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Yugoslavia: The Yugoslav Nations
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Yugoslavia's People > The Yugoslav Nations


In 1990 national identity remained a vital characteristic in Yugoslavia, and distrust across ethnic boundaries persisted. Second only to the government bureaucracy, nationalism and ethnically based discrimination provided the universal explanation for all evils befalling the Yugoslav peoples. Kosovan Albanians complained that Macedonians purposely built their province's roads badly; Serbs complained that the Slovenes exploited their economy and that they were the victims of plotting Croats, Slovenes, and "Islamic-fundamentalist" ethnic Albanians; Croats and Slovenes feared Serbian domination and complained of the lack of discipline of their fellow Yugoslavs to the south.

The deepest and oldest national rivalry in Yugoslavia was the one between the Serbs and Croats, who despite their shared language possessed different social and value systems and political cultures. Two sayings illustrated these animosities and the essential difference in the inherited political styles of both peoples. The first says: "The very way of life of a Serb and Croat is a deliberate provocation by each to the other." The second, a self-complimentary Serbian stereotype, holds that in a conflict with authority "the Serb reaches for the sword and the Croat for his pen." The Serbian stereotype refers to the tradition of the hajduk, the idealized mountain renegade who responded violently to the oppressive anarchy of the Ottoman Empire during its last two centuries; the Croatian stereotype reflects the cultural influence of responding through the legal system to the Habsburgs' highly bureaucratized infringements on national and individual freedoms in Croatia.

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

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Section 45 of 208


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