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Yugoslavia: Transportation and Communications
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Structure of the Economy > Transportation and Communications


The reconstruction period of 1945-47 emphasized repair of the transport network destroyed during World War II. Even in 1990, road and rail communications in many regions, particularly the mountainous areas of Kosovo, eastern Bosnia and southern Serbia, were still inadequate. In addition, the Dinaric Alps, running along the Adriatic Coast, were an obstacle to efficient transport of interior resources to the coast for shipping. Only two main rail lines, the Zagreb-Split-Sibenik line and the Sarajevo-Ploce line, cut from the interior to seaports. These deficiencies had a profound effect on the ability of Yugoslavia to develop its mineral and hydroelectric resources.

Transportation lines in the northern lowlands and southward along the Vardar and Morava rivers were better developed because they served international traffic and linked the republican capitals of Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade, and Skopje. Routes from Italy and Austria converged at Ljubljana, and several important road and rail lines ran north into Hungary from the area between Zagreb and Belgrade.

The tourism boom that began in the 1960s led to the construction of a number of new highways, most important of which was the Adriatic Coastal Highway running from Rijeka to the Albanian border. From that highway several link roads were built into the interior. In 1990 plans called for the interior roads to link the coastal main highway with the Brotherhood and Unity Highway, which ran from Yugoslavia's northern border with Austria, through Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade, and Skopje, and across the southern border into Bulgaria. Two-thirds of the highway were to be open as a six-lane road in the mid-1990s, with the southern portion remaining a two-lane road. In 1988 about 105,000 kilometers of Yugoslav roads had hard surfaces, another 15,000 kilometers were dirt surfaces. In 1987 three million passenger cars and 207,000 trucks were registered in Yugoslavia.

In 1990 the country had about 9,300 kilometers of rail lines, of which about 3,800 kilometers were electrified. All rail lines were standard-gauge, 1.435-meter track; 10 percent of them were double track in 1988. Yugoslavia had 184 usable airports in 1988, of which 54 had permanent-surface runways and 23 were longer than 2,440 meters. The largest airfields were in Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Sarajevo, Skopje, Dubrovnik, Split, Titograd, Pula, and Zadar. The Yugoslav national airline, Yugoslav Air Transport (Jugoslovenski Aero Transport -- JAT) flew 5.8 million passengers in 1986.

In 1988 the Yugoslav merchant marine included 269 ships, totaling 5.4 million deadweight tons; Yugoslavia also owned twenty-one ships, totaling 347,000 deadweight tons, registered in Liberia and Panama. The merchant marine fleet included 134 cargo, seventy-two bulk, fifteen container, and fourteen roll-on-roll- off ships, and nine petroleum tankers. Yugoslavia also had 1,194 river craft, which navigated inland on 1,620 kilometers miles of rivers, 640 kilometers of canals, and lakes Skadar and Ohrid. The major Adriatic ports were Rijeka, Split, Koper, Bar, and Ploce; Belgrade was the major inland port, located on the Danube.

In the 1980s, telecommunications in Yugoslavia were quite advanced in comparison with the national transport systems. The Yugoslav Radio and Television Network (Jugoslovenska Radiotelevizija) operated 250 radio and television stations in 1986; its main broadcasting centers were in Belgrade, Ljubljana, Sarajevo, Novi Sad, Pristina, Skopje, Titograd, and Zagreb. Both national and local programming were offered, and Radio Koper also broadcast in Italian. In 1986 4.8 million radios and 4.1 million television sets were in use in Yugoslavia. Two multipurpose satellite dishes of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT) were located in Yugoslavia, supporting international telex, television, and telephone communications. The government-operated national telephone system included ten phones per hundred residents in 1982; all phones were direct-dial by 1980, and they were evenly divided between business and residential installations.

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 109 of 208


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