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Serbia (sûrˈbēə), Serbian Srbija (sŭrˈbēä), officially Republic of Serbia, republic (2015 est. pop. 8,851,000), 34,116 sq mi (88,361 sq km), W central Balkan Peninsula; formerly the chief constituent republic of Yugoslavia and of its short-lived successor, Serbia and Montenegro. It is bounded in the northwest by Croatia, in the north by Hungary, in the northeast by Romania, in the east by Bulgaria, in the south by North Macedonia, in the southwest by Kosovo (a former Serbian province whose independence is not recognized by Serbia) and in the west by Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Belgrade is the capital.

Land and People

Landlocked and largely mountainous in the west and south, Serbia lies within several mountain systems: the Dinaric Alps in the west, the Kopaonik range in the southwest, and the Balkan Mts. in the east. Much of Serbia slopes generally north toward the Danube and Sava rivers and is drained chiefly by the Drina (which forms part of the western border), Kolubara, Morava, and Timok rivers and their tributaries. The northeast is part of the fertile Danubian plain; it is drained by the Danube, Sava, Tisa (Tisza), and Morava rivers. Politically, the country consists of Serbia proper with the cities of Belgrade, Niš, and Kragujevac and the ethnically mixed Vojvodina province with Subotica and Novi Sad. The Sanjak, or Sandžak, region, which straddles the Serbia-Montenegro border, is home to many Muslims.

The population consists primarily of Serbs, with Magyar (Hungarian), Romani (Gypsy), Bosniak, Montenegrin, and other minorities. The Serbs are very closely related to the Montenegrins and closely related to the Croats. but have been marked by different historical experiences. The Serbs also distinguish themselves culturally from the Croats through their membership in the Orthodox Eastern rather than Roman Catholic church and through the differences between Serbian and Croatian (forms of Serbo-Croatian), most obviously the use of the Cyrillic rather than the Roman alphabet.


About one third of the population is engaged in farming. Wheat, corn, sugar beets, sunflowers, hemp, and flax are the chief crops; the fertile plains of Vojvodina are the most productive agricultural areas. Serbia proper has extensive vineyards and is one of Europe's major regions for fruit growing (notably plums). Manufacturing is the largest contributor to the economy; products include furniture, machinery, chemicals, tires, and clothing, and food processing also is important. Serbia's mineral wealth includes oil and natural gas, coal, iron ore, copper, and zinc. The political turmoil of the 1990s (see under History) greatly exacerbated Serbia's already severe economic problems. Exports include iron, steel, and other metals, clothing, wheat, and fruits and vegetables. Serbia's main trading partners include the European Union nations, especially Germany, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.


Serbia is governed under the constitution of 2006. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is elected by the National Assembly. Members of the 250-seat, unicameral National Assembly are popularly elected to serve four-year terms. Administratively, Serbia is divided into 161 municipalities.


Consolidation of a People

Serbs settled in the Balkan Peninsula in the 6th and 7th cent. and accepted Christianity in the 9th cent. Their petty principalities were theoretically under a grand zhupan, who usually recognized Byzantine suzerainty. Civil strife and constant warfare with their Bulgarian, Greek, and Magyar neighbors characterized the early history of the Serbs. Rascia, the first organized Serbian state, was probably founded in the early 9th cent. in the Bosnian mountains; it steadily expanded from the 10th cent. Bulgaria, meanwhile, challenged Byzantium for suzerainty over the Serbs.

Stephen Nemanja, whom the Byzantine emperor recognized as grand zhupan of Serbia in 1159, founded a dynasty that ruled for two centuries. His son and successor assumed the title king of all Serbia in 1217 with the pope's blessing. However, the king's brother, Sava, archbishop of Serbia, succeeded in having papal influence eliminated from the kingdom; in 1219 he won recognition from the patriarch of Constantinople of an autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church. The Serbian kingdom was at first overshadowed by the rapid rise of the Bulgarian empire under Ivan II (Ivan Asen), but under Stephen Dušan, who became king in 1331 and czar in 1346, Serbia became the most powerful empire in the Balkan Peninsula, much of which it absorbed. Its might contrasted sharply with the decadent Byzantine Empire.

Even among European states, Serbia was noted for its high economic, social, and cultural level. After Stephen's death in 1355, however, the empire decayed and fell victim to the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks. The Serbs suffered defeat at the Maritsa River in 1371; that same year the last czar, Stephen Urosh V, died without male issue. His successor, Lazar, contented himself with the title prince of Serbia. Lazar was slain in 1389 during the battle of Kosovo Field, in which the cream of Serbian nobility was massacred and the fate of independent Serbia sealed. For Serbs, Kosovo retains its symbolic significance, which contributed to Serbia's opposition in the late 20th cent. to Kosovo's separatist movement.

Lazar's son, Stephen, was allowed to rule (1389–1427) over a diminished and divided Serbia by Sultan Beyazid I, to whom he paid tribute. Although he and his successor, George Brankovich (reigned 1427–56), received the title despots (lords) from the Byzantine Empire, the Turks gradually absorbed their lands. The quarrel over the Brankovich succession facilitated the complete annexation of Serbia by Sultan Muhammad II in 1459. Belgrade, then held by Hungary, fell to the Turks in 1521. During the centuries-long Turkish occupation of Serbia, national traditions and the memory of the Dušan's empire were preserved by the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Turkish Rule

Serbia became a Turkish province, with its pashas residing at Belgrade. Turkish rule in Serbia was more oppressive than in most Turkish provinces. The Serbian nobility was annihilated and its lands distributed to the Turkish military aristocracy, while the Christian peasants (rayas) were treated like virtual slaves. Although the Serbs were forbidden to possess weapons, frequent insurrections erupted. No attempt was made to curb Christianity; but the Serbian Church was placed in the hands of unpopular Greek Phanariots (see under Phanar). Many Serbs fled to Hungary and Austria to help those countries fight the sultans. Turkish reverses in 17th- and 18th-century wars against Austria and Russia revived Serbian hopes for independence.

The liberation struggle began in 1804, when Karageorge (“Black George,” Serbian Karadjordje) led a rebellion that eventually freed the pashalik (province) of Belgrade from the Turks. Russia, also at war with Turkey, then formed an alliance with Serbia. The Treaty of Bucharest (1812) forced Turkish recognition of Serbian autonomy, but Russian preoccupation with Napoleon's invasion allowed the Turks to renew their tyranny in Serbia. A revolt flared in 1815 under Miloš Obrenović, who in 1817 procured the assassination of his rival Karageorge and became prince of Serbia. Turkey proved unable to challenge his power. In 1829, Russia forced the Treaty of Adrianople upon the sultan, who had to grant Serbian autonomy under Russian protection and to recognize Miloš as hereditary prince. Except for garrisons in Belgrade and other fortresses, the Turks evacuated Serbia.

Restoration of Serbia

Much of Serbia's ensuing history revolved around the bloody feud between the Karadjordjević and Obrenović families. Miloš's absolutist tendencies caused popular resentment and forced his abdication in 1839; his son, Michael, shared the same fate. In 1842, Alexander Karadjordjević was recalled to the throne. The Congress of Paris, meeting in 1856 at the conclusion of the Crimean War, placed Serbia under the collective guarantee of the European powers while continuing to acknowledge Turkish suzerainty.

Miloš returned to power in 1858 at the behest of the Serbian parliament, but died two years later. Miloš's son Michael returned to the throne in 1860. In 1867 the last Turkish troops left Serbia. Upon the assassination of Michael (1868), his cousin, Prince Milan Obrenović, succeeded.

Milan liberalized the constitution in 1869, granting more power to the Skupchtina (lower house of Parliament). He also supported the rebellion of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Turkish rule and in 1876 declared war on Turkey. The rout of the Serbs led Russia to enter the war on the Serbian side. The Congress of Berlin (1878) recognized Serbia's complete independence and increased its territory. The placing of Bosnia and Herzegovina under Austro-Hungarian administration disappointed the Serbs, however.

Serbia's championship of Pan-Slavism in the Balkans engendered bitter rivalry with Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary. Milan, who was proclaimed king in 1882, harmed Serbian prestige by fighting an unsuccessful war with Bulgaria in 1885 over the question of Eastern Rumelia. The assassinations of King Alexander Obrenović (reigned 1889–1903) and his unpopular queen marked the end of the Obrenović dynasty.

With the accession of Peter I in 1903, the Karadjordjević dynasty entrenched itself. Peter restored the liberal constitution of 1889 and in 1904 appointed as premier Nikola Pašić, leader of the strongly nationalist and pro-Russian Radical party. The strengthening of parliamentary government and expansion of the economy greatly raised Serbia's prestige and exerted a powerful attraction on the South Slavs who remained under Austro-Hungarian rule. Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 was designed to quell sentiment in that region for union with Serbia. The angry Serbs retaliated by creating a Balkan League (Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece) to liberate the Balkan Slavs from both Austro-Hungarian and Turkish rule.

In 1912 the league declared war on and defeated Turkey, but the allies could not agree on division of the spoils. Dissatisfied with its failure to secure a major portion of the region of Macedonia in the first of the Balkan Wars, Serbia in 1913 turned against and defeated its former Bulgarian ally in the Second Balkan War. Serbia's victory made it the foremost Slavic power in the Balkans but greatly increased tensions with Austria-Hungary. When a Serbian nationalist (acting without governmental collusion) assassinated Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914, the empire declared war on Serbia, thus precipitating World War I.

The Serbian army fought bravely, but in 1915, when Bulgaria joined the Central Powers and Germany reinforced the Austrians, Serbia was overrun. The Serbian troops and government were evacuated to Kérkira (Corfu), where in 1917 Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, and Montenegrin representatives proclaimed the union of South Slavs. In 1918 the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, headed by Peter I of Serbia, officially came into existence. After that, the history of Serbia is essentially that of Yugoslavia.

Serbia within Yugoslavia

Serbia's predominant position in the new kingdom was a major cause for unrest in Croatia and Macedonia in the period between World Wars I and II. After the conquest and dismemberment of Yugoslavia in World War II, German occupation forces set up a puppet government in a much-diminished Serbia. The Serbs waged guerrilla warfare under the leadership of Draža Mihajlović. Later, Marshal Tito and his pro-Communist partisans attracted the majority of the Yugoslav resistance fighters, while Mihajlović's following became mostly restricted to the Serbian nationalists. The Yugoslav constitution of 1946 stripped Serbia of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, which became constituent republics. In the postwar years, Serbia had one of the more conservative Yugoslav Communist governments. The desire of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo for independence or for union with Albania resulted in periodic unrest.

In 1986, Slobodan Milošević became leader of the Serbian Communist party. He and his supporters revived the vision of a “Greater Serbia,” comprising Serbia proper, Vojvodina, Kosovo, and the Serb-populated parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Beginning in 1989, Serbia ended Kosovo's autonomy, which had been granted in the 1974 constitution, and sent in troops to suppress the protests of Kosovo's Albanian majority.

In May, 1991, Serbia blocked the ascension of Croatian leader Stipe Mesić to the head of the collective presidency, triggering the breakaway of Slovenia and Croatia and the end of the old Yugoslavia. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, established in 1992 by Serbia and Montenegro, was thoroughly dominated by Serbia, a situation that led by the end of the decade to a strong movement in Montenegro for increased autonomy or independence.

Serbia was the main supplier of arms to ethnic Serbs fighting to expand their control of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In response, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Yugoslavia, which were eased in Sept., 1994, after Yugoslavia announced it was cutting off aid to the Bosnian Serbs, and in late 1995 Serbia signed a peace accord with Bosnia and Croatia. Milan Milutinović was elected president of Serbia in 1997, but most power remained in the hands of Milošević, who became president of Yugoslavia (1997–2000). In Mar., 1999, following the continued repression of ethnic Albanians in the province and the breakdown of negotiations between Albanian Kosovars and Serbia, NATO began bombing military and other targets in Serbia as hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians were forcibly deported from Kosovo. In June, Milošević agreed to withdraw his forces, and NATO peacekeepers entered the province.

The Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) won early parliamentary elections held (Dec., 2000) after Milošević lost the Yugoslavian presidency to Vojislav Koštunica, and formed the first noncommunist, nonsocialist government in Serbia in 55 years. Zoran Djindjić became prime minister. The DOS pledged to create a market economy and to dismantle the authoritarian state Milošević had established, and subsequently (2001) turned the former president over to the UN war crimes tribunal at the Hague.

Relations between Djindjić and Yugoslavian president Koštunica became increasingly strained, with the prime minister more concerned about improving the economy and relations with Western Europe than preserving the Yugoslavian federation, which had become strained as Montenegro demands for greater autonomy turned increasingly into demands for independence. However, in Mar., 2002, a pact designed to preserve the federation was signed by Serbian and Montenegrin representatives. The pact, which was approved by the federal and republics' parliaments, gave both republics greater autonomy while maintaining a shared foreign and defense policy. The federation officially became the “state union” of Serbia and Montenegro in Feb., 2003.

Three elections for Serbian president in late 2002 resulted in a victory for but failed to produce a sufficient turnout to be valid under the constitution; Nataša Mićić was appointed acting president. Djindjić was assassinated in Mar., 2003, and Serbian officials accused a criminal gang of responsibilty. The assassination resulted in extensive arrests of governmental, security, and criminal figures associated with organized crime and the former Milošević regime, and 12 men were convicted of involvement in 2007. Zoran Živkovic was elected as Djindjić's successor.

A fourth attempt to elect a president failed, as the Nov., 2003, balloting again did not draw a sufficient number of voters. The parliamentary elections the following month resulted in a plurality for the the Serbian Radical party, an ultranationalist opposition party. Three pro-reform parties, however, formed a minority government in Mar., 2004, with the support (but not participation) of the Socialist party, and Koštunica became prime minister. That same month Kosovo erupted in anti-Serb violence that appeared designed to drive Serbs from mixed areas. Koštunica called, as he had before, for the partition of province into Albanian and Serb cantons. The United Nations and Albanian Kosovars rejected that solution, but Serbia remains opposed to complete independece for Kosovo, and the ultimate status of Kosovo is unresolved.

In June, 2004, Boris Tadić, a pro-Western reformer and the Democratic party candidate, won the presidency after a runoff, defeating Tomislav Nikolić, the Serbian Radical candidate and front-runner in the first round. When Montenegro finally held a referendum on declaring independence in May, 2006, Montenegrins approved the move, and the following month Montenegro declared its independence from the union of Serbia and Montenegro. Two days later, on June 5, Serbia proclaimed itself a sovereign state and the legal heir of the defunct union. The action marked the complete, if prolonged, dissolution of the former Yugoslavia into the constituent republics that had been established after World War II. In Oct., 2006, one of the parties in Koštunica's coalition withdrew, forcing new elections in Jan., 2007. In November Serbia adopted a new constitution; one of its articles proclaimed Kosovo an inalienable part of Serbia.

In 2007 the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in a case filed by Bosnia that originated in 1993, found that Serbia had violated international law when it failed to prevent genocide against Bosnian Muslims and then failed to prosecute those responsible for it. The ICJ did not, however, find Serbia guilty of genocide, as Bosnia had charged. Such a finding would have required proving intent on the part of Serbia's leaders, and the ICJ had limited access to internal Serbian and Yugoslavian government evidence.

The Jan., 2007, parliamentary elections were inconclusive, with the strongly nationalist Radicals placing first, the president's party second, and the prime minister's third; no party won as much as 30% of the vote. A coalition between the president's and prime minister's parties seemed most feasible, but Koštunica's insistence that a coalition government take a hard line on Kosovo's independence stymied negotiations until mid-May, when the two parties agreed on coalition with two smaller parties. Koštunica remained prime minister, but divisions in the coalition have since threatened the government's stability. In Mar., 2007, UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari, unable to reach a compromise with Serbia and Kosovo, presented a plan for Kosovo's eventual independence to the UN Security Council, but Russia insisted on a solution acceptable to both Kosovo and Serbia, and the year ended without a resolution to the issue.

Tadić was reelected in Feb., 2008. Shortly thereafter, Kosovo declared its independence, an act that Serbia refused to recognize. (In 2010 the International Court of Justice ruled, in a case brought by Serbia, that international law did not prohibit a unilateral declaration of independence.) Tensions in the government over joining the EU, many of whose members had recognized Kosovo, led Koštunica (who objected to proceeding with EU membership) to resign.

New elections were called for May, 2008. In early May a stabilization and association agreement with the EU—a first step toward EU membership—was signed, and in the subsequent elections Tadić's Democratic party placed first. After negotiations the party formed a government (July) with the Socialists, who favored entering the EU, and several other parties; Democrat Mirko Cvetković became prime minister.

One apparent effect of the new government's installation was the arrest (July) in Serbia of Radovan Karadžić, the former Bosnian Serb leader wanted on war crimes charges, and his extradition to The Hague. The EU, however, did not begin the ratification process for the agreement until June, 2010, over concerns about Serbian cooperation with the war crimes tribunal; in 2011, Ratko Mladić, the former Bosnian Serb commander, and then Goran Hadžić, a former Croatian Serb general and political leader, were also arrested and extradited. In Mar., 2010, the Serbian parliament condemned the 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica, Bosnia, and apologized for failing to prevent it from happening.

In Feb., 2012, Serbia agreed to allow Kosovo to participate in W Balkan regional meetings and to joint management with Kosovo of their common border. That agreement led in March to the European Union granting Serbia candidate status for negotiations on EU admission, but conflicting interpretations of the agreement subsequently stymied the joint attendance of Serbia and Kosovo at regional meetings. EU-mediated talks aimed at normalizing Serbia-Kosovo relations occurred in 2012–13; in Apr., 2013, an agreement was signed that was intended to integrate the Serb-dominated regions of N Kosovo into Kosovo's jurisdiction. The agreement led to formal talks concerning Serbia's admission to the EU beginning in 2014. An agreement signed with Kosovo in 2015 granted greater local powers to Kosovo's Serb areas, but aspects of it were declared unconsitutional by Kosovo's highest court.

Meanhwhile, President Tadić resigned in Apr., 2012, in order to have the presidential election coincide with the May parliamentary elections; the resignation was intended to aid his party's chances of success. Slavica Djukić Dejanović, the parliament speaker, became acting president. The parliamentary elections were narrowly won by the Serbian Progressive party, and in a subsequent runoff election for the presidency, Tomislav Nikolić, the Serbian Progressive candidate, defeated Tadić. A coalition consisting of the Progressives, Socialists, and smaller parties formed a government in July, with Socialist Ivica Dačić as prime minister. In Sept., 2013, the government was reshuffled; the new cabinet consisted of Progressives and Socialists only.

In snap elections called for Mar., 2014, the Progressives secured a landslide victory, winning nearly two thirds of the seats. They subsequently formed a five-party coalition government headed by Aleksandar Vučić, leader of the Progressive party. In 2016 Vučić called a snap election, and though the Progressives retained their majority after the April vote, they lost nearly a quarter of their seats. Vučić was elected president a year later after a campaign marred by some irregularities and Vučić's dominance of the media coverage. Vučić nominated Ana Brnabić, a nonparty former government minister, for prime minister; she became (June) the first woman and first openly gay person to hold the office.

In Mar., 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the president declared a state of emergency and began ruling by decree; the move was criticized because under the constitution the president is largely a ceremonial figure. The June, 2020, parliamentary elections, postponed from April due to the pandemic, were boycotted by most opposition parties, who were critical of holding the voting during the pandemic as well as of the Progressives' control of the media; the latter situation was also criticized by the OSCE. The Progressives won a landslide victory, securing three quarters of the seats, and Brnabić remained prime minister.


See L. S. Stavrianos, The Balkans since 1453 (1958); H. W. Temperly, History of Serbia (1917, repr. 1970); S. K. Pavlowitch, The Albanian Problem in Yugoslavia (1982); L. Lydall, Yugoslavia in Crisis (1989); M. Vickers, Between Serb and Albanian (1998).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Srbija), Socialist Republic of Serbia (Socijalistička Republika Srbija), a republic in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It includes the socialist autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo.

Located in northeastern and eastern Yugoslavia, primarily in the basin of the Danube River and its tributaries, Serbia is the largest republic in Yugoslavia in both area and population. It covers 88,400 sq km, and in 1974 it had a population of 8.7 million, of whom 71 percent were Serbs. Albanians, living for the most part in Kosovo, constituted 12 percent of the population in 1974; Hungarians, concentrated in Vojvodina, made up 5 percent; and Croats and Bosnians each accounted for 2 percent. The capital of Serbia, Belgrade, had 1,204,000 inhabitants in 1974. Other large cities include Niŝ, Novi Sad, Subotica. and Priŝtina. According to the 1971 census, 56 percent of Serbia’s population lives in cities. Administratively, Serbia is divided into communes.

A socialist republic, Serbia has voluntarily united with other equal socialist republics to form a federated state, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Under Serbia’s existing constitution, adopted in 1974, the highest government body is the republic Skupŝtina (assembly), composed of three chambers —the Chamber of Associated Labor, the Sociopolitical Chamber, and the Chamber of Communes. The Executive Chamber is the government of Serbia.

Natural features. Northern Serbia lies on the southern edge of the Central Danubian Plain, above which the isolated massif of Fruŝka Gora rises to 539 m. The greater part of Serbia—the area south of the Sava and of the east-west stretch of the Danube—is occupied by the ranges and massifs of the Serbian Highland and the East Serbian Mountains. In the extreme southwest are found the extensive basins of Kosovo Polje and Metohija, bounded on the south by the Ŝar Planina, rising to 2,640 m. The highest point in Serbia (2,764 m) is in the Korab Range on the Albanian border.

The climate is moderate and continental. On the plains temperatures average 0° or - 1°C in January and 18°–23°C in July. The annual precipitation totals 500–800 mm, with the mountains receiving as much as 1,000 mm. The principal rivers are the Danube, Sava, Tisa, Morava, and Drina.

Most of northern Serbia is under cultivation and constitutes Yugoslavia’s main agricultural region. Orchards occupy large parts of the intermontane valleys and basins. Woodlands, chiefly beech forests, cover about one-fourth of Serbia, primarily mountain slopes. Mineral resources include lead and zinc ores in Kosovo, hard and soft coal along the right bank of the Morava, copper ore in the East Serbian Mountains (near Bor and Majdanpek), and petroleum and natural gas in Vojvodina.

Historical survey. Serbia has been inhabited since Paleolithic times. During the Bronze Age it was settled by Illyrian, Thra-cian, and later Celtic tribes. The conquest of the Balkans by the Romans between 229 B.C and A.D. 106 led to the romanization of the local tribes. During the sixth and seventh centuries, Serbia was settled by Slavs. Between the eighth and 12th centuries feudal relations developed, and the Serbs evolved as a distinct ethnic group. The first principalities, of which the most important were Raŝka (Rascia) and Zahumlje, emerged between the eighth and tenth centuries. In the second half of the ninth century the Serbs adopted Orthodoxy. In the middle of the tenth century the first major state alliance was formed among the Serbs, the Serbian Principality, which was ruled by Prince časlav Klonimirović.

At the beginning of the 11th century Serbia came under the control of Byzantium. Raŝka became the focal point of the struggle against Byzantium during the second half of the 12th century. Stefan Nemanja, the župan (prince) of Raŝka from 1170 to 1196, founded the Nemanja Dynasty, which ruled until 1371. Under Stefan a unified Serbian feudal state was formed, and in 1217 Serbia was proclaimed a kingdom. After the death in 1227 of King Stefan the First-crowned, an internecine struggle broke out that lasted until the early 14th century. During the reign of Stefan Duŝan (1331–55), a large Serbo-Greek state was created. At the end of 1345, Duŝan adopted the title of tsar of the Serbs and Greeks, and the Serbian archbishopric, established in 1219, was proclaimed a patriarchate.

During the 13th and 14th centuries the feudal system reached its zenith in Serbia. There was a rapid expansion of agricultural production, and crafts, mining, and commerce developed. A collection of laws, known as the Code of Stefan Duŝan, was adopted in 1349. During the reign of Stefan Uros (1355–71) the Serbo-Greek state disintegrated.

In 1389 the Serbs were defeated by the Turks at the battle of Kosovo Polje. Initially a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, Serbia was incorporated into the empire in 1459. Turkish domination retarded the economic, political, and cultural development of the Serbian people. The haiduk movement spread as a form of struggle against Turkish oppression. During the 16th and 17th centuries the Serbs rebelled against Ottoman rule on several occasions (1594, 1597–98, 1688–90), counting on aid from Russia and the Hapsburgs. Large numbers of Serbs migrated north from the areas captured by the Turks to the region later called Vojvodina, which belonged to the Hapsburg monarchy. The Russo-Turkish wars of the late 18th century contributed to the success of the Serbian people’s national liberation struggle.

During the First Serbian Uprising (1804–13), a national liberation and antifeudal insurrection led by Karageorge (Kara-djordje), Turkish landowners and officials were expelled and Turkish landownership was abolished and the land distributed among the Serbian rural bourgeoisie and peasantry. After the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–12 the Ottoman Empire recognized Serbia’s autonomy in the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1812. In 1813, however, the sultan’s power was restored in Serbia. The Second Serbian Uprising (1815), under the leadership of Milos

Obrenović, served as the basis for the subsequent successful national liberation struggle in Serbia. With the diplomatic support of Russia, the Serbian people succeeded in winning the Ottoman Empire’s recognition of Serbia’s autonomous rights. The sultan’s hatti şerifs (decrees) of 1830 and 1833 proclaimed Serbia a self-governing principality under the supreme authority of the Ottoman Empire. The principality expanded its territory in 1833. Nevertheless, the southern portion of the Serbian lands was retained by the Turks, and the northern regions remained within the Austrian Empire.

The basis for the development of capitalism in Serbia until almost the end of the 19th century was agriculture, in which small and medium-sized peasant holdings predominated. Feudal vestiges and the despotic regime of Miloŝ Obrenović, who ruled as prince from 1815 to 1839 and again from 1858 to 1860, prevented Serbia from overcoming its economic and political backwardness. In 1835 the Skupŝtina (assembly) adopted the first Serbian constitution, but Miloŝ soon abrogated it. In 1838, under pressure from the Constitutionalists (defenders of the constitution), the sultan issued a constitution for Serbia, known as the Turkish Constitution. In 1839, Miloŝ Obrenović abdicated in favor of his son, and in 1842 the Constitutionalists deposed his son Michael, placing on the throne their candidate, Alexander Karageorgevich (Karadjordjević), who ruled as prince until 1858.

During the ascendancy of the Constitutionalists capitalist relations evolved, accompanied by a broad-based cultural movement among the Serbs, the most prominent representative of which was Vuk Karadzic. Alexander conducted a pro-Austrian policy, which provoked dissatisfaction among the people. In 1858 the Skupŝtina deposed Alexander, putting an end to the oligarchical regime of the Constitutionalists. Michael Obrenović (1860–68) reorganized the government, subordinating it to his absolute authority. After the assassination of Prince Michael in 1868, right-wing Liberals, headed by J. Ristić, came to power. At their insistence the Skupŝtina adopted a moderately liberal constitution in 1869. A revolutionary-democratic camp, led by Ž. Žujović and S. Marković, emerged out of the ideological struggle against both Conservatives and Liberals.

In the Serbo-Montenegrin-Turkish Wars of 1876–78, Serbia sought the aid of Russia, which declared war on Turkey in 1877. Russia’s victory and the successes of the Serbian troops assured Serbia’s independence and a considerable expansion of its territory (by a decision of the Berlin Congress of 1878). The ruling circles of Serbia, headed by Milan Obrenović (ruled 1868–89) pursued a pro-Austrian policy. The Austro-Serbian Secret Convention, signed in 1881, made Serbia a de facto protectorate of Austria-Hungary. Supported by Austria-Hungary, Prince Milan in 1882 proclaimed himself king and Serbia a kingdom.

Amidst growing social and political contradictions, Serbia’s three major bourgeois parties were founded in 1881: the Radical Party, headed by N. Paŝić, the Progressive Party, and the Liberal Party. The 1880’s and 1890’s saw the rise of the first labor organizations—the General Workers’ Society, the Association of Craftsmen, and the Alliance of Artisans and Workers. In October 1883 a peasant uprising, called the Timok Rebellion, broke out in eastern Serbia and was suppressed by troops. In November 1885 the ruling circles of Serbia declared war on Bulgaria. Military defeat in 1885–86 and the deteriorating situation within Serbia compelled Milan to adopt a constitution in 1888 establishing the government’s responsibility to the Skupŝtina and guaranteeing fundamental bourgeois rights and liberties.

In 1893 a reactionary clique headed by King Alexander (ruled 1889–1903) carried out a coup d’etat, and the next year the 1888 Constitution was replaced by the 1869 Constitution, and an authoritarian regime was established. In May 1903, Alexander Obrenović was assassinated by a group of officers. The Skupŝtina elected Peter Karageorgevich to the throne and restored the 1888 Constitution with minor changes.

In foreign policy the Radicals—Serbia’s main bourgeois party—leaned toward the Entente countries, and this led to a confrontation with Austria-Hungary. The Bosnian Crisis (1908–09) prompted the creation of the Balkan League in 1912, which was directed against Turkey and de facto against Austria-Hungary. As a result of the Balkan wars Serbia’s territory almost doubled in 1912–13.

With the rapid development of capitalism, the proletariat became a new social force. The Serbian Social Democratic Party was formed in 1903 along with a unified Serbian labor organization, the Workers’ Alliance. Under the influence of the 1905–07 Revolution in Russia militant strikes intensified. Seeking to suppress the liberation movement of the Slavic peoples, the ruling circles of Austria-Hungary used the Sarajevo assassination (June 1914) as a pretext for attacking Serbia. Despite the heroic resistance of the Serbian Army, Serbia was occupied by Aus-tro-Hungarian and Bulgarian troops by the end of 1915,

In July 1917 the Serbian government-in-exile and the Yugoslav Committee, founded in London in 1915, signed the Corfu Declaration, which provided for the postwar unification of Serbia and the Yugoslav (South Slav) lands of Austria-Hungary into a single independent state. In September 1918, Serbia was liberated by Entente troops, aided by the Serbian Army. A unified Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (known as Yugoslavia since 1929) was proclaimed in Belgrade on Dec. 1, 1918. The Serbian bourgeoisie, headed by the Karageorgevich Dynasty, occupied the dominant position in the state. The Vi-dovdan Constitution, adopted in June 1921, gave de jure confirmation to the victory of the groups advocating a Greater Serbia.

During the revolutionary upsurge in 1919–20, revolutionary outbreaks occurred among workers, peasants, and soldiers throughout the kingdom, including Serbia. The Socialist Workers’ Party of Yugoslavia (Communists) was founded in 1919’ the next year it was renamed the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. The national liberation movement among other Yugoslav peoples gained momentum, and the worker and peasant movement in the country grew stronger. In these circumstances, the ruling circles of the Greater Serbia bourgeoisie, which had proved incapable of consolidating their domination through parliamentary methods, established a monarchical military dictatorship in the country in January 1929.

In April 1941, Serbia, along with the rest of Yugoslavia, was overrun by Nazi German invaders. In August 1941 the Nazis created a puppet “Serbian government” in Belgrade, headed by General M. Nedić. In response to an appeal by the Communist Party a liberation uprising against Hitler’s occupation forces broke out in Serbia on July 7, 1941. In November 1941 the Central National Liberation Committee of Serbia was formed in Užice as the supreme organ of people’s power in the liberated part of Serbia, which came to be called the Republic of Užice. The liberation war of the Serbian people was part of the National Liberation War in Yugoslavia (1941–45).

Serbia was completely liberated by October 1944. A supreme legislative body, the Antifascist National Liberation Council of Serbia, was elected in November 1944; it was reorganized as the People’s Skupŝtina of Serbia in August 1945. After the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (FPRY) was proclaimed on Nov. 29, 1945, Serbia became one of the six people’s republics within it. The status and sovereign rights of the People’s Republic of Serbia (PRS) as an equal member of the federation were confirmed by the constitutions adopted by the FPRY and PRS in 1946. Under the constitutions promulgated in Yugoslavia and Serbia in 1963 and 1974, Serbia is a socialist republic within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).

In Serbia, as in all of Yugoslavia, profound revolutionary transformations have been carried out, and socialism is being built. The leading ideological and political force in building socialism is the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY). The League of Communists of Serbia, an integral part of the LCY. includes the League of Communists of Vojvodina and the League of Communists of Kosovo. Another important organization is the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Serbia, part of the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Yugoslavia. It includes the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Kosovo.

A. E. MOSKALENKO (to the end of the 18th century) and V. G. KARASEV

Economy. In 1974, Serbia provided about two-fifths of Yugoslavia’s national income and one-third of its industrial output. Industry and agriculture contribute about an equal proportion of Serbia’s national income even though agriculture, lumbering, and fishing employ more than half (51 percent according to the 1971 census) of the republic’s economically active population (3.9 million in 1971) and industry, construction, and crafts, 24 percent. Transportation employs 3 percent and trade and other service sectors, 5 percent.

The leading branch of the economy is heavy industry, which includes electric power production, mining, metallurgy, and machine building. The electric power industry uses brown coal and lignite obtained locally from the Kolubara, Kostolac. and Kosovo basins. Electric power is also produced by large hydroelectric power plants: the Iron Gate power plant on the Danube (operated jointly with Rumania) and the Zvornik and other plants on the Drina, Vlasina, and Lim rivers. Petroleum is extracted in Vojvodina.

All of Yugoslavia’s copper mining, smelting, and rolling is concentrated in Serbia, at Bor and Majdanpek in the East Serbian Mountains. Serbia also produces all of the country’s antimony and three-fourths of its lead and zinc, mined at Trepča and Ŝabac and rolled at Svetozarevo and Sevojno. A new heavy metallurgy combine has been built at Smederevo. A ‘chemical industry has developed in conjunction with nonfer-rous metallurgy. Three-fourths of Yugoslavia’s output of sulfuric acid and mineral fertilizers comes from plants in Ŝabac, Kosovska Mitrovica. Pančevo, Belgrade, and other Serbian cities. The output of synthetic fibers and petrochemicals in Pančevo is expanding.

The machine-building industry produces electrical and electronic goods (Belgrade, Niŝ, and Subotica), farm machinery (Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, and Belgrade), mining equipment (Belgrade, Niŝ, Kragujevac), and motor vehicles, both passenger cars (the Kragujevac plant is the largest in Yugoslavia) and trucks (Priboj). Serbia also produces a large quantity of textiles, leather, and footwear, and its food-processing industry accounts for one-half to two-thirds of the country’s output. Most of the food-processing and light industry enterprises are found in Vojvodina, as well as in Belgrade and other major cities.

Serbia, especially Vojvodina and the Morava Valley, is Yugoslavia’s chief agricultural region, noted for its grain and livestock. Serbia produces two-thirds of the country’s grain (wheat, corn, rye), as well as sugar beets, hemp, sunflowers, and other industrial crops; about two-fifths of its potatoes; three-fourths of its plums; and more than half of its grapes. It also raises three-fifths of the country’s hogs and more than two-fifths of its cattle, sheep, and poultry.

Railroads are the chief means of transportation; the railroad network totals 3,900 km. The Danube and the Sava are navigable, with ports at Belgrade. Novi Sad, and Smederevo. There is a large airport near Belgrade, at Surčina.


Cultural development and public health. In 1971, Serbia had a literacy rate of 82.5 percent. The school system is based on eight-year schools, which in the 1973-74 school year had an enrollment of more than 1 million pupils. Gymnasiums provide a complete secondary education. During the 1973–74 school year more than 85,600 students attended the republic’s 166 Gymnasiums. There are also schools for training skilled workers, technical and other special schools, and schools for adults; in 1973-74 they had an enrollment of 268,600. Serbia’s institutions of higher learning, notably the Universities of Belgrade, Niŝ (founded in 1965), Novi Sad (1960), and Priština (1970), had an enrollment of 179,300in 1974–75.

Most of Serbia’s scientific institutions are located in Belgrade, among them several federal research institutes: the B. Kidrič Institute of Nuclear Physics (founded in 1947), the Institute of Crop Cultivation (1945), and the Institute of Farm Mechanization (1947). Also in Belgrade is the republic’s highest scholarly institution, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (1886, reorganized in 1944), with seven divisions and more than 25 research institutes. Research subdivisions of the University of Belgrade include the Geological Institute (1880) and the Botanical Institute and Garden. Belgrade is also the site of the Seismological Institute (1906), the Institute of Health Protection (1924), astronomical and meteorological observatories (1887), and learned societies and associations, both federal (physics and mathematics, physics, engineering, technical) and regional (pedagogical, chemical, biological, geological). In Novi Sad is the Matica Srpska, a scientific and cultural society. Affiliated with the University of Novi Sad are research institutes of law, biology, chemistry, and technology. The University of Niŝ also maintains several research institutes. In 1974, Serbia had 1,102 public libraries, 433 scientific and special libraries, and 101 museums.

In 1975 nine daily newspapers were published in Serbia, with a total circulation of more than 90,000, as well as more than 600 magazines and other periodicals. The main newspapers, all issued in Belgrade, are Borba, Politika, and Komunist, the weekly organ of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and the League of Communists of Serbia.

Among other important newspapers are Dnevnik, a daily issued in Serbo-Croatian in Novi Sad and an organ of the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Vojvodina; Magyar Szo, a daily issued in Hungarian in Novi Sad and an organ of the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Vojvodina; Jedinstvo, published in Priŝtina twice a week and an organ of the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Kosovo; and Rilindja, a daily published in Priŝtina in Albanian and an organ of the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Kosovo.

Serbia has more than 40 radio stations. Television studios were established in Belgrade in 1958 and in Priŝtina and Novi Sad in 1972. In 1972 there were 105 hospitals (with 44,300 beds) and more than 4,000 outpatient polyclinics; 6,700 physicians and 1,500 dentists were employed. Serbia is noted for its balneological health resorts of Vrnjačka Banja and Niŝka Banja. Tourism is important.

Literature. Serbian literature originated in the second half of the ninth century, in the time of Cyril and Methodius. Medieval literature, primarily ecclesiastical and didactic, included saints’ lives, panegyrics, and songs. The first outstanding works of Serbian written literature are the Miroslav Gospel (12th century) and the writings of Stefan the First-crowned (c. 1165–1227), Sava (1175–1235), and Domentijan (c. 1210-after 1264). The Life of the Despot Stefan Lazarević (1431-35) by Constantine the Philosopher, who was born at the end of the 14th century and died after 1439, contains valuable historical and geographical information about Serbia in the age of internecine strife and Turkish invasions. Serbian literature developed through interaction with other European literatures. Serbo-Bulgarian and Serbo-Russian literary contacts, known to have existed as early as the 11th century, were especially fruitful from the 13th to the 15th century. The first printed books in Serbian appeared in the last decade of the 15th century.

Turkish rule retarded the development of Serbian literature. The 16th and 17th centuries produced, among other works, several adaptations of Byzantine and Russian chronicles, but the spiritual life of the Serbian people found its fullest expression in folklore.

During the 18th century, when large numbers of Serbs migrated north from areas occupied by the Turks, the center of spiritual life shifted to southern Hungary. The link between the Serbs and Russia was strengthened. Under the influence of Russian religious writings and textbooks a Slavonic-Serbian language evolved that promoted the appearance of Serbian Enlightenment literature. The Serbian cultural revival of the 18th century was personified in the Enlightenment writer Dositej Obradović (c. 1742–1811), who laid the foundation for a secular literature.

The national liberation and antifeudal movement, coupled with political and cultural independence, stimulated a resurgence of intellectual life in the first half of the 19th century. Cultural and scientific societies were founded (the first, Matica Srpska, (in 1826), and literary magazines appeared. European traditions were quickly assimilated. The patriotic narrative poems of L. Muŝicki (1777-1837) are written in the neoclassical style, and the novels of M. Vidaković (1780–1841) and plays of J. Vujić (1772-1847) reflect the influence of sentimentalism. The realistic comedies of J. Sterija-Popović (1806–56) opened the way for a national repertoire. The eminent philologist, folk-lorist, and historian V. S. Karadžić (1787–1864)—the ideologist of the Serbian national revival—called for a distinctive national literature linked with the life of the common people. Karadžić’s ideas were adopted by the Romantics.

As participants in the national liberation movement, the Romantics had a predilection for heroic and patriotic themes. Between the late 1840’s and the 1870’s Serbian romanticism was best expressed by the Montenegrin poet P. Njegoŝ (1813–51), famous for his dramatic poem The Mountain Wreath (1847), and by the poets B. Radičević (1824–53), Dj. Jakŝić (1832–78), J. Jovanović-Zmaj (1833-1904), and L. Kostić (1841–1910). Jakŝić and Kostić also wrote tragedies on subjects drawn from Serbian history. Novi Sad in Vojvodina became the center of literary life; the leading magazines were Danica (1860-71), Javor (1862–63), and Matica (1866-70).

As class conflicts intensified during the 1860’s, Serbian writers turned to realism, whose principles were expounded by the revolutionary democrat S. Marković (1846–75). Russian realistic literature influenced the development of Serbian realism. Realistic tendencies were already discernible among the Romantics, for example, in Zmaj’s satires and Jakŝić’s prose. The first realists—M. Gliŝić (1847-1908), L. Lazarević (1851–90), and J. Veselinović (1862–1905)—excelled in descriptions of customs and manners. The outstanding novelist of the period was J. Ignjatović (1824–89).

In the late 19th century, S. Matavulj (1852–1908), S. Sremac (1855–1906), and S. Rankovic (1863–99) broadened the artistic dimensions of realism, introduced complex social and historical problems, and developed the larger narrative genres. The art of satire reached a high level in the prose of R. Domanović (1873-1908), the biting social comedies of B. Nuŝić (1864–1938), and the poetry of V. Ilic (1860-94).

At the end of the 1890’s the literary process became more complex as a result of the interaction of diverse ideological and artistic trends. The principles of realism were defended by J. Skerlic (1877-1914), an outstanding critic and literary historian. Strong social criticism and psychological insight distinguished the work of the realists I. Cipiko (1869-1923), B. Stankovic (1876-1927), and P. KoCic (1877-1916), all of whom expanded the range of genres and styles. The modernist trend was represented by the Parnassians J. Ducic (1871-1943), M. Rakić (1876-1938), and V. Petkovic-Dis (1880-1917). The traditions of democratic poetrv were continued by A. Santic (1868-1924) and V. Petrović (1884-1967). A proletarian literature was founded by K. Abraŝević (1879-98) and a group of worker-poets.

The establishment of a Yugoslav state in 1918 ushered in a new phase in the development of Serbian literature. Alongside the poets of the older generation (Ŝantić, Petrović, Dučić, Pandurovic), who continued the traditions of realism and symbolism, expressionist poets appeared, among them I. Andrič (1892-1975), M. Crnjanski (1893-1977), and S. Vinaver (1891-1955). The theme of war occupied a prominent place in Serbian prose. While extolling the Serbian people’s heroism, Cipiko, Nuŝic. and Petrović condemned the war for the misfortune and ruin it inflicted on the people. A number of younger writers, including Crnjanski and D. Vasić (1885–1945), portrayed the experiences of the “lost generation.” Some expressionists, notably Andrić and Crnjanski, shifted to historical subjects and realism. Various problems of postwar life were treated by the realist writers, including Nuŝić, who wrote the satirical novella Autobiography (1924) and the comedies The Lady Minister (1929) and Mister Dollar (1932). New social motifs were introduced by Petrović, I. Sekulić (1877-1958), and B. Ćosić (1903–34), best known for his novel The Mowed Field (1934).

In the late 1920’s “social literature,” based on a revolutionary ideology. and surrealism emerged as the dominant movements. During the 1930’s surrealism disintegrated as a trend. Some of the left-wing surrealists, notably D. Jovanović (1909–43), O. Davičo (born 1909), A. Vučo (1897), and K. Popović (born 1908) joined the social literature group, adopting the basic principles of Marxist aesthetics. During the second half of the 1930’s social literature succeeded in overcoming its tendency toward oversimplification. Social poetry reached a high point in the works of the Montenegrin R. Zogović (born 1907), author of the collections Kulak (1936) and Fiery Doves (1939). Notable successes were achieved by the revolutionary writers J. Popović (1905–52) and C. Minderović (1912-68). The realistic tendencies were reinforced by the publicistic writings and literary criticism of Jovanovic and V. Gligoric (born 1899).

During the Nazi occupation many of the writers who were fighting in the national liberation war managed to continue their literary activity, among them Zogovic, Popovic, B. Copić (born 1915), M. Lalic (born 1914), and Minderovic. Such writers as D. Maksimovic (born 1898), Andric, and Petrovic boycotted collaborationist publications. Only a small group of reactionary writers opposed the national liberation war or actually collaborated with the occupation forces. They included Ducic, S. Stefanovic (1874-1944), and Vasic.

After the liberation of Serbia and the victory of the people’s revolution, the Serbian Writers’ Association was organized in 1945, uniting the antifascist writers who recognized the gains of the people’s revolution. The First Congress of Yugoslav Writers was held in 1946. The recurrent themes of the early 1950’s were the national liberation war, the revolution, and the new life. Zo-govic’s postwar poems were strongly publicistic, and Davico and M. Dedinac (1902-66) wrote realistic poetry. A romantic outlook marked the work of the younger poets S. Vukosavljevic (born 1927) and S. Markovic (born 1928). A major event was the publication in 1945 of Andric’s novels Bridge on the Drina, Bosnian Chronicle, and The Young Lady.

In the early 1950’s a sharp differentiation occurred in Serbian literature between the adherents of realism, who rallied around the magazine Savremenik, and the followers of various modernist trends, who published in the magazine Delo. New schools arose in poetry. The themes of poetry changed, as well as its ideas, emotional overtones, and means of expression. Pessimistic sentiments appeared alongside the revolutionary optimism that was characteristic of the early postwar years. The “romantic in-timism” of S. Raickovic (born 1928) and Markovic divorced poetry from the many vitally important social problems. A trend toward “abstract intellectualism” appeared in the poetry of V. Popa (born 1922), M. Pavlovic (born 1928), and J. Hristic (born 1933). Zogovic wrote personal lyrics and satirical publicistic poems denouncing snobbery and the petit bourgeois vulgarization of communist ideals. The poetry of Maksimovic attained maturity and a high degree of technical skill during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The collections Speak Softly (1961) and / Beg Your Forgiveness (1964) reflect his humanism and social consciousness. In both aesthetics and literary criticism, surrealism and other modernistic trends coexisted with efforts to achieve a synthesis of realism and modernism.

Serbian prose of the 1950’s and 1960’s reflects various artistic trends and techniques. The revolution, a central theme, has been treated by such realistic writers as Copie (Breakthrough, 1952) and Lalic (Leleja Mountain, 1957, 2nd ed., 1962), as well as by writers seeking to blend realism with surrealistic devices, notably Davico (Song, 1952) and D. Cosic (born 1921), best known for his novels Far Is the Sun (1951) and Divisions (1961). Postwar life in Yugoslavia, another important subject, is described in the novels of Copie and the satirical novels of E. Kos (born 1913) and Davico. Crnjanski’s novels, notably Migration (book 2, 1957), offer an unusual synthesis of realism, expressionism, and naturalism. Extreme abstractionism in prose is represented by the works of R. Konstantinovic (born 1928).

The leading contemporary playwrights are M. Djurdjevic (born 1920), Dj. Lebovic (born 1928), and B. Mihajlovic (born 1922). A new genre, the radio drama, has come into being. Literary criticism and scholarship also reveals diverse trends of aesthetic thought. Important work is being done by D. Jeremic (born 1925) and Z. Gavrilovic (born 1926).


Architecture and art. Situated at the crossroads of cultural influences emanating from the Mediterranean, the Near East, the Aegean world, and Western Europe, Serbia developed extremely rich ancient and medieval cultures. The Neolithic peoples who inhabited the area from the fifth to the third millennium B.C. built houses sunk deep into the ground, made ceramic vessels of various shapes decorated with painted geometric designs, grooves, engravings, or incrustations, and fashioned stylized statuettes of people and animals. Many of the objects that have been found belong to the Starcevo and Vinca cultures. The Bronze Age cultures that flourished here in the second millennium B.C. were linked with the Aegean world, but they also preserved local traditions. Remains include low wide-necked clay vessels adorned with incrusted geometric designs and clay figurines decorated with handsome geometric ornamentation, of which the most famous are the Klicevac Idol and the Du-pljaja chariot with the figure of a bird-headed deity.

Dating from the first millennium B.C. are fortified settlements, pieces of jewelry, and the small bronze sculptures of the Thracians, Illyrians, and Celts. Between the second century B.C. and the fourth century A.D., Roman military camps with public buildings, palaces, and baths (thermae) were built at Singidu-num (now Belgrade) and Naissus (Nis). Roman statues, portraits, and stelae have been preserved. Byzantine cities such as Caricin Grad, with cathedrals, palaces, and residential and commercial buildings, were constructed during the fifth and sixth centuries. Remarkable Byzantine and Slavic gold filigree ornaments and silver utensils dating from the sixth through ninth centuries have been found.

With the formation of Serbian feudal states and the adoption of Orthodox Christianity in the ninth and tenth centuries, fortresses of wood and stone were built, and round domed stone churches and basilicas, decorated with frescoes, were erected.

Medieval Serbian cities had a central marketplace, radial streets, and two- or three-story houses made of wood, stone, or sun-dried brick, with gabled roofs covered with shingles or stone tiles. Cities and monasteries were enclosed within stone walls. Fortresses with massive crenelated walls and towers of varying heights were built along trade routes; within them stood princely palaces. The fortress layout was adapted to the terrain in mountainous areas (Zvecan, 11th and 12th centuries; Maglic, 14th century); on the plains the fortresses had a regular layout (Smederevo, 1428-56).

In the unified state ruled by the Nemanja dynasty from the second half of the 12th through the 14th century, the Raška school of architecture developed. Among its finest works are monastic buildings and the massive stone churches with nar-thexes in the monasteries of Studenica (Church of the Assumption, 1183-96), Žiča (1208-15), and Mileseva (c. 1234-36). The churches consist of a single elongated space and have a cruciform central area crowned with a cupola. Their overall Byzantine character is modified by Romanesque arcuated tiers and recessed portals and by rich decorative carving on the marble facing. Floral designs with stylized figures of animals, birds, and fantastic creatures entwine the portals and windows. In the second half of the 13th and early 14th centuries the basilican churches acquired a greater grace and beauty, as exemplified in the Sopocani Monastery church, built in 1264-65. Some of the basilican churches, notably that of the Dečani Monastery (1327-35), designed by the architect Vito da Cattaro, had cupolas set on a high drum.

Serbian church frescoes essentially adhered to the canons of Byzantine iconography, but they had their own distinctive traits, such as portraits of donors, including group portraits. The 13th-century frescoes at the monasteries of Mileseva (c. 1235-36) and Sopocani (c. 1265) are remarkable for their lyricism, clarity, spirituality, and tranquil majesty. The poses and gestures of the figures have a restrained expressiveness; the lines are rhythmic and the light pure colors are harmonious.

During the first half of the 14th century the Byzantine influence grew stronger, as may be seen from the cruciform domed churches of the Kosovo-Metohija school, made of stone and brick arranged in various patterns. Among the best examples of this style are the Church of St. Demetrius in Pec (1321-24) and the five-domed church in the Gracanica Monastery (1315-21). Also closer to Byzantine models are the frescoes of the Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne in Studenica (after 1314) and the church in Gracanica (1321-22). Consisting of cycles of scenes, the frescoes are multifigured detailed compositions with dynamic figures.

In the second half of the 14th century, as Serbian culture shifted to the north under the pressure of Turkish incursions, the Morava school of architecture evolved. The cruciform domed churches of this school, laconic in form, have three apses, a western narthex, and a tower above the entrance. Some of the churches, notably that of the Manasija Monastery (1407-18), had four piers; others, such as the church of the Ka-lenić Monastery (1405-13), lacked piers. All the churches were decorated in a folkloric vein, abundantly and fancifully, with patterned brickwork, low-relief stone carving, and glazed ceramics. The frescoes of the 14th and early 15th centuries are more decorative, their drawing is more detailed, and their light colors are softer and more subtle.

Serbian icon painting of the 13th to mid-15th centuries is distinguished by a severe expressiveness of imagery, restrained coloration, and stylized drawing; later it became more decorative. In miniature painting Byzantine and Romanesque influences were interwoven. Gold and silver plate, crosses, and covers for the Gospels were decorated with embossing, filigree work, and engraving. Also well developed were wood carving (iconostases with floral designs), gold and silver embroidery (vestments), and pottery (pitchers and bowls with green-brown and yellow glazes).

From the second half of the 15th century the Turkish conquerors built mosques, minarets, caravansaries, covered marketplaces, and baths in the cities. Two- and three-story frame houses with blind walls and overhanging upper stories were constructed throughout Serbia. From the late 17th century baroque and classical churches and urban dwellings were built in Vojvodina, which had been annexed by Austria. Patriotic engravings were executed by H. žefarović, who lived in Vojvodina. Eighteenth-century painting, both icons and portraits, reflects the influence of the baroque (T. Kračun) and the rococo (T. Čeŝljar). Wooden churches with high gabled roofs were built in central Serbia from the 17th to the early 19th century.

With the introduction of city planning in the 19th century, Serbian towns began to acquire a regular layout. The traditions of indigenous medieval architecture were revived (Palace of Princess Ljubica in Belgrade, 1829–36, architect H. N. živković), and the European eclectic style was assimilated (National Theater in Belgrade, 1868–69, architect A. Bugarski). In the early 20th century the art nouveau and neo-Byzantine styles were introduced, the former represented by the Moskva Hotel in Belgrade (1906, architect, J. Ilkić) and the latter by the Church of Alexander Nevsky in Belgrade (1918, architect J. Načić).

In the early 19th century classicism in painting was linked with the Enlightenment and the national liberation movement. The painter A. Teodorović turned to themes from national history, and K. Danil produced austere, virile portraits. A romantic outlook, discernible in the paintings of D, Abramović, infused Dj. Jakŝić’s dramatic scenes of the liberation struggle. The realistic historical and genre paintings and landscapes of D. Krstić were dynamic and full of romantic fervor. Genre painting, developed in the 1870’s and 1880’s by U. Predić and P. Jovanović, was somewhat marred by idealization and superficial descriptiveness. A realistic view of national life was combined with free representation and vibrant colors in the pictures of N. Petrović and with decorative expressiveness in the portraits of M. Pijade. Impressionism and fauvism influenced the landscapes of M. Milovanović.

The growth of industry and cities after World War I intensified the contrast between the well-planned city centers and the proliferating slums. During the 1930’s the architects D. Braŝovan and N. Dobrović introduced simple geometric forms and functional designs, which they combined with elegant decoration. Among Braŝovan’s best works is the Executive Council Building in Novi Sad (1938). The outstanding sculptors of the period were T. Rosandić, who produced dynamic stylized statues, and S. Stojanović, whose works are noteworthy for their plastic coherence and psychological depth.

In painting, cubist, fauvist, and expressionist influences, as well as a strong sense of the world’s beauty and material quality, distinguished the portraits and landscapes of P. Dobrović, M. Konjović, and J. Bijelić. S. Ŝumanović was drawn to the neoclassical simplicity of genre compositions and landscapes, and the “poetic realists” I. Tabaković and M. Čelebonović strove for intimacy and refinement. The advocates of realism and social consciousness in art banded together in 1934 to form the group known as Life. Its founder, Dj. Andrejević-Kun. vividly depicted the tragic life of the proletariat and the urban poor and the partisan struggle of 1941–44.

After the People’s Republic of Serbia was established in 1945, general plans were drawn up for Belgrade (1947-50) by N. Dobrović and other architects, as well as for other cities. The plans provided for expansion, zoning, landscaping, and the building of new residential districts. Factories, workers’ settlements, schools, hospitals, and sports complexes were built. During the 1950’s, as the construction industry developed, prefabricated components, including standardized metal and rein-forced-concrete frames, were introduced on a large scale. Today, high-rise apartment houses with loggias and balconies tower above long low buildings in the new districts of Belgrade, Novi Sad, and other cities. Since the late 1960’s important work has been done in regional planning, and Serbian architecture has aimed at plasticity and decorative expressiveness and at a synthesis of the arts.

Major construction projects have included the Partisan Square Ensemble in Titovo Užice (1957–61, architects S. Mandić and M. Pantović), the Federal Executive Chamber Building in Belgrade (1950’s, principal architect, V. Potočnjak), and the Presidium of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in Belgrade (1960’s, principal architect M. Janković). The memorial complexes dedicated to those who fought fascism are imbued with romantic symbolism. Especially noteworthy is the memorial at Sremska Mitrovica (1959–60, architect B. Bog-danović).

The national liberation struggle and the building of socialism are portrayed in the canvases of Andrejević-Kun, M. Čelebonović, and B. Ilić. The preoccupation with form in the 1950’s and 1960’s promoted the spread of such modernist trends as abstractionism (S. Ćelić, L. Sokić), surrealism (L. Ŝejka, V. Veličković), and op art (A. Tomaŝević). L. Vujaklija’s paintings, full of the joy of life, have a poetic fairy-tale quality reminiscent of folklore. K. Divjak is famous for his paintings of children. Outstanding sculptural works include the monumental compositions by N. Glid, J. Kratohvil, and R. Stanković in memory of fallen heroes. In decorative art. the ceramic panels of Tabaković are of a high quality, as are the carpets of Vujaklija, Konjović and M. Zorić, and the ceramics, metalwork, and glass objects of K. Djordjević.

Traditional dwellings of wood, stone, or sun-dried brick, with high tiled or shingled roofs and often with an open porch, continue to be built. In the north the wooden houses are decorated with carving and painting. Popular folk handicrafts include embroidery (geometric floral designs), carpet-making (piieless rugs with geometric, floral, and animal ornamentation), wood carving (rosettes and interlace or spiral motifs), ceramic production (figured vessels, narrow-necked pitchers), and carving and painting on stone (tombstones and roadside stelae).

Music. Singing holds an important place in the daily life of the Serbs. To this day, wandering minstrels called guslars entertain villagers with heroic epics sung to the accompaniment of the gusle, a bowed folk instrument. Serbian lyric songs, most of them women’s songs, are remarkable for their musical and poetic beauty. Round-dance songs are popular. Typical of Serbian folk music are intervals of the augmented second, a melodious quality, and a rythmic diversity.

The first Serbian composers were J. Ŝlezinger and N. Djurković. Ŝlezinger, employed as a choirmaster in Belgrade in the mid-19th century, wrote works for the military band he had formed in the city, as well as music for the theater. Djurković, whose patriotic choral works were especially popular in 1848, was also a singer, actor, and choirmaster. The first choral group was founded in Pančevo in 1838, and the Belgrade Choral Society was organized in 1853. The composer and pianist K. Stanković, who served as the director of the Belgrade Choral Society from 1863 and of the Kornelije Church Choral Society from 1881, made a major contribution to the formation of a national musical culture. An authority on Serbian folk music, Stanković published arrangements of folk songs for voice and piano. D. Jenko wrote music for the theater and patriotic songs based on folk melodies.

Of great importance in the development of Serbian music was the work of J. Marinković, a composer of solo songs and romances, and of the composer S. Mokranjac, a collector of folk music. Mokranjac’s choral suites, published in the collections entitled Bouquets, are adaptations of Serbian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, and other folk melodies. For about 30 years (from 1887) Mokranjac directed the Belgrade Choral Society, with which he toured many European countries, including Russia (1896). He also organized the Union of Choral Societies and the Association of Serbian Musicians.

During the second half of the 19th century musical life in Serbia was largely confined to choral societies, the most important of which was the Academic Choral Society, founded in 1884 and renamed the Obilić Choral Society in 1887. The Serbian School of Music, now the Mokranjac State Music School, was founded in Belgrade in 1899. The National Theater (Narodno Pozoriŝte) in Belgrade presented “plays with singing” (komad s pevanjem). In 1882 the theater staged the first Serbian operetta, Jenko’s The Fortuneteller. In 1902. B. Joksimović wrote the first Serbian opera, The Marriage of MiloŝObilić, and the next year S. Binički’s opera At Dawn was produced. Operas were also composed by I. Bajić (Prince Ivan of Semberia) and P. Krstić,

Under the direction of Binički and S. Hristić an opera company was organized at the National Theater in 1920 and a ballet company was formed there in 1922. Their repertoire consisted chiefly of works by P. Konjović, M. Milojević, Hristić, and other Yugoslav composers who had come” to the fore after World War I. The music of these composers was also frequently performed by the Belgrade Philharmonic Society (founded in 1923), which had a symphony orchestra, the Belgrade Piano Quartet, the Belgrade Trio, and the Collegium Musicum Chamber Orchestra, affiliated with the university and directed by Milojević. The Academy of Music was founded in Belgrade in 1937. A prominent musicologist, composer, and conductor of the late 1930’s was V. Vuŝković, a Communist who was killed by the fascists in 1942.

Serbian musical culture is flourishing in people’s Yugoslavia, which has produced a number of famous composers, among them M. Ristić, S. Rajiŝić, V. Periŝić, Ljubica Marić, and A. Obradović. The opera company of the National Theater in Belgrade resumed its work in 1945; it was directed by O. Danon until 1963, and its soloists have included M. Cangalović, A. Marinković, and Z. Zikova. The Institute of Musical Studies of the Serbian Academy of Sciences was established in 1957, and the concert hall of the Philharmonic Society was opened in 1967. (K. Baranović was the society’s director from 1952 to 1961.) Musical performances are given by symphony and chamber orchestras (conducted by L. Jakić and Z. Zdravković), by the various musical groups affiliated with Belgrade Radio and the Yugoslav National Army Hall, by the Kolo Folk Dance Ensemble, and by other professional and amateur orchestras and instrumental and vocal ensembles.

Prominent musicians of the 1960’s and 1970’s include the composers P. Bergamo, P. Osghian, E. Josif, D. Radić, and V. Mokranjac, the conductor Z. Zdravković, the pianist Z. Marasović, the violinist L. Marjanović, the Cvejić singers, the singer V. Heybal, and the musicologist S. Djurić-Klajn. who has been publishing since the 1950’s.


Theater. A Serbian folk theater is known to have existed in the 13th century, when street shows were presented during holidays. The Turkish conquest interrupted the development of the theater, which was revived only in the 18th century in Vojvodina. In 1736 the students of the Latin School in Sremski Karlovci performed E. Kozačinski’s historical play Tragicomedy, and later other school plays were staged from time to time.

The origin of the Serbian secular theater is linked with the name of J. Vujić, an actor, playwright, and translator who founded several itinerant companies in Serbia and Vojvodina between 1810 and 1820. In Novi Sad in 1825 an amateur drama group directed by A. Nikohć staged the first Serbian play— S. Stefanović’s tragedy The Death of Tsar Uros V. In the early 1840’s traveling companies such as the Amateur Touring Society were organized, and the first permanent theaters were founded, among them the Royal Serbian Theater and the Customs-House Theater in Belgrade. The repertoire consisted chiefly of romantic tragedies (Miloč Obili ć, The Death of Stefan Dečanski), realistic comedies (J. Sterija Popović’s A Crow in Peacock’s Feathers and The Patriots), and plays in translation (A. Kotzebue, V. Hugo).

A new phase in the development of the Serbian theater began after the founding of the Serbian National Theater in Novi Sad in 1861 and of the National Theater (Narodno Pozoriŝte) in Belgrade in 1868. National plays became a standard part of the repertoire, artistic principles were developed, and acting techniques were perfected. Heroic historical plays by Serbian authors (Dj. Jakŝić and L. Kostić) were frequently performed, as well as the plays of Shakespeare and Schiller. A romantic style of acting was evolved by M. Grgurova, T. Jovanović, and D. Milutinović. The social drama and comedies of M. Gliŝić and later the satirical comedies of B. Nuŝić, as well as classical Russian drama (N. V. Gogol, A. N. Ostrovskii, L. N. Tolstoy,

A. P. Chekhov, M. Gorky) and the plays of H. Ibsen and G. Hattptmann, promoted the flowering of a realistic style of acting, whose leading exponents were V. Nigrinova, P. Dobrinović, I. Stanojević, M. Gavrilović, and J. Djordjević.

In the interwar period the Serbian theater continued to develop. Of great importance was the work of the director

B. Gavella, who headed the National Theater in Belgrade from 1926 to 1929. Progressive social trends were affirmed on the Serbian stage in the plays of M. Krleža. The repertoire also included plays by B. Shaw, L. Pirandello, K. Čapek, and various Soviet authors. The leading performers were M. Taborska, P. Pavlović, N. Goŝić, Z. Stokić, R. Plaović, M. Milosevic, and M. živanović. The directors M. Isailović, J. Kulundžić, and V. Živojinović and the stage designer M. Ŝerban won recognition for their fine productions.

During World War II many persons associated with the theater took part in the national liberation struggle. After the country’s liberation from the fascist occupation forces and the formation of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, existing theaters were reopened and several new ones were established, among them the Belgrade Dramatic Theater and the Contemporary Theater. The Yugoslav Dramatic Theater, which brings together the leading performers and directors from the various republics of Yugoslavia, has been functioning in Belgrade since 1948. The Atelier 212, an experimental theater, was established in Belgrade in 1956. Other new theaters include children’s theaters, of which the most famous is Boŝko Buha in Belgrade, and puppet and satirical theaters, founded in Belgrade, Novi Sad, and other cities. The repertoire of Serbia’s leading theaters—the National Theater in Belgrade and the Serbian National Theater in Novi Sad—is dominated by Yugoslav and foreign classics, although contemporary Yugoslav plays are also staged.

Since the 1940’s the eminent directors H. Klajn, B. Borozan, and B. Stupica have worked at the National Theater in Belgrade, where outstanding performances have been given by S. Severova, D. Milutinović, L. Jovanović. M. Stupica, K. Jovanović, L. Bobić, J. Miličević, M. Puzić, and M. Aleksić. Among prominent figures at the Serbian National Theater in Novi Sad are the directors B. Hanauska and D. Djurković, the performers L. Ravasi, D. Ŝokica, M. Radaković, V. Životić, and S. Ŝalajić, and the stage designer V. Marenić.

The Academy for Theater, Film, Radio, and Television was founded in Belgrade in 1950, and the magazine Scena has been published in Novi Sad since 1965.



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Official name: Republic of Serbia

Capital city: Belgrade

Internet country code: .rs

Flag description: Three equal horizontal stripes of red (top), blue, and white; charged with the coat of arms of Serbia shifted slightly to the hoist side

National anthem: “Boze Pravde” (God of Justice), music by Davorin Jenko and lyrics by Jovan Djordjevic

Geographical description: Southeastern Europe, between Macedonia and Hungary

Total area: 34,116 sq. mi. (88,361 sq. km.)

Climate: In the north, continental climate (cold winters and hot, humid summers with well distributed rainfall); in other parts, continental and Mediterranean climate (rela­tively cold winters with heavy snowfall and hot, dry summers and autumns)

Nationality: noun: Serb(s); adjective: Serbian

Population: 10,150,265 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Serb 82.9%, Hungarian 3.9%, Romany 1.4%, Yugoslavs 1.1%, Bosniaks 1.8%, Montenegrin 0.9%, other 8%

Languages spoken: Serbian (official) 88.3%, Hungarian 3.8%, Bosniak 1.8%, Romany 1.1%, other 4.1%, unknown 0.9%

Religions: Serbian Orthodox 85%, Roman Catholic 5.5%, Muslim 3.2%, unspecified 2.6%, other, unknown, or athe­ist 2.6%, Protestant 1.1%

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Assumption DayAug 15
Christmas DayDec 25
Constitution Day of the Socialist Republic of YugoslaviaApr 27
Great FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
May DayMay 1
National DayFeb 15
New Year's holidayJan 1
Orthodox Christmas DayJan 7
Orthodox Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a constituent republic of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro: declared a kingdom in 1882; precipitated World War I by the conflict with Austria; became part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later called Yugoslavia) in 1918; with Montenegro formed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia when the other constituent republics became independent in 1991--92; a new Union of Serbia and Montenegro formed in 2002; the autonomous region of Kosovo has been administered by the U.N. since the conflict of 1999. Capital: Belgrade. Pop.: 7 479 437 (2002). Area: 88 361 sq. km (34 109 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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