General facts about Serbia

National name: Srbija/Serbia

Area: 88,361 sq. km/34,116 sq. mi

Capital: Beograd/Belgrade

Currency: Serbian dinar (RSD)

Population: 7.120.666 (excluding Kosovo and Metohija)

Language: Serbian and ethnic minority languages

Religion: Serbian Orthodox; Roman Catholic; Muslim in southern Serbia

Time difference: GMT +1

Climate: Continental

Geography Serbia is largely mountainous. Its northeast section is part of the rich, fertile Danubian Plain drained by the Danube, Tisa, Sava, and Morava river systems. It borders Croatia on the northwest, Hungary on the north, Romania on the northeast, Bulgaria on the east, Macedonia on the south, and Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the west. The capital city is Belgrade. With a population of 1,639,121, it is the country’s administrative, economic and cultural centre.

History After the arrival of the Serbs in the Balkans in the 7th century, several medieval states were formed, which evolved into the Serbian Empire in the 14th century. By the 16th century, Serbia was conquered and occupied by the Ottoman Empire, at times interrupted by the Habsburgs. In the early 19th century the Serbian revolution re-established the country as the region’s first constitutional monarchy, which subsequently expanded its territory and pioneered the abolition of feudalism in the Balkans. The former Habsburg crown land of Vojvodina united with Serbia in 1918. Following World War I, Serbia formed Yugoslavia with other South Slavic peoples which existed in several forms up until 2006, when Serbia regained its independence. In February 2008 the parliament of UNMIK-governed Kosovo, Serbia’s southern province, declared independence, with mixed responses from international governments.

Climate In the north, continental climate (cold winters and hot, humid summers with well distributed rainfall); central portion, continental and Mediterranean climate; to the south, Adriatic climate along the coast, hot, dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall in the mountains. Population There are 7.565.761 inhabitants in Serbia (not counting Kosovo and Metochy). Serbs make 66% of the inhabitants, Albanians 17%, Hungarians 3.2% and then there are the Romanians, Romas, Slovakians, Croatians, Bulgarians, Turks, etc. The population is mostly of the Orthodox Christian faith. However, there are other religious communities: Islamic, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc. Serbian cuisine Serbian cuisine is sharing characteristics of the Balkans ,the Mediterranean , Turkish, and Central European (especially Austrian and Hungarian) cuisines. Serbia has a lot to offer to hedonists and eating out to catch local flavours is an unforgettable experience and a highlight for many visitors. When spending time in Belgrade or elsewhere in Serbia, make sure you try the local dishes. Be aware though, if you are a vegetarian Serbia might not be the right place for you! Local favourites are ćevapčići, pljeskavica, sarma, podvarak, musaka, gibanica, proja (corn bread), etc. The famous home grown spirits are šljivovica (plum brandy) and lozovača (grape brandy).

Language and letter In Serbia we use Serbian language of aecavic and iecavic pronunciation. It belongs to the group of south Slovenian languages and it is most similar to Bosnian, Croatian and Macedonian languages. A great number of our words are of a foreign origin, mostly Turkish and German, but today there are more and more Anglicism. Serbian language consists of 30 voices and two letters – Cyrillic and Latin characters. What makes it unique among other languages is a simple rule by which it is written and read: one letter for each voice and vice versa. You will mostly meet Latin characters, but the names of the streets and the information at the bus and railway stations and at post offices are written in Cyrillic. Therefore, it would be very useful if you learned the capital letters of Cyrillic, at least. Most of the young people speak English, less German, French and Russian, but Spanish and Italian are getting more and more popular, every day.