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Spread of the Serbo-Croatian languages ​​(Serbs in yellow) in 2006

Serbs ( Serbian Срби Srbi , old Serbian : Сьрби) are a South Slavic ethnic group, whose members mainly live in Serbia , Bosnia and Herzegovina , Croatia , Montenegro , North Macedonia , Slovenia and in Kosovo , which is controversial under international law . The majority of them speak the Serbian language , a standard Serbo-Croatian variety , especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro their Ijekavian variety.

A number of Serbs now also live as diasporas in Germany , Austria , Sweden and Switzerland , but also in North America and Oceania .



The term Serbs was probably derived from an Indo-European word stem "srp" . This possibly meant "relative, ally" or "belonging to the same tribe (clan)". This would z. B. the Polish Pasierb or Pasierbica and the Slovenian Paserbok for half-brother, step-son, half-sister, step-daughter belong, also the Ukrainian priserbiti follow . The Russian serbat ( сёрбать ) for suckling and the Latin sorbere for flowing, drinking would be related .

The older names of the Sorbs in Lusatia may have been after Heinz Schuster-Šewc Sorab or Surb . Depending on the dialect , Serb was pronounced around Bautzen to Cottbus , Sarb north of Cottbus to Köpenick and Sorb around Dresden and west of the Elbe. The name is also identical in origin to that of the Serbs living in south-eastern Europe .

Numerous German place names such as Zscherben , Serbitz , Zorien , Serba , Sirbis , Serbitz , Altscherbitz or Zerbst contain references to Sorbs / Serbs and thus testify to the existence of this ethnonym for well over 1000 years . Furthermore, the name is available in different variants as a German or Sorbian family name, e.g. B. as Serbe, Serba, Serbin, Sorbe, Sarb, Sirb, Zerbe etc. Accordingly, various ethnologists tried to develop a final etymology for the ethnonym.



The geography of Claudius Ptolemy referred to as Σέρβοι (transkr. Serboi), according to the source Serber, a tribe in Asian Sarmatia that settled on the lower reaches of the Volga between the Keraunic and Hippic mountains next to the Orinai and Valern . There are currently no indications that these Serboi had anything in common with the Slavs. Furthermore Ptol mentions. a city Σερβίτιον (Serbition) or Σέρβινου (transkr. Serbinou, Serbinos), which was converted to Servitium in Latin translations. The latter interpretations of the coordinates shift the city from what is now Hungary to Gradiška in northwestern Bosnia.

Different names for the Serbs

The Serbs were named differently in the Middle Ages. A self-designation of the Serbs or their rule was Srblje, u. a. reproduced in De administrando Imperio as Serbloi (Σέρβλοι). Sometimes they were also called Raszier (Serbian Rašani / Rašćani, dt. Raschani / Raschtschani or Latinized Rassani), named after the Raška area , which is centrally located in their rule and also appears as Rassa in Latin documents with Ras Castle in its center.

A notable name used by Eastern Roman chroniclers for the Serbs, however, is Triballer (Τριβαλλῶν). To the 5th century BC by the father of history Herodotus referring first captured mention of this Triballi, who in his history a Tribal Metallic level (πεδίον τὸ Τριβαλλικὸν) mentioned, partly as Kosovo Polje (polje Kosovo) or as Morawatal identified is, this name is quite common for the Serbs in Byzantium until the late Middle Ages. According to Byzantine sources z. B. Stefan Uroš IV. Dušan proclaimed himself Emperor of the Romanians and Triballians (βασιλέα έαυτὸν ἁνηγόρευε ῾Ρωμαίων καὶ Τριβαλλῶν). In the 15th century, Laonikos Chalkokondyles wrote about these triballers, by which the Serbs were meant, they were the oldest and largest tribe in the whole world . Such “superative” names are said to have been given to the Serbs by various medieval writers. This shows the tendency of these chroniclers to equate the Serbs with the Slavs as a whole, as a Slavic original tribe or umbrella term for all Slavs.

During the Turkish wars there were countless streams of refugees from the Serbian principalities to the Habsburg lands. In the German and Hungarian language areas, the name Raitzen developed as a synonym for the name of the Christian-Orthodox Serbs from the 18th century, and vice versa, as this was also borne by the Serbs themselves. At first the name was used to distinguish the newcomers from the Greco-Oriental area from the then (Greek / Roman) Catholic or long -established chocolate cats and bunjewatzen . Bunjewatzen are only a recognized minority in Serbia today. The assignment of the Bunjewatzen to another ethnic group is controversial. The name Raitzen probably goes back to the Raschani (lat. Rassani). The Christian-Orthodox Serbs were thus sometimes referred to north of the Danube as Raitzen or Raszier, Greeks, Old Believers or Starowizi, the Catholics as Unierte, Schokatzen and Bunjewatzen. Rácz, which is often used in front of place names in Hungary, testifies to the Serbian origin.

Serbs and Sorbs

There is no doubt that the name of the Serbs matches the name of the Sorbs , from which the theory is derived that the Serbs and Sorbs come from the same tribe. The roots of the names mentioned in Cosmas von Prag (name Zribia for the Mark Meissen, Zribin ) and in the chronicles of Fredegar are instructive examples:

"[...] etiam et Dervanus dux gente Surbiorum , que ex genere Slavinorum erant et ad regnum Francorum iam olim aspecserant, se ad regnum Samonis cum suis tradidit."

"[...] and Dervanus, the prince of the Sorbs / Serbs tribe, who is of Slavic origin and has been under Frankish rule from time immemorial, has entrusted himself to the rule of Samo with his family."

The Annales regni Francorum does not differentiate between the Serbs of the Dalmatia region and the Sorbs in Central Europe by name. They are known as Sorabi. According to Konstantin Jireček , the / a / in Sorabi is the result of the paraphrase of a vowel / r /, which in the Kirchensl. is circumscribed with / rъ /. The fact that the name Sorabi is not a collective name for various Slavic peoples supports the remark made for November 822, which lists the envoys of the Slavs who meet at the court of Louis the Pious, including the Abodrites, Serbs and Sorbs, Wilzen, Bohemians, Morawians, Praedecenti, like the Avars of Pannonia. Konstantin Jireček, like other Slavic Slavists, also speak of the Lusatian Serbs.

Annales regni Francorum

The first mention of the ethnonym in the context of Southeast Europe appears here for the year 822. It speaks of Soraben, who populated a large part of the province of Dalmatia ( (...) Sorabos, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur, (...) ). Elsewhere for the year 823 Lyudevit (Ljudević) is mentioned, who maliciously left the Serbs. (...) interitu Liudewiti, quod relictis Sorabis, (...)

The other entries are assigned to the Lusatian Serbs ( Sorbs , autonym: Serby, Serbja; Xenonym: Wenden), who in the annals, like the Serbs, are also referred to as Sorabi :

  • Year 806: Et inde post non multos dies Aquasgrani veniens Karlum filium suum in terram Sclavorum, qui dicuntur Sorabi, qui sedent super Albim fluvium, (...)
  • Year 816: Hieme transacta Saxones et orientales Franci expeditionem in Sorabos Sclavos, qui dicto audientes non erant, facere iussi imperata strenue compleverunt et contumacium audaciam non magno laboratories compresserunt.
  • Year 822: Item in parte orientali Saxoniae, quae Sorabo * rum finibus contigua est, in quodam deserto loco iuxta lacum, qui dicitur Arnseo ( Arendsee ) , in modum aggeris terra intumuit et limitem unius leugae longitudine porrectum sub unius noctis spatio absque humani operis molimine ad instar valli subrexit.
  • Year 822: In quo conventu omnium orientalium Sclavorum, id est Abodritorum, Soraborum, Wilzorum, Beheimorum, Marvanorum, Praedenecentorum, et in Pannonia residentium Abarum legationes cum muneribus ad se directas audivit.
  • Year 826: Accusabatur et Tunglo, unus de Soraborum primoribus, quod et ipse dicto audiens non esset.

Bavarian chronograph

For the 9th century, Geographus Bavarus describes the Surbi as a large Slavic tribe north of the Danube that owned 50 civitates . In the 2nd part he writes: Zeriuani , quod tantum est regnum, ut ex eo cuncte genetes Sclauorum exorte sint et originem, sicut affirmant, ducant (Zerivani [partially interpreted as Serbs], which is such a great rule that all tribes from there of the Slavs and inferring their origin, as they affirm.). Then he mentions the Fresiti, the Serauici , followed by the Lucolane, Ungare ( Hungarians ) and Uuislane ( Wislanen ) in the list.

De administrando imperio

Constantine VII. Porphyrogenneto's work De administrando imperio (DAI) attests as the most extensive source of the early history of the Serbs in Byzantium and devotes a separate chapter to it. It mentions, among other things, that the Serbs come from the "unbaptized" Serbloi (Greek: αβαπτιστων Σερβλων Σερβλων), who were also called "whites", from an area called Boiki (Bohemia?) And there, in Serbia, two brothers their father inherited, one with half of the people set off for south-east Europe. According to the DAI, this Serbia was on the other side of the "Turks" (probably a Turkic people in the Pannonian Plain or the Ukraine). As neighbors of the Serbs in “Boiki”, Porphyrogennetos names the Franconian Empire and a Greater Croatia, which, like the Croats and Serbs, was also called White .

According to the DAI, the Byzantine Serbs were officially settled in the 7th century during the rule of Herakleios after the de facto conquest of the regions deserted by the last invasions of the steppe peoples. Here the author also mentions their establishment near Belgrade . Since then, a place near Thessaloniki has been named after the Serblia province, now Servia , which the Serbs described in the DAI .

He also writes that the Zachlumi (Ζαχλούμων), who inhabit the land of Zahumlje , are descendants of the Serbs who settled there during the reign of Herakleios (610–641). (Οἱ δὲ νῦν οἰκοῦντες ἐκεῖσε Ζαχλοῦμοι Σέρβλοι τυγχάνουσιν ἐξ ἐκείνου τοῦ αρχοντος , τοῦ εἰς τὸν βασιλέα Ηράκλειον προσφυγόντος.)

The Emperor writes about the Trawunians (Serbian Travunci, Τερβουνιωτῶν) that they live in the same country as the Kanalites and that the inhabitants of this country are descendants of the non-baptized Serbs who settled there at the time of Emperor Herakleios (ὸπὲ δὲ ντῶν ἀβλωωντντωβωωωνωνω οἱ ἐκεῖσε οἰκοῦντες κατάγονται (...)). The city of Trebinje in the Republika Srpska is still named after these trawlers .

He also still counts the Paganier (Paganci) to the descendants of Serbs who settled this land as at the time of Heraclius (Οἱ δὲ αὐτοὶ Παγανοὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀβαπτίστων Σέρβλωνἐξ ἐκείνου τοῦ ἄρχοντος, τοῦ εἰς τὸν βασιλέα Ηράκλειον προσφυγόντος.).

Arabic sources

A note comes from the Arab geographer al-Masudi ( Murudj al-dhahab ), a contemporary of Constantine VII , which, according to Marquart, refers to Porphyrogennitos' "white Serbs": In a description of Slavic tribes of northern and central Europe, al- Masudi the "awesome" ( muhīb ) Surbīn . According to al-Masudi, these Serbs were feared by the Slavs for many reasons. Here he also mentions a code that pretended to burn itself to death if a chief should die. From this one can conclude that it was a warrior code that the traveler reports on.

Presbyter Diocleas

In the 12th century, the presbyter Diocleas mentions Surbia (Transmontana, Serbian Zagorje), which was divided into two provinces, west of the Drina called Bosna and east of the river called Rassa . Surbiam autem quae et Transmontana dicitur, in duas divisit provinciam: unam a magna flumine Drina contra occidentalem palagam usque and montem Pini, quam et Bosnam vocavit, alteram vero ab eodem flumine Drina contra orientalem plagam usque ad Lapiam et Lab, quam Rassam vocavit.


Previous settlements

Location of the previous settlements in Ukraine

According to the DAI, the coast of the Roman region of Dalmatia and the immediate hinterland were settled by Slavs from the time of Herakleios in the early 7th century. Early Slavic settlements were therefore the countries of Pagania , Zahumlje and Travunia . The De administrando Imperio allows the Slavs to settle in these provinces from the time of the reign of Herakleios from 610 to 641 AD. Whether these Slavs were ethnic Serbs is questioned by research, especially in the German and Croatian regions.

In the 18th century, Serbs and Wallachians founded New Serbia in what is now Ukraine and Russia , from 1752 to 1764, and Slavic Serbia , which lasted from 1753 to 1764. The settlers, initially mainly military personnel, came mainly from Vojvodina and Slavonia, which is reflected in the place names such as Zemun, Subotica, Vukovar or Sombor.


Ethnographic Map of Serbia (2002 Census)

Serbs live mainly in Serbia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (mainly in the Republika Srpska ), in Montenegro, in Kosovo and in Croatia. The largest urban centers of the Serbian population are in Belgrade , Novi Sad , Kragujevac and Niš in Serbia as well as in Banja Luka and Istočno Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Serbs continue to live as a recognized autochthonous minority in North Macedonia (approx. 36,000), Romania (approx. 22,500), Slovakia (no details) and Hungary (approx. 3,800).


According to the 2002 census, there are 6,212,838 (82.86%) Serbs in Serbia .

Bosnia and Herzegovina

According to the 2013 census, around 1.1 million Serbs (30.8%) lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina . Alongside the Bosniaks and Croats , these form one of the three constitutive peoples of the country. The majority live in the Republika Srpska . In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina , Serbs live mainly in the municipalities of Drvar , Bosansko Grahovo and Bosanski Petrovac in the north-west of the country.


According to the preliminary evaluation of the 2011 census, there are 178,110 Serbs in Montenegro , or 28.73% of a total of 625,266 inhabitants, compared to 620,100 in 2003. In 2003, 198,414 Serbs were counted in the census, whose share was 32%. Interestingly, the population of Montenegro is growing, even if only very weakly, which stands out in comparison to the other south-east European countries. A novelty in the 2011 census is the split into "Montenegrin Serbs" 1,833 (0.3%) and "Serbian-Montenegrins" 2,103 (0.37%). The status of the around 16,000 refugees from Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania remains unclear. It is the same with the numerous Serbs. They are listed in the constitution, but deliberately avoiding labeling them clearly as either a minority or a people who support the state. After the referendum held on the independence of Montenegro in 2006, around 44.5% or 185,002 residents voted for Montenegro to remain in the union with Serbia. According to the 2003 census, two thirds of the population stated Serbian as their mother tongue. In 2011 there were just under 43% or 265,895 residents who speak Serbian as their mother tongue, although only around 180,000 declared themselves Serbs, or "Montenegrin Serbs" or "Serb-Montenegrins". Most of the population of Montenegro speaks Serbian.


In Kosovo , by most countries in the world as a sovereign is recognized live according to the CIA 130,000 Serbs around (7%), mainly in northern Kosovo in the northern part of, Mitrovica and certain other of the KFOR guarded enclaves. According to the results of the 1991 census, a total of 194,190 Serbs lived in what was then the South Serbian Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo. Many fled or were expelled out of fear of ethnically motivated attacks by the Albanians.


Percentage of Serbs in the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia according to the 1991 census (Faculty of Geography, Belgrade)

From 1941 to 1945, the committed Independent State of Croatia (NDH) by the Ustasha and with the help of the armed forces a genocide against Serbs, including in the Jasenovac concentration camp . Between 330,000 and 390,000 Serbs were murdered. The role of the Catholic Church in Croatia is also criticized here. The Jasenovac concentration camp is now a synonym for genocide in the Yugoslav region.

After 1945, the communists around Tito also led to political persecution, which resulted in the flight and emigration of many thousands of Serbs, especially the royalists and Chetniks, abroad, mainly to the USA and Australia. If one considers the number of victims of flight, displacement and murder, especially of Serbs, as a result of the Second World War , one can assume that in what is now Croatia in the years before 1941, Serbs had a much higher proportion of the population than in the 1991 census found 12%. In the further course, z. B. the enforcement of a planned economy, it came to rural exodus and ultimately to economically induced emigration.

Before the Croatian constitution was changed in 1990, Serbs were one of the two constituent ethnic groups of the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia, alongside the Croats . According to the 1991 census, before the Croatian war lived 581,633, i.e. about 12.2% of 4,784,265 inhabitants. In 2001, according to the census, there were 201,631 Serbs living in Croatia, i.e. 4.54% of 4,437,460 inhabitants. In the 2001 census, about 380,000 Serbs, 100,000 Yugoslavs and a total of about 350,000 fewer people were counted. 44,629 people (around 1% of the population in Croatia) gave Serbian as their mother tongue. Two thirds of them live in the area around Vukovar and Osijek-Baranja. “Croatian” was given as the standard answer.

After Croatia's declaration of independence, the Serbs of the Krajina (Крајшници / Krajšnici) founded the de facto state of the Republic of Serbian Krajina . During the Croatian War, the areas were initially "ethnically cleansed". After the Serbian Krajina was conquered , between 150,000 and 200,000 Serbs were expelled or fled to Serbia and the Republika Srpska . According to a report by the Croatian Helsinki Committee , a total of 400 to 800 Serbs were killed by marauding Croatian troops during and after the offensive. According to the UNHCR, around 100,000 Krajina Serbs had returned by 2002 .

In January 2010, Serbia filed a representative counterclaim for genocide against Serbs in what is now Croatia in the context of the events between 1941 and 1945 and 1991 and 1995, exactly fifty years later.

In the Croatian political landscape since the end of the war, several Serbian MPs such as Milorad Pupovac, Vojislav Stanimirović and Milan Đukić took part in government responsibility.


According to the 2002 census, there are around 39,000 Serbs in Slovenia . In December 2008, the Slovenian government reversed the 1992 decision to expatriate those who had not applied for Slovenian citizenship in time in the crumbling Yugoslavia , affecting more than 30,000 Serbs. Those affected could not officially leave the country, change citizenship or take up employment and had to fear that they would be expelled because they were downgraded to migrants or asylum seekers . Earlier censuses in the former Yugoslavia have been adjusted accordingly and the proportion of Serbs officially living in Slovenia has been reduced. Thus around 30,000 Serbs were not included in the last 2002 census. In 2000 this decision was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in Slovenia. In December 2008, the judgment of the Constitutional Court was finally implemented politically. According to the Slovenian government, compensation for the roughly 16 years of statelessness and disintegration will be awarded to the victims. It is still not clear to what extent the now almost 70,000 Serbs form an autochthonous minority in Slovenia and whether they will therefore be officially recognized as a new minority with corresponding rights in the European Union in the future.

North Macedonia

In 2002 there were almost 36,000 Serbs in Macedonia . Most Serbs live in the capital Skopje , in Kumanovo and in the municipality of Čučer Sandevo . In Skopje, they make up the third largest minority after the Albanians and Roma with 14,298 inhabitants or 2.8%. In the city of Kumanovo they make up the second largest minority with 9062 inhabitants or 8.6%. The relatively largest proportion in a municipality are the Serbs with around 28% or 2,426 inhabitants in the municipality of Čučer Sandevo.


In February 2010, Slovakia granted the Serbs the status of a national minority, which raises them to an autochthonous minority. The exact number of Serbs is not known. According to estimates, they make up less than one percent of the population of Slovakia, which means that there are tens of thousands of people. In the last census in 2002, they are represented with other ethnic groups together with two percent. With this status, the Serbs have a seat in the parliament of Slovakia and a significantly better position nationally and internationally, especially at the EU level.


The first official confirmation of Serbs in Albania was the naming of 100 Serbs and Montenegrins in the 1989 census. In the 2011 census, 366 people named "Montenegrin" as their nationality, 66 people named "Serbo-Croatian" as their mother tongue. A self-classification as a Serb or a spokesman for Serbian was not possible. The Serbian government puts the number at 35,000–40,000. Unlike Serbs, Montenegrins are officially recognized as a national minority. Montenegrins and Serbs have organized themselves in the “Moraca – Rozafa” cultural association since 1991. This complains that the Montenegrins and Serbs are disadvantaged compared to other minorities. A Serbian-speaking school was opened in the village of Hamil near Fier in 2014.


In Romania there is a strong Serbian minority in the Banat around Timișoara and Orșova in places like Ivanda ( Timiș County ), Belobreșca , Câmpia , Divici , Liubcova , Măcești , Moldova Veche , Pojejena , Socol , Zlatița (all Caraș-Severin County ) and Svinița ( Mehedinți County ). According to the 2002 census, a total of 22,561 Serbs (Sârbi in Romanian) live in the whole of Romania.


The Serbian Ministry of the Diaspora estimates that there are up to 3.5 million Serbs of Serbian origin living in the Diaspora. It is intended to carry out full analyzes in the near future and to better organize the Serbian diaspora through umbrella organizations in order to bring the political will of these people abroad and in Serbia more effectively into political decision-making and to more efficiently exploit the economic potential of this large number of emigrants.

The largest Serbian communities are formed in the United States , Canada , Australia , Germany , Austria , Sweden , France and Switzerland . Large inner-city communities have formed in Chicago , Stuttgart , Vienna and Zurich .

English speaking area

In the USA , in the 2010 census, around 141,000 people were of Serbian origin. In addition, the 2010 census asked about a second origin, with around 47,000 other respondents declaring themselves to be Serbs. According to surveys from 2006 to 2008, around 64,000 residents use the Serbian language as a colloquial language within the family or in their own four walls.

In Canada , in the 2006 census, 46,053 residents said they were of Serbian origin. Another 27,000 said they were sometimes of Serbian origin.

In the 2006 census in Australia , 95,364 Serbs are counted.

German-speaking area

As in other countries, the exact number of Serbs living in the German-speaking area cannot be precisely determined, since in censuses or similar surveys the ethnicity is usually not recorded, only figures about the respective nationality exist. While the Serbs in Germany make up the seventh largest non-German population group in the Federal Republic of Germany after the Turks , Italians , Greeks , Poles , Croats and Russians, and the fourth largest foreign population in Switzerland , in Austria they are the second largest foreign population group after the Germans.

The Central Council of Serbs in Germany, which has a broad understanding of the ethnic affiliation of migrants from Yugoslavia, speaks of several hundred thousand Serbs in Germany.

For 2011 the Federal Statistical Office published the number of 197,984 Serbian citizens in Germany. Another 54,557 people living in Germany with the citizenship of the former Serbia and Montenegro have not yet decided on one of the possible new citizenships.

In Austria , 177,320 people named Serbian as their colloquial language in the 2001 census, this also includes double entries German / Serbian. Of these persons, 41,944 were Austrian citizens.

At the end of 2010 there were around 122,000 Serbian nationals living in Switzerland. The first large wave of emigration came due to the need for guest workers in the 1960s to 1980s, the second followed with the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991 and the crises that followed.

Romansh-speaking area

According to the census from 2005, there are 65,000 citizens of Serbia-Montenegro living in Italy , of which up to 30,000 are Serbs. In this case, it can be assumed that less than 50% are of Serbian origin, because Italy has always been a popular immigration destination for the Albanian population from Kosovo .


The census in Sweden at the end of 2005 recorded foreigners by country of birth. 78,000 were born in Serbia-Montenegro.

About 10,000-15,000 Serbs live in Norway . The information is from January 2007. 12,500 people come from Serbia. Sources: see table


The southern Slavs and their identity (s) - A study of Bosnians, Croats and Serbs living in Germany Author: Katja Kukolj

Gajić Zoran (2005): Viennese Serbs . University of Vienna, Vienna



Serbian Azbuka 1841

Serbs speak the Serbian language , in Serbia mainly the Ekavian variant. The language largely corresponds to Serbo-Croatian, standardized in the 19th century . In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro, Serbian is mainly spoken in the Ijekavian variant. In addition, there is also the ikavic variant, which, however, is not a written language and is hardly used in dialect, at most as half-icavic or half-icavic. The clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church nor the will Kirchenslawisch Serbian variety preserved. The Serbian Wallachians are a specialty. According to the last census in 2002, around a third of the 55,000 or so speakers in Wallachian declared themselves Serbs. It is interesting that more or less around three quarters of the around 200,000 Serbs in Croatia in the 2001 census must have declared themselves to be Croatian as their mother tongue, as the number of Serbian speakers in their mother tongue is given as around 45,000 in the census.


About this picture

Both the Cyrillic alphabet , the Azbuka by the Serbian reformer Vuk Stefanović Karadžić , and the Latin alphabet , supplemented by Serbian special characters, are in use, although the Serbian Constitution of 2006 stipulated that Cyrillic should be given preference over Latin script Authorities, as well as in school lessons.



In the case of Serbian surnames, in contrast to most other Slavic nations, there is no alignment of the name with regard to the gender of the name bearer. Serbian surnames are mostly patronyms or metronyms . It is estimated that more than two thirds of surnames have the -ić as an ending. Depending on the consonant or vowel at the end of the name, -ević , -ović or -vić is added. If the v itself is the last letter in the word stem, it is followed by the suffix -ljević . Radosav becomes Radosavljević, Rastisav becomes Rastisavljević. In male names such as Nikola or Kosta , the a is omitted and is only replaced with an , which leads to Nikolić or Kostić . This also applies to the metronyms, as can be seen in the examples Marić von Mara and Radić von Rada , since almost all female names end with an a . Further endings are u. a. -in , -ski , -ev , -ov , -ac , -ak , -ca , -elj . The family names that are widely used are Jovanović (from Johannes), Petrović (from Peter), Marković (from Marko) and Djordjević (from Georg).


The statement that the -ić is a diminutive is inferential. Reference is made to the continued use of -ić in Serbian usage, which has been assigned the same phonetic value since the spelling reform. So the -ić in this corresponds to the German -chen or -lein . Examples are konj / konjić, i.e. horse / horse and most / mostić for bridge / little bridge.


In Western Europe, ć was usually circumscribed as ch , tch , tsch , tz or k , sometimes even replaced by an n . During the neogenesis of a nation of Serbs in the 19th and 20th centuries and the associated bureaucratization, the suffix -ić also acquired a political character. In 1817 it was banned as an ending in names in Austria-Hungary. The ban was implemented particularly rigidly in the Hungarian-speaking area. The tensions between the power centers of the Serbs and Bulgarians also meant that the gender-neutral -ić was typified as Serbian and the gender- dependent -ov as Bulgarian. After 1918, the newly founded Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes began to use the -ić as an ending for Serbian surnames.


A very large majority of the ethnic Serbs profess the Serbian Orthodox Church and thus Orthodox Christianity ( Serbian Pravoslavlje Православље ). In second place are the Serbs who profess to be atheists . Besides these there are also some Serbs who profess to be Protestants , Roman Catholics , Muslims and followers of other religions. Some ethnologists are of the opinion that Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats define their ethnicity primarily through their religious affiliation or their point of view on religion and thus identify with the corresponding cultural area.

The Serbian identity and culture is strongly influenced by Orthodox Christianity . So the writing about the missionary Orthodox monks and so-called Slav teachers Kyrill and Method was made known to the Serbs. This achievement, the approximation of the Greek Cyrillic script to the simple old Serbian, which until then was ridiculed at Christian courts, was decisive for the cultural development of Serbian literature, art, architecture, politics and religiosity , which is why Cyril and Method are venerated as saints today. The Orthodox Church also introduced the first educational institutions to the Serbs and in the 12th century established the first written code of law, the Nomocanon of St. Sava of Serbia . She is seen as the keeper of Serbian identity, tradition and history.

Serbian greeting

A distinctive symbol of the Serbs is the Serbian greeting , in which the thumb, index finger and middle finger are united. The three fingers (Tri prsta) are of religious origin and go back to the unity of the Trinity of God taught by the Serbian Orthodox Church . The extended version of the greeting is now in use as the Serbian counterpart to the English victory sign . The wrong greeting (extended version) is often used by Serbian athletes and politicians.

Serbian cross

Another symbol is the Serbian cross . Today, the symbol is interpreted to mean that the symbols are Cyrillic S as an abbreviation for the slogan Samo Sloga Srbina Spasava ( Only unity saves the Serbs ). The symbol is almost identical to the coat of arms of the last Byzantine imperial dynasty of the palaeologists .


Some Slavic peoples have survived to this day the ancient dance called Kolo (kyr. Коло) in Serbian . Today the collective dance is usually accompanied by brass music and accordion, where in the past the flute, gusle and other medieval instruments were predominantly used. There are innumerable variants of Kolo, the most famous of which are Srpsko and Užičko Kolo.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinz Schuster-Šewc , Poreklo i istorija etnonima Serb .
  2. a b H. Brachmann: Sorben. In: Lexikon des Mittelalters , 1999, VII, Sp. 2057.
  3. ^ So Konstantin Jireček . In the first two cases, he concludes that sierb / sierbica or serbok once stood for brother and sister, or son, daughter, child in these languages.
  4. cf. English surf , and German sipping , says Heinz Schuster-Šewc, maybe also Russian reb, rebenok for child, infant
  5. Hilža Elina: The Sorbs / Wends in Germany , home for Sorbian Folk Culture Bautzen.
  6. Heinz Schuster-Šewc : The Sorbian - a Slavic language in Germany. In: Akademie-Journal 2/2001 “Languages ​​in Europe”. Union of the German Academies of Sciences, pp. 31–35 ( PDF ).
  7. see Telephone Book Germany 2012.
  8. A. Kazhdan : Serboi. In: Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium , 1991, III, 1875.
  9. ^ Alfred Stückelberger, Gerd Graßhoff (ed.): Ptolemaios, Handbuch der Geographie , Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2006, p. 530 f.
  10. ^ Alfred Stückelberger, Gerd Graßhoff (ed.): Ptolemaios, Handbuch der Geographie , Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2006.
  11. Presbyter Diocleas, see below
  12. a b Byzantine Archives , Volume 19 Polypleuros nous , by Cordula Scholz, Georgios Makris, Leipzig / Munich, 2000 .
  13. General Encyclopedia of Sciences and Arts , Leipzig 1832 .
  14. ^ A b c Heinrich Kunstmann: The Slavs, their name, their migration to Europe and the beginnings of Russian history in a historical-onomastic view. Steiner, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-515-06816-3 , p. 125.
  15. ^ Heinrich Kunstmann: Contributions to the history of the settlement of northern and central Germany with Balkan slaves. Sagner, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-87690-385-8 , p. 186.
  16. ^ German emigrants in Hungary: Settlement in the rule of Bóly in the 18th century , Karl-Peter Krauss, 2003, p. 204, "Rätzische Nation" .
  17. ^ The Catholic encyclopedia: An international work of reference on the constitution, doctrine, discipline, and history of the Catholic church, Volume 14, p. 54 .
  18. ^ Difference between Greek-Oriental and Greek-Catholic .
  19. Deutsche Welle: Independent people or Croats? ( Memento of October 27, 2004 in the Internet Archive ).
  20. ^ Germanized, from the Serbian staroverci.
  21. ^ About the Raizen Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, Volume 16. Leipzig 1908, p. 578. and the typical toponyms .
  22. Raitzen .
  23. ^ Heinrich Kunstmann : The Slavs, their name, their migration to Europe and the beginnings of Russian history in a historical and onomastic view. Steiner, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-515-06816-3 , p. 40.
  24. History of the Serbs , Konstantin Jireček, II., Chapter 1, Gotha 1911, p. 72.
  25. [1]
  26. History of the Serbs , Konstantin Jireček, III., Chapter 1, Gotha 1911, p. 120.
  27. Designation Jirecek, Geschichte der Serben, II., 1st chapter, Gotha 1911, p. 72.
  28. ^ The Slavs: Their name, their migration to Europe and the beginnings of Russian history from a historical and onomastic point of view , Heinrich Kunstmann, Stuttgart 1996, p. 126 .
  29. Г. Острогорски (ed.): Византијски извори за историју народа Југославије, 1959, II, 47.
  30. ^ Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De administrando imperio , translated by RJH Jenkins, Greek text by GY. Moravcsik, 1967 Trustees of Harvard University (English), from p. 153.
  31. Marquart, Eastern Europe. and east asia. Streifzüge, Leipzig 1903, p.
  32. Jirecek, History of the Serbs.
  33. Gyula Moravcsik: Constantine Porphyrogenitus De administrando imperio (English translation by RJH Jenkins, Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, Washington DC 1967, ISBN 0-88402-021-5 , pp. 139-143).
  34. Constantine Porphyrogenitus De administrando imperio Moravcsik, Jenkins, Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, Washington DC 1967, ISBN 0-88402-021-5 , pp. 160-165.
  35. Nova Srbija i Slavenosrbija by Mita Kostić, Srpsko-Ukrainsko Društvo, Novi Sad, 2001 (PDF; 515 kB) .
  36. ПОСЕЛЕНИЕ СЕРБСКИХ ГУСАРСКИХ ПОЛКОВ ШЕВИЧА И ПРЕРАДОВИЧА (Славяносербия, 1753–1764) by Vladimir Podov (PDF; 160 kB).
  37. Last census carried out in the Yugoslav Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  38. ^ First census after the Bosnian War
  39. The number of municipalities whose data is not made available is remarkable and novel.
  40. The last qualified census of the Autonomous Republic of Serbia Kosovo in Yugoslavia was in 1981.
  41. Census of Bosnia and Herzegovina 2013. Archived from the original on October 6, 2016 ; accessed on June 30, 2016 .
  42. not Serbo-Croatian.
  43. Preliminary results of the 2011 census of the Statistical Office of Montenegro (PDF; 375 kB).
  44. ^ CIA The World Factbook - Kosovo .
  45. ^ Holm Sundhaussen: History of Serbia. Böhlau, Vienna - Cologne - Weimar 2007, ISBN 978-3-205-77660-4 , p. 496.
  46. ^ Human Rights Watch: Abuses against Serbs and Roma in the new Kosovo. August 1999, accessed March 27, 2011 .
  47. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Holocaust Era in Croatia: Jasenovac 1941-1945. Archived from the original on February 25, 2011 ; Retrieved March 29, 2011 .
  48. ^ Rob McCormick, "The United States' Response to Genocide in the Independent State of Croatia, 1941–1945" in Genocide Studies and Prevention, University of Toronto Press, Volume 3, Number 1 / April 2008.
  49. Vladimir Dedijer (author), Harvey L. Kendall (translator), The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican: The Croatian Massacre of the Serbs During World War II . Prometheus Books. July 1992.
  50. ^ Population change in Croatia ( Memento from January 15, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).
  51. 2001 census in Croatia, revised figures .
  52. 2001 census in Croatia, improved data .
  53. ^ Karl Kaser: The ethnic "engineering". In: Dunja Melčić (Ed.): The War in Yugoslavia. Prehistory, course and consequences manual. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-33219-2 , pp. 401-414, here: p. 408.
  54. Croatia charges the state of Serbia with genocide by Croats in Croatia.
  55. Serbia sues Croatia for genocide against Serbs (Serbian) .
  56. Statistical analysis of VZ in Slovenia .
  57. RTS report on the re-naturalization of Serbs living in Slovenia (Serbian) .
  58. Data on ethnic groups from the 2002 census in Macedonia (PDF; 394 kB).
  59. Official confirmation СРБИ У СЛОВАЧКОЈ ДОБИЛИ СТАТУС НАЦИОНАЛНЕ МАЊИНЕ ( Memento from August 4, 2012 in the web archive ).
  60. Serbs in Slovakia granted minority status ( Memento from September 18, 2010 in the Internet Archive ).
  61. Reference to data from the 1989 census ( memento from June 11, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 496 kB).
  62. Albanian Census of 2011, INSTAT, p. 71 f.
  63. Serbian Ministry of Diaspora, October 25, 2004 ( Memento of September 27, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  64. Minority Rights and the Republic of Albania: Missing the Implementation , Manjola Xhaxho, Lund University , Faculty of Law, pp. 11, 70, 87.
  65. Serbian-language school in Albania is a sign of improving relations; Erl Murati, South East European Times, January 23, 2014 ( Memento of October 27, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  66. Ethnic affiliation 2002 census in Romania.
  67. ^ Government of the Republic of Serbia - Ministry for Diaspora ( Memento of December 13, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  68. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia .
  69. [2] .
  70. Canada Census 2006 .
  71. Australia Census 2006 .
  72. 2004 210,000 citizens from Serbia and Montenegro ( Memento from January 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ).
  73. Statistics Austria .
  74. About us. on the website of the Central Council of Serbs in Germany.
  75. ^ Federal Statistical Office: Population and Employment - Foreign Population - Results of the Central Register of Foreigners. Retrieved November 27, 2012 .
  76. Statistics Austria - Population according to demographic characteristics. Archived from the original on January 23, 2010 ; Retrieved February 11, 2012 .
  77. Swiss Confederation - Foreign Population: Nationality. Archived from the original on January 30, 2012 ; Retrieved February 11, 2012 .
  78. Dejan Mikić: Identity Formation - How Yugoslavs became Serbs. (PDF; 40 MB) In: terra cognita, 13. 2008, pp. 94–97 , accessed on November 22, 2017 .
  79. Map 1 Serbo-Croatian dialects .
  80. Map 2 Serbo-Croatian dialects .
  81. 2002 census: Romanians: 34,576; Romanian mother tongue: 34,515; Wallachians: 40,054; Mother tongue Wallachian: 54,818 (approx. + 30%) ( Memento from October 18, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 452 kB).
  82. 2001 census in Croatia .
  83. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Serbia - I CONSTITUTION PRINCIPLES - Article 10 .
  84. 1815-17 in the second Serbian uprising , the Serbs established a largely sovereign principality after the Ottomans were pushed back.
  85. ^ Serbian surnames ( Memento from July 5, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).
  86. Census on religious affiliation ( Memento of November 13, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 254 kB).