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About Serbia

 Did you know?
...that famous writer John Ronald Reuel Tolkien tried to learn Serbian language but failed?

Serbia brought the 1st Allied victory of World War I in Battle of Cer against Austro-Hungary?

...that remarkable poet
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe learned Serbian language in order to comprehend Serbian epic poetry in original?

...the actress and model
Milla Jovovich has origin from Serb tribe of Vasojevići?

Serbia grows about one third of the world's raspberries?

Serbian sports ranks 1st in the world by gold medals (5 time world champions in basketball)?

Belgrade was under some form of attack every 37 years on average since AD 1?

...that jadarite discovered in
November 2006, in drill holes in the Jadar Valley (Serbian Cyrillic: Јадар, Yaddar) in Serbia is very close to the  the fictional substance kryptonite in the 2006 film Superman Returns?

...that according to the National Enquirer, author Ian Fleming patterned James Bond after Dusko Popov, a Serbian double agent nicknamed Tricycle?

...Kingdom of Serbia ranked first among the
Entente powers by the percentage of military deaths in WWI; 8% of the total Entente military deaths or 58% of the Serbian Army (420,000 strong) has perished during the conflict?... the grave of Atilla the Hun is located on the confluence of the rivers Tisza and Danube?... ...that Constantine the Great, the first great Byzantine emperor and the founder of the Constantinople was born in Nis (Naissus)?

... no less than 17
Roman Emperors were born in Serbia?

...that Belgrade won the title of City of the Future for Southern Europe in a contest sponsored by The Economist/FDI Magazine?Other award-winning cities were London (Northern Europe), Paris (Western Europe), Brno (Central Europe), and Baku (Eastern Europe). These cities are recognized as places to invest in their regions.

Serbia (
Serbian: Србија / Srbija), officially the Republic of Serbia (Serbian: Република Србија / Republika Srbija, listen ), is a landlocked country in Central and Southeastern Europe

Serbia's strategic location between two continents has subjected it to invasions by many peoples. 

Tourism in Serbia is mostly focused on the villages and mountains of the country. The most famous mountain resorts are
Zlatibor, Kopaonik, and the Tara. There are also many spas in Serbia, one the biggest of which is Vrnjačka Banja. Other spas include Soko Banja and Niška Banja. There is a significant amount of tourism in the largest cities like Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš, but also in the rural parts of Serbia like the volcanic wonder of Đavolja varoš[70], Christian pilgrimage across the country[71] and the cruises along the Danube, Sava or Tisza. There are several popular festivals held in Serbia, such as the EXIT Festival (proclaimed the best European festival by UK Festival Awards 2007 and Yourope, the European Association of the 40 largest festivals in Europe) and the Guča trumpet festival. 2,2 million tourists visited Serbia in 2007, a 15% increase compared to 2006.[72]

Famous Serbs

Serbia has eight cultural sites marked on the UNESCO World Heritage list: Stari Ras and Sopoćani monasteries (included in 1979), Studenica Monastery (1986), the Medieval Serbian Monastic Complex in Kosovo, comprising: Dečani Monastery, Our Lady of Ljeviš, Gračanica and Patriarchate of Pec- (2004, put on the endangered list in 2006), and Gamzigrad - Romuliana, Palace of Galerius, added in 2007. Likewise, there are 2 literary memorials added on the UNESCO's list as a part of the Memory of the World Programme: Miroslav Gospels, handwriting from the 12th century (added in 2005), and Nikola Tesla's archive (2003).

Serbs have played a significant role in the development of the arts and sciences. Prominent individuals include the scientists Nikola Tesla, Mihajlo Pupin, Jovan Cvijić, and Milutin Milanković; the renowned mathematician Mihailo Petrović and controversial co-author of Theory of Relativity Mileva Marić (Albert Einstein's first wife); the famous composers Goran Bregovic, Stevan Mokranjac and Stevan Hristić; the celebrated authors Borislav Pekić, Ivo Andrić and Miloš Crnjanski; the prolific inventor Ogneslav Kostović Stepanović; the polymath Đura Jakšić; the famous sports stars Pete Maravich ("Pistol Pete"), Vlade Divac, Dejan Bodiroga, Peđa Stojaković, Novak Đoković, Janko Tipsarević, Jelena Janković, Ana Ivanović, Nemanja Vidić, Nikola Zigic, Danko Lazović, Marko Pantelić, Dragan Stojković, Darko Miličić, Nenad Krstić, Vladimir Radmanović, Dejan Stanković, and Mateja Kežman; actors Karl Malden (Mladen Sekulovich), Rade Šerbedžija and the actress Milla Jovovich, Sasha Alexander, Lolita Davidovich (half Serbian). Famous directors like Dušan Makavejev, Peter Bogdanovich and Emir Kusturica. The Serb ruler during the Middle Ages (see List of Serbian rulers), Stephen Nemanja, and his son, Saint Sava, founded the monastery of Hilandar for the Serbian Orthodox Church, one of the greatest and oldest Orthodox Christian monuments in the world. Current governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, George Voinovich, former governor of the US state of Ohio, Gregg Popovich coach of the San Antonio Spurs, and famous singers "Weird Al" Yankovic, Željko Joksimović and Marija Šerifović are of Serbian origin.

The mother of the last (Eastern) Roman Emperor, Constantine XI Paleologos Dragases, was a Serbian princess, Helena Dragash (Jelena Dragaš), and she liked to be known by her Serbian surname of Dragaš.

Mehmed-paša Sokolović a 16th-century Ottoman Grand Vizier. Born in an Orthodox Serb family in southeast Bosnia, Sokolović was taken away at an early age as part of the devshirmeh system of Ottoman collection of young boys to be raised to serve as janissaries or in the imperial administration.

According to the National Enquirer, author Ian Fleming patterned James Bond after Duško Popov, a real life Serbian double agent nicknamed "Tricycle".

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, himself a Russian, composed the Slavonic March (Marche Slave) in 1876, known at first as the “Serbo-Russian March”, based on the Serbian folk melody “Come, my Dearest, why So Sad this Morning?”.



Serbian people's flag

The Serbian flag is a red-blue-white tricolour. It is often combined with one or both of the other Serb symbols.

  • The Serbian cross. If displayed on a field, traditionally it is on red field, but could be used with no field at all.

Both the eagle and the cross, besides being the basis for various Serbian coats of arms through history, are bases for the symbols of various Serbian organizations, political parties, institutions and companies.

Serbian folk attire varies, mostly because of the very diverse geography and climate of the territory inhabited by the Serbs. Some parts of it are, however, common:

  • A traditional shoe that is called the opanak. It is recognizable by its distinctive tips that spiral backward. Each region of Serbia has a different kind of tips.
  • A traditional hat that is called the šajkača. It is easily recognizable by its top part that looks like the letter V or like the bottom of a boat (viewed from above), after which it got its name. It gained wide popularity in the early 20th century as it was the hat of the Serbian army in the First World War. It is still worn everyday by some villagers today, and it was a common item of headgear among Bosnian Serb military commanders during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. However, "šajkača" is common mostly for the Serbian population living in the region of Central Serbia (Šumadija), while Serbs living in Vojvodina, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia had different types of traditional hats, which are not similar to "šajkača". Different types of traditional hats could be also found in eastern and southern parts of Central Serbia.
  • Of all Slavs and Orthodox Christians, only Serbs have the custom of slava. The custom could also be found among some Russians and Albanians of Serbian origin although it has often been lost in the last century. Slava is celebration of a saint; unlike most customs that are common for the whole people, each family separately celebrates its own saint (of course, there is a lot of overlap) who is considered its protector. A slava is inherited from father to son and each household may only have one celebration which means that the occasion brings all of the family together.
    The traditional Serbian dance is a
    circle dance called kolo. It is a collective dance, where a group of people (usually several dozen, at the very least three) hold each other by the hands or around the waist dancing, forming a circle (hence the name), semicircle or spiral. Similar circle dances also exist in other cultures of the region.
    Serbian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, so Christmas currently falls on January 7 of the Gregorian calendar


  • When ordering a burger ask for 'pljeskavica' (pronounced: pl-yee-eska-veetsa) ask for kajmak (like sour cream) (pronounced: kay-mahk) it tastes better than it sounds. Stepin Vajat and Duff at Autokomanda, Loki in downtown area and Iva in Žarkovo are the best grill fastfood restaurants in town. Also try ćevapcici (pronounced: tse-vaptsitsi), they are small parcels of minced meat, grilled with hot spices. It is considered a local fast food delicacy. Highly recommended to carnivores.

  • Burek (pronounced Boor-ek), sometimes decribed as the Balkan equivalent of McDonalds due to its being sold everywhere, is very delicious. It is made with a range of fillings including meat, cheese, spinach, apple, cherry....... Not for dieters as it is quite oily. Morning is definitely the best time to eat this (sometimes sold-out by afternoon).
    Kiflice (kee-flee-tse)are lovely little crescent rolls.
    Paprikas (paprika-sh) - stew with paprika often with chicken
    Gulas - stew with paprika with beef
    Sarma - cabbage rolls, similar to dolmades but made with sauerkraut instead of vine leaves
    Gibanica -(ghee-ban-eetsa) - phillo pie with spinach and cheese or just cheese (like spanakopita or tiropita in Greece)
    Punjene Paprike - stuffed peppers (Poony-eenay Pap-reekay)
    Pasulj - (pas-ool-y) - beans-a national specialty. Often cooked for a long time with onion and paprika. Delicious.
    Riblja čorba - (reeblya-a chorba) Fish soup using freshwater catch.
    Roštilj (barbecue) - the most delicious food in the world
    [edit][add listing]
    Rakija (there are many flavours, like plum (pronounce like she-lyee-va), quince (dun-ya)...
    Loza (from grapes, a type of rakija)
    Voda = Water
    Slivovitz (the national drink of Serbia, and a very popular, strong alcoholic beverage)

  • Tap water is perfectly safe to drink, and mainly of a good quality, too. There are also many springs and fountains with excellent-quality drinking water - the most popular ones being the fountain on Knez Mihailova in Belgrade, and the many fountains in the city of Nis.

Useful teaching and learning material  
English Language Teachers' Association  
  ELTA is supported by the Ministry of Education and Sports of The Republic of Serbia, US Embassy and British Council.

ELTA Magazine Column  
  You can read Milena Zečević's and Sanja Čonjagić's weekly column in Podrinske Magazine.

This site was created by Milena Zecevic Micic  
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