Serbia

The first Serbian state was formed in the mid-9th century, expanding by the mid-14th century to an empire comprising most of the Balkans. In 1389, the Serbs lost a decisive battle in the Kosovo field against the Ottoman Empire. Serbia managed to preserve its freedom for another seventy years, only to be finally overwhelmed by the Turks in 1459. An uprising in the early 1800s that grew in the full-scale war (War of Restoration) led to the restoration of Serbian independence in 1815.

The 1914 Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by an ethnic Serb high school student precipitated the First World War In its aftermath in 1918, victorious Serbia gathered all South Slav lands (Croatia, Slovenia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro) into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes; The country’s name was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. Invasion and occupation by Germany and Italy in 1941 was resisted by Yugoslav Army in fatherland (Chetniks), commanded by Lt.-Gen Dragoljub Mihajlović and communist-led guerilla (partisans) who eventually started fighting each other as well as the invaders. The partisans, commanded by Field-Marshal Josip Broz Tito emerged victoriously and formed a provisional government that abolished the monarchy and proclaimed a republic in 1946 after a dubious referendum. At the end of the war, nearly all ethnic Germans left the country. Although pro-Communist, J.B. Tito’s new government successfully steered its own delicate path between the Warsaw Pact nations and the West for the next four and a half decades.

In the early 1990s, post-Tito Yugoslavia began to unravel along ethnic lines: Slovenia, Croatia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia all split from the Yugoslav Union in 1991; and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. All of the efforts to preserve Yugoslavia were ultimately unsuccessful and bloody civil wars broke out in Croatia and in Bosnia. The remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro declared a new “Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” (FRY) in 1992. Slobodan Milosevic was elected the first president of Serbia. In the late 1990s, the conflict with the Albanian separatist movement in Kosovo led to a NATO bombing campaign and direct intervention, which left the placement of Kosovo under a UN administration. Slobodan Milosevic, by this time elected for the president of the federation, lost in the Federal elections in the fall of 2000 to Vojislav Kostunica. The country re-established its membership in the UN and started preparations to join the EU.

In 2002, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro began negotiations to forge a looser relationship, which led first to the name change of the nation to “Serbia and Montenegro”, then culminated in Montenegro declaring independence in June 2006. More recently, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence; however, this act remains unrecognised by Serbia and some other countries.

Independence came on 4 February 2003 (when it changed from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro) or on 5 June 2006 (from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro to Serbia).

Serbia (Serbian: Србија, Srbija) is a country located in the Balkans, in Southern Europe. It was a founder and one of the six republics forming the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It is surrounded by Montenegro to the south, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the west, Bulgaria to the south-east, Croatia to the north-west, Hungary to the north, Macedonia and Albania (through Kosovo) to the south, and Romania to the northeast. It is situated on one of the major land routes from Central Europe to Turkey and further on to the Near East.

Location: Southern Europe

Capital: Belgrade

Climate: Mild Continental

Population: 7,132,578

Religion: Christian Orthodox

Government: Republic of Serbia

 

Serbia has a mild continental climate with cold winters and warm summers. The north of Serbia and the upland regions have a continental climate, with the typical cold winters and hot summers. The summer months of June to August offer a lovely hot climate and little rain. The mountains experience heavy snowfall, and the ski season is generally from December to March.

Plant and animal varieties which have disappeared and become extinct in other parts of Europe can still be seen by lovers of nature and wilderness, living in the green marshlands and dense forests of Serbia. Serbia is also a perfect destination for all those seeking an adventure-packed outdoor holiday. Those daring enough to experience true freedom at dizzying heights can try cliff or rock climbing. If hiking is more to your taste, you can expect to enjoy the beauty of nature with its abundance of medicinal herbs, mushrooms and forest fruits. Serbia abounds in protected areas of special geological, biological and environmental diversity, as defined by international criteria and indicators. The biodiversity – the natural diversity of species and ecosystems, together with the geodiversity – the diversity of forms and phenomena in the geological make-up of Serbia, make it a country in which every nature-lover can find something of interest.

The UNESCO list of wetlands of international significance – protected under the Ramsar convention – includes nine sites in Serbia. The UNESCO MAB Council has designated part of the Golija nature park as the Golija-Studenica Biosphere Reserve not only for its exceptionally well-preserved authentic natural resources but also for its cultural resources.

We invite you to visit Serbia’s nature reserves, national parks, natural monuments, protected habitats of threatened plant and animal species, areas of outstanding beauty and nature parks.

The main religion of Serbia is Christian Orthodox. Besides the Christian Orthodox population, there are also other religious communities in Serbia: Islamic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and others. The diversity of religions in Serbia has left through the past centuries their traces as remarkable artistic and cultural masterpieces, always impressively respecting each other in harmony. Cultural and religious inheritance of Serbia make a harmonious representation of various versions on essences, that face substantial impacts of integrity they belong, and thus deserve special attention of spectators.

The best way to describe the Serbian people it would have to be temperamental and hospitable.

Hospitality seems to be an innate principle of the Serbian people, while a smile, heartiness and high spirits are a main characteristic of the hosts, and can guarantee you good times and enjoyment. Hospitality is a common thing in Serbia, so much that it is often the case that many guests are surprised by the warm and hearty welcome, above any expectations, that remains securely in their fondest of memories. Therefore you shouldn’t be surprised when you get kissed as many as three times, as such are the customs in Serbia, just like yelling out “Živeli!” (Cheers!) by which you reciprocate the host’s kindness in the best way. The temperamental and cheerful people in Serbia always find a way to happiness and joking, even when it appears there isn’t one. The traditional festivities that bring entertainment, music and gourmand in abundance are a right place to get acquainted with the playful and cheerful temper of the citizens of Serbia.

Serbian (Serbian Cyrillic: српски, Gaj’s Latin: srpski, pronounced [sr̩̂pskiː]) is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Serbs. It is the official language of Serbia and one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, it is a recognized minority language in Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Standard Serbian is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian (more specifically on Šumadija-Vojvodina and Eastern Herzegovinian dialects), which is also the basis of Standard Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin.The other dialect spoken by Serbs is Torlakian in southeastern Serbia, which is transitional to Macedonian and Bulgarian.

Serbian is practically the only European standard language with complete synchronic digraphia, using both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets; speakers read the two scripts equally well. The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet was devised in 1814 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić, who created the alphabet on phonemic principles. The Latin alphabet was designed by Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj in 1830.

Serbian cuisine is largely heterogeneous, with heavy Oriental, Central European and Mediterranean influences. Despite this, it has evolved and achieved its own culinary identity. Food is very important in Serbian social life, particularly during religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter and feast days, i.e., slava. Staples of the Serbian diet include bread, meat, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Traditionally, three meals are consumed per day. Breakfast generally consists of eggs, meat and bread. Lunch is considered the main meal, and is normally eaten in the afternoon. Traditionally, Turkish coffee is prepared after a meal, and is served in small cups. Bread is the basis of all Serbian meals, and it plays an important role in Serbian cuisine and can be found in religious rituals. A traditional Serbian welcome is to offer bread and salt to guests, and also slatko (fruit preserve). Meat is widely consumed, as is fish. Serbian specialties include kajmak (a dairy product similar to clotted cream), proja (cornbread), kačamak (corn-flour porridge), and gibanica (cheese and kajmak pie). Ćevapčići, caseless grilled and seasoned sausages made of minced meat, is the national dish of Serbia.

Šljivovica (Slivovitz) is the national drink of Serbia in domestic production for centuries, and plum is the national fruit. The name Slivovitz is derived from Serbian (Šljivovica).Plum and its products are of great importance to Serbs and part of numerous customs. A Serbian meal usually starts or ends with plum products and Šljivovica is served as an aperitif. A saying goes that the best place to build a house is where a plum tree grows best. Traditionally, Šljivovica (commonly referred to as “rakija”) is connected to Serbian culture as a drink used at all important rites of passage (birth, baptism, military service, marriage, death, etc.).It is used in the Serbian Orthodox patron saint celebration, slava. It is used in numerous folk remedies, and is given certain degree of respect above all other alcoholic drinks. The fertile region of Šumadija in central Serbia is particularly known for its plums and Šljivovica. Serbia is the largest exporter of slivovitz in the world, and second largest plum producer in the world.

When meeting someone for the first time, in formal situations, make eye contact, shake hands, say your surname followed by a “Drago mi je” (Dra-goh mee ye) (“Pleased to meet you”). This should impress your host and you can continue in English. In less formal situations, such as among a younger crowd, you would use your first name instead of the surname. If meeting people you already know, a brief “Ciao” or “Zdravo” or even “Gde see” will do. A light kiss in the cheak is also common between girls and opposite sexes. Kissing among men only happens among good friends and always three times on alternating cheeks.

When going out for drinks the bill is usually paid in rounds or split very roughly among everybody at the end, but don’t be surprised if the bill has already been paid for. If you’re invited for dinner, your host will pay for the whole bill. But if going out with friends the bill is usually split in equal parts. If in doubt, it’s best to ask. Smoking is very common in Serbia, if offered a cigarette treat it as an act of courtesy and take the cigarette (if you smoke of course). If you’re invited to someone’s home for dinner or slava, bring along a symbolic gift such as a bottle of wine and/or flowers. 

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Serbia may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Serbia. Households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

In August 2016 Ana Brnabić was elected for Minister of Public Administration and Local State Governments and she is first openly gay minister. In May 2014 Amnesty International identified Serbia as one of a number of countries where there is a marked lack of will to tackle homophobia and transphobia, noting that since 2011 public authorities have banned Pride marches on the basis of violent threats from homophobic groups.Since then a Pride parade successfully took place in September 2014 in Belgrade. 

Although Serbia has for centuries been the scene of frequent wars, devastation, fires and mass-migrations, on the turbulent roads leading from East to Europe and from Europe to East, a rich cultural and historical legacy has remained there. The rich variety of historical monuments and sites of natural beauty make Serbia a country of great interest for tourism and very much part of its attraction.

Testament to prehistoric life in this region are the numerous archaeological sites. Lepenski Vir, the first example of socioeconomic structure between 6500 and 5500 BC, Starčevo from the Early Neolithic, 5500 to 4500 BC, and Vinča from the Late Neolithic, 4500 to 3200 BC, constitute the evidence that this was for millennia a cultural centre of the prehistoric world.

There are also the important remains of Roman roads and towns – Gamzigrad, Sirmium, and Mediana, with a variety of structures – which today bear witness to six centuries of the presence of the Roman Empire on the territory of Serbia.

One of the most important categories of preserved monument in Serbia are Orthodox monasteries, which came into being during the period from the 12th to the 17th century. They can be found in an area ranging from Fruška Gora in the north, through the Morava and Ibar valleys, all the way to Kosovo and Metohija. The Stari Ras and Sopoćani complex, Studenica monastery and Visoki Dečani, together with the Patriarchate of Peć, Gračanica and the Our Lady of Ljeviš church in Prizren, are listed under the joint name of “Mediaeval Monuments in Kosovo (Serbia)” on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

A few words before you go:

Hi!                                                          Zdravo!

Good morning!                 Dobro jutro!

Good evening!                                  Dobro veče!

Welcome! (to greet someone)  Dobrodošli (pl); Dobrodošla (f); Dobrodošao (m)

How are you?                                    Kako ste? (polite); Kako si?

I’m fine, thanks!                               Dobro. Hvala.

And you?                                             A vi? (polite); A ti?

Good/ So-So.                                     Dobro/Kako – tako.

Thank you (very much)!                Hvala (puno)!

You’re welcome! (for “thank you”)          Nema na čemu!

Hey! Friend!                                       Hej! Prijatelju!

I missed you so much!   Nedostajao (m)/ Nedostajala (f) si mi puno!

What’s new?                                      Šta ima novo?

Nothing much                                   Ništa

Good night!                                        noć!

See you later!                                    Vidimo se kasnije!

Good bye!                                          Doviđenja!

Asking for Help and Directions

I’m lost                                 Izgubio (m) / Izgubila (f) sam se

Can I help you?                 Mogu li da vam (polite) / ti pomognem?

Can you help me?                            Možete li da mi pomognete?

Where is the (bathroom/ pharmacy)?    Gde je (kupatilo / apoteka)?

Go straight! then turn left/ right!               Idite pravo! Onda skrenite levo/desno.

I’m looking for john.                                 Tražim Džona.

One moment please!                              Sačekajte momenat.

Hold on please! (phone)                          Sačekajte molim vas! (telefon)

How much is this?                                   Koliko košta ovo_

Excuse me …! (to ask for something)      Izvinite..

Excuse me! ( to pass by)               Izvinite / Pardon

Come with me!                              Pođite sa mnom