system, much of which is still intact. This system provides retirement and disability pensions as well as unemployment and family allowances. There is also a socialized health care system, and the government runs shelters and homes for orphans and the mentally and physically disabled. However, civil war and economic sanctions have left the government in many instances unable to pay its Social Security checks, and many older and disabled people have suffered as a result.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Western nongovernmental organizations, including Red Cross and USAID, have provided assistance in dealing with the sizable problems of food, housing, and medical needs. However, Yugoslavia is not recognized by the international community as a whole, and has been denied admission to the United Nations and other international organizations.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Traditionally, women perform only domestic work. Under communism, however, they began to take other types of jobs in large numbers. The number of women wage earners increased from 400,000 in 1948 to 2.4 million in 1985. The percentage of women who work outside the home varies greatly from region to region. Most women take positions in cultural and social welfare, public service and administration, and trade and catering. Almost all of the nation's elementary school teachers are women. However, even when women work outside the home, they are still expected to cook, clean, and take care of other domestic tasks.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Serbian culture is traditionally male-dominated. Men are considered the head of the household. While women have gained significant economic power since World War II, many vestiges of the patriarchal system are still evident in women's lower social status.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Wedding celebrations often last for days. Before a couple enters their new house for the first time, the bride stands in the doorway and lifts a baby boy three times. This is to ensure that the marriage will be blessed with children. Marriages are generally not arranged. Under Tito, women gained equal rights in marriage and divorce became easier and more common.

Domestic Unit. It is customary for several generations to live together under the same roof. Ethnic Albanians tend to have large families, of eight to ten children, and extended families often live together in a compound of houses enclosed by a stone wall. Even in Serbian families, which tend to be smaller, cousins, aunts, uncles, and other family members often live, if not in the same house, then in close proximity to one another. The Serbian language does not distinguish between cousins and siblings, which is an indication of the particular closeness of extended families.

Inheritance. Inheritance customs follow a system of male primogeniture: The firstborn son inherits the family's property.

Kin Groups. Until modern times, rural Montenegrins lived in clans. Feuding among the different clans was legendary and could go on for generations. In rural areas the land was traditionally worked under the administration of zadrugas, groups of a hundred or more people made up of extended families, which were overseen by male elders. The zadrugas were religious groups, each with its own patron saint, and served the social function of providing for orphans, the elderly, and the sick or disabled. In the 1970s the organizations began to evolve from the traditional patriarchal system to a more cooperative one. They also declined in prevalence as the population became more urban than rural.


Infant Care. Infant care is largely the role of the mother. Godparents also play a significant part, and there is a fairly elaborate ceremony soon after birth that involves the godparent cutting the child's umbilical cord. Under the Communist regime, the government set up day nurseries to care for babies, allowing women to return to their jobs soon after childbirth.

Child Rearing and Education. The godfather (kum ) or godmother (kuma ) plays an important role in a child's upbringing. They are not related by blood, but are considered part of the spiritual family. He or she is responsible for the child if anything happens to the parents. The kum or kuma is in charge of naming the baby, and has a role of honor in the baptism and later in the child's wedding. Both boys and girls are expected to help with household chores.

Education is free and compulsory between ages seven and fourteen. Primary school lasts for eight years, after which students choose the vocation or field they will study in secondary school. This lasts three or four years, depending on the area of study. Seventy-one percent of children attend primary school. This number drops to 64 percent at the secondary level. Albanians, and Albanian girls in particular, are much less likely to receive an education. In 1990, all Albanian schools in Kosovo were closed down because the Serbian government did not approve of their curriculum, which emphasized Albanian culture. Some underground schools have been started, but many children continue to go without schooling.

Higher Education. The largest university, in Belgrade, was founded in 1863. There are other universities, in the cities of Novi Sad, Nis, and Podgorica. Kosovo's only university, in Pristina, was closed in 1990, when all ethnic Albanian faculty were fired and the Albanian students were either expelled or resigned in protest. Albanian faculty and students are now attempting to run an underground university. In 1998 the government took control of all the universities in the country, curtailing all academic freedom.


Kissing is a common form of greeting, for both men and women. Three kisses, alternating cheeks, are customary. Serbs are a hospitable people and love to visit and chat. When entering a home as a guest for the first time, one generally brings a small present of flowers, food, or wine. It also is customary to remove one's shoes and put on a pair of slippers before going into the house. Hosts are expected to serve their guests; slatko, a sweet strawberry preserve, often is provided.


Religious Beliefs. Sixty-five percent of the population belongs to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Nineteen percent are Muslim (most of these people live in Kosovo, and the majority are Sunni, although there are some Shi'ite as well); 4 percent are Roman Catholic; 1 percent are Protestant; and the remaining 11 percent practice other religions. Before World War II there was a sizable Jewish population. It shrunk from 64,405 in 1931 to 6,835 in 1948. Many of those who were not killed in the Holocaust emigrated to Israel. Today the Jewish population is about 5,000, organized into 29 communes under the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia. The Eastern Orthodox Church split off from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054, in what became known as the Great Schism. Many of the fundamental beliefs of the two churches remain the same, the fundamental difference being that the Eastern Orthodox religion does not recognize the authority of the pope. Instead they have a group of patriarchs who have equal status. The Serbian Orthodox Church was founded in 1219, and its rise was tied to the rise of the Serbian state at that time. A central figure in the church is Saint Sava, the brother of Stefan Nemanja, Serbia's first king. Since its founding, the church has promoted Serbian nationalism, and has struggled against the dominance of the central authority of the Greek Orthodox Church in Constantinople.

Religious Practitioners. The patriarchs hold the highest position in the Eastern Orthodox Church and are responsible for most official decisions. Priests are the primary religious figures in the community and are responsible for conducting services and counseling their parishioners. Unlike in Roman Catholicism, they are permitted to marry. There also are monks, who are celibate. Only monks, not priests, can obtain the position of bishop.

Rituals and Holy Places. Religious ceremonies are held in churcheselaborate, beautifully designed buildings, many of which date back hundreds of years. Each family has a patron saint, who is honored once a year in a large celebration called Krsna Slava. A candle is lit in the saint's honor, and special foods are consumed, including the round bread kolac. A priest comes to the house to bless it with holy water and incense. The family and priest stand in a circle around the kolac and sing a special song.

Christmas (observed on 6 and 7 January in the Eastern Orthodox Church) is a major holiday. Christmas Eve, called Badnje Vece, is feted with a large bonfire in the churchyard and the singing of hymns. On Christmas morning a selected young person knocks on the door and "brings Christmas into the house," poking a stick into the fireplace. The number of sparks that are released predicts how much luck the family will have in the year to come. Easter also is a big holiday. In addition to church services, it is celebrated by dying eggs and performing traditional kolo dances.

Death and the Afterlife. Funerals are large, elaborate occasions. In the cemetery, a spread of salads and roasted meats is presented in honor of the deceased; this is repeated a year after the death, at which point the gravestone is placed in the ground. Gravestones often bear photographs as well as inscriptions. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe in heaven, hell, and purgatory, a concept of an afterlife in which one is rewarded or punished according to one's actions in this life.

Medicine and Health Care

Comprehensive health care is provided for pregnant women, infants, children up to age fifteen, students up to age twenty-six, and people over age sixty-five. All people are ensured treatment for infectious diseases and mental illness. However, at least one-fifth of the population does not receive health care. The post-World War II Communist government did a good job of eliminating many of the country's health problems, including typhus, typhoid, dysentery, and tuberculosis. Infectious diseases are problems in the less developed regions, such as Kosovo. The leading causes of death are circulatory diseases and cancer, due in part to the increase in environmental pollution and cigarette smoking since the 1970s. Traffic accidents and suicide also are significant health issues.

Secular Celebrations

The principal secular celebrations are New Year's Day, 1 January; International Labor Day, 1 May; Day of Uprising in Serbia, 7 July; and Republic Day, 29 November.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The communist government had a policy of fairly strict censorship but state-approved artists did receive funding. Today there are virtually no funds (public or private) for the support of the arts. The National Theater in Belgrade hosts ballet performances. There are also traveling folklore groups that perform around the country.

Literature. Serbian literature traces its roots to the thirteenth-century epic poetry of Kosovo. The nineteenth-century Serbian poets Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj and Djura Jaksic gained prominence beyond the nation's borders. Contemporary Serbian writers include Milorad Pavic, Vladimir Arsenijevic, and Ivo Andric, who won the 1961 Nobel Prize for literature for his novel Bridge Over the River Drina. The Montenegrin Milovan Djilas was a prominent critic of the Communist system, and composed works in a number of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and history.

Graphic Arts. Serbia is known for its textiles made of wool, flax, and hemp. These materials are also woven into carpets of complex geometric patterns. The decoration of Easter eggs is another traditional art form. They are colored with natural dyes and adorned with intricate patterns and designs.

Many churches and monasteries are decorated with frescoes and mosaics. Contemporary painting often incorporates religious and historic concepts as well as modern aesthetic principles. Serbia has produced several nationally recognized painters, including Milic Stankovic and Olja Ivanicki. Ivan Generalic is well known for his primitive-style depictions (some of them fairly political) of Yugoslav life.

Artists have not been deterred by the economic or political situation, and have begun displaying installations in bombed-out buildings in Belgrade, shows they call "Phobjects." Contemporary art also can be seen on the street in popular surrealistic political posters that are hung in towns and cities.

Performance Arts. One type of traditional Serbian music is performed on a guslari, a single-stringed instrument played with a bow, which the musician accompanies by singing ballads that relay both news and historical events. Another kind of folk music is called tamburitza. It is played by groups of musicians on stringed instruments similar to mandolins and banjos. The gadje, a bagpipe like instrument, also is common. Albanian music in Kosovo has a more Arabic sound, echoing the influence of the Turks, and Gypsies dance to a type of music called blehmuzika, using a brass band.

Serbian folk dances are called kolos, and are performed by professional troupes, or by guests at weddings and other special occasions. They involve a group of people holding hands and moving in a circle. A specific kolo music accompanies the dance. During the Turkish rule, when people were forbidden to hold large celebrations, they often transmitted news through the lyrics and movements of the kolo tradition. Traditional accompaniment to the dance is a violin, and occasionally an accordion or a flute. Costumes also are important parts of dance; even today, traditional regional dress is worn for the performances.

Western rock music is extremely popular with younger audiences, and Yugoslavia has produced some homegrown stars. Many of them use the form to convey political messages.

There also is a long tradition of filmmaking in the entire former Yugoslavia. The first film recordings date to 1905, and the first full-length film was made in 1910. After World War II the industry grew considerably, thanks to government funding for productions. In 1939, the director Mihail Popovic gained acclaim for his historical film Battle of Kosovo. In the 1980s, director Emir Kusturica, from Sarajevo, won first place at the Cannes Film Festival for When Father Was Away on Business. His films depicted the terror that the Communist government inspired in the people. The 1990s saw decreased production in the film industry, but some of the movies that were produced took on the difficult subject of the civil war, including Pretty Village, Pretty Flame, directed by Srdjan Dragojevic. Goran Paskaljevic, another Serbian director, produced the widely acclaimed film Powder Keg in 1998.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Serbia has produced several well-known scientists, including Mileva Maric Einstein (the first wife of Albert Einstein), Mihajlo Pupin, and Nikola Tesla. The civil wars that began in the early 1990s took a severe toll on the economy, and today there is little money available for the study of either the physical or social sciences.


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Eleanor Stanford

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