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The Republic of Serbia is situated at the crossroads of Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe, between the Balkan Peninsula and the Pannonian Plain. After centuries of settlement by the Celts, the ancient Greeks, and the Romans, the Serbs arrived in the region around the year 600. They formed a medieval kingdom there that evolved into the Serbian Empire, which reached its peak in the 14th century. The territory was conquered by the Ottomans in the 16th century, remaining under the control of the Ottoman Empire until the Serbs’ successful revolution in the early 1800s.
In 1918, in the aftermath of World War I, Serbia joined with the other Slavic states of the Balkans to form a kingdom that would eventually become Yugoslavia, which would exist in various forms—as a Socialist Republic after World War II, then a Federal Republic after 1992 following the secession of most of its constituent entities—until 2003, when it was renamed the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, a union that lasted until both countries declared their independence in 2006. Recently, the Kosovo territory has declared independence from Serbia, but its statehood remains disputed.
While travelers enjoy the rural villages and mountain spas of the Serbian countryside, Belgrade—Serbia’s capital and its largest city (and one of the oldest cities in Europe)—is also a main attraction. Originally a fortress situated at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, it has long been a site of great military significance. It’s Serbian name, Beograd, translates to “White city.”