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Serbian people

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Serbian people

Mehmed-paša Sokolović

2nd row: Zaharije OrfelinDositej ObradovićKarađorđeMiloš ObrenovićVuk KaradžićNjegoš
3rd row: Petar IŽivojin MišićMokranjacNikola TeslaMihajlo PupinPaja Jovanović
4th row: Jovan CvijićNadežda PetrovićJovan DučićMilutin MilankovićIvo AndrićAleksandar I

5th row: Marina AbramovićEmir KusturicaVlade DivacŽeljko JoksimovićNovak ĐokovićAna Ivanović
Total population
10.5[1]-12 milliona (est.)
Regions with significant populations
 Serbia 5,988,150 (2011)b[2]
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 1,437,893 (2013)[3][4]
 United States 187,739 (2010) -1,800,000c[5][6]
 Germany 700,000 (2011)d[7]
 Austria 300,000 (2008)[8]
 Croatia 186,633 (2011)[9]
  Switzerland 186,000 (2008)[10]
 Montenegro 178,110 (2011)e[11]
 Canada 73-150,000 (2011)[12][13]
 Sweden 120,000 (2008)[14]
 France 80–120,000 (2008)[15]
 Italy 53–100,000 (2010)[16]
 United Kingdom 70,000 (2005)[17]
 Australia 69,544 (2011)[18]
 Denmark 66,000 (2008)[19]
 Slovenia 39,000 (2002)[20]
 Macedonia 36,000 (2002)[21]
 Albania 4-30,000 (2008)[22]
 Romania 22,500 (2002)[23]
 Belgium 20,000 (2008)[24]
 South Africa 15-20,000 (2012)[25][26]
 United Arab Emirates 5-15,000 (2012)[27]
 Luxembourg 7,581 (2008)[28]
 Hungary 7,210 (2011)[29]
 Netherlands 40,000 (2008)
Predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christianity
(Serbian Orthodox Church)
Related ethnic groups
Other South Slavic peoples
a There are 12 million Serbs worldwide including ancestral diaspora,[30][31][32][33][34]
b excluding Kosovo. The 2011 census in Kosovo registered a total of 25,532 Serbs,[35] a boycotted census by the Serbs which failed to enumerate North Kosovo where an estimated 40,000- 50,000 Serbs live.[36]
c 187,739 people of Serbian origin were counted in the US census of 2010. There may be as many as 1.8 million Serbs and people of Serb descent living in the United States.[6]
d There were 197,984 people with Serbia's citizenship in 2011 in Germany.[37] Estimations of all ethnic Serbs in Germany go up to 700,000.
e Over 265,895 declared as maternal Serbian speakers, while over 178,110 declared ethnically as Serbs.[38]

The Serbs (Serbian: Срби / Srbi, pronounced [sr̩̂bi]) are a nation and South Slavic ethnic group living mainly in the Balkans and southern Central Europe. Serbs inhabit Serbia and the disputed territory of Kosovo, as well as Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina (mostly Republika Srpska) and form significant minorities in Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. Likewise, Serbs are an officially recognized minority in Romania, Hungary, Albania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Serbian language is also in official use in Greece. There is a large Serbian diaspora (including some autochthonous minorities) in Western Europe, particularly in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. Outside Europe, there are significant Serbian communities in the United States, Canada and Australia.

The Serbs share cultural traits with the rest of Southeastern Europe, and are predominantly Orthodox Christians by religion. The Serbian language is considered a standardized register of Serbo-Croatian; it is an official language in Serbia (also in the disputed Kosovo) and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is spoken by a majority in Montenegro. Serbian is the only European language with active digraphia, using both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.



There are several theories on the etymology of the ethnonym Serbs. (< *serb-) is the root of the Proto-Slavic word for "same" (as in "same people"), found in Russian and Ukrainian (сербать), Belarussian (сербаць), Slovak (srbati), Bulgarian (сърбам), Old Russian (серебати).[39] Scholars have also suggested an origin in the Indo-European root *ser- 'to watch over, protect', akin to Latin servare 'to keep, guard, protect, preserve, observe'.[40] Other scholars have suggested that it is of Sarmatian (Iranian[41]) tribal origin.[42] In this hypothesis, the Proto-Slavic *Sьrbji "Serbs" (Srbi in modern Serbian) could come from the Sarmatian *sœrb "freeman", which is cognate with the Proto-Slavic *sębrъ.[43]


Main article: Genetic studies on Serbs

Y-chromosomal haplogroups identified among the Serbs from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are the following:

  • I2a-P37.2, with frequencies of 29.20% and 30.90%, respectively. The frequency of this haplogroup peaks in Herzegovina (64%), and its variance peaks over a large geographic area covering B-H, Serbia, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. It is the second most predominant Y-chromosomal haplogroup in the overall Slavic gene pool.[44]
  • E1b1b1a2-V13, 20.35% and 19.80%. The frequency of this haplogroup peaks in Albania (24%), and is also high among Greeks, Romanians, Macedonian Slavs, Bulgarians, and southern Italians.[44][45]
  • R1a1-M17, 15.93% and 13.60%. The frequency of this haplogroup peaks in Poland (56.4%) and Ukraine (54.0%), and its variance peaks in northern Bosnia. It is the most predominant Y-chromosomal haplogroup in the overall Slavic gene pool.[44][46]
  • R1b1b2-M269, 10.62 and 6.20%. Its frequency peaks in Western Europe (90% in Wales).[44]
  • K*-M9, 7.08% and 7.40%
  • J2b-M102, 4.40% and 6.20%
  • I1-M253, 5.31% and 2.5%
  • F*-M89, 4.9%, only in B-H
  • J2a1b1-M92, 2.70%, only in Serbia

There are also several other uncommon haplogroups with lesser frequencies.[44][45][46]


An international self-esteem survey titled


Further information: History of Serbia and History of the Serbs

Slavs first came to the Balkans in the 5-7th centuries A.D. and they mixed with the local population(Illyrians, Thracians, Dacians, Romans, Celts).[49] First, they came under Bulgarian and then Byzantine rule after 900.[50] Later, Serbs created numerous small states centered throughout Herzegovina, and on the territory of modern-day states such as Montenegro and Serbia. One of the most powerful Serbian states during this period was Raška, which separated from the Serbian state of Duklja in the 11th century.[49] Ruled by Prince Stefan Nemanja from 1169 to 1196, Duklja conquered the neighbouring Serb territories of Kosovo, Duklja and Zachlumia. Subsequently, he created the Nemanjić dynasty, which ruled over Serbia until the 14th century. Nemanja's older son, Stefan Nemanjić, became Serbia's first recognized king, while his younger son, Rastko, founded the Serbian Orthodox Church in the year 1219, and became known as Saint Sava after his death.[50]

Over the next 140 years, Serbia expanded its borders. Its cultural model remained Byzantine, despite the political ambitions of the Serbs being directed against the empire. The medieval power and influence of Serbia culminated in the reign of Dušan the Mighty, who ruled the state from 1331 until his death in 1355. Ruling as Emperor from 1346, his territory included Macedonia, northern Greece, Montenegro, and almost all of Albania.[51] When Dušan died, his son Stephen Uroš V became Emperor.[52] With Turkish invaders beginning their conquest of the Balkans in the 1350s, a major conflict ensued between them and the Serbs. The first major battle between the Serbs and the Turks was the Battle of Maritsa, which took place in 1371.[53] In it, the Serbs were defeated by the Turks.[54] With the death of two important Serb leaders in the battle, and with the death of Stephen Uroš that same year, the Serbian Empire broke up into several small Serbian domains.[53] These states were ruled by feudal lords, with Zeta controlled by the Balšić family, Raška, Kosovo and northern Macedonia held by the Branković family and Lazar Hrebeljanović holding today's Central Serbia and a portion of Kosovo.[55] Hrebeljanović was subsequently accepted as the titular leader of the Serbs because he was married to a member of the Nemanjić dynasty.[53] In 1389, the Serbs faced the Ottomans at the Battle of Kosovo on the plain of Kosovo Polje, near the town of Pristina. The battle was fought by a coalition of Serbs, Bosnians and possibly some Albanians who faced the Turks after Lazar refused to submit to Turkish rule.[54] Both Lazar and the Ottoman Sultan, Murad I, were killed in the fighting.[56] The battle most likely ended in a stalemate, and Serbia did not fall to the Turks until 1459.[57]

With the Ottoman occupation of Serbia, countless Serbs fought against the Ottomans and organized uprisings in Serb territories that were under Ottoman rule. As a result, Serbs suffered severe consequences. In the 17th century, as many as 60,000 Serbs fled Kosovo during the Great Turkish War and settled in the Habsburg Monarchy. Serbia remained under Ottoman control until the early 19th century, with the eruption of the Serbian Revolution in 1804. The uprising ended in the early 1830s, with Serbia's autonomy and borders being recognized, and with Miloš Obrenović being recognized as its ruler. The last Ottoman troops withdrew from Serbia in 1867, although Serbia's independence was not recognized internationally until the Congress of Berlin in 1878.[58] Serbia fought in the Balkan Wars of 1912–13, which forced the Ottomans out of the Balkans and doubled the territory and population of the Kingdom of Serbia. In 1914, a young Bosnian Serb student named Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which directly contributed to the outbreak of World War I.[59] In the fighting that ensued, Serbia was invaded by Austria-Hungary. Despite being outnumbered, the Serbs subsequently defeated the Austro-Hungarians at the Battle of Cer, which marked the first Allied victory over the Central Powers in the war.[60] Furher victories at the battles of Kolubara and the Drina meant that Serbia remained unconquered as the war entered its second year. However, an invasion by the forces of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria overwhelmed the Serbs in the winter of 1915, and a subsequent withdrawal by the Serbian Army through Albania took the lives of more than 240,000 Serbs. Serb forces spent the remaining years of the war fighting on the Salonika Front in Greece, before liberating Serbia from Austro-Hungarian occupation in November 1918.[61]

Serbs subsequently formed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes with other South Slavic peoples. The country was later renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and was led from 1921 to 1934 by King Alexander I of the Serbian House of Karađorđević.[62] During World War II, Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis powers in April 1941. The country was subsequently divided into many pieces, with Serbia being directly occupied by the Germans.[63] Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) experienced persecution at the hands of the Croatian ultra-nationalist, fascist Ustaše, who attempted to exterminate the Serb population by killing as many as one million of the Serbs living in the newly established state.[64] Serbs in occupied Yugoslavia subsequently formed a resistance movement known as the Yugoslav Army in the Homeland, or the Chetniks. The Chetniks had the official support of the Allies until 1943, when Allied support shifted to the Communist Yugoslav Partisans, a multi-ethnic force, formed in 1941, which also had a large majority of Serbs in its ranks in the first two years of war, later, after the fall of Italy, September 1943. other ethic groups joined Partisans in larger numbers.[63] At the end of the war, the Partisans, led by the Croat Josip Broz Tito, emerged victorious. Yugoslavia subsequently became a Communist state. Tito died in 1980, and his death saw Yugoslavia plunge into economic turmoil.[65] Yugoslavia disintegrated in the early 1990s, and a series of wars resulted in the creation of five new states. The heaviest fighting occurred in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose Serb populations rebelled and sought unification with Serbia, which was then still part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The war in Croatia ended in August 1995, with a Croatian military offensive known as Operation Storm crushing the Croatian Serb rebellion and causing as many as 200,000 Serbs to flee the country. The Bosnian War ended that same year, with the Dayton Agreement dividing the country along ethnic lines. In 1998–99, a conflict in Kosovo between the Yugoslav Army and Albanians seeking independence erupted into full-out war, resulting in a 78-day-long NATO bombing campaign which effectively drove Yugoslav security forces from Kosovo.[66] Subsequently, more than 200,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians fled the province.[67] On 5 October 2000, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosević was overthrown in a bloodless revolt after he refused to admit defeat in the 2000 Yugoslav general election.[68]


Main article: Serbian language

Serbs speak the Serbian language, a member of the South Slavic group of languages, specifically in the Southwestern Slavic group, with the Southeastern group containing Bulgarian and Macedonian. It is considered a standardized register of Serbo-Croatian,[69][70][71] as mutually intelligible with the standard Croatian and Bosnian languages (see Differences in standard Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian) which are all standardized on the Shtokavian dialect.

Serbian is an official language in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, and is a minority language in Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Older forms of Serbian are Old Serbian, the redaction of Old Church Slavonic, and the Russo-Serbian variant, a version of the Church Slavonic language.

Serbian is the only European language with active digraphia, using both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. Serbian Cyrillic was devised in 1814 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić, who created the alphabet on phonemic principles, the Cyrillic itself has its origins in Cyril and Methodius' transformation of the Greek script in the 9th century.

Loanwords in the Serbian language besides common internationalisms are mostly from Turkish, German and Italian, words of Hungarian origin are present mostly in the north and Greek words are predominant in the liturgy. Two Serbian words that are used in many of the world's languages are "vampire" and "paprika". The English term vampire was derived (possibly via French vampyre) from the German Vampir, which was in turn derived in the early 18th century from the Serbian language word вампир/vampir, when Arnold Paole, a purported vampire in Serbia was described as wreaking havoc in Serbian villages during the time that Serbia was incorporated into the Austrian Empire.


Serbs are predominantly Orthodox Christians, and before Christianity they adhered to Slavic paganism. Serbs were first Christianized by the beginning of the 9th century, and the Serbian Orthodox Church was established in 1219. An autocephalous Church led by a Patriarch, and consisting of three Archbishoprics, six Metropolitanates and thirty-one dioceses, it has more than 11 million adherents. Followers of the church form the largest religious group in Serbia and Montenegro, and the second-largest in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The church has an archbishopric in Macedonia and dioceses in Western Europe, North America and Australia.[72] The identity of ethnic Serbs was historically largely based on Orthodox Christianity and on the Serbian Orthodox Church, to the extent of the claims that those who are not its faithful are not Serbs. However, the conversion of the south Slavs from paganism to Christianity took place before the Great Schism, the split between the Greek East and the Catholic West. After the Schism, those who lived under the Orthodox sphere of influence became Orthodox and those who lived under the Catholic sphere of influence became Catholic. Some ethnologists consider that the distinct Serb and Croat identities relate to religion rather than ethnicity. With the arrival of the Ottoman Empire, some Serbs and Croats converted to Islam. This was particularly, but not wholly, so in Bosnia. The best known Muslim Serb is probably either Mehmed Paša Sokolović or Meša Selimović. Since the second half of the 19th century, some Serbs converted to Protestantism, while historically some Serbs also were Catholics (especially in Dalmatia) or Greek Catholics.[73][74] In 1219, the Serbian Orthodox Church was established as the national church by Saint Sava. With the occupation of the Balkans by the Ottoman Empire, Islam was introduced, therefore there exist "Muslim Slavs"; Gorani, Bosniaks, Muslims by nationality etc., where Serbs traditionally live.


Literature, icon painting, and architecture are the artistic forms for which Serbia is best known. Serbian Art is highly reflective of Byzantine traditions. Serbs are also known for having noteworthy traditions of creating classical music and works of philosophy.[75]


Between the early 13th and early 15th century, many great works of art were created by Serb artists. Many icons, wall paintings and manuscript miniatures came into existence, and many Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches such as those at Studenica, Sopoćani, Gračanica and Visoki Dečani were built.[76] The architecture at some of these monasteries is world famous.[50]

Serbs from Bosnia and Herzegovina are also famous for their art. Since the mid-1800s, Serbia has produced many famous painters who are representative of general European artistic trends.[76] One of the most prominent of these was Paja Jovanović, who painted massive canvases on historical themes such as the Great Serb Migrations. Painter Uroš Predić was also very prominent in the field of Serbian art, painting the Kosovo Maiden, which was completed in 1919.[77] While Jovanović and Predić were both realist painters, artist Đura Jakšić was an accomplished Romanticist. Painter Vladimir Veličković was famous for his surrealism.[78]


The first Serbian film was created in 1911. Titled The Life and Deeds of the Immortal Vožd Karađorđe, the film is a biopic of Karađorđe Petrović, the leader of the First Serbian Uprising against the Turks in the early 19th century.[79] Since then, Serbia has produced many talented filmmakers, the most famous of whom are Dušan Makavejev,[80] Živojin Pavlović, Goran Paskaljević and Emir Kusturica.[81] Kusturica became world-renowned after winning the Palme d'Or twice at the Cannes Film Festival. He has won numerous other prizes, and is a UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia.[81]

Several Serbs have featured prominently in Hollywood. The most notable of these are Academy-award winners Karl Malden,[82] Steve Tesich, Peter Bogdanovich and Milla Jovovich.[83]


Main article: Serbian cuisine

Serbian cuisine is largely heterogeneous, with heavy Mediterranean, Oriental and Hungarian influences.[84] Despite this, it has evolved and achieved its own culinary identity. Food preparation is a strong part of Serbian family life, and family meals play an important social role in Serbian culture. Traditionally, meals tend to be used to exchange ideas and to celebrate friendships.[85]

Serbian cuisine itself is varied due to the turbulent history of the Serbs.[84] Food is very important in Serbian cultural life, particularly during religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, and during ceremonial occasions such as weddings.[86] Staples of the Serbian diet include bread, meat, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Traditionally, three meals are consumed per day. Breakfast generally consists of eggs, meat and bread. Lunch is considered the main meal, and is normally eaten in the afternoon. Traditionally, Turkish coffee is prepared after a meal, and is served in small cups.[87]

Bread is the basis of all Serbian meals, and it plays an important role in Serbian cuisine and can be found in religious rituals. A traditional Serbian welcome is to offer bread and salt to guests. Meat is widely consumed, as is fish. Serbian specialties include kajmak (a dairy product similar to clotted cream), proja (cornbread), kačamak (corn-flour porridge), and Gibanica (cheese and kajmak pie). Ćevapi are the national dish of Serbia. They are caseless sausages made of minced meat, which is always grilled and seasoned.[85]


Main article: Serbian literature

Most literature written by early Serbs was about religious themes. Various Gospels, Psalters, menologies, hagiographies, and essays and sermons of the founders of the Serbian Orthodox Church were written. At the end of the 12th century, two of the most important pieces of Serbian medieval literature were created– the Miroslav Gospels and the Vukan Gospels, which combined handwritten Biblical texts with painted initials and small pictures.[50] Notable Baroque-influenced authors were Andrija ZmajevićGavril Stefanović VenclovićJovan RajićZaharije Orfelin and others. Dositej Obradović was the most prominent figure of the Age of Enlightenment, while the most notable Classicist writer was Jovan Sterija Popović, although his works also contained elements of Romanticism.

Modern Serbian literature began with Vuk Karadžić's collections of folk songs in the 19th century, and the writings of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, the 19th century Prince-Bishop of Montenegro. The first prominenet representative of Serbian literature in the 20th century was Jovan Skerlić, who wrote in pre-World War I Belgrade and helped introduce Serbian writers to literary modernism. The most important Serbian writer in the inter-war period was Miloš Crnjanski.[88] The first Serb authors who appeared after World War II were Mihailo Lalić and Dobrica Ćosić.[89] Other famous post-war authors were Ivo Andrić and Meša Selimović, both of whom identified as Serbs.[88] Andrić went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1961.[89] Danilo Kiš, another popular Serbian writer, was known for writing A Tomb for Boris Davidovich, as well as several acclaimed novels.[90] Amongst contemporary Serbian writers, Milorad Pavić stands out as being the most critically acclaimed, with his novels Dictionary of the Khazars, "Landscape Painted with Tea" and "The Inner Side of the Wind" bringing him international recognition. Highly revered in Europe and in South America, Pavić is considered one of the most intriguing writers from the beginning of the 21st century.[91]


Serbia has a long tradition in music. Traditional Serbian music includes various kinds of bagpipesfluteshornstrumpetslutespsalteries, drums and cymbals. The kolo is the traditional collective folk dance, which has a number of varieties throughout the regions. Composer and musicologist Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac is considered one of the most important founders of modern Serbian music.[92][93]

The composer of the Croatian national anthem Lijepa naša domovino (Our Beautiful Homeland) was Croatian Serb Josip Runjanin. In the 1990s and the 2000s, many pop music performers rose to fame. Željko Joksimović won second place at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest and Marija Šerifović managed to win the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Molitva", and Serbia was the host of the 2008 edition of the Contest. Balkan Brass, or "truba" (trumpet) is a popular genre that originated during the First Serbian Uprising (1804–1813) with military marching bands that transposed Serbian folk music. Guča trumpet festival is one of the most popular and biggest music festivals in Serbia, with over 300,000 visitors annually.[94]


Many Serbs have contributed to the field of science and technology. Serbian American scientist, inventor, physicist, mechanical engineer and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla is regarded as one of the most important inventors in history. He is renowned for his contributions to the discipline of electricity and magnetism in the late 19th and early 20th century. Physicist and physical chemist Mihajlo Pupin is best known for his landmark theory of modern electrical filters as well as for his numerous patents, while Milutin Milanković is best known for his theory of long-term climate change caused by changes in the position of the Earth in comparison to the Sun, now known as Milankovitch cycles.[95] Mihailo Petrović is known for having contributed significantly to differential equations and phenomenology, as well as inventing one of the first prototypes of an analog computer.


Serbs are famous for their sporting achievements, and have produced many talented football players such as Dragan Džajić, Dejan Stanković, Nemanja Vidić, and basketball players such as Vlade Divac, Dejan Bodiroga, Radivoj Korać and Dražen Dalipagić.[76]

Tennis is also a very popular sport amongst Serbs, and the current World No. 2 in men's singles is Serb Novak Djokovic. He has won six Grand Slam titles, and is considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time.[96] Other succesful players include: Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Nenad Zimonjić and Janko Tipsarević. Serbia won the Davis Cup in 2010, defeating France in the finals. Water polo is also popular sport, and Serbia men's national water polo team is multiple world and European champion.

See also

Serbs portal





External links

  • Project Rastko – Serbian cultural and historical research society

Template:Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians

Template:Slavic ethnic groups

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