Serbs - Orientation

Identification. Serbia is the larger of the two remaining Republics that constitute the Federated Republic of Yugoslavia as of 1992. Ethnically homogeneous within Serbia proper, the republic also contains two autonomous provinces. The autonomous province of Vojvodina in the north is mainly Serbian but also contains large minorities of Romanians and Hungarians. The province of Kosmet (Kosovo-Metohija) is located in southern Serbia and has a majority Albanian Muslim population in which Serbs are a minority. Substantial Serbian populations live in the neighboring republic of Montenegro and in the independent states of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Location. Serbia is bounded on the north by Hungary, on the east by Romania and Bulgaria, on the south by Albania and Macedonia, and on the west by the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. Its location is approximately 42-45° N and 19°30′-23° E. geographically, Serbia is two-thirds highlands and one-third rolling plains. Šumadija, the agricultural heartland of Serbia, lies west of the Morava River valley, just south of Belgrade. The climate of the plains is markedly continental consisting of dry, warm summers, long, humid autumns, and cold, dry winters. The growing season begins in mid-March and runs through November. Average annual precipitation is 76 centimeters. Temperatures vary from an average high of 23° C in July to 1.6° C in January, the coldest month. Within these patterns, however, considerable variations exist, with recorded highs well over 38° C and lows down to below -10° C.

Demography, The population of Yugoslavia in 1990 was estimated at 23,864,000. At this time some 8,591,000 Individuals (36 percent) were identified as ethnically Serbian, making them the largest ethnic group in the country.

Linguistic Affiliation. Serbs speak mainly the Ekavian Subdialect of the Štokavian Dialect of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language from the Slavic Branch of Indo-European. Slovene, Macedonian (both spoken in other former Yugoslav republics), and Bulgarian are the closest related languages. The Serbs still prefer the use of the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, which differentiates them from the Croats who use the Latin alphabet. In recent years this situation has changed somewhat with street signs, bus routes, etc. being written in both scripts, but Cyrillic remains the alphabet of choice for official documents and newspapers.

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