The Republic of Serbia is a republic in south-eastern Europe, which is united with Montenegro in a loose commonwealth known as the Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
The roots of the Serbian state reach back to the first half of the 9th century. The Kingdom of Serbia was established in the 11th century, and in the 13th century it eventually became the Serbian Empire. After 1918, Serbia was a founder member of Yugoslavia in its various forms (the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).
Main article: History of Serbia
See also: List of Serbian monarchs, History of Yugoslavia, History of Serbia and Montenegro
The Serbs entered their present territory early in the 7th century AD, settling in six distinct tribal delimitations: Rascia/Raška, Zachumlie/Zahumlje, Trebounia/Travunija, Zeta, Bosnia/Bosna and Pagania/Paganija.
The first recorded Serb princes were Vlastimir, Viseslav, Radoslav and Prosigoj. By that time, the country had entirely accepted Christianity. In Zeta, today's Montenegro, Bodin was crowned by the Pope (the first mention of this is a century later, in the 10th century. The rulers kept changing and the country accepted supreme protection from Byzantium rather than from hostile Bulgaria. Serbia was freed from the Byzantine Empire a century later.
The first Serb-organized state emerged under Časlav Klonimirović in the mid-10th century in Rascia. The first half of the 11th century saw the rise of the Vojislavljević family in Zeta. Finally, the middle of the 12th century saw once more the rise of Rascia with the Nemanjić dynasty. The Nemanjići lead Serbia to a golden age which produced a powerful state with its apogee under Tsar Stefan Dušan in the mid-14th century, before finally succumbing to the Ottoman Empire (with Zeta, the last bastion, finally falling in 1499).
Serbia gained its autonomy from the Ottoman Empire in two uprisings in 1804 and 1815, although Turkish troops continued to garrison the capital, Belgrade, until 1867. Serbia was a principality between 1817 and 1882, and a kingdom between 1882 and 1918, during which time the internal politics revolved largely around dynastic rivalry between the Obrenović and Karađorđević families.
The assassination on June 28, 1914 of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Habsburg throne, in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a young Serb and member of the Bosnian revolutionary organization 'Young Bosnia', provoked an ultimatum from Vienna requiring Serbia to allow Austro-Hungarian investigation of the plot on Serbian soil. Despite Serbia's acceptance (July 25) of nearly all the demands, Austria-Hungary declared war on July 28. Russia's mobilisation in support of Serbia in turn brought a German ultimatum requiring her to stand down her forces, and war was declared among the great powers in the first week of August.
After World War I, Serbia joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War II, the kingdom became the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Yugoslavia broke up in the early 1990s, and since 1992, Serbia, together with Montenegro, has been part of what is known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, or the Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Since 2003, Serbia refers to itself as a member state in the union with Montenegro.
During the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia suffered aerial bombardment from NATO during the Kosovo War. Milosevic was subsequently overthrown and the country is now rebuilding under a new president.
Main article: Geography of Serbia
Serbia is located in the Balkans, an historically and geographically distinct region of southeastern Europe. It shares borders with Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Romania. Serbia is landlocked, although access to the Adriatic is available through neighbouring Montenegro, and the Danube River provides shipping access to inland Europe and the Black Sea.
Serbia's terrain ranges from the rich, fertile plains of the northern Vojvodina region, limestone ranges and basins in the east, and, in the southeast, ancient mountains and hills. The north is dominated by the Danube River. A tributary, the Morava River flows through the more mountainous southern regions.
The Serbian climate varies between a continental climate in the north, with cold winters, and hot, humid summers with well distributed rainfall patterns, and a more Adriatic climate in the south with hot, dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall inland.
See also: List of cities in Serbia
Main article: Districts of Serbia
District is called Okrug in Serbian. The Republic of Serbia is divided into 29 districts and the city of Belgrade:
- North Bačka
- South Bačka
- West Bačka
- North Banat
- Central Banat
- South Banat
- Kosovska Mitrovica
Serbia is made up of 108 counties. It has two autonomous provinces: Kosovo and Metohija in the south (with 30 counties), which is presently under the occupation of the United Nations, and Vojvodina in the north (with 54 counties).
The part of Serbia that is neither in Kosovo nor in Vojvodina is not an administrative division and is called Central Serbia. In English this region is often called "Serbia proper" to denote "the part of the Republic of Serbia not including the provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo; the ethnic and political core of the Serbian state," as the Library of Congress puts it http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/yugoslavia/yu_glos.html. This usage was apparently also employed in Serbo-Croatian during the Yugoslav era (in the form of "uža Srbija"). Its use in English is purely geographical without any particular political meaning being implied.
On 4 February 2003 the parliament of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia agreed to a weaker form of cooperation between Serbia and Montenegro within a commonwealth called Serbia and Montenegro.
After the fall of Slobodan Milosevic on 5 October 2000, the country was governed by the Democratic Opposition of Serbia. When Milosevic was arrested, the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) abandoned the coalition government. Nevertheless, in 2004 the DSS gathered enough support to form the new Government of Serbia, together with G17 Plus and SPO-NS, and the support of the Socialist Party of Serbia. The Prime Minister of Serbia is Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia.
The current President of Serbia is Boris Tadić, leader of the Democratic Party (DS). He was elected with 53% of the vote in the second round of the Serbian presidential election held on 27 June 2004, following several unsuccessful elections since 2002.
The current Prime Minister of the Government of Serbia, as of March 2004, is the former Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, who replaced Slobodan Milosevic as Yugoslav president in October of 2000.
Laws concerning the state union must be approved by the Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro, while bills concerning only Serbia are submitted to the National Assembly of Serbia.
Serbia, and in particular the valley of the Morava, is often described as "the crossroads between East and West", which is one of the primary reasons for its turbulent history. The Morava valley route, which avoids mountainous regions, is by far the easiest way of travelling overland from continental Europe to Greece and Asia Minor.
European routes E65, E70, E75 and E80, as well as the E662, E761, E762, E763, E771, and E851 pass through the country. The E70 westwards from Belgrade and most of the E75 are modern highways of motorway/autobahn standard or close to that.
The Danube River, central Europe's connection to the Black Sea, flows through Serbia.
There are three international airports in Serbia: Belgrade, Priština, and the newly rebuilt Niš airport.
The national airline carrier is Jat Airways and the railway system is operated by Beovoz in Belgrade and by ZTP on the national level.
Serbia is populated mostly by Serbs. Significant minorities include Albanians, Hungarians, Roma, Croats, Slovaks, and Romanians.
Serbia has 5 national parks and many national nature reservates.
- On August 17 2004 the National Assembly of Serbia adopted Bože Pravde as the country's anthem.
- In addition, the Obrenović royal coat of arms now replaces the Coat of Arms of Serbia adopted after World War II. It was first used in the 19th century. The arms are those of the royal Obrenović dynasty; they are used in two versions, the large (pictured) and small (just the central shield with eagle and crown surmounting). Use of these arms is 'recommended' which means that the coat of arms is not yet official. It will become so if adoption of the Obrenović arms is approved by more than 50% of the voters in a constitutional referendum.
- Asteroid 1564 Srbija is discovered by Milorad B. Protitch and named after Serbia.
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