|Yugoslavia is the complex product of a complex history. The nation's confusing and conflicting mosaic of peoples, languages, religions, and cultures took shape during centuries of turmoil after the collapse of the Roman Empire.Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of, federation of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, located in southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula. From 1945 to 1991 Yugoslavia was a larger Communist federal state, called the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) beginning in 1963, consisting of six republics.
Yugoslavia came into existence as a result of World War I. (The earlier histories of its six component republics are treated separately, under their respective names.) In 1914 only Serbia (which included the present Republic of Macedonia) and Montenegro were independent states; Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Yugoslavs (i.e., South Slavs) consisted of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Macedonians, Montenegrins, and Bosniaks (also known Bosnian Muslims). Closely related linguistically, these peoples are separated by historical and cultural factors that ultimately led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. The country also included Albanian and Hungarian minorities .
The movement for unification (see Pan-Slavism) was led by Serbia and was a major cause of World War I. In 1915, Serbia and Montenegro were overrun by the Central Powers, but the Serbian troops eventually were evacuated to Allied-held Corfu, Greece. There the representatives of the South Slavic peoples proclaimed (July, 1917) their proposed union under the Serbian king, Peter I. Montenegro adhered to the union in Nov., 1918, and in Dec., 1918, the “Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes” was formally proclaimed.
The Paris Peace Conference recognized the new state and enlarged its territory at the expense of Austria and Hungary. King Alexander, who had been regent from 1918 for his invalid father, ascended the throne on Peter I's death (1921). In order to protect itself against Hungarian and Bulgarian demands for treaty revisions, Yugoslavia entered (1920, 1921) into alliances with Czechoslovakia and Romania, the three states forming the Little Entente in close cooperation with France. With its western neighbor, Italy, relations were strained from the first over the Fiume question (see Rijeka). Although this was settled in 1924 with Fiume given to Italy, Italian nationalists continued to entertain hopes of appropriating part or all of Dalmatia, which had been secretly promised to Italy in 1915 by the Allies in exchange for joining them in World War I. Yugoslav nationalists, on the other hand, claimed parts of Venezia Giulia on ethnic grounds, and relations remained tense.
Internal problems were still more acute. Late in 1920 the Serbian Pašic became premier and obtained enactment of the centralized constitution of 1921. The Croats, led by Radic, demanded autonomy. In 1928 Radic was shot and killed in parliament. After the Croats had set up (1928) a separate parliament at Zagreb, King Alexander in 1929 proclaimed a dictatorship, dissolved the parliament, and changed the name of the kingdom to Yugoslavia (sometimes spelled Jugoslavia). The royal dictatorship officially ended in 1931, but the new parliamentary constitution provided for an electoral procedure that insured victory for the government party. Troubles with Croatian and Macedonian nationalists culminated (1934) in Alexander's assassination at Marseilles, France. His son, Peter II, succeeded under the regency of Alexander's cousin, Prince Paul. The Croatian problem had been eagerly exploited by Hungary and Italy, which encouraged particularist movements against the Serbian centralists.
Prince Paul's gradual rapprochement with the Axis powers thus had the paradoxical effect of leading to the restoration (1939) of a more democratic government and the establishment of Croatian autonomy. In Mar., 1941, Yugoslavia adhered to the Axis Tripartite Pact. Two days later a bloodless military coup ousted the regent. The new government proclaimed a policy of neutrality, but in Apr., 1941, German troops, assisted by Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Italian forces, invaded Yugoslavia. Striking swiftly, the Germans joined with the Italians in Albania; a week later organized resistance was over. A Croatian puppet state was proclaimed under the leadership of Ante Pavelic, chief of the Ustachi (a fascist Croatian separatist organization; see Croatia). Dalmatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia were divided among Italy, Hungary, and Germany; Serbian Macedonia was awarded to Bulgaria. Serbia was set up as a puppet state under German control. Atrocities were committed by the Axis occupation forces and by the Ustachi.
While Peter II established a government in exile in London, many Yugoslav troops continued to resist in their mountain strongholds. There were two main resistance groups: the chetniks under Mihajlovic and an army under the Communist Tito. In 1943 civil war broke out between the two factions, of which the second was more uncompromising in its opposition to the Axis. Tito was supported by the USSR, and he won the support of Great Britain as well. King Peter was forced to transfer the military command from Mihajlovic to Tito. By late Oct., 1944, the Germans had been driven from Yugoslavia. The Soviet army entered Belgrade. Tito's council of national liberation was merged (Nov., 1944) with the royal government. In Mar., 1945, Tito became premier. Lacking real power, the non-Communist members of the government resigned and were arrested. In Nov., 1945, national elections—from which the opposition abstained—resulted in victory for the government. The constituent assembly proclaimed a federal people's republic.
Modern art has had plenty to feed off in Yugoslavia. The vibrant art scene produces works which use folk motifs, political symbols and provocative text to pull apart and interpret Yugoslavia's tumultuous recent history. Surrealist posters bring political messages out of the gallery and onto the streets; some groups hold installations, or 'Phobjects', in bombed out parts of Belgrade. Writers, too, have mined the rich vein of tragedy in their country's history - Ivo Andric won a Nobel Prize for his book Na Drini Cuprija, about the gap between religions.
At the turn of the decade Yugoslavia was a beach-haven bonanza about to happen, the next big thing, an irresistible magnet for a tide of European flesh longing to laze in the sun. Six years later the tourist market had turned its gaze elsewhere - lying face down on the ground no longer had happy associations for the Yugoslavs. Five years of civil war cost the country most of its coastline, many of its old towns and almost all of its pulling power, but the travellers began to trickle back. Then the next installment of the war began.
Yugoslav music and dance is built on a strong folk tradition, similar to that of neighbouring Bulgaria. The gajde, which looks like a large set of bagpipes, is the wailing mainstay of Yugoslav song, and has probably been in the country since the Celts invaded in the 4th century. The Albanian minority in Kosovo tap their feet to a more Turkish tune and play on Arab instruments, while around Guca, gypsy dancers swing their thing to the brassy tones of blehmuzika, Serbia's national brass-band sound. Modern musos such as Momcilo Bajagic and Dorde Balasevic have taken folk themes and added street poetry and jazz.
Yugoslavia's official language is Serbian. This language was developed by philologist and language reformer, Vuk Stefanovich Karadzich, who polished and codified the language of Serbian peasants. Almost the same language as Croatian, Serbian differs in that it is written in Cyrillic rather than Latin script. The Cyrillic alphabet is entirely phonetic, with one symbol for each of the language's 30 sounds - there's no such thing as a silent letter in Serbian. Although most Yugoslavs speak German, and many speak French or English, learning a few Serbian phrases will open doors and create smiles.
Yugoslavia blurs culinary borders, with a cuisine that takes tastes from Turkey, Hungary and Greece. However they spice it, though, the Yugoslavs love their meat: Serbian kebabs, hamburger steaks, vegetables stuffed with meat and mixed grills of pork, liver, sausage and rissoles. Montenegrins, who do a good line in dairy cows, serve their meat with cream and cheese. Even breakfast is meaty - the traditional Balkan burek is a greasy layered pie of cheese and meat. Fruit grows everywhere, and the Yugoslavs like to enjoy their harvest year round by fermenting grapes, apples, or stone fruit into a brandy called rakija. Montenegrin beer is also a tasty tipple.
The climate varies from Mediterranean along the Adriatic coast and in the south of the country to continental and temperate further north and inland. Maximum summer (June to August) temperatures are around 26 degrees Celsius on the plains and on the coast - though it can get much hotter than this; in the mountains 17 degrees Celsius is the average. In winter (November to February) the mountains get down to -3 degrees Celsius, while the plains are a slightly more bearable 0 degrees Celsius, although a cold wind often blows across Belgrade. Here, the rain does not stay mainly in the plain, with about three times as much falling on the mountains as on the flat spots.
Yugoslavia’s plant and animal life is various. The Pannonian Plain is naturally a grassland, although cultivated crops now cover almost all of it. Forests cover 28 % of Yugoslavia, mainly in the mountains. Deciduous forests cover the Balkan and Carpathian ranges, and mixed coniferous and deciduous forests appear at lower elevations of the eastern Dinaric Alps. Forests also once covered the southern and western portions of the Dinaric Alps, but most trees have been cleared and the soil has eroded. The deciduous forests are predominantly oak at lower elevations and beech at higher elevations, but also include elm, maple, chestnut, poplar, walnut, ash, linden, and willow. The Montenegrin coastal area contains Mediterranean vegetation that has adapted to the long, hot dry summers. This vegetation includes scrub evergreen, cypress, palm, olive, fig, cherry, almond, orange, and lemon trees
Country Name: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Area: 102,173 sq km
Currency: Yugoslav dinar (DIN)
Population: 11.2 million
Language: Serbian (Latin & Cyrillic alphabets)
Religion: Serb 63%, Albanian 14%, Montenegran 6% , Hungarian, Croatian, Gypsy, Magyar
Major industries: Machine building, metallurgy, mining, consumer goods, electronics, petroleum products, chemicals, and pharmaceutical