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Yugoslavia: Histories of the Yugoslav People To World War I
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > Histories of the Yugoslav People to World War I


Source: Based on information from Great Britain, Admiralty, Naval Intelligence Division, Yugoslavia II: History, Peoples, and Administration, London; 1944, 20.



Tombstones of heretical Bogomil sect, Bosnia - Courtesy Sam and Sarah Stulberg

Before Yugoslavia became a nation, the Slovenes, Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins, Bosnians, Macedonians, and Albanians had virtually independent histories. The Slovenes struggled to define and defend their cultural identity for a millennium, first under the Frankish Kingdom and then under the Austrian Empire. The Croats of Croatia and Slavonia enjoyed a brief independence before falling under Hungarian and Austrian domination; and the Croats in Dalmatia struggled under Byzantine, Hungarian, Venetian, French, and Austrian rule. The Serbs, who briefly rivaled the Byzantine Empire in medieval times, suffered 500 years of Turkish domination before winning independence in the nineteenth century. Their Montenegrin kinsmen lived for centuries under a dynasty of bishop-priests and savagely defended their mountain homeland against foreign aggressors. Bosnians turned to heresy to protect themselves from external political and religious pressure, converted in great numbers to Islam after the Turks invaded, and became a nuisance to Austria-Hungary in the late nineteenth century. A hodgepodge of ethnic groups peopled Macedonia over the centuries. As the power of the Ottoman Empire waned, the region was contested among the Serbs, Bulgars, Greeks, and Albanians, and also was a pawn among the major European powers. Finally, the disputed Kosovo region, with an Albanian majority and medieval Serbian tradition, remained an Ottoman backwater until after the Balkan Wars of the early twentieth century.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Yugoslavia was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Yugoslavia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 8 of 208


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