Last updated

Total population
Regions with significant populations
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 291,045 (2013)
(Yugoslav Americans) [1]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 38,480 (2016)
(Yugoslav Canadians) [2]
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 26,883 (2011) [3]
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia 23,303 (2011)
(Yugoslavs in Serbia) [4]
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina 2,507 (2013)
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro 1,154 (2011) [5]
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia 527 (2002) [6]
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia 344 (2021) [7]
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia 331 (2011) [8]
Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Slovene
OrthodoxCrossblack.svg Eastern Orthodoxy
Christian cross.svg Roman Catholicism
Star and Crescent.svg Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
South Slavs, other Slavic peoples

Yugoslavs or Yugoslavians (Bosnian and Croatian: Jugoslaveni, Serbian and Macedonian Jugosloveni/Југословени; Slovene : Jugoslovani) is a 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 1] and the second as a term for all citizens of former Yugoslavia regardless of ethnicity. [lower-alpha 2] 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. [9]

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." [10]

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. 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 by the descendants of Yugoslav migrants in the United States, Canada, and Australia 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. [11] 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. [12] The movement was led by Ljudevit Gaj, whose script became one of two official scripts used for the Serbo-Croatian language. [12]

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"; [13] 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." [10]

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. [14] The assassination in Sarajevo set into motion a series of fast-moving events that eventually escalated into full-scale war. [15] 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." [16]

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. [10]

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. [17]

Self-identification in Second Yugoslavia

Percentage identifying as Yugoslav [18]
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. The Communist Party of Yugoslavia was ideologically opposed to ethnic unitarism and royal hegemony, promoting ethnic diversity and social Yugoslavism within the notion of "brotherhood and unity". After the country's liberation from Axis Powers in 1945 by the Yugoslav Partisans, the new socialist Yugoslavia was instead organized as a federation; it officially recognized and acknowledged its ethnic diversity. 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. However, many people still declared themselves as "Yugoslavs" because they wanted to express an identification with Yugoslavia as a whole, but not specifically with any of its peoples.[ citation needed ]

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." [19]

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, Serbia (especially Vojvodina), and Bosnia and Herzegovina and 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.[ citation needed ]

Just before and after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, most Yugoslavs reverted to their ethnic and regional identities. Nevertheless, the concept has survived in parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (where most towns have a tiny percentage), and Serbia and Montenegro (2003–2006), which kept the name "Yugoslavia" the longest, right up to February 2003.[ citation needed ]

Successor states


Number of people identifying as Yugoslav by country
CountryNumber (census year)
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina 2,507 (2013)[ citation needed ]
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia 331 (2011) [8]
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia 344 (2021) [7]
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro 1,154 (2011) [5]
Flag of Kosovo.svg  Kosovo [lower-alpha 3] N/A
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia 23,303 (2011) [4]
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia 527 (2002) [6]
Totalc. 28,000[ citation needed ]

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 Croatia is the lowest on both. No official figures or reliable estimates are available for Kosovo. [lower-alpha 3]


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. [23] 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. [24]

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. [25] The seat of Our Yugoslavia is in the Istrian town of Pula, [26] where it was founded on 30 July 2009. [27] The association has most members in the towns of Rijeka, Zagreb and Pula. [28] 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. [25]

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. [29]

Notable people

The best known example of self-declared Yugoslavs is Marshal Josip Broz Tito who organized resistance against Nazi Germany in Yugoslavia, [30] [31] 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, [52] 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. Note that Serbo-Croatian term Jugoslaveni was a popular neutral supraethnic compound of jug ("south") and Slaven (Slav), i.e. 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".
  2. 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.
  3. 1 2 The political status of Kosovo is disputed. Having unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo is formally recognised as an independent state by 97 UN member states (with another 15 states recognising it at some point but then withdrawing their recognition) and 96 states not recognizing it, while Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory.

Related Research Articles

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

Yugoslavia was a country in Southeast Europe and Central Europe for most of the 20th century. It came into existence after World War I in 1918 under the name of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs with the Kingdom of Serbia, and constituted the first union of the South Slavic people as a sovereign state, following centuries in which the region had been part of the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. Peter I of Serbia was its first sovereign. The kingdom gained international recognition on 13 July 1922 at the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris. The official name of the state was changed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 3 October 1929.

<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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia</span> Country in Central and Southeast Europe (1945–1992)

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, 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.

Muslims as a designation for a particular ethnic group, refers to one of six officially recognized constituent peoples of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The term was adopted in 1971, as an official designation of ethnicity for Yugoslav Slavic Muslims, thus grouping together a number of distinct South Slavic communities of Islamic ethnocultural tradition, among them most numerous being the modern Bosniaks of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with some smaller groups of different ethnicity, such as Gorani and Torbeši. This designation did not include Yugoslav non-Slavic Muslims, such as Albanians, Turks and Romani.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Montenegrins</span> Ethnic group

Montenegrins are a South Slavic ethnic group native to Montenegro.

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

This article is about the demographics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during its existence from 1945 until 1991. During its last census in 1991, Yugoslavia enumerated 23,528,230 people. Serbs had a plurality, followed by Croats, Bosniaks, Albanians, Slovenes and Macedonians. With the dissolution of the state, the following nations now have their own demographic studies:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greater Croatia</span> Croatian nationalist ideology

Greater Croatia is a term applied to certain currents within Croatian nationalism. In one sense, it refers to the territorial scope of the Croatian people, emphasising the ethnicity of those Croats living outside Croatia. In the political sense, though, the term refers to an irredentist belief in the equivalence between the territorial scope of the Croatian people and that of the Croatian state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Breakup of Yugoslavia</span> Process starting in mid-1991 leading to the abolishment of the state of Yugoslavia

The breakup of Yugoslavia occurred as a result of a series of political upheavals and conflicts during the early 1990s. After a period of political and economic crisis in the 1980s, constituent republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia split apart, but the unresolved issues caused bitter inter-ethnic Yugoslav wars. The wars primarily affected Bosnia and Herzegovina, neighbouring parts of Croatia and, some years later, Kosovo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yugo-nostalgia</span>

Yugo-nostalgia is a political and cultural phenomenon found among the populations of the former Yugoslavia, in the present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, and Slovenia. It refers to an emotional longing 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 that brotherly love, unity, and coexistence failed, while division and nationalism won, or they may assert that their quality of life was better.

Serbian nationalism 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Creation of Yugoslavia</span> Overview of the creation of Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia was a state concept among the South Slavic intelligentsia and later popular masses from the 19th to early 20th centuries that culminated in its realization after the 1918 collapse of Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I and the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. However, the kingdom was better known colloquially as Yugoslavia ; in 1929 it was formally renamed the "Kingdom of Yugoslavia".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bosniaks</span> South Slavic ethnic group

Bosniaks or Bosniacs are a South Slavic ethnic group native to the Southeast European historical region of Bosnia, which is today part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

<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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flag of Yugoslavia</span> Former national flag

The flag of Yugoslavia was the official flag of the Yugoslav state from 1918 to 1992. The flag's design and symbolism are derived from the Pan-Slavic movement, which ultimately led to the unification of the South Slavs and the creation of a united south-Slavic state in 1918.

Bosnians are people identified with the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina or with the region of Bosnia. As a common demonym, the term Bosnians refers to all inhabitants/citizens of the country, regardless of any ethnic, cultural or religious affiliation. It can also be used as a designation for anyone who is descended from the region of Bosnia. Also, a Bosnian can be anyone who holds citizenship of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and thus is largely synonymous with the all-encompassing national demonym Bosnians and Herzegovinians. This includes, but is not limited to, members of the constituent ethnic groups of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats. Those who reside in the smaller geographical region of Herzegovina usually prefer to identify as Herzegovinians.

Controversy over ethnic and linguistic identity in Montenegro is an ongoing dispute over the ethnic and linguistic identity of several communities in Montenegro, a multiethnic and multilingual country in Southeastern Europe. There are several points of dispute, some of them related to identity of people who self-identify as ethnic Montenegrins, while some other identity issues are also related to communities of Serbs of Montenegro, Croats of Montenegro, Bosniaks of Montenegro and ethnic Muslims of Montenegro. All of those issues are mutually interconnected and highly politicized.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Montenegrin nationalism</span>

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.

India–Yugoslavia relations Bilateral relations

India–Yugoslavia relations were historical foreign relations between India and now split-up Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia established full diplomatic relations with India on 5 December 1948 following the 1948 Tito–Stalin split. Initially two countries developed their relations at the UN Security Council in 1949 during their shared membership. In the period of the Cold War both countries were the founders and among core members of the Non-Aligned Movement.


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    Further reading