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Yugoslavia: World War II and Recovery
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Economic History > World War II and Recovery


World War II and Recovery

Before World War II, Yugoslavia was one of Europe's most underdeveloped countries. The eradication of feudalism after World War I left over 75 percent of the population living in poverty and dependent on small, inefficient peasant farms. Economic growth, though steady, was modest. In 1938 per capita income was 30 percent below the world average.

The German invasion of Yugoslavia and the subsequent partition of the country among Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Italy destroyed all semblance of normal economic life. The Germans built new factories in Slovenia and Croatia and converted remaining plants to produce military equipment. The peasants continued to farm, but over 50 percent of livestock and 80 percent of equipment were destroyed or confiscated during the occupation. The communications network was sabotaged, and over half the railroads and rolling stock was demolished. Inflation was rampant, and barter became the prime means for transacting business. The most devastating blow to Yugoslavia fell on its people: over 11 percent of the prewar population was killed; another 25 percent was left homeless.

Postwar reconstruction in Yugoslavia was financed by aid from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. The administration provided a total of US$60 million of aid in food, clothing, medical supplies, seed, livestock, jeeps, and railroad stock. By the end of 1946, Yugoslav national income was restored to its 1938 level.

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 83 of 208


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