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The name "Serbia" was first mentioned as Greek: Εερβiα, meaning "land of the Serbs". There are many theories regarding the origin of the name of the Serbs. The most likely is that it is derived from the Old Slavic root *serb-, meaning "same". Another proposed etymology is that of the Indo-European root *ser- "to watch over, protect", akin to Latin servare "to keep, guard, protect, preserve, observe".

Located at the crossroads between Central and Southern Europe, Serbia is found in the Balkan peninsula and the Pannonian Plain. Serbia lies between latitudes 41° and 47° N, and longitudes 18° and 23° E. The country covers a total of 88,361 km² (including Kosovo), which places it at 113th place in the world. Its total border length amounts to 2,027 km (Albania 115 km, Bosnia and Herzegovina 302 km, Bulgaria 318 km, Croatia 241 km, Hungary 151 km, Macedonia 221 km, Montenegro 203 km and Romania 476 km). All of Serbia's border with Albania, and parts of the borders with Macedonia, Montenegro, are under control of the UNMIK.

The Pannonian Plain covers the northern third of the country (mainly Vojvodina and Macva) while the easternmost tip of Serbia extends into the Wallachian Plain. The terrain of central part of the country, with the region of Šumadija at its heart, consists chiefly of hills traversed by the rivers. Mountains dominate the southern third of Serbia. Dinaric Alps stretch in the west and the southwest following the flow of the rivers Drina and Ibar. Carpathian Mountains and Balkan Mountains stretch in north-south direction in the eastern Serbia. Ancient mountains in the southeast corner of the country belong to Rilo-Rhodope Mountain system. Elevation ranges from the Midzor peak of the Balkan Mountains at 2,169 m (highest peak in Serbia, excluding Kosovo) to the lowest point of just 17 m near Danube river at Prahovo.

It's easy to think of Serbia as just one of the countries that used to make up Yugoslavia. But that group of countries was never united. At each and every petty squabble in the area, the parts of Yugoslavia each took different sides. Yugoslavia may have been a convenient grouping but there was never any common ground or thinking. For the lifetime of all the countries concerned, there has always been dispute and Serbia has mostly been the warmonger.

leon@euroguides.ukFeel free to Email me any additions or corrections


Leon Edgar Books