Key facts about Serbia
(BELGRADE) - Key facts about Serbia as EU foreign ministers are due to decide Tuesday if Belgrade wins EU candidate status.
GEOGRAPHY: Serbia is a landlocked country in Europe's southeastern Balkans region. It lies south of Hungary and has Romania and Bulgaria to its east. Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia lie to the west and Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro are on its southern border.
SIZE AND LOCATION: At 77,474 square kilometres (48,140 squares miles without Kosovo) Serbia is smaller than Portugal and around two-thirds the size of the US state of New York.
POPULATION: 7.12 million (without Kosovo). The official language is Serbian.
CAPITAL: Belgrade with a population of 1.6 million.
RELIGION: More than 80 percent of Serbs are Orthodox Christians.
HISTORY: After five centuries of Ottoman rule Serbia's independence was formally recognised at the Berlin congress in 1878. After World War I Serbia, along with Croatia and Slovenia, formed a kingdom later named Yugoslavia, which was dissolved after Nazi German, Italian fascist troops and their allies occupied the country in 1941.
Serbia was the largest of six republics forming a new Yugoslavia that emerged as a federal socialist state after World War II. But with the collapse of communism throughout central and eastern Europe at the end of the 20th century, Yugoslavia broke up in a series of wars. Serbia, led by nationalist strongman Slobodan Milosevic during the Balkans wars of the 1990s, remained allied with Montenegro until June 2006 when the latter voted and declared independence.
Serbia lost its southern province Kosovo after a 1998-99 conflict with separatist ethnic Albanians which ended after a NATO air campaign. Kosovo came under United Nations administration in June 1999 and proclaimed independence in 2008.
After Milosevic's ouster in October 2000, Serbia began its transition into a democratic society. It applied for EU candidacy status in December 2009 and after fulfilling demands to capture the last fugitives wanted by the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and to improve relations with Pristina it hopes to be accepted by Brussels as a candidate Tuesday.
POLITICS: Serbia is a parliamentary democracy headed by President Boris Tadic. The 250-seat parliament is dominated by Tadic's pro-European coalition of parties, including the late Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia.
ECONOMY: Serbia's economy, based on industry, farming and services, was hit hard by the 1998-99 war and ensuing sanctions.
GDP : 38,4 billion dollars (2010 World Bank figure)
GDP per capita : 5.269 dollars (2010 World Bank estimate)
Total external debt of Serbia amounted to 24.1 billion euros ($32.3 billion) at end-2011 (the National Bank of Serbia)
MILITARY: Estimated at 12,000 men.
WEB SITES : www.srbija.gov.rs - Government
www.predsednik.rs - President
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