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Map of the Yugoslav Diaspora in the World.svg
Census figures of self-declared Yugoslavs: [lower-alpha 1]   100,000+  10,000+  1,000+  50+
Regions with significant populations
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 210,395 (2021)
(Yugoslav Americans) [1]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 38,480 (2016)
(Yugoslav Canadians) [2]
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia 27,143 (2022)
(Yugoslavs in Serbia) [3]
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 26,883 (2011) [4]
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina 2,570 (2013) [5]
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro 1,154 (2011) [6]
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia 942 (2021) [7]
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia 527 (2002) [8]
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia 344 (2021) [9]
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 60 (2021) [10]
South Slavic languages, English
Related ethnic groups
South Slavs, other Slavic peoples

Yugoslavs or Yugoslavians (Serbo-Croatian : Jugoslaveni/Jugosloveni, Југославени/Југословени; [lower-alpha 2] Slovene : Jugoslovani; Macedonian : Југословени, romanized: Jugosloveni) is an identity that was originally designed to refer to a united South Slavic people. It has been used in two connotations: the first in a sense of common shared ethnic descent, i.e. panethnic or supraethnic connotation for ethnic South Slavs, [lower-alpha 3] and the second as a term for all citizens of former Yugoslavia regardless of ethnicity. [lower-alpha 4] Cultural and political advocates of Yugoslav identity have historically ascribed the identity to be applicable to all people of South Slav heritage, including those of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia. Although Bulgarians are a South Slavic group, attempts at uniting Bulgaria into Yugoslavia were unsuccessful, and therefore Bulgarians were not included in the panethnic identification. Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the establishment of South Slavic nation states, the term ethnic Yugoslavs has been used to refer to those who exclusively view themselves as Yugoslavs with no other ethnic self-identification, many of these being of mixed ancestry. [11]


In the former Yugoslavia, the official designation for those who declared themselves simply as Yugoslav was with quotation marks, "Yugoslavs" (introduced in census 1971). The quotation marks were originally meant to distinguish Yugoslav ethnicity from Yugoslav citizenship, which was written without quotation marks. The majority of those who had once identified as ethnic "Yugoslavs" reverted to or adopted traditional ethnic and national identities, sometimes due to social pressure, intimidation, disadvantageous consequences, or prevention to continue identifying as Yugoslav by new political authorities. [12] [13] Some also decided to turn to sub-national regional identifications, especially in multi-ethnic historical regions like Istria, Vojvodina, or Bosnia (hence Bosnians). The Yugoslav designation, however, continues to be used by many, especially in the United States, Canada, and Australia by the descendants of Yugoslav migrants who emigrated while the country still existed.


Yugoslavism and Yugoslavia

Since the late 18th century, when traditional European ethnic affiliations started to mature into modern ethnic identities, there have been numerous attempts to define a common South Slavic ethnic identity. The word Yugoslav, meaning "South Slavic", was first used by Josip Juraj Strossmayer in 1849. [14] The first modern iteration of Yugoslavism was the Illyrian movement in Habsburg Croatia. It identified South Slavs with ancient Illyrians and sought to construct a common language based on the Shtokavian dialect. [15] The movement was led by Ljudevit Gaj, whose script became one of two official scripts used for the Serbo-Croatian language. [15]

Among notable supporters of Yugoslavism and a Yugoslav identity active at the beginning of the 20th century were famous sculptor Ivan Meštrović (1883–1962), who called Serbian folk hero Prince Marko "our Yugoslav people with its gigantic and noble heart" and wrote poetry speaking of a "Yugoslav race"; [16] Jovan Cvijić, in his article The Bases of Yugoslav Civilization, developed the idea of a unified Yugoslav culture and stated that "New qualities that until now have been expressed but weakly will appear. An amalgamation of the most fertile qualities of our three tribes [Serbs, Croats, Slovenes] will come forth every more strongly, and thus will be constructed the type of single Yugoslav civilization-the final and most important goal of our country." [17] In late 19th and early 20th century, influential public intellectuals Jovan Cvijić and Vladimir Dvorniković advocated that Yugoslavs, as a supra-ethnic nation, had "many tribal ethnicities, such as Croats, Serbs, and others within it." [17]

On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, and his wife, in Sarajevo. Princip was a member of Young Bosnia, a group whose aims included the unification of the Yugoslavs and independence from Austria-Hungary. [18] The assassination in Sarajevo set into motion a series of fast-moving events that eventually escalated into full-scale war. [19] After his capture, during his trial, he stated "I am a Yugoslav nationalist, aiming for the unification of all Yugoslavs, and I do not care what form of state, but it must be free from Austria." [20]

In June–July 1917, the Yugoslav Committee met with the Serbian Government in Corfu and on 20 July the Corfu Declaration that laid the foundation for the post-war state was issued. The preamble stated that the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes were "the same by blood, by language, by the feelings of their unity, by the continuity and integrity of the territory which they inhabit undivided, and by the common vital interests of their national survival and manifold development of their moral and material life." The state was created as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, a constitutional monarchy under the Karađorđević dynasty. The term "Yugoslavs" was used to refer to all of its inhabitants, but particularly to those of South Slavic ethnicity. Some Croatian nationalists viewed the Serb plurality and Serbian royal family as hegemonic. Eventually, a conflict of interest sparked among the Yugoslav peoples. In 1929, King Alexander sought to resolve a deep political crisis brought on by ethnic tensions by assuming dictatorial powers in the 6 January Dictatorship, renaming the country "Kingdom of Yugoslavia", and officially pronouncing that there is one single Yugoslav nation with three tribes. The Yugoslav ethnic designation was thus imposed for a period of time on all South Slavs in Yugoslavia. Changes in Yugoslav politics after King Alexander's death in 1934 brought an end to this policy, but the designation continued to be used by some people.[ citation needed ]

Philosopher Vladimir Dvorniković advocated the establishment of a Yugoslav ethnicity in his 1939 book entitled "The Characterology of the Yugoslavs". His views included eugenics and cultural blending to create one, strong Yugoslav nation. [17]

There had on three occasions been efforts to make Bulgaria a part of Yugoslavia or part of an even larger federation: through Aleksandar Stamboliyski during and after World War I; through Zveno during the Bulgarian coup d'état of 1934, and through Georgi Dimitrov during and after World War II, but for various reasons, each attempt turned out to be unsuccessful. [21]

Self-identification in Yugoslavia

Percentage identifying as Yugoslav [22]
Central Serbia
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Unitary policies implemented by the authorities of the early 20th century Kingdom of Yugoslavia aimed at creating a single Yugoslav ethnic identity that speaks one South Slavic language were met with heavy resistance by majorities of the country's citizens. Those policies and attempts at concentration of power within the ruling Serbian royal dynasty, the Karađorđevićs, were interpreted by opponents of Yugoslav unitarism and Serbian nationalism as gradual Serbianization of Yugoslavia's non-Serb population.

After the country was liberated from Axis occupiers in the World War II in Yugoslavia by the Yugoslav Partisans, the newly established socialist Yugoslavia was instead organized as a federation. The ruling League of Communists of Yugoslavia was ideologically opposed to ethnic unitarism that was promoted under former royal hegemony, instead recognizing and promoting ethnic diversity and social Yugoslavism within the notion of "brotherhood and unity" between nations and national minorities of Yugoslavia. Traditional ethnic identities again became the primary ethnic designations used by most inhabitants of Yugoslavia which remained the case until the country's dissolution in the early 1990s.

Josip Broz Tito expressed his desire for an undivided Yugoslav ethnicity to develop naturally when he stated, "I would like to live to see the day when Yugoslavia would become amalgamated into a firm community, when she would no longer be a formal community but a community of a single Yugoslav nation." [23]

Yugoslav censuses reflected Tito's ideal, with "Yugoslav" being an available identification for both ethnicity and nationality. In general, the Yugoslav identity was more common in the multiethnic regions of the country, i.e. the more multiethnic the constituent republic, the higher the percentage; therefore the highest were in Croatia, Montenegro, Central Serbia, Vojvodina, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the lowest were in Slovenia, Macedonia, and Kosovo. The 1971 census recorded 273,077 Yugoslavs, or 1.33% of the total population. The 1981 census, a year after the death of Tito, recorded a record number of 1,216,463 or 5.4% Yugoslavs. [22]

Just before and after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, most Yugoslavs reverted to their ethnic and regional identities.

Successor states

Self-identification following dissolution

Self-identified Yugoslavs
(census year)
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina 2,570 (2013) [5]
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia 942 (2021) [7]
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia 344 (2021) [9]
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro 1,154 (2011) [6]
Flag of Kosovo.svg  Kosovo Unknown
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia 27,143 (2022) [3]
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia 527 (2002) [8]

The number of people identifying as Yugoslav fell drastically in all successor states since the beginning of the 21st century and the conclusion of all Yugoslav Wars and separation of Serbia and Montenegro (until 2003 called FR Yugoslavia). The country with the highest number of people and percentage of population identifying as Yugoslav is Serbia, while North Macedonia is the lowest on both. No official figures or reliable estimates are available for Kosovo.

As part of the research project "Strategies of Symbolic Nation-building in South Eastern Europe", a study was conducted from 2010 to 2014 on the entire former Yugoslav territory with the exception of Slovenia. Within the study, a poll was conducted on the topic of shared identity. Interviewees were asked whether they ever "felt Yugoslav", with three given options being tantamount to "yes, still do", "no, never did" and "not anymore". In all six examined states, majority of the interviewees expressed that they either never or no longer felt so, ranging from ~70–98%, with Serbia being on the lowest end and Kosovo on the highest. Croatia and Kosovo yielded the most clear-cut results with 95% stating either of aforementioned options and less than 3% stating that they still felt Yugoslav. In Kosovo in particular, over 92% stated that they never felt Yugoslav. In contrast, Montenegro and Serbia were the most split states, with ~28% and ~32% respectively stating that they still felt Yugoslav; the two were the only states where more interviewees stated feeling Yugoslav as opposed to never feeling so. Bosnia and Herzegovina had the highest percentage of interviewees stating that they no longer feel Yugoslav at ~48%, followed closely by Montenegro and Serbia. The following table provides more details: [27] [28]

Do you ever feel like a Yugoslav? Bosnia and Herzegovina Croatia Kosovo North Macedonia Montenegro Serbia
Yes, I still feel that way19.2%2.8%2.0%14.9%28.1%31.8%
I used to feel, but not anymore48.1%29.1%5.8%38.2%46.4%42.9%
No, I never felt like a Yugoslav32.5%66.3%92.1%47.0%23.7%24.4%


Logo of the Alliance of Yugoslavs Savez Jugoslavena logo.png
Logo of the Alliance of Yugoslavs

The Yugoslavs of Croatia have several organizations. The "Alliance of Yugoslavs" (Savez Jugoslavena), established in 2010 in Zagreb, is an association aiming to unite the Yugoslavs of Croatia, regardless of religion, sex, political or other views. [29] Its main goal is the official recognition of the Yugoslav nation in every Yugoslav successor state: Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. [30]

Another pro-Yugoslav organization advocating the recognition of the Yugoslav nation is the "Our Yugoslavia" association (Udruženje "Naša Jugoslavija"), which is an officially registered organization in Croatia. [12] The seat of Our Yugoslavia is in the Istrian town of Pula, [31] where it was founded on 30 July 2009. [32] The association has most members in the towns of Rijeka, Zagreb and Pula. [33] Its main aim is the stabilisation of relations among the Yugoslav successor states. It is also active in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, its official registration as an association was denied by the Bosnian state authorities. [12]

The probably best-known pro-Yugoslav organization in Montenegro is the "Consulate-general of the SFRY" with its headquarters in the coastal town of Tivat. Prior to the population census of 2011, Marko Perković, the president of this organization called on the Yugoslavs of Montenegro to freely declare their Yugoslav identity on the upcoming census. [34]

Notable people

The best known example of self-declared Yugoslavs is Marshal Josip Broz Tito who organized resistance against Nazi Germany in Yugoslavia, [35] [36] ended the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia with the help of the Red Army, co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement, and defied Joseph Stalin's Soviet pressure on Yugoslavia. Other people that declared as "Yugoslavs" include intellectuals, entertainers, singers, and athletes, such as:


The probably most frequently used symbol of the Yugoslavs to express their identity and to which they are most often associated with is the blue-white-red tricolor flag with a yellow-bordered red star in the flag's center, [57] which also served as the national flag of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1991.[ citation needed ]

Prior to World War II, the symbol of Yugoslavism was a plain tricolor flag of blue, white, and red, which was also the national flag of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav state in the interwar period.[ citation needed ]


See also


  1. Many other countries with a Yugoslav diaspora do not record ethnicity in censuses.
  2. Jugoslaveni is preferred in Croatian, Jugosloveni is preferred in Serbian and Montenegrin, while both are commonly used in Bosnian variety of the language.
  3. Serbo-Croatian term Jugoslaveni or Jugosloveni was a popular neutral supraethnic compound of jug ("south") and Slaveni / Sloveni (Slavs), literally meaning South Slavs, coined in late 19th century and officially adopted in 1929 by the authorities of Kingdom of Yugoslavia. "Yugoslavia" was adopted by English and other non-Slavic languages as a unique proper noun in favour of literal translations such as "South Slavia". Nowadays in Serbo-Croatian and other Slavic languages, Jugoslaven/Jugosloven refers exclusively to Yugoslavs, the people of Yugoslavia, and not South Slavs, the cultural and linguistic group; the latter is rendered in Serbo-Croatian as " južni Slaveni / Sloveni ".
  4. During SFR Yugoslavia, ethnic identity in quotation marks, "Yugoslav", was added to birth certificates of Yugoslav citizens whose ethnic identity was otherwise unspecified or unknown. This was common practice for people of mixed ancestry.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serbo-Croatian</span> South Slavic language

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yugoslavia</span> 1918–1992 country in Southeast Europe

Yugoslavia was a country in Southeast and Central Europe that existed from 1918 to 1992.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serbian language</span> South Slavic language of the Balkans

Serbian is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Serbs. It is the official and national language of Serbia, one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina and co-official in Montenegro and Kosovo. It is a recognized minority language in Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hey, Slavs</span> Patriotic Slavic song

"Hey, Slavs" is a patriotic song dedicated to the Slavs and widely considered to be the Pan-Slavic anthem. It was adapted and adopted as the national anthem of various Slavic-speaking nations, movements and organizations during the late 19th and 20th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bosnian language</span> Standardized variety of Serbo-Croatian

Bosnian, sometimes referred to as Bosniak language, is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian pluricentric language mainly used by ethnic Bosniaks. Bosnian is one of three such varieties considered official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with Croatian and Serbian. It is also an officially recognized minority language in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of Yugoslavia</span> Country in southeastern Europe, 1918–1941

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state in Southeast and Central Europe that existed from 1918 until 1941. From 1918 to 1929, it was officially called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, but the term "Yugoslavia" was its colloquial name due to its origins. The official name of the state was changed to "Kingdom of Yugoslavia" by King Alexander I on 3 October 1929.

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The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), commonly referred to as SFR Yugoslavia or simply as Yugoslavia, was a country in Central and Southeast Europe. It emerged in 1945, following World War II, and lasted until 1992, with the breakup of Yugoslavia occurring as a consequence of the Yugoslav Wars. Spanning an area of 255,804 square kilometres (98,766 sq mi) in the Balkans, Yugoslavia was bordered by the Adriatic Sea and Italy to the west, by Austria and Hungary to the north, by Bulgaria and Romania to the east, and by Albania and Greece to the south. It was a one-party socialist state and federation governed by the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, and had six constituent republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. Within Serbia was the Yugoslav capital city of Belgrade as well as two autonomous Yugoslav provinces: Kosovo and Vojvodina.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greater Serbia</span> Serbian nationalist concept for a Serb state

The term Greater Serbia or Great Serbia describes the Serbian nationalist and irredentist ideology of the creation of a Serb state which would incorporate all regions of traditional significance to Serbs, a South Slavic ethnic group, including regions outside modern-day Serbia that are partly populated by Serbs. The initial movement's main ideology (Pan-Serbism) was to unite all Serbs into one state, claiming, depending on the version, different areas of many surrounding countries, regardless of non-Serb populations present.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Demographics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia</span> Yugoslavia demographics for 1945 to 1991

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yugo-nostalgia</span> Nostalgia for Yugoslavia among ex-Yugoslav populations

Yugo-nostalgia is an emotional longing for the former country of Yugoslavia which is experienced by some people in its successor countries: the present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, and Slovenia. It is a political and cultural phenomenon that includes nostalgia for a time past when the splintered states were a part of one country, grief over the war that tore it apart, and a desire to again unite. Self-described "Yugo-nostalgics" may assert their grief at the failure of brotherly love, unity, and coexistence, and their distress at division and nationalism, or they may assert that their quality of life was better in Yugoslavia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Demographic history of Bosnia and Herzegovina</span>

This article is about the Demographic history of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and deals with the country's documented demographics over time. For an overview of the various ethnic groups and their historical development, see Ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serbian nationalism</span> Assertion that Serbs are a nation and promotes the cultural unity of Serbs

Serbian nationalism asserts that Serbs are a nation and promotes the cultural and political unity of Serbs. It is an ethnic nationalism, originally arising in the context of the general rise of nationalism in the Balkans under Ottoman rule, under the influence of Serbian linguist Vuk Stefanović Karadžić and Serbian statesman Ilija Garašanin. Serbian nationalism was an important factor during the Balkan Wars which contributed to the decline of the Ottoman Empire, during and after World War I when it contributed to the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and again during the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s.

The Bosniaks are a South Slavic ethnic group native to the Southeast European historical region of Bosnia, which is today part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who share a common Bosnian ancestry, culture, history and language. They primarily live in Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo as well as in Austria, Germany, Turkey and Sweden. They also constitute a significant diaspora with several communities across Europe, the Americas and Oceania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yugoslavism</span> South Slavic unification ideology

Yugoslavism, Yugoslavdom, or Yugoslav nationalism is an ideology supporting the notion that the South Slavs, namely the Bosniaks, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs, and Slovenes, but also Bulgarians, belong to a single Yugoslav nation separated by diverging historical circumstances, forms of speech, and religious divides. During the interwar period, Yugoslavism became predominant in, and then the official ideology of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. There were two major forms of Yugoslavism in the period: the regime favoured integral Yugoslavism promoting unitarism, centralisation, and unification of the country's ethnic groups into a single Yugoslav nation, by coercion if necessary. The approach was also applied to languages spoken in the Kingdom. The main alternative was federalist Yugoslavism which advocated the autonomy of the historical lands in the form of a federation and gradual unification without outside pressure. Both agreed on the concept of National Oneness developed as an expression of the strategic alliance of South Slavs in Austria-Hungary in the early 20th century. The concept was meant as a notion that the South Slavs belong to a single "race", were of "one blood", and had shared language. It was considered neutral regarding the choice of centralism or federalism.

Yugoslavs in Serbia refers to a community in Serbia that view themselves as Yugoslavs with no other ethnic self-identification. Additionally, there are also Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins, Bosniaks and people of other ethnicities in Serbia who identify themselves as Yugoslavs. However, the latter group does not consider itself to be part of a Yugoslav nation, which is the way the first group identifies itself. People declaring themselves as Yugoslavs are concentrated in multicultural Vojvodina and Belgrade, where slightly over 80% of all Yugoslavs in Serbia are found.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Montenegrin nationalism</span> Nationalism that asserts that Montenegrins are a nation

Montenegrin nationalism is the nationalism that asserts that Montenegrins are a nation and promotes the cultural unity of Montenegrins.

The ethnic groups in Yugoslavia were grouped into constitutive peoples and minorities.


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