Yugoslavia was a large Eastern European country, situated south of Austria and north of Greece, that broke into several smaller countries in the early 1990s. The country was originally founded as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918, when several smaller states chose to merge in the aftermath of World War I, then renamed simply Yugoslavia in 1929. Yugoslavia was invaded and occupied by the Axis powers during World War II and suffered significant loss of life as a result. Most of the country's Jewish population was sent to concentration camps, and the ruling regimes carried out ethnic cleansing across much of the country. When the war ended, the exiled previous government was replaced by a socialist government, which renamed the country the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945. The name was again changed, this time to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in 1963.
The oppressiveness of Yugoslavia's communist government sat poorly with many citizens, leading to protests starting in 1968. Moreover, ethnic tension between the country's varying people groups, coupled with economic stresses caused by a volatile oil market in the 1970s, sent the country's stability into a tailspin. In 1990, the Yugoslav Wars broke out between the central government and several of the country's various member states. Croatia and Slovenia were the first to secede, declaring their independence in June 1991. By 2001, Yugoslavia had dissolved into five (and soon six, arguably seven) separate nations.
Current Countries That Were Formerly Part of Yugoslavia:
|Country||Date of Independence||Notes|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||3 March 1992|
|Croatia||25 June 1991|
|Kosovo (partially recognized)||17 February 2008||Independence disputed by Serbia. Recognized by 110+ countries, but not United Nations|
|Montenegro||3 June 2006||Founded as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992, renamed Serbia and Montenegro in 2003, split in 2006|
|North Macedonia||8 September 1991|
|Serbia||5 June 2006||Founded as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992, renamed Serbia and Montenegro in 2003, split in 2006|
|Slovenia||5 June 1991|
The transition to the six (arguably seven) countries that now make up the former Yugoslavia was more complex than it may initially appear. Several territories were founded, merged, unmerged, and renamed to arrive at the countries currently in existence. For example ...
- The Republic of Serbian Krajina initially separated from Yugoslavia as an independent territory, but eventually merged with Croatia
- North Macedonia was originally named simply Macedonia
- Bosnia and Herzegovina nearly fractured further as the result of a 1992-1995 civil war between the country's Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats
- The countries Serbia and Montenegro were both initially part of a single nation named the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, renamed Serbia and Montenegro in 2003, but split into two separate countries in 2006
- The territory of Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 but has yet to be fully recognized as independent. As such, Kosovo is currently among the countries that are not members of the United Nations.
Profiles of former Yugoslavia countries:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Highlighted by its mountains, waterfalls, medieval ruins, and picturesque capital city Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina has one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors in the world. Nearly 50% of the country's territory is forested. The current population of Bosnia and Herzegovina is approximately 3,249,317 people, with a population density of roughly 63 people for every square kilometer.
Croatia is another former Yugoslavian country with a strong tourism industry, powered by strengths including its pristine coastline, an early embrace of the naturalism movement, and the walled city of Dubrovnik, which rose to fame as the set for King's Landing in the TV series Game of Thrones. Croatia is ranked as a high-income country by World Bank and has diverse service and industrial sectors that include such industries as shipbuilding, timber, food processing, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and biochemical research and production. Croatia's population is roughly 4,059,286 people, leading to a population density of about 72 people per square kilometer.
One of the smallest former Yugoslavian states, Montenegro had a 2021 population of 627,950 people and a density of 45 inhabitants per square kilometer. Like its neighbors, Montenegro (whose name is a reference to the term "black mountain") is known for its rugged mountain peaks and refreshing waterways. Its economy is growing admirably and is dominated by its service sector, followed by industry and agriculture.
As of 2021, the population size of North Macedonia—previously known as simply Macedonia—was roughly 2,081,304 people, rendering this one of the smaller former Yugoslavian states in terms of population (but with a density of 81 people per square kilometer. North Macedonia is a developing economy with emerging oil and tourism sectors, the latter focused upon the landlocked country's beautiful lakes.
The largest and most populated former Yugoslavian state, Serbia was home to 8,653,016 residents in 2021, with a population density of 98 individuals per square kilometer. In addition to jagged and scenic mountain peaks common to many former Yugoslavian countries, Serbia also has vast plains in its northern regions. This geographical variety gives Serbia great ecological diversity as well, including 51% of Europe's fish species, 40% of its reptiles and amphibians, 74% of its birds, and 67% of its mammals. Serbia is locked in a dispute with Kosovo, which seeks to secede.
Slovenia's 2,078,034 inhabitants gave it a population density of roughly 103 people per square kilometer in 2021, the highest of the former Yugoslavian states. Like Serbia, it features very high biodiversity despite its much smaller land area. It is also the richest former Yugoslavian state in terms of GDP, thanks to a blossoming economy focused upon the service sector, with secondary emphasis on industry and construction.