Serbia, in Southeastern Europe, is a landlocked country bordered by Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Macedonia. Its land mass totals about 88,361 sq km; it's slightly larger than the state of South Carolina. Serbia has a continental climate in the north with cold winters and hot, humid summers; in other parts, it has a more Mediterranean climate, relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall and hot, dry summers and autumns. Its capital is Belgrade; other major cities: Pancevo, Novi Pazar, Uzice, Novi Sad, Subotica, Bor, and Nis.
Serbia's terrain is varied: rich fertile plains in the north; limestone ranges and basins in the east; and ancient mountains and hills in the southeast. Natural resources include: oil, gas, coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, antimony, chromite, nickel, gold, silver, magnesium, limestone, and salt. Its population is estimated at 10,150,265 (July 2007). Its ethnic population is 82.9% Serb, 3.9% Hungarian, 1.4% Romany, 1.8% Bosniaks, and .9% Montenegrin. Religions of Serbia include: Serbian Orthodox (85%), Catholic (5.5%), Muslim (3.2%), Protestant (1.1%), unspecified (2.6%), and atheist (2.6%).
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. The military and political movement headed by Josip Tito (Partisans) took full control of Yugoslavia when German and Croatian separatist forces were defeated in 1945. Although Communist, Tito's new government and his successors (he died in 1980) managed to steer their own path between the Warsaw Pact nations and the West for the next four and a half decades.
In 1989, Slobodan Milosevic became president of the Serbian Republic and his ultranationalist calls for Serbian domination led to the violent breakup of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines. In 1991, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia declared independence, followed by Bosnia in 1992. The remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro declared a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in April 1992.
In 1998, a small-scale ethnic Albanian insurgency in the formerly autonomous Serbian province of Kosovo provoked a Serbian counterinsurgency campaign that resulted in massacres and massive expulsions of ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo by FRY forces and Serb paramilitaries. The Milosevic government's rejection of a proposed international settlement led to NATO's bombing of Serbia in the Spring of 1999. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (June 1999) authorized the stationing of a NATO-led force (KFOR) in Kosovo to provide a safe and secure environment for the region's ethnic communities, created a UN interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to foster self-governing institutions, and reserved the issue of Kosovo's final status for an unspecified date in the future.
In 2001 Milosevic was arrested and the country's suspension from the UN was lifted. In 2003, the FRY became Serbia and Montenegro. June 2006, Montenegro declared itself an independent nation. Two days later, Serbia declared that it was the successor state to the union of Serbia and Montenegro.
CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 02/2008; 07/2007