"We sinned and we paid the price for it. We insulted the almighty God and we were punished for it. We fouled ourselves with every wickedness, washed ourselves with blood and tears. We crushed everything that was holy to our ancestors, for which we have been crushed. We had a school without faith, a policy without honesty, an army without patriotism and a state without God's blessing. From there came the ruination of the school, the policy, the army and the state. We tried not to be ourselves for which others have coincided us with their darkness. For decades we have mocked our ancestors for pursuing the Celestial Empire, for which the leprous Earthly Empire is our loss. The way we measured God and our ancestors, is the way we have been measured."
Serbia, officially known as the Republic of Serbia (Serbian: Република Србија, Republika Srbija
), is a republic in the Balkan Peninsula. The official language is Serbian, and the capital is Belgrade.
The Serbs were a Slavic tribe who migrated from somewhere in the Proto-slavic homeland-first briefly stopping in an area at the border of today's Germany and Poland, and then finally settling in the Balkans.
There were several early Serbian medieval states, which had to defend themselves from both Eastern Roman and Bulgarian attempts at subjugating them. The most long-lasting and powerful incarnation of a Serbian medieval state rose in 1217, and was led into a golden age of prosperity and slow territorial increase by the Nemanjić dynasty. At one point, Dušan Nemanjić, an extremely successful and capable ruler, managed to conquer a huge part of the Balkans and proclaim a Serbian Empire, aiming to create a strong state that would replace the Byzantines
as the dominant power in the region and as the main obstacle to the impending Turkish invasion, but the plan never came to fruit as he died relatively young and was succeeded by an incompetent son.
Soon after the son's death, Serbia was no longer an Empire even on paper, but rather an extremely loose conglomeration of noble realms and fiefdoms. Prince Lazar, along with several other nobles, successfully fought back against the Ottoman invasion, but after he was killed at the Battle of Kosovo, the Serbian state lost all hope of ever returning to its original power and stability. It remained independent, in some capacity, for the first half of the fifteenth century, before the Ottomans conquered it for good.
Serbia was a part of the Ottoman Empire until the early 19th century, when it became a functionaly independent state. During this period, Russia
competed to include Serbia in their respective spheres of influence, which led to one of the main causes of World War I
After the war, Serbia was merged with Montenegro
and a collection of former Austrian possessions to create Yugoslavia
. During World War II
, Yugoslavia, surrounded by hostile neighbours and boiling with internal tensions, started aligning itself with the Axis; however, in 1941, immediately after the government has signed a pact officially joining Yugoslavia with the Axis powers which would include allowing Germany to freely pass through Serbia and attack Greece, the military officials organized a coup, supported by the Serbian people, dethroning the pro-axis regency council and installing a new government which was technically headed by the underage King himself. Angered, the Axis attacked Yugoslavia and occupied it after a brief struggle; parts were annexed to Hungary
, and Italy
and (Independent State of) Croatia
; the rest of Serbia became a German puppet state. During the war, Croatian fascists called Ustaše along with Albanian collaborators killed between 320 000 and 340 000
'' ethnic Serbians (not counting Serbian Roma and Jews). This lead to forming of two resistance movements, capitalist Chetniks and communist Partisans. The Croats and Bosnians who were against the Ustaše's regime mostly joined the Partisans with Chetniks mostly consisting of conservative Serbians. However, Partisans got the upper hand during the war (with Allied forces shifting their support from Chetniks to them) and killed the remaining Chetniks. In 1945, after the partisans and the Red Army have liberated its territory, they reorganized Yugoslavia into a federation of six republics and two autonomous regions in Serbia (Kosovo and Vojvodina) under a communist government led by Josip Broz Tito
. Despite being Communist, however, it was not a Soviet satellite, remaining neutral throughout the Cold War and helping to found the Non-Aligned Movement.
While Tito was not a benevolent leader by any stretch of the imagination, he was at least able to keep ethnic tensions from bubbling to the surface. The combination of Tito's death and economic collapse stoked nationalist fervor in the Yugoslav republics, leading Slovenia
, and Macedonia
to secede. The remainder of Yugoslavia retaliated by attacking
Slovenia and Croatia and supporting Serb nationalists in Bosnia's civil war.
The two remaining republics (Serbia and Montenegro) formed a new state, which was also called Yugoslavia. When violence between local Yugoslav law enforcement and Albanian separatist militias and terrorists in Serbia's troubled province of Kosovo escalated in 1998 into an all-out war, NATO intervened on March 1999 for the second time (the first being NATO's assistance to Bosnia and Croatia in the Bosnian War) on behalf of the Albanians ending the war after a 78 day long bombing campaign of both Serbia and Montenegro. Yugoslavia subsequently lost control of Kosovo, which was still considered to be a Serbian province but was under UN administration.
The state was reorganized again in 2003, creating an extremely loose union between Serbia and Montenegro creatively named Serbia and Montenegro. In 2006, Montenegro held a referendum supported by the West and narrowly voted to leave (passing the required 55% margin by just 2,300 votes), rendering Serbia an independent nation again after nearly 90 years. Kosovo
declared independence a second time in 2008 (the first time being 1990 which was recognized only by Albania
), which was not resisted like before, but has not been recognized by a majority of the world's nations (only over 85 so far).
- Saint Sava - Monk and founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
- Lazar Hrebeljanović - Prince known for his Last Stand against the Ottomans in the Battle of Kosovo.
- Miloš Obilić - Knight who assassinated the Turkish Sultan Murat I.
- Marko Mrnjavčević aka Marko Kraljević - A Serbian king who has been a Chuck Norris level Memetic Badass in Serb mythology since medieval times.
- Constantine XI Palaiologos - Last emperor of the Byzantine Empire. Born to a Greek father and a Serbian mother.
- Đorđe Petrović AKA Karađorđe - Leader of the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Turks.
- Vuk Stefanović Karadžić - Linguist and creator of the modern Serbian language.
- Mihajlo Pupin - Physicist and physical chemist.
- Nikola Tesla - Scientist and inventor.
- Mileva Marić; - Mathematician and Albert Einstein's first wife.
- Gavrilo Princip - Teenage activist who assassinated Franz Ferdinand, helping to trigger World War I.
- Mladen Sekulović AKA Karl Malden - actor.
- Rade Šerbedžija - actor.
- Miroslav Ilić - Folk singer.
- Catherine Oxenberg - Serbian-American actress. Best known for her role as Amanda Carrington.
- Vlade Divac - Former NBA basketball player.
- Peđa Stojaković - Another former NBA player.
- Emir Kusturica - Famous filmmaker.
- Milla Jovovich - Actress. Born to a Serbian father and a Russian-Ukrainian mother.
- Novak Đoković - Currently the 1st on the ATP ranking list.
- Monica Seles – Retired tennis player, former world No. 1 in the WTA rankings. Although born in what is now Serbia, she's ethnically Hungarian, and became a U.S. citizen in 1994.
Serbia in fiction
The Serbian flag
The flag uses the Pan-Slavic colors and has been the dominant colors since the days of Yugoslavia. Off-center towards the hoist is the national coat-of-arms — a crowned shield depicting a double-headed Serbian eagle flanked by two small fleurs-de-lys bearing a smaller shield containing the "Serbian cross", which is surrounded on all sides by four Cyrillic Cs, said to represent the initials of the words "Само Слога Србина Спасава" ("Samo Sloga Srbina Spasava" — "Only Unity Saves the Serbs"), the motto of St. Sava
, first leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church.