Wikijunior Europe: Yugoslavia

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Yugoslavia (Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Macedonian, Slovene: Jugoslavija or Југославија) was a country in south-eastern Europe in the Balkans region. It was formed by present-day Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Slovenia

History of Yugoslavia[edit | edit source]

Yugoslavia was formed in 1918 after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I. Initially the country was known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and became a republic in 1945. The country was controlled by a communist government between 1946 and the early 1990s. After World War II the country gained the regions of Istria, Rijeka, and Zadar from Italy (these areas are now part of Slovenia and Croatia). Josip Tito ruled the country from 1946 until 1980.

In the 1990s the country broke up violently and saw the worst violence in Europe since World War II. Slovenia and Croatia declared independence in 1991 which resulted in a short 10 day war in Slovenia and a bitter war in Croatia (1991-1995). Macedonia also achieved independence without violence in 1991. Bosnia Herzegovina developed into war (1992-1995) in 1992 as different ethnic groups sought independence or union with neighbouring states. An estimated 100,000 people were killed in the Bosnian War. The Kosovo War in 1998-1999, subsequent bombing on Serbia and Montenegro by NATO and violence in Macedonia in 2001 rounded off a decade of violence in the Balkans in which at least 140,000 people were killed.

The territory of Yugoslavia is today made up of the following countries:

  • Slovenia (EU member)
  • Croatia (EU member)
  • Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Serbia
  • Montenegro
  • Macedonia
  • Kosovo (independence not recognised by many countries)

Geography of Yugoslavia[edit | edit source]

Yugoslavia, from 1954 to 1991, had an area of ​​255,804 km ². It had a long coast on the Adriatic Sea with numerous islands. The Northeast region was relatively flat, the rest of the country rather mountainous. The highest mountain was Triglav (2864 m, in the Julian Alps near Jesenice, Slovenia). The main rivers were the Danube and its tributaries Drau (Drava), Save (Save) and Morava. The inland areas around present-day Serbia, eastern Croatia and eastern Slovenia are mostly flat, western Slovenia and much of Bosnia Herzegovina and Montenegro are mountainous.

People of Yugoslavia[edit | edit source]

Yugoslavia was an extremely diverse country with several languages spoken and many religious groups. Islam, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Protestantism as well as various Eastern Orthodox faiths were practiced across the country. Most Catholics lived in present-day Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina. Most Muslims lived in Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. Most Orthodox Christians lived in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina and Macedonia. In 1991 over 23 million people lived in Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was popularly described as consisting of: seven frontiers, six republics, five nationalities, four languages, three religions, two alphabets and one boss. Both the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use in English) and Cyrillic alphabet (as used in the Russian language) were used. Today the Cyrillic alphabet is only used in Bosnia Herzegovina (mainly in Serbian areas), Serbia and Montenegro.

The main languages spoken were Serbo-Croat (nowadays known as Serbian and Croatian), Macedonian, Slovenian and Albanian. Other languages spoken in the country included Hungarian, Italian, Aromanian, Bulgarian and Slovak.

Sights of Yugoslavia[edit | edit source]

The islands and beaches of present-day Croatia attracted most of the tourists. Belgrade (Serbia), Sarajevo (Bosnia) and Zagreb (Croatia) attracted many visitors for the culture, nightlife and arts. The Slovenian mountains, Croatian islands and lakes attracted adventure tourists. The 1984 Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo. Because Yugoslavia tried to remain friendly with both the West (Western Europe and the USA) and the East (Soviet Union and Russian-influenced countries) it was popular with tourists from all over Europe and never closed off to foreigners as with many communist countries.

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