Serbia and Montenegro - (Europe)

Information about Serbia and Montenegro

102350 square kilometres
Orthodox 65%, Muslim 19%, Roman Catholic 4%, Protestant 1%, other 11%
Christian (%)
Protestant (%)
Reformed (%)

The first Serb state emerged in the 9th century. Following earlier Christian mission, the "apostles to the Slavs", Cyril and Methodius, brought new energy to the evangelisation of the Slavs when preaching in the vernacular and translating the Bible and the liturgy. For this purpose, Cyril invented a script for the Slavonic language: the Cyrillic alphabet.
Four centuries later, an autocephalous Serbian church was established under St. Sava, the brother of the first Serbian king, Stefan Prvovencani, and the son of the founder of the Serbian state, Stefan Nemanja. Churches were built and monasteries and congregations established throughout the country. Attempts to Latinise the Western parts of Serbia ended in the 14th century, still under the Nemanjic dynasty, and the church eventually came under the authority of Constantinople.
Having been defeated by the Turks in 1389, the Serbs finally surrendered in 1459 and Serbia became part of the Ottoman Empire. However, the Orthodox Church was recognised by the government. The church had its own patriarchate at Pec which also exercised civil functions.
Towards the end of the 17th century, a series of peasant uprisings took place. They were eventually put down by the Empire, the Serbs were punished and many Christians emigrated. Alban Muslims migrated into the empty lands, and some parts of the country saw forced Islamisation. In the 18th century, the patriarchate at Pec was abolished and the Serbian church became part of the Greek patriarchate.
In 1830, the Serbian principality received full autonomy and the Serbian church once more became independent. In 1876, Serbia and Montenegro declared war on Turkey. After the defeat of the Turks, the frontiers of the region were redrawn. Serbia became stronger and came into conflict with Austria. It was involved in World War I from the very beginning, when Austria's prince Ferdinand was shot in Sarajevo. In December 1918, the kingdom of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia was formed (the South Slav Monarchy). The royal families all belonged to the Orthodox Church, and although officially all religions were equal, the Orthodox Church was accorded special status.
In April 1941, the kingdom was invaded by German troops. The Orthodox patriarch was sent into a concentration camp and did not return until 1946. In October 1944, communist Serbian partisans and Soviet troops conquered Belgrade. The Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was promulgated in January 1946. The Orthodox Church was formally free – the constitution had guarantied religious freedom – but many of its members suffered from oppression. In 1952, relations between the Yugoslav government and the Vatican, which had always been bad, broke down entirely, whereas relations between the State and the Orthodox and Moslem communities improved during the 1950s. In 1960, relations to the Catholic Church began to improve as well and after Vatican II the church was given much more freedom. Dialogues between Marxists and Christians became fashionable, but church members still suffered discrimination.
In 1991, Yugoslavia began to fall apart as the different provinces sought to reclaim their separate identities.. A civil war erupted by the end of which a number of states had evolved. The "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia", declared by Serbia and Montenegro in 1992, sought forcibly to unite all Serbian-inhabited regions by means of military invasions. This led to the involvement of NATO forces in 1998/99. In 2001, the country was accepted back into the UN organisations, and in 2003, it was named Serbia and Montenegro, as a tribute to negotiations for a looser federation between the two republics.



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