Saturday, April 2, 2011

Yugoslavia

When the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed in 1918 after WWI, the Allies came up with the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes – also known as Yugoslavia (“Southern Slavs”). After WWII, Yugoslavia's communist government was held together by Josip Broz Tito who ruled the country with an iron fist. He kind of had to because the country was so diverse. There were...

6 republics - Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina; plus 2 autonomous regions inside of Serbia - Vojvodenia and Kosovo

8 distinct peoples - Serbians, Slovenes, Croats, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Bosniaks, Hungarians and Albanians

3 official languages - Slovenian, Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian

3 religions - Orthodox, Catholic and Islam

2 alphabets - Latin and Cyrillic
Who knows how anything ever got done? But somehow it kind of worked. Yugoslavia was more socialist than communist which made it the most open of the Eastern Bloc countries. It received lots of money from the west and had a stable economy.
Each republic had its own president and parliament. The federal capital was Belgrade, which was also the capital of Serbia. Tito had set everything up so as to prevent a single republic (Serbia) from dominating the federation. After Tito died in 1980 each republic gained more autonomy and there was a rotating presidency.
There were lots of reasons why Yugoslavia broke up. But at a very high-level...
During the late 1980s, Slobodan Milošević played on ethnically-motivated conflicts in Kosovo and became president of Serbia. Milošević wanted to create a “Greater Serbia” by taking over areas that had Serb populations – Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The Yugoslav military was the 4th largest in Europe and controlled by Serbia. As republics started to declare independence, fighting broke out and became the bloodiest war in Europe since WWII.

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