National Geographic : 2009 Jul
Former Yugoslavia border 20 15°E 45°N Danube Sava Adriatic Sea Kosovo Field Sofia Prishtina (Pristina) Podgorica Sarajevo Belgrade Nis Krusevac Sabac Smederevo Kragujevac Tuzla Srebrenica Uzice Sljivovica Mostar Mitrovica Velika Hoca Rahovec (Orahovac) Valjevo Novi Pazar Banja Luka Zagreb Osijek Ljubljana Skopje Subotica ROMANIA AUSTRIA GREECE BULGARIA ITALY ALBANIA HUNGARY KOSOVO 125,000 MONTENEGRO 198,400 SERBIA 6,230,000 BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 1,703,000 CROATIA 201,600 SLOVENIA 36,300 MACEDONIA 36,000 EUROPE Balkan Peninsula AFRICA Former Yugoslavia with ancient frescoes of the life of Christ, icons of saints, the Last Judgment. No one, including the local priest, can explain why this unassum- ing agricultural place came over the centuries to be invested with such a weight of the sacred. Some of the village churches, Bojan Naka- lamic says, were built during the reign of King Stefan Dusan in the 14th century. e great- est ruler the Serbs ever had, he built a Serbian empire larger than any before or since. Kosovo was at its center when Dusan dubbed himself "Emperor and Autocrat of the Serbs and Greeks, the Bulgarians and the Albanians." Chuckling, but with his hand on his heart, Nakalamic says: "Outside, I m a small Kosovo politician. But inside, I m Dusan." Only a few decades a er Dusan s death, in 1389, an army of perhaps 25,000 Serbs met a superior Ottoman force on Kosovo Field and went down in what many Serbs regard as glorious defeat. Serbia withered in the face of the expand- ing Ottoman Empire, which erased the country from the map within little more than a century. But the Battle of Kosovo lived on in Serbian literature and song as a symbol of the struggle against foreign domination. Serbia regained independence in the 19th century and retook Kosovo in the 20th, during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Yet several centuries of Turkish domination had not only shaped the Serbs sense of persecution, but also scattered them across the western Balkans. At Scattered Serbs For more than a millennium, migrations and wars have dispersed Serbs across the lands of former Yugoslavia, the defunct federation once dominated by Serbia. JEROME N. COOKSON AND MARGUERITE B. HUNSIKER, NG STAFF Serb population greater than 50 percent in municipalities within the former Yugoslavia Serb population 36,000 0mi 50 0km 50 On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared its independence. Serbia still claims it as a province. Serbian place-names are in parentheses.