Serbia is a landlocked country which borders Hungary to the north, Romania and Bulgaria to the East, Macedonia to the south and the rest of the former Yugoslav republics to the west.
Serbia’s early history was greatly influenced by the Romans, who occupied this region from around 200BC, Sirmium a town in the north of Serbia was one of the most important Roman cities in its time. No less than 13 Roman Emperors were born in Serbia, the most famous of all Constantine I who founded Constantinople and began the spread of Christianity throughout Europe.
A Serbian Empire existed from 1346 as the largest and most powerful force in the Balkan region but its power was very much dependent on the strength of the Byzantine Empire. When Constantinople finally fell, Serbia was considerably weakened and finally succumbed to the Ottoman Turks in 1521. The conversion to Islam took place in the regions of Kosovo and Bosnia, the legacy of which remained until the tragic events of the wars of the 1990’s.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire constantly challenged the Ottoman rule, but finally under the Treaty of Karlowitz it was taken from the Ottomans in 1699. In the intervening period Serb depopulation had occurred to the region of Vojvodina on the northern bank of the River Danube where they were granted rights by the Austrians and were free of religious persecution by the Ottomans.
After they gained full independence the Serbian Kingdom expanded once again to be the most powerful in the region by 1903. The Balkan Wars and WW1 threw the region into turmoil, and it was in Belgrade, the Serbian capital that Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated triggering the war. What came out of it was the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918 under the reign of King Peter I.
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was dissolved in 1941 when the forces of Nazi German and Fascist Italy invaded, and placed in Nazi German Administration. In the first year of occupation, the Nazis murdered 16,000 Jews, Roma, and Serb political opponents. Serb and Croat relations also suffered due to persecution and genocide. At the same time a civil war broke out between the Royalists and the pro-communist Partisans led by General Tito who finally won.
Tito formed a one-party state in Yugoslavia, which remained communist until 1990 when Serbia became a republic led by Slobodan Milosevic.