title
macrohistory & world report

Serbia

map of Serbia amid neighboring countries

Serbia (capital Belgrade) and neighboring countries

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Serbia has a transitional economy largely dominated by market forces, but the state sector remains significant in certain areas and many institutional reforms are needed. The economy relies on manufacturing and exports, driven largely by foreign investment. MILOSEVIC-era mismanagement of the economy, an extended period of international economic sanctions, civil war, and the damage to Yugoslavia's infrastructure and industry during the NATO airstrikes in 1999 left the economy only half the size it was in 1990. After the ousting of former Federal Yugoslav President MILOSEVIC in September 2000, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition government implemented stabilization measures and embarked on a market reform program. After renewing its membership in the IMF in December 2000, Serbia continued to reintegrate into the international community by rejoining the World Bank (IBRD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Serbia has made progress in trade liberalization and enterprise restructuring and privatization, but many large enterprises - including the power utilities, telecommunications company, natural gas company, and others - remain in state hands. Serbia has made some progress towards EU membership, signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Brussels in May 2008, and with full implementation of the Interim Trade Agreement with the EU in February 2010, gained candidate status in March 2012. In January 2014, Serbia's EU accession talks officially opened. Serbia's negotiations with the World Trade Organization are advanced, with the country's complete ban on the trade and cultivation of agricultural biotechnology products representing the primary remaining obstacle to accession. Serbia's program with the IMF was frozen in early 2012 because the 2012 budget approved by parliament deviated from the program parameters; the arrangement is now void. However, an IMF mission visited Serbia in February 2014 to initiate discussions with Serbian authorities on a possible new IMF arrangement and these talks will continue following the formation of the new government. High unemployment and stagnant household incomes are ongoing political and economic problems. Structural economic reforms needed to ensure the country's long-term prosperity have largely stalled since the onset of the global financial crisis. Growing budget deficits constrain the use of stimulus efforts to revive the economy and contribute to growing concern of a public debt crisis, given that Serbia's total public debt as a share of GDP doubled between 2008 and 2013. Serbia's concerns about inflation and exchange-rate stability may preclude the use of expansionary monetary policy. During the recent election campaign, the victorious SNS party promised comprehensive economic reform during the first half of 2014 to address issues with the fiscal deficit, state-owned enterprises, the labor market, construction permits, bankruptcy and privatization, and other areas. Major challenges ahead include: high unemployment rates and the need for job creation; high government expenditures for salaries, pensions, healthcare, and unemployment benefits; a growing need for new government borrowing; rising public and private foreign debt; attracting new foreign direct investment; and getting the IMF program back on track. Other serious longer-term challenges include an inefficient judicial system, high levels of corruption, and an aging population. Factors favorable to Serbia's economic growth include its strategic location, a relatively inexpensive and skilled labor force, and free trade agreements with the EU, Russia, Turkey, and countries that are members of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA)."

Unemployment rate
2010: 19.2%
2009: 16.6%

Public debt
2010:41.5% of GDP
2009: 31.3% of GDP

People

Living in an urban area
2010: 56%
2008: 52%

Ethnic groups
2002 census: Serb 82.9%, Hungarian 3.9%, Romany (Gypsy) 1.4%, Yugoslavs 1.1%, Bosniaks 1.8%, Montenegrin 0.9%, other 8%

Religions
2002 census: Serbian Orthodox 85%, Catholic 5.5%, Protestant 1.1%, Muslim 3.2%, unspecified 2.6%, other, unknown, or atheist 2.6%

Geography

Southeastern Europe. Capital: Belgrade. Slightly smaller than South Carolina, 77,474 square kilometers.

Government

The chief of state is elected by popular vote to a five-year term and eligible for a second term. The head of government is elected by the National Assembly. The National Assembly has 250 seats, its members elected by the public to four-year terms.

Recent History

The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed in 1918; its name was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929.

Various paramilitary bands resisted Nazi Germany's occupation and division of Yugoslavia from 1941 to 1945, but fought each other and ethnic opponents as much as the invaders.

With the end of World War II, Serbia became a constituent republic within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In 1989, Slobodan Milosevic became president of the Serbian Republic and his calls for Serbian domination were followed by the breakup of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines.

Serbia and Montenegro declared a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in April 1992 and under Milosevic's leadership, Serbia led various military campaigns to unite ethnic Serbs in neighboring republics into a "Greater Serbia." These actions led to Yugoslavia being ousted from the UN in 1992. Serbia continued its campaign until signing the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995.

In 2001, the country's suspension from the UN was lifted, and it was once more accepted into UN organizations. In 2003, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia became Serbia and Montenegro, a loose federation of the two republics with a federal parliament.

On 3 June 2006, Serbia became an independent state. In October 2006 Serbia's parliament unanimously approved a new constitution for the country, and it was approved by referendum.

On 17 February 2008, the Kosovo Assembly declared its independence from Serbia. Its independence is not recognized by Serbia or Russia. Among those recognizing Kosovo's independence are the United States, Turkey, Albania, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Taiwan and Australia.

SOURCES:
The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.