For other uses, see Yugoslavs (disambiguation).
Total population
c. 400,000[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]
Regions with significant populations
 United States 291,045 (2013)[1]
 Canada 48,320 (2011)[2]
 Australia 26,883 (2011)[3]
 Serbia 23,303 (2011)[4]
 Montenegro 1,154 (2011)[5]
 Slovenia 527 (2002)[6]
 Croatia 331 (2011)[7]
Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Slovene
Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholicism, Sunni Islam, Judaism and Irreligion
Related ethnic groups
Other Slavic peoples, especially South Slavs

Yugoslavs (Serbo-Croatian: Jugoslaveni, Jugosloveni; Југославени, Југословени; Macedonian: Југословени; Slovene: Jugoslovani) is a designation that was originally designed to refer to a united South Slavic people. It has been used in two connotations, the first in an ethnic or supra-ethnic connotation, and the second as a term for citizens of the former Yugoslavia. 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 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, and the Republic of Macedonia.[8] 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.[9]

The term ethnic Yugoslavs has referred to those who exclusively viewed themselves as Yugoslavs with no other ethnic self-identification.

In the early days of Yugoslavia, influential intellectuals Jovan Cvijić and Vladimir Dvorniković advocated the Yugoslavs as a Yugoslav supra-ethnic nation that had tribal ethnicities, such as Croats, Serbs, and others within it.[10]

In the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the official designation for those who declared themselves Yugoslav was with quotation marks, "Yugoslavs" (introduced in census 1971). Quotation marks were meant to distinguish Yugoslav ethnicity from Yugoslav citizenship – which was written without quotation marks. Shortly before the breakup of Yugoslavia many of those who had identified themselves as ethnic "Yugoslavs" reverted to or adopted traditional ethnic and national identities such as Bosniaks, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Muslims by nationality, Serbs, Slovenes—and other small Yugoslav groups in Yugoslavia not officially represented by the state, including Bulgarians, Bunjevci, Janjevci, and Šokci. 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 immigrants to United States, Canada and Australia.[1][2][4]


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 literally translates as "South Slavic".

Before the First World War

The first modern iteration of Yugoslavism was the Illyrian movement from Croatia. It identified southern Slavs with ancient Illyrians and sought to construct an Illyrian language based on the Shtokavian dialect.[11] The movement was led by Ljudevit Gaj, whose script became one of two official scripts used for the Serbo-Croatian language.[11]

Famous Croat sculptor Ivan Meštrović became a supporter of Yugoslavism and Yugoslav identity after he traveled to Serbia and became impressed with Serb culture.[12] Meštrović created a sculpture of Serbian folk-legend hero Prince Marko at the International Exhibition in Rome in 1911, when asked about the statue, Meštrović replied "This Marko is our Yugoslav people with its gigantic and noble heart".[12] Meštrović wrote poetry speaking of a "Yugoslav race".[12] Those who knew Meštrović's views referred to him as "The Prophet of Yugoslavism".[12]

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]

Vladimir Dvorniković, a famous philosopher, later 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] He did not dismiss the differences among people that inhabited Yugoslavia, but stressed that these differences were "contingent and temporary and that they mask a deeper and more profound racial unity".[10] He also believed that "the primary ability of Yugoslavs is their ability to sacrifice themselves for a higher goal".[10] Dvorniković also advocated the idea of a Dinaric race, and his book overall gives a comprehensive description of unitarist Yugoslav mythology.[10]

In the 18th century Hristofor Zhefarovich promoted the idea of unity between South Slavic people, in particular the kinship between Bulgarians and Serbs. This idea was somewhat revived during the late 1940s when Tito and Stalin contemplated extending Yugoslavia to include Bulgaria as well.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the term Yugoslavs started to be used as a synonym for South Slavs, especially to denote those in Austria-Hungary.

Also was the fierce debate and controversies on whether or not the Croats, Bosnians, Montenegrins, Macedonians and Slovenes shared any similarities among each other or are considered part of the Serbian people, thus caused division and friction among Yugoslavian, Serbian and other ethnic nationalists in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.

World War I

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.[13] The assassination in Sarajevo set into motion a series of fast-moving events that eventually escalated into full-scale war.[14] After the assassination, Princip was captured. 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."[15]

Corfu Declaration

During June and 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 future state was to be called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and was to be a constitutional monarchy under the Karađorđević dynasty.[16]

Before the Second World War

After the First World War, when South Slavic lands were united in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the term Yugoslavs was used to refer to all of its inhabitants, but particularly to those of Southern Slavic origin. According to Croatian, Bosnian and other Yugoslav nationalists: the hands of power resided in the Serb royal family who ruled the multi-ethnic kingdom from the capital of Belgrade in Serbia. Demographically Serbs were the largest ethnic group: 40–45% of the country's population and held plurality status. This had created a conflict of interest among the Yugoslav nations.

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.

Second Yugoslavia and later

Percentage Identifying as Yugoslav[17]
Republics and Provinces 1961 1971 1981
Croatia .4 1.9 8.2
Serbia .2 1.4 4.8
Bosnia and Herzegovina 8.4 1.2 7.9
Kosovo .5 .1 .1
Macedonia .1 .2 .7
Montenegro .3 2.1 5.3
Slovenia .2 .4 1.4
Vojvodina .2 2.4 8.2
All of Yugoslavia 1.7 1.3 5.4

After liberation from Axis Powers in 1945, the new socialist Yugoslavia became a federal country, and officially recognized and valued its ethnic diversity. Traditional ethnic identities again became the primary ethnic designations used by most inhabitants of Yugoslavia. 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.

The 1971 census recorded 273,077 Yugoslav, or 1.33% of the total population. The 1981 census recorded 1,216,463 or 5.4% Yugoslavs. In the 1991 census, 5.54% (242,682) of the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared themselves to be Yugoslav.[18] 4.25% of the population of the republic of Montenegro also declared themselves Yugoslav in the same census.

The Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1990 ratified a Presidency of seven members. One of the seven was to be elected amongst/by the republic's Yugoslavs, thereby introducing the Yugoslavs next to Muslims by nationality, Serbs and Croats into the Constitutional framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina although on an inferior level. However, because of the Bosnian War that erupted in 1992, this Constitution was short-lived and unrealized.

The 1981 census showed that Yugoslavs made up around 8% of the population in Croatia, this to date has been the highest percentage of Yugoslavs within Croatia's borders. The 1991 census data indicated that the number of Yugoslavs had dropped to 2% of the population in Croatia. The 2001 census in Croatia (the first since independence) registered only 176 Yugoslavs.[19] The next census in 2011 registered 331 Yugoslavs in Croatia (0.008% of the population).[20]

Just before and after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, most Yugoslavs switched to more conventional ethnic designations. Nevertheless, the concept has survived into 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.


When the term Yugoslav was first introduced, it was meant to unite a common people. In the 1985 book A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples by Fred Singleton, it states that Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks are one and the same people. "Once the South Slavs had settled in the Balkans they also became separated from each other, partly because of geographical obstacles, and partly because of the historical circumstances of foreign occupations."[21]

Josip Broz Tito expressed his desire for an undivided Yugoslav ethnicity 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."[22]

Famous Yugoslavs

Yugoslavs have affected world history on many occasions.[23] One prime example is the leader, president for life, and founder of second Yugoslavia, Marshal Josip Broz Tito who organized resistance against Nazi Germany in Yugoslavia,[24][25] he effectively expelled Nazi occupation in Yugoslavia, co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement, and defied Joseph Stalin's Soviet pressure on Yugoslavia.

Other people from Yugoslavia include intellectuals, entertainers, singers and sportspersons, such as:


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.[46] Its main goal is the official recognition of the Yugoslav nation in every Yugoslav successor state: Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.[47]

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.[48] The seat of Our Yugoslavia is in the Istrian town of Pula,[49] where it was founded on 30 July 2009.[50] The association has most members in the towns of Rijeka, Zagreb and Pula.[51] 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.[48]

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.[52]


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,[53] which also served as the national flag of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1991.

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.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Results   American Fact Finder (US Census Bureau) "2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates" Check |url= value (help). American Community Survey 2013. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-06-16.
  2. 1 2 3 Ethnic Origin (264), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3), Generation Status (4), Age Groups (10) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey
  3. 1 2 Fact sheets : Ancestry – Serbian (last updated 16 August 2012, retrieved 22 December 2012)
  4. 1 2 3 Population : ethnicity : data by municipalities and cities (PDF). 2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia. Belgrade: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. 2012. pp. 14, 20. ISBN 978-86-6161-023-3. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  5. 1 2 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in Montenegro 2011 Monstat – Statistical Office of Montenegro
  6. 1 2 Slovenian census 2002 (in English)
  7. 1 2 Croatian 2011 Census, detailed classification by nationality
  8. Lenard J. Cohen. Broken bonds: Yugoslavia's disintegration and Balkan politics in transition. 2nd edition. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Westview Press, 1995. Pp. 4.
  9. Ahmet Ersoy, Maciej Górny, Vangelis Kechriotis. Modernism: The Creation of Nation-States. Central European University Press, 2010. Pp. 363.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wachte, Andrew (1998). Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia. Stanford University Press. pp. 92–94. ISBN 0-8047-3181-0.
  11. 1 2 Singleton, Frederick Bernard (1985). A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples. Cambridge University Press. p. 93. ISBN 0-521-27485-0.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Ivo Banač. The national question in Yugoslavia: origins, history, politics. Cornell University Press, 1984. Pp. 204-205.
  13. Banač, Ivo (1988). The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-9493-1.
  14. "First World War.com Primary Documents: Archduke Franz Ferdinand's Assassination, 28 June 1914". 2002-11-03. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  15. Malcolm, Noel (1996). Bosnia: A Short History. New York University Press. p. 153. ISBN 0-8147-5561-5.
  16. The Serbs: history, myth, and the ... – Tim Judah – Google Books
  17. Sekulic, Dusko; Massey, Garth; Hodson, Randy (February 1994). "Who Were the Yugoslavs? Failed Sources of a Common Identity in the Former Yugoslavia". American Sociological Review. American Sociological Association. 59 (1): 85. doi:10.2307/2096134.
  18. Ethnic composition of Bosnia-Herzegovina population, by municipalities and settlements, 1991. census, Zavod za statistiku Bosne i Hercegovine – Bilten no.234, Sarajevo 1991.
  19. Population of Croatia 1931–2001
  20. http://www.dzs.hr/Hrv/censuses/census2011/results/htm/H01_01_05/H01_01_05.html
  21. A short history of the Yugoslav peoples – Frederick Bernard Singleton – Google Books
  22. Norbu, Dawa (3–9 April 1999). "The Serbian Hegemony, Ethnic Heterogeneity and Yugoslav Break-Up". Economic and Political Weekly 34 (14): 835.
  23. Tito-Stalin Split
  24. Tito and his People by Howard Fast
  25. Liberation of Belgrade and Yugoslavia Archived 2 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. Intervju: Aleksa Đilas (in Serbian). Radio Television of Serbia. Nenad Stefanović; 2 December 2009
  27. "Ich bin ein alter Jugoslawe" (in German). Ballesterer. Fabian Kern; 13 May 2008
  28. Lepa Brena u Zagrebu?! (in Croatian). Dnevnik.hr. B.G.; 13 December 2008
  29. Nikad nisam skrivao da sam Jugosloven (in Bosnian). E-Novine. Mario Garber; 19 May 2009
  30. U fudbalu nema nacionalizma (in Montenegrin). Monitor Online. Nastasja Radović; 16 July 2010
  31. Слушам савете многих, али одлуке доносим сам (in Serbian). Evropa magazine/Democratic Party web site. Dragana Đevori
  32. "Dulić: 'Nisam Hrvat nego Jugoslaven'" (in Croatian). Dnevnik.hr. 2007-05-23.
  33. Kako preživeti slavu Archived 18 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. (in Serbian). Standard. No. 28; 29 November 2006
  34. Intervju: Magnifico Il Grande. Po domače, Car (in Slovenian). Mladina. Max Modic; 2007/52
  35. А1 репортажа – Словенија денес (in Macedonian). A1 Television. Aneta Dodevska; 1 January 2009
  36. Tifa: Navijam za mog Miću (in Serbian). Blic. M. Radojković; 4 March 2008
  37. Sve za razvrat i blud Archived 25 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine. (in Serbian). Glas Javnosti. P. Dragosavac; 17 September 1999
  38. Život za slobodu (in Serbian). E-Novine. Dragoljub Todorović; 4 October 2010
  39. ЏОЛЕ: Со Слаѓа сум во одлични односи! Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Macedonian). Večer. Aleksandra Timkovska; 5 September 2006
  40. D. Milićević (12 April 2010). "Uz mališane 33 godine" (in Serbian). Blic. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  41. Ostao sam ovde iz inata (in Serbian). Blic. Žiža Antonijević; 23 March 2008
  42. "Pas do pasa, beton do betona" (in Serbian). Vreme. 2010-07-29.
  43. DANI – Intervju: Joška Broz, unuk Josipa Broza Tita (in Bosnian). BH Dani. Tamara Nikčević; 14 August 2009
  44. About Boris Vukobrat Archived 27 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Peace and Crises Management Foundation
  45. Тивка војна меѓу Србија и Хрватска за Џони Штулиќ!? Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Macedonian). Večer . 05-11-2009
  46. U Zagrebu osnovan Savez Jugoslavena (in Croatian). Jutarnji list. Portal Jutarnji.hr; 23 March 2010
  47. U Zagrebu osnovan Savez Jugoslavena: Imamo pravo na očuvanje baštine Jugoslavije (in Croatian). Index.hr. L.J.; 23 March 2010
  48. 1 2 Yugoslavs in the twenty-first century: ‘erased’ people openDemocracy.net. Anes Makul and Heather McRobie; 17 February 2011
  49. Udruženje "Naša Jugoslavija" osniva Klubove Jugoslavena (in Croatian). Dubrovački vjesnik. Silvana Fable; 25 July 2010
  50. Osnovano udruženje "Naša Jugoslavija" u Puli (in Serbian). Radio Television of Vojvodina. Tanjug; 30 July 2009
  51. "Naša Jugoslavija" širi se Hrvatskom (in Serbian). Vesti online. Novi list; 27 July 2010
  52. Perković pozvao Crnogorce da se izjasne i kao Jugosloveni Archived 5 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Serbian). Srbijanet. 03-03-2011
  53. U Crnoj Gori oko 1.000 Jugoslovena, 100 Turaka, 130 Njemaca... (in Montenegrin). Vijesti. Vijesti online; 12 July 2011

Further reading

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