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Country summary


Belgrade (Beograd)


Bosnia and Herzegovina 302 km, Bulgaria 318 km, Croatia 241 km, Hungary 151 km, Kosovo 352 km, Macedonia 62 km, Montenegro 124 km, Romania 476 km

Government type




Population growth

-0.468% (2010 est.)[1]

Life expectancy

73.9 years[1]


16.6% (October 2009 est.)[1]

Index of Economic Freedom


Corruption Perceptions Index


Doing Business ranking


Modern Serbia was founded in 1815 as an autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire following the Second Serbian Uprising part of the Serbian Revolution. In 1878 it was recognized internationally as an independent state at the Congress of Berlin. Its territory was enlarged following the successful Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913. In 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war against it and in 1915 it was occupied after a joint Austro-Hungarian, German and Bulgarian military effort.

After the conclusion of the First World War the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed encompassing Serbia, Montenegro and South Slav areas of the defunct Austria-Hungary to be renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. Yugoslavia was invaded and occupied by the Axis in 1941, a complex conflict ensued with a brutal Yugoslav civil war occurring simultaneously with a determined resistance against to the occupiers. To emerge as the victor from this conflict were the Communist Partisans headed by Josip Broz "Tito". Owing to a 1948 Tito-Stalin split the new Communist Yugoslavia was not a Warsaw Pact nation but steered its own path in international politics playing a visible role in the Non-Aligned Movement.

The position of conventional Communist Party officials in the country was first usurped by a populist reformist, Slobodan Milošević, becoming the president of the Socialist Republic of Serbia in 1989. Soon after the first multi-party elections in the post-war Yugoslavia held in 1990 the country broke up as Slovenia and Croatia declared independence in 1991 to be followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia the next year. The rump Federal Republic Yugoslavia, now consisting of Serbia and Montenegro only, was not recognized as the legal successor to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but was forced to reapply for UN membership anew. During the wars of the 1990s in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina - which pitted local Serbs against the authorities of the newly independent states - Slobodan Milošević was singled out as the main culprit and aggressor and FR Yugoslavia was subject to international isolation, with economic sanctions, travel restrictions and banns from international sports imposed.

The sanctions were slowly lifted after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina had concluded with the signing of the Dayton Agreement, which Milošević signed on the behalf of the Bosnian Serbs after their leadership had been forced underground by indictments for war crimes by the ICTY. In 1998 in the province of Kosovo an armed insurgency begun with the goal of securing an international intervention on their behalf. The intervention materialized in 1999 in the form of NATO's 78 day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. The bombing and the Kosovo War ceased with the Kumanovo Agreement where the Serbs accepted a NATO occupying force in Kosovo after the UN security council passed resolution 1244 reaffirming Yugoslav sovereignty over the province.

Slobodan Milošević was ousted in October 2000, in 2003 FR Yugoslavia instituted constitutional reforms changing its name to State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and in 2006 Montenegro exited the union after a referendum. Kosovo Albanians declared independence in February 2008 and have so far been recognized by some sixty states. Foreign troops remain in Kosovo which remains a protectorate of western powers.

Economic History

Pig War 1906 - 1909

In 1906 following a breakdown of Serbian-Austrian trade negotiations, Austria-Hungary initiated a 'customs war' against Serbia. This move was made with the goal of bringing Serbia back into Austrian-Hungarian sphere of influence from which it had been slipping away since the removal of the Obrenovitch dynasty in a military coup in 1903. For Vienna particularly irksome had been the decision of Belgrade in 1904 to purchase military equipment from France rather than its traditional supplier Austria-Hungary and the establishment of an ultimately unsuccessful customs union with Bulgaria in 1905 which Austria-Hungary felt would be to its disadvantage.

It was felt Serbia, an overwhelmingly agricultural country making 80-90% of its exports to Austria-Hungary, could be reminded of its economic dependence by a ban on the importation of livestock, meat and agricultural products. The move eventually backfired as Serbian pork, and other products after initial scramble found various other markets. In 1909 when the trade relations were again fully normalized Austria-Hungary accounted for only some 30% of Serbian exports and had found itself displaced as the main foreign trade partner of Serbia by Germany.

As a side effect of the economic conflict the leadership in Belgrade became convinced that it was imperative for Serbia, a landlocked country, to secure for itself a port on the Adriatic and with it an access to the world markets that did not hinge on the goodwill of its neighbors, or at least a direct link to the Thessaloniki in the Aegean. This would later dictate Serbia's war goals in the two Balkan Wars and put it at odds with Bulgarians and Albanians. Why is nothing referenced? Jesus.

Economical characteristics

  • Currency: Serbian dinar (ISO code: RSD)
  • Central bank discount rate: 9.5% (31 December 2009)[1]
  • Commercial banks lending rate: 11.78% (31 December 2009)[1]
  • Stock of money (M1): $3.69 billion (31 December 2009)[1]
  • Quasi money (with M1 makes M2): $14.11 billion (31 December 2009)[1]


Statistic / Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
GDP (USD)[5]
Govt. debt (% of GDP)[6]
Govt. revenue (% of GDP)[7]
Govt. expenses (% of GDP)[8]
Debt to revenue (years)


Note: statistical data was rounded. Different sources may use different methodologies for their estimates. Debt to revenue is calculated by dividing the two variables from their original ('unrounded') values. It represents how long it would a government take to repay its entire debt if it used its whole revenue for this purpose.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 CIA - The World Factbook. "Serbia", from The World Factbook. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  2. Heritage Foundation. "Serbia", Economic Freedom Score. A lower ranking is better; but please be careful when comparing between different countries or years. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  3. Transparency International. "Serbia", Corruption Perceptions Index 2009. A lower ranking is better; but please note that the numbers cannot be compared between countries or years due to different methodology. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  4. Doing Business. "Serbia", Doing Business 2010 (part of The World Bank Group). A lower ranking is better; but please be careful when comparing between different countries or years. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  5. World Bank. "Serbia: GDP", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  6. World Bank. "Serbia: government debt", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  7. World Bank. "Serbia: government revenue", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.
  8. World Bank. "Serbia: government expenses", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-29.