Serbia is a newer tourism destination. During the summer, visitors flock to Belgrade to experience the natural beauty of the country’s numerous national parks. In the winter, people go to mountain resorts, with Kopaonik being one of the most popular. There are also many spa resorts, including Sokobanja, Nika Banja, and Vrnjaka Banja.
Serbs are a kind and hospitable people to outsiders. Many Serbs will speak some English and will be eager to practice it (seniors, on the other hand, are more likely to speak German and/or French), so you will be able to get about by asking for directions. The majority of visitors visit Serbia in the summer, and you may frequently hear German, Italian, French, and English spoken in the streets of Belgrade, while Slovenians flock to the country for the New Year holidays.
Serbia was established as a tourist destination considerably later than neighboring Croatia, despite being a diverse and attractive country. From the Vojvodina plains, which resemble scenes from ‘Dr. Zhivago’ in winter, to many mountains, lakes, and ski resorts.
Serbia is situated at a crossroads in European history, and as such, it is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and faiths. Contrary to recent political problems, its people are among the most friendly and inviting in Europe, and Belgrade was recently named one of Europe’s up-and-coming cities. It recently held a Eurovision song contest. Serbia has a unique character and personality, as well as a mingling of various cultures and a zest for life.
Serbia is not a popular tourist destination, but it does offer a wide variety of tourist attractions. Over 2.4 million visitors stayed in lodgings in 2015, with 1.1 million of them being foreigners. Tourism generated $1.14 billion in foreign currency profits.
Tourism is mostly centered on the country’s mountains and spas, which are largely frequented by local visitors, as well as Belgrade, which is a popular destination for international tourists. Kopaonik, Stara Planina, and Zlatibor are the most well-known mountain resorts. Serbia also has numerous spas, the most notable of which being Vrnjaka Banja, Soko Banja, and Banja Koviljaa. City-break and conference tourism are growing in Belgrade (which received 517,401 foreign visitors in 2013, accounting for more than half of all international trips to the country) and, to a lesser extent, Novi Sad. Other tourist attractions in Serbia include natural marvels such as Avolja Varo, Christian pilgrimage to the country’s numerous Orthodox monasteries, and river cruises along the Danube. Serbia has many globally renowned music festivals, including EXIT (which attracts 25–30,000 foreign visitors from 60 different countries) and the Gua trumpet festival.
Serbia is located on the Balkan Peninsula and the Pannonian Plain, at the crossroads of Central and Southern Europe. Serbia is located between the latitudes of 41° and 47° N, and the longitudes of 18° and 23° E. The nation has a total size of 88,361 km2 (with Kosovo), ranking it 113th in the globe; without Kosovo, the total area is 77,474 km2, ranking it 117th. Its entire boundary length is 2,027 kilometers (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). Kosovo border police oversee the whole border with Albania (115 km), Macedonia (159 km), and Montenegro (79 km). Serbia considers the 352 km long border between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia to be a “administrative line”; it is shared by Kosovo border police and Serbian police forces, and there are 11 crossing locations.
The northern part of the nation (Vojvodina and Mava) is covered by the Pannonian Plain, while Serbia’s easternmost point extends into the Wallachian Plain. The landscape of the country’s central area, with the region of Umadija at its core, consists mostly of hills crossed by rivers. The southern part of Serbia is dominated by mountains. The Dinaric Alps go west and southwest, following the course of the rivers Drina and Ibar. In eastern Serbia, the Carpathian Mountains and the Balkan Mountains run north–south.
The Rilo-Rhodope Mountainsystem includes ancient mountains in the country’s southeast portion. The elevation varies from 2,169 metres (7,116 feet) at the Midor peak of the Balkan Mountains (the highest mountain in Serbia, excluding Kosovo) to 17 metres (56 feet) along the Danube river at Prahovo. The biggest lake is Erdap Lake (163 square kilometers or 63 square miles), while the Danube is the longest river that runs through Serbia (587.35 kilometres or 364.96 miles).
Serbia’s climate is influenced by the continent of Eurasia, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. It has a warm-humid continental or humid subtropical climate, with mean January temperatures around 0 °C (32 °F) and mean July temperatures around 22 °C (72 °F). The climate in the north is more continental, with frigid winters and hot, humid summers, as well as well-distributed rainfall patterns. Summers and autumns are drier towards the south, while winters are rather chilly, with significant interior snowfall in the mountains.
Climate variances are caused by differences in height, proximity to the Adriatic Sea and major river basins, as well as wind exposure. Southern Serbia is influenced by the Mediterranean. The Dinaric Alps and other mountain ranges, on the other hand, help to temper most of the warm air masses. Winters in the Peter plateau are severe due to the mountains that surround it. Koava, a chilly and extremely squally southeastern wind that originates in the Carpathian Mountains and follows the Danube northwest via the Iron Gate where it acquires a jet effect and continues to Belgrade and may extend as far south as Ni, is one of Serbia’s meteorological characteristics.
For the period 1961–1990, the average annual air temperature for the region at a height of up to 300 m (984 ft) is 10.9 °C (51.6 °F). Places with an altitude of 300 to 500 m (984 to 1,640 ft) have an average annual temperature of about 10.0 °C (50.0 °F), while areas with an altitude of above 1,000 m (3,281 ft) have an average annual temperature of around 6.0 °C (42.8 °F). The lowest recorded temperature in Serbia was 39.5 °C (39.1 °F) on 13 January 1985, Karajukia Bunari in Peter, while the highest was 44.9 °C or 112.8 °F, recorded on 24 July 2007 in Smederevska Palanka.
Serbia is one of just a few European nations with a high risk of natural disasters (earthquakes, storms, floods, droughts). Potential floods, especially in Central Serbia, are projected to endanger approximately 500 major towns and an area of 16,000 square kilometers. The floods in May 2014 were the most devastating, killing 57 people and causing damage worth more than 1.5 billion euros.
Serbia (excluding Kosovo) has a total population of 7,186,862 as of the 2011 census, with a median population density of 92.8 people per square kilometer. The census was not undertaken in Kosovo, which had its own census, which had a total population of 1,739,825, omitting Serb-inhabited North Kosovo, since Serbs from that region (about 50,000) boycotted the census.
Serbia has been experiencing a demographic catastrophe since the early 1990s, with a mortality rate that has consistently outpaced its birth rate and a total fertility rate of 1.44 children per mother, one of the lowest in the world. As a result, Serbia has one of the world’s oldest populations, with an average age of 42.2 years, and its population is decreasing at one of the world’s quickest rates. One-fifth of all homes have just one person, while one-fourth have four or more people. In Serbia, the average life expectancy at birth is 74.2 years.
During the 1990s, Serbia had Europe’s biggest refugee population. Refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) made up between 7% and 7.5 percent of Serbia’s population; approximately 500,000 refugees, primarily from Croatia (and to a lesser extent from Bosnia and Herzegovina), and IDPs from Kosovo sought refuge in the country following the series of Yugoslav wars. Meanwhile, it is believed that 300,000 individuals left Serbia throughout the 1990s, with 20% of them having a higher degree.
Serbs are Serbia’s biggest ethnic group, accounting for 83 percent of the overall population (5,988,150). (excluding Kosovo). With a population of 253,899, Hungarians are Serbia’s biggest ethnic minority, mostly concentrated in northern Vojvodina and accounting for 3.5 percent of the country’s population (13 percent in Vojvodina). According to the 2011 census, the Romani population is 147,604, although unofficial estimates put their real number between 400,000 and 500,000. Bosniaks, numbering 145,278 people, are centered in Raka (Sandak), in the southwest. Croats, Slovaks, Albanians, Montenegrins, Vlachs, Romanians, Macedonians, and Bulgarians are among the other minority groups. The Chinese are the only major immigrant minority, with an estimated 15,000 people. Vojvodina has a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural character; the province contains more than 26 ethnic groups and six official languages.
The bulk of the population, or 59.4 percent, lives in cities, with Belgrade accounting for 16.1 percent. Belgrade is the only city with a population of more than a million people, while four other cities have populations of more than 100,000 people.
Serbia is a secular state with guaranteed religious freedom, according to its constitution. Orthodox Christians account for 84.5 percent of the country’s population, accounting for 6,079,396 people. The Serbian Orthodox Church is the country’s biggest and most traditional church, with a majority of its followers being Serbs. Montenegrins, Romanians, Vlachs, Macedonians, and Bulgarians are among the other Orthodox Christian groups in Serbia.
In Serbia, there are 356,957 Roman Catholics, or about 6% of the population, mainly in Vojvodina (particularly its northern portion), which is home to minority ethnic groups such as Hungarians, Croats, and Bunjevci, as well as some Slovaks and Czechs.
Protestantism is practiced by approximately 1% of the country’s population, mostly among Slovaks in Vojvodina and Reformed Hungarians. The Greek Catholic Church is followed by about 25,000 people (0.37 percent of the population), the majority of them are Rusyns in Vojvodina.
Muslims are the third biggest religious group, accounting for 222,282 people or 3% of the population. Islam has a significant historical following in Serbia’s southern areas, particularly in southern Raka. Bosniaks are Serbia’s biggest Islamic group, and it is estimated that one-third of the country’s Roma population is Muslim.
In Serbia, there are just 578 Jews of Jewish religion. Atheists made up 80,053 people, or 1.1 percent of the population, with an additional 4,070 declaring themselves as agnostics.
Serbia has a developing market economy with an upper-middle-class income. According to the IMF, Serbia’s nominal GDP in 2015 was $36.56 billion, or $5,102 per capita, while purchasing power parity GDP was $97.27 billion, or $13,577 per capita. Services dominate the economy, accounting for 60.3 percent of GDP, followed by industry (31.8 percent of GDP) and agriculture (7.9 percent of GDP). Serbia’s official currency is the Serbian dinar (ISO code: RSD), and the country’s central bank is the National Bank of Serbia. The Belgrade Stock Exchange is the country’s sole stock exchange, with a market value of $8.65 billion (as of August 2014) and the BELEX15 index, which represents the 15 most liquid companies.
The global economic crisis has had an impact on the economy. Following eight years of robust economic development (an average of 4.45 percent per year), Serbia entered a recession in 2009, with negative growth of 3%, and again in 2012, with negative growth of 1.5 percent. As the government battled the consequences of the crisis, the public debt more than quadrupled in four years, rising from 29.2 percent of GDP before the crisis to 63.8 percent of GDP now.
In 2014, there were 1.703 million people in the labor force, with 59.6 percent working in the services sector, 23.9 percent working in agriculture, and 16.5 percent working in industry. In June 2014, the average monthly net wage was 44,883 dinars (US$528,50). Unemployment is a serious issue, with a rate of 17.9 percent in 2015.
Serbia has received approximately $25 billion in international direct investment since 2000. (FDI). Among the multinational companies investing in Serbia are FIAT, Siemens, Bosch, Philip Morris, Michelin, Coca-Cola, Carlsberg, and others. Russian energy behemoths Gazprom and Lukoil have made significant investments in the energy industry.
Serbia has a negative trade balance, with imports exceeding exports by 28.9 percent. Serbia’s exports, on the other hand, have steadily increased in recent years, reaching $14.61 billion in 2013. The nation has free trade agreements with EFTA and CEFTA, a preferential trade system with the European Union, a GSP with the US, and individual free trade agreements with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.
Serbia offers excellent natural conditions (land and climate) for a wide range of agricultural output. It has 5,056,000 hectares of agricultural land (0.7 ha per capita), 3,294,000 ha of which is arable land (0.45 ha per capita). Serbia sold agriculture and food goods worth $2.8 billion in 2013, with an export-import ratio of 180 percent. Agricultural exports account for one-fifth of Serbia’s total global sales. Serbia is a major supplier of frozen fruit to the EU (largest to the French market, and 2nd largest to the German market). Agriculture is most important in Vojvodina, which is located on the rich Pannonian Plain. Mava, Pomoravlje, Tamnava, Rasina, and Jablanica are also agricultural areas. In the agricultural production system, crop field production accounts for 70% of total output, while livestock production accounts for 30%. Serbia is the world’s second biggest producer of plums (582,485 tons; second only to China), second largest producer of raspberries (89,602 tons; second only to Poland), and a major producer of maize (6.48 million tons; 32nd in the world) (2.07 million tons, ranked 35th in the world). Sunflower, sugar beet, soybean, potato, apple, pig meat, beef, poultry, and dairy are all significant agricultural goods.
Serbia has 56,000 hectares of vineyards and produces about 230 million litres of wine each year. The most well-known viticulture areas are in Vojvodina and Umadija.
The industrial sector was the most affected by UN sanctions, trade embargoes, and NATO bombing throughout the 1990s, as well as the transition to a market economy during the 2000s. The industrial production shrank dramatically: in 2013, it is projected to be half of what it was in 1989. Automotive, mining, nonferrous metals, food processing, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and clothing are among the major industrial sectors.
The automotive sector (with FIAT as a forefather) is dominated by a cluster situated in Kragujevac and its surroundings, and it provides about $2 billion to export. Serbia’s mining industry is comparatively strong: it is the world’s 18th largest producer of coal (7th in Europe), extracted from large deposits in the Kolubara and Kostolac basins; it is also the world’s 23rd largest producer of copper (3rd in Europe), extracted by RTB Bor, a large domestic copper mining company; and significant gold extraction is developed around Majdanpek. Serbia is well-known for producing Intel devices known as Tesla cellphones.
The food sector is well-known both locally and globally, and it is one of the economy’s strong areas. PepsiCo and Nestlé started manufacturing in Serbia in the food-processing sector; Coca-Cola (Belgrade), Heineken (Novi Sad), and Carlsberg (Baka Palanka) in the beverage industry; and Nordzucker in the sugar business. Foreign businesses have made substantial greenfield investments in the clothing and textile sector in recent years, including Benneton in Ni, Geox in Vranje, Calzedonia in Sombor, and Falke in Leskovac, among others. Serbia’s electronics industry peaked in the 1980s, and it is now only a third of what it was. However, the industry has seen some revival in the last decade, thanks to investments by companies such as Siemens (wind turbines) in Subotica, Panasonic (lighting devices) in Svilajnac, and Gorenje (electrical home appliances) in Valjevo. The pharmaceutical sector in Serbia consists of 20 generic medication manufacturers, with Hemofarm in Vrac and Galenika in Belgrade accounting for 80 percent of production output. Domestic production satisfies more than 60% of local demand.