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INTRODUCING SERBIA
Local Name: Србија
Other Name(s): Republika Srbija
Serbia, founding member of Yugoslavia and Serbia - Montenegro, has always been turbulent when it comes to its size and shape; its borders and cultural heritage have been crossed and determined by 56 armies in recorded history. Romans, Celts, Greeks, Arabs, Huns, Slavs, Persians, Hungarians, Franks, Germans and Turks have shaped this country's identity through different fields: religion, cousine, music, art, monuments, crafts, language and literature- into a unique mixture of the West and Orient.

These are the reasons Serbs use two different scripts- Cyrilic and Latin, believe in the Eastern Orthodox God (Greece), serve gulash as their "national" dishes (Hungary), have toponyms such as Fruska Gora (Frankish Mountain) and Singidunum (Celtic Belgrade); their first kings were crowned by the Vatican, Atilla the Hun was presumably buried in Belgrade as his grave overlooks the Emperor Leopold's Gate (Austria). The most beloved queens in Serbian history were Helen d' Anjou (French), Anna Dondolo (Venetian), Catherine of Hungary, Symonide of Byzantium, Empress Milica (Serbian) and Maria Theresa (Austrian).

Founded in the 9th century by Serbian dynasty of Vlastimirovic, Serbia evolved into a Kingdom in 1217 inheriting the First Kingdom of Zeta (today's Montenegro),

The Serbian apogee in economy, law, military, and religion took place during the rule of the House of Nemanjić between 1166 and 1371; the Serbian Kingdom was proclaimed in 1217, joined later by the Kingdom of Syrmia, Banovina of Mačva and Bosnia; finally, the Serbian Empire of Stefan Dušan was formed in 1346. Under Dušan's rule, Serbia reached its territorial peak, becoming one of the larger states in Europe. The renowned Dušan's Code, a universal system of laws, was enforced.

Belgrade broke off and joined Catholic Hungary, resisting the Ottomans until 1521, when most of today's Vojvodina (northern Serbia) was also included into the Muslim Empire; at one point Second Serbian Empire of Jovan Nenad was established but the state was shortlasting. By the end of the 17th century Vojvodina expelled the Turks and joined Austrian Empire, followed by Belgrade and Central Serbia, however the latter only for a couple of decades. Serbian revolutions in Turkey between 1804-1815 enabled Serbia to establish itself as an independent state for the first time in 300 years; however following the Napoleon's invasion on Russia Serbia had lost an important ally so it was obligated to ackgnowledge supreme Ottoman rule.

Nevertheless, from that point onwards Serbia was governed by its own Prince, formally proclaiming its independence during the Russo-Turkish war (1875-1878) alongside Montenegro. South Serbia, Sandzak and Kosovo united with Serbia as a result of the Balkan wars against Turkey and Bulgaria; Vojvodina broke off from Austro-Hungary to join Serbian Kingdom following the collapse of the Empire in 1918. Finally, this Kingdom of Serbia (corresponding more or less to its modern size) was merged with the former Austro-Hungarian territories (Slovene, Croatian and Serbian), and united with the Kingdom of Montenegro to form Kingdom of Yugoslavia (official name since 1929), governed by the Serbian royal dynasty Karadjordjevic.

Serbia's capital is Belgrade, and Montenegro's is now Podgorica. Kosovo, a region of Serbia, is administrated by NATO and the United Nations.

In 1999, the world watched in horror as the Serbs began a massive expulsion of ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo. That action provoked an international response that included the bombing of Serbia, and the positioning of NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo. Within months, Serbia's former leader (Slobodan Milosevic) was arrested; awaiting trial in The Hague, Netherlands for crimes against humanity, he died.