A traveler with average knowledge of this region can find history of Serbia to be surprisingly rich. Few interesting examples first: on Serbia's modern-day territory most of the Roman emperors were born after Italy about one in five. One of them was Constantine, the first emperor who legalized Christianity. One of the oldest Neolithic cultures, arguably the richest one, started here Vinca. Recently, the start of the Bronze age was changed to 500 years earlier due to the first evidence of copper smelting Plocnik. The Skull Tower is not a fictional place and it can be found there. The most decorated female warrior in the history of warfare was Serbian.
The first Serbian state was formed in the mid 9th century, expanding by the mid 14th century to an empire comprising most of the Balkans. In 1389, the Serbs lost a decisive battle in the Kosovo field against the Ottoman empire. Serbia managed to preserve its freedom for another seventy years, only to be finally overwhelmed by the Turks in 1459. An uprising in the early 1800s that grew in the full scale war War of Restoration led to the restoration of Serbian independence in 1815.
The 1914 Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by an ethnic Serb high school student precipitated the first World War. In its aftermath in 1918, victorious Serbia gathered all south Slav lands Croatia, Slovenia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia and Herzegowina, and Montenegrointo the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes; The country's name was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. Invasion and occupation by Germany and Italy in 1941 was resisted by Yugoslav Army in fatherland Chetniks, commanded by Lt.-Gen Dragoljub Mihajlović and communist led guerilla partisans who eventually started fighting each other as well as the invaders. The partisans, commanded by Field-Marshal Josip Broz Tito emerged victorious and formed a provisional government that abolished the monarchy and proclaimed a republic in 1946 after a dubious referendum. At the end of the war, nearly all ethnic Germans left the country. Although pro-Communist, J.B. Tito's new government successfully steered its own delicate path between the Warsaw Pact nations and the West for the next four and a half decades.
In the early 1990s, post-Tito Yugoslavia began to unravel along ethnic lines: Slovenia, Croatia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia all split from the Yugoslav Union in 1991; and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. All of efforts to preserve Yugoslavia were ultimately unsuccessful and bloody civil wars broke out in Croatia and in Bosnia. The remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro declared a new "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" FRY in 1992. Slobodan Milosevic was elected the first president of Serbia.
In the late 1990s, the conflict with the Albanian separatist movement in Kosovo led to a NATO bombing campaign and direct intervention, which left the placement of Kosovo under a UN administration. Slobodan Milosevic, by this time elected for the president of the federation, lost in the Federal elections in the fall of 2000 to Vojislav Kostunica. The country reestablished its membership in the UN and started preparations to join the EU.
In 2002, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro began negotiations to forge a looser relationship, which led first to the name change of the nation to "Serbia and Montenegro", then culminated in Montenegro declaring independence in June 2006. More recently, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence; however, this act remains unrecognised by Serbia and some other countries.
Independence came on 4 February 2003 when it changed from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro or on 5 June 2006 from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro to Serbia.
During the summer tourists love spending their time in Belgrade and enjoy the nature of many national parks throughout the country. In winter, they are warmly welcomed to mountain resorts one of the most popular being Kopaonik, featured on BBC as one of the best ski destinations in Europe. There are also many spa resorts such as Sokobanja, Niška Banja and Vrnjačka Banja.
Serbs are warm people, especially towards foreigners. They are very welcoming towards tourists, of which there are not many as the country's full potential has yet to be reached! Most Serbs speak some English and are eager to practise it seniors, however, are more likely to speak German and/or French, so you will be able to find your way around by asking directions. Most tourists come to Serbia in the summer and you can often hear German, Italian, French and English in the streets of Belgrade, while Slovenian, German, Austrian, Bosnian, and Hungarian tourists pour for New Year holidays.
Yugoslavia was such a beautiful country with so many different attractive places that somehow, Serbia was neglected and it is still to be rediscovered not only by visitors, but by many Serbs, too. It is also a varied and beautiful place notwithstanding the fact that it is landlocked. From the plains of Vojvodina, which in winter, remind of the scenes from the film of Dr. Zhivago, to many mountains and lakes or reservoirs and ski resorts of outstanding beauty.
There were seventeen Roman emperors born in the territory of today's Serbia, and it is well-known that they all left monuments and built palaces in or close to their birthplaces. It may well be that the oldest ever found human settlements in Europe, if not in the world, can be found in country of Serbia. The longest stretch of the river Danube, longer than in any other European country is in Serbia. The giant hydroelectric dam of Djerdap has created a lake stretching for many miles out of the Canyon Djerdap with its famous Roman road to the East build by the Emperor Trajan.
Serbia is on the crossroads of European history and as such, it is a mix of cultures, ethnicity and religions. Its people, contrary to a recent stigma, are one of the most hospitable and welcoming and recently, Belgrade was voted as one of the up and coming capitals of Europe. It hosted the recent Eurovison song contest and it is the home town of world names like Djokovic, Jankovic and Ivanovic; the ambassadors of New Serbia. There may be more attractive locations elsewhere, but Serbia has a spirit and a soul that is rare to find coupled with melange of different cultures and a gusto for good living.
January 1-2 New Year's Day, January 7 Eastern Orthodox Christmas, January 14 National Holiday (Orthodox New Year, January 27 Saint Sava's feast Day, February 15 Sretenje / Groundhog Day (Candlemas / Serbian National Day), May 1-2 Labour Day, May 9 Victory Day and June 28 Vidovdan / St Vitus Day are designated as state holidays. Major retail establishments such as supermarkets and shopping malls remain open on all of these days except January 1 and January 7. There are also several officially designated days on which only the members of certain religious minorities have the right not to work. In practice this means that in the northernmost areas of the country, including Subotica, where there is a sizeable Catholic population, many shops close on December 25 - Christmas Day according to the Gregorian calendar.
Serbia's official currency is the Serbian dinar RSD. The Serbian dinar can be exchanged in most of the banks throughout the Europe. You can convert your currency into RSD at the airport, nearly all banks, or in the numerous and visibly marked authorized exchange offices Menjačnica/Мењачница. Official exchange offices show the seal of the National bank of Serbia but have worse rates than the numerous smaller unofficial exchange offices.
The Euro is occasionally accepted, but prices are often overestimated when directly compared to the Dinar. Belgrade is typically on par with many European cities prices; however, outside the capital, prices of almost any item are lot lower than in the capital. Typically, 150 dinars for a coke in a Belgrade bar, and 220 dinars for 3 cokes in a bar outside the capital. Supermarket prices stay constant, throughout Belgrade with Coke at approx 120 dinars for 2 liters and a loaf of white bread at 40-60 dinars at Feb 2014. In February 2014, the dinar exchange rate stood at 85 Serbian Dinars for 1 US Dollar, 115.9 Serbian Dinars for €1 and 139 Serbian Dinars to 1 GBP.
Money changers may refuse worn-out or damaged foreign banknotes, especially US dollars, therefore it is recommended to bring notes only in good condition. Banks usually accept slightly damaged notes, sometimes with a commission.
Gas stations close to borders sometimes accept foreign currencies.
Extremely varied: to the north, rich fertile plains; to the east, limestone ranges and basins; to the southeast, ancient mountains and hills. Although the region around the town of Mionica has been known for some earthquakes in recent years, these were by no means destructive. The highest point is Đeravica at 2656 m.