Serbia is a country situated partly in Southeast Europe – the Balkan Peninsula (75% of the territory) and partly in Central Europe – the Pannonian Plain (25% of the territory), spreading over the total area of 88,407 km2, home to 7 million predominantly Serbs, but also to 40 various ethnic minorities.
Serbia is a land of hospitable people - temperamental fun-lovers with great sense of sportsmanship, divine nature, unusual traditions, and large cultural heritage that enriches the entire European cultural legacy.
Serbia borders Hungary to the north, Romania and Bulgaria to the east, North Macedonia and Albania to the south, and Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the west.
The Republic of Serbia comprises two autonomous provinces: Vojvodina and Kosovo and Metohija. Since NATO-led air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in 1999, the Province of Kosovo and Metohija has been under UN protectorate. The interim government of Kosovo and Metohija, where Albanians form the ethnic majority, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, which is not recognized by Serbia or the United Nations.
Serbs arrived at the Balkans during the Migration period in the 6th and 7th century, along with other South Slavic tribes, to be mentioned for the first time by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the 10th century, when they inhabited the territories of today’s western Serbia, eastern and central Bosnia, Hercegovina along the Mediterranean coast between the river Cetina and Lake Skadar, while in the south their dwellings extended to the river Lim and Prokletije mountain range.
This is where they continue to live to this day, absorbing various influences and making up an imaginary boundary between the East and the West, while taking the best of both worlds.
A treasured part of the Serbian culture is ethno heritage, its rich and unique tradition reflected in customs and values specific for this area alone. Ancient practices, rituals and beliefs are still observed in Serbia today, particularly in small and rural communities.
Among the many singularly Serbian traditions that have persisted is slava – the annual celebration of family patron saint, which will soon find its place on the list of intangible cultural heritage formed by UNESCO.
Derived from medieval folk art, Serbian literature has grown in richness to gain critical acclaim and importance that transcends time. It is distinctive for the use of Cyrillic alphabet, where one letter represents one sound. The individual flair permeating Serbian literature from its origins to this day has enhanced the luscious garden of the world literature.
For this reason, the 12th century Miroslav Gospel - the earliest preserved testament to Serbian literacy – is safeguarded in UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” library among the most significant literary works in the world. In 1961, Serbia’s own Ivo Andrić was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for his novel “The Bridge on the Drina”.
Constitution of the Republic of Serbia defines Serbia as "a state of Serbian people and all citizens who live in it, based on the rule of law and social justice, principles of civil democracy, human and minority rights and freedoms, and commitment to European principles and values”. Serbia’s political system is based on the principle of division of power into executive, legislative and judicial. The legislative power is exercised by the National Assembly – a body composed of 250 deputies elected in direct nationwide elections using proportional electoral system, where constituents vote for electoral lists and seats are allocated based on the number of votes gained by each party list.
The official language is Serbian and the official script is Cyrillic. As Serbia is composed of regions that are highly ethnically diverse, languages commonly in use in multinational communities include Hungarian, Slovakian, Romanian, Croatian, etc. Latin script is also widely used and studied as a part of the regular school curriculum. Serbian belongs to the South Slavic language group. Following the language reform carried out by Vuk Karadžić in 1868, Serbian Cyrillic consists of 30 letters and is based on the principle write as you speak, read as it is written.
The majority of population in Serbia is Christian Orthodox (84.98%), followed by Roman Catholics (5.48%), Muslims (3.2%), and Protestants (1.08%). There is also a number of other religions practiced in the country.
Situated at the crossroads of major roadways where interests of many great powers collided through the centuries, Serbia is a country with tumultuous history and a battleground for numerous wars. In such Serbia, valour was often perceived as a matter of honor, love of the country and a sign of fight for its survival.
Serbia is the country that gave birth to some of the world’s greatest minds, whose work brought substantial changes to the world as we know it and contributed to its continual development to this day. Not only Serbia, but the world at large is indebted to outstanding Serbian thinkers, scientists and inventors.
Virtually anyone on this planet would know that Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla gave electric energy to the world. Serbian “Master of Lightning” will stay remembered as the most brilliant mind of the 20th century, the man whose scientific legacy continues to intrigue the world and challenge the new generations of scientists.
The most precise calendar in the world was created by another renowned Serbian scientist, Milutin Milanković, who discovered that Earth’s climate is dominantly impacted by factors in space, primarily the Sun, allowing us today to anticipate climatic changes and occurrence of the next ice age with a high degree of certainty. His name was given to a crater on Mars and to another one on the Moon, while NASA ranks him among the top fifteen minds of all time in the field of earth sciences.
Among the founding members of NASA was yet another Serbian scientist, Mihailo Pupin, the first Serb ever to receive a Pulitzer Prize. He gained world recognition with his “Pupin coils” – 20 years after Alexander Bell he patented an invention that perfected the telephone, widely extending its range and enabling us to hear one another clearly and free of static.
Serbia is a small country, but home to great champions. Serbian athletes are noted for their unbreakable spirit, stamina and persistence, and love for the homeland to which they have brought countless medals from major competitions.
According to a research conducted by the Italian magazine “La Gazzeta dello Sport” in 2007, Serbs are Europe’s most successful nation in collective sports in the last 17 years, based on the number of Olympic Games, world and European championships. The most popular group sports in Serbia include basketball, water polo, volleyball, handball, and soccer.
Tennis has gained popularity in Serbia following the success of our tennis players, primarily world’s number one player Novak Đoković. Serbian athletes also excel at track and field disciplines, shooting sports, wrestling, and taekwondo.
Serbian traditional cuisine encompasses an array of flavours and aromas created through combination of influences by various nations that have passed through and lived in the region. As is the case with culture in general, this fusion of diverse flavours resulted in originality, presenting a wealth of unforgettable dishes and tastes found only in Serbia.
Serbia is a place on the map that must be discovered and experienced.
• Serbia was the birthplace of as many as 16 Roman emperors!
• The Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade is one of the largest Orthodox places of worship in the world!
• The building of the temple was financed exclusively from donations. Although not fully completed, it has become one of the best-known landmarks in Belgrade. Its total height reaches 82 meters, with the dome 70 meters high and the main gold plated cross giving it an additional 12 meters in height. Moreover, there are 49 bells of various sizes and 18 gold plated crosses on its domes;
• Today’s Sremska Mitrovica, former Sirmium, peaked during 3rd century when it held the status of one of four capitals of the late Roman Empire.
• Sjenica (also known as Serbian Siberia) is frequently the coldest inhabited place in Europe, where the lowest recorded temperature went down to -39 °C!
• The “White Angel” fresco from Serbian Mileševa monastery was among the images that presented Europe to North America in the first satellite broadcast between the two continents in 1963.
• Sopoćani monastery is renowned for the frescoes regarded as predecessors of the Italian renaissance;
• Deliblato Sands (Deliblatska peščara) is the largest continental sandy terrain in Europe;
• Serbia is the world’s second largest producer of raspberries (second only to Russia). Roughly 15,000 hectares in Serbia are utilized to cultivate one-third of the world’s raspberry crop.