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Yugoslavia was a country formed after the end of the First World War from Serbia, Montenegro and the southern Slav inhabited parts of the AustroHungarian Empire, and included territory that either Serbia or Austro Hungary had taken from Turkey in the preceding Balkan wars. It became Communist after the Second World War, but was neutral, as the partisans had liberated themselves without Soviet help and their leader Tito fell out with Stalin. In the late 1980s and early 1990s when communism collapsed in Central Europe Yugoslavia broke up into several smaller nations.

Most of the division between the Yugoslavian peoples is based on religious hatred and history which has created some linguistic divides. The main South Slavic languages Serbian/Croatian, Macedonian and Slovenian are mutually intelligible but use different Alphabets - either Cyrillic or Latin depending on whether the people are Roman Catholic or Orthodox. But there is a large Albanian speaking minority in Macedonia and they form the majority in Kosovo.

The nations that once were part of Yugoslavia are: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

At the height of the Ottoman Empire the whole area had been under Ottoman rule. But over the centuries the Ottomans were driven south and in the early twentieth century lost their remaining territory in the First Balkan war. The current linguistic/religious makeup and the early twentieth century history of the states is broadly:

  • Slovenia, Roman Catholic, Slovenian speaking - in the Austrian part of the Austro Hungarian Empire until 1919,
  • Croatia, Roman Catholic, Serbo-Croat speaking - in the Hungarian part of the Austro Hungarian Empire until 1919,
  • Serbia, Orthodox, Serbo-Croat speaking
  • Montenegro, Orthodox, Montenegrin speaking, half of it was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1913
  • Kosovo, Mostly Albanian speaking Muslims with a significant Serb orthodox minority - part of Ottoman Empire until 1913, then Serbian
  • Macedonia, very mixed. Linguistically a clear mostly Macedonian/Serbo Croat speaking majority and a large Albanian speaking minority. Theologically an Orthodox majority and an Islamic minority but the divide is different - in particular there are Macedonian speaking Moslems. Part of Ottoman Empire until 1913, then Serbian
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbo-Croat speaking, but divided on religious lines into Roman Catholic Croats, Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Bosniaks. Part of the Ottoman Empire until 1908, then part of the Austrian part of the Austro Hungarian Empire until 1919

However all the above are complicated by intermarriage, other linguistic minorities and a series of genocidal or near genocidal wars and episodes of ethnic cleansing, especially the first and second world wars and the recent Balkan wars.

Politically the area is riddled with small minded nationalistic parties obsessed with settling scores from past conflicts and with grandiose plans for repartitioning the area to their presumed advantage. Not surprisingly with a predominately Conservative political setup it contains some of the poorest areas in Europe; Though Slovenia, the wealthiest state, has joined its neighbours Italy, Austria and Hungary in the European Union.