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Encyclopedia > SFRJ

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a Balkan state that existed from 1945 to 1992.

It was formed in 1945 from remains of the pre-war Kingdom of Yugoslavia under the name Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, in 1946 it changed its name to Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia and again in 1963 to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The SFRY bordered Italy and Austria to the northwest, Hungary and Romania to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece and Albania to the south, and the Adriatic Sea to the west.

Социјалистичка федеративна република Југославија
Socijalistička federativna republika Jugoslavija
Socialistična federativna republika Jugoslavija
(In detail) (In detail)
Official languages: Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovene
Capital: Belgrade
Area (1991): 255,804 km≤
Population (1971): 20,522,972
Currency: dinar (YUD) = 100 paras
Time zone: UTC +1
National anthem: Hej Sloveni
ISO 3166-1: YU (obsolete)
Calling code: 38 (obsolete)

Socialist Republics and Autonomous Provinces

Internally, the state was divided into six socialist republics, and two socialist autonomous provinces that were part of SR Serbia. The federal capital was Belgrade. Republics and provinces were:

Numbered map of Yugoslav republics and provinces
  1. Socialist republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with capital in Sarajevo,
  2. Socialist republic of Croatia, with capital in Zagreb,
  3. Socialist republic of Macedonia, with capital in Skopje,
  4. Socialist republic of Montenegro, with capital in Titograd,
  5. Socialist republic of Serbia, with capital in Belgrade, which also contained:
    5a. Socialist autonomous province of Kosovo, with capital in Priština
    5b. Socialist autonomous province of Vojvodina, with capital in Novi Sad
  6. Socialist republic of Slovenia, with capital in Ljubljana.


Main article: History of Yugoslavia

Democratic Federative Yugoslavia was reconstituted at the AVNOJ conference in Jajce (November 29 - December 4, 1943) while negotiations with the royal government in exile continued. On November 29, 1945 the Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia was established as a socialist state (also by AVNOJ in Jajce). On January 31, 1946, the new constitution of FPR Yugoslavia established the six constituent republics.

The first president was Ivan Ribar and prime minister Josip Broz Tito. In 1953, Tito was elected as president and later in 1963 named "President for life".

Yugoslavia, unlike other Eastern and Central European communist countries, chose a course independent of the Soviet Union (see Informbiro), and was not a member of the Warsaw pact nor NATO, but rather than that initiated a Non-Aligned Movement in 1956.

The most significant change to the borders of the SFRY occurred in 1954, when the adjacent Free Territory of Trieste was dissolved by the Treaty of Osimo. The Yugoslavian Zone B, which covered 515.5 km2, became part of the SFRY. Zone B was already occupied by the Yugoslav National Army.

After Tito's death in 1980, tensions between the various peoples grew, and in 1991 its constituent republics Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina started breaking away. After the initial Yugoslav wars, the process ended in 1992 when the remainder of Yugoslavia, now having only two republics, Serbia and Montenegro, formed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which in 2002 was reformed and renamed to Serbia and Montenegro.


See Demographics_of_SFRY

Economy of SFRY

Despite common origins, the economy of socialist Yugoslavia was much different from economies of the Soviet Union and other Eastern European socialist countries, especially after the Yugoslav-Soviet break-up of 1948. The occupation and liberation struggle in World War II left Yugoslavia's infrastructure devestated. Even the most developed parts of the country were largely rural and the little industry the country had was largely damaged or destroyed.

The first after-war years saw implementation of Soviet-style five-year plans and reconstruction through massive voluntary work. The countriside was electrified and heavy industry was developed. The economy was organised as a mixed planned socialist and market socialist economy: factories were nationalized, but they were not owned by the state — they were rather socially owned, which roughly corresponds to public ownership in other economic systems. Privately owned craftshops could employ up to 4 people per owner. The land was partially nationalised and redistributed, and partially collectivised. Farmer households could own up to 10 hectares of land per person and the excess farmland was owned by co-ops, agricultural companies or local communities. These could sell and buy land, as well as give it to people in perpetual lease.

In 1950s socialist self-management was introduced, which reduced the state control of the economy. Managers of socially owned companies were supervised by worker councils, which were made up of all employees, with one vote each. The worker councils also appointed the management, often by secret ballot. The Communist Party was organized in all companies and most influential employees were likely to be members of the party, so the managers were often, but not always, appointed only with the consent of the party.

With the exception of a recession in mid-1960s, the country's economy prospered formidably. Unemployment was low and the education level of the working force steadily increased. Due to Yugoslavia's neutrality and a leading roll in the Non-aligned Movement, Yugoslav companies exported to both Western and Eastern markets. Yugoslav companies carried out construction of numerous major infrastructural and industrial projects in Africa, Europe and Asia.

In 1970s, the economy was reorganized according to Edvard Kardelj's theory of associated labour, in which the right to decision making and a share in profits of socially owned companies is based on the investment of labour. All companies were transformed into organizations of associated labour. The smallest, basic organizations of associated labour, roughly corresponded to a small company or a department in a large company. These were organized into enterprises which in turn associated into composite organizations of associated labour, which could be large companies or even whole industry branches in a certain area. Most executive decision making was based in enterprises, so that these continued to compete to an extent even when they were part of a same composite organization. The appointment of managers and strategic policy of composite organizations were, depending on their size and importance, in practice often subject to political and personal influence-paddling.

In order to give all employees the same access to decision making, the basic organisations of associated labour were also introduce into public services, including health and education. The basic organizations were usually made up of just dozens of people and had their own workers councils, whose assent was needed for strategic decisions and appointment of managers in enterprises or public institutions.

The workers were organized into trade unions which spanned across the country. Strikes could be called by any worker, or any group of workers and they were common in certain periods. Strikes for clear genuine grievances with no political motivation usually resulted in prompt replacement of the management and increase in pay or benefits. Strikes with real or implied political motivation were often dealt with in the same manner (individuals were prosecuted or persecuted separately), but occasionally also met stubborn refusal to deal or in some cases brutal force. Strikes occured in all times of political upheaval or economic hardships, but they became increasingly common in the 1980s, when consecutive governments tried to salvage the slumping economy with a programme of austerity under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund.

During and after the Oil Crisis of the 1970's, the foreign debt grew massively and by early 1980s it reached more than USD 20 billion. Governments of Milka Planinc and Branko Mikulić renegotiated the foreign debt at the price of introducing the policy of stabilization which in practice consisted of severe austerity measures — the so called shock treatment. During 1980s, Yugoslav population endured the introduction of fuel limitations (40 litres per car per month), limitation of car usage to 3 days a week, based on the last digit on the licence plate, severe limitations on import of goods and paying of a deposit upon leaving the country (mostly to go shopping), to be returned in a year (with rising inflation, this effectively amounted to a fee on travel). There were shortages of coffee, chocolate and washing powder. During several dry summers, the government, unable to borrow to import electricity, was forced to introduce power cuts.

After the boom of post-war years and the prosperous 1970s, the economic stagnation of the 1980s, just after Tito had died, brought some public discontent. This was in part muted by the spectacular draining of the banking system, caused by the rising inflation, in which millions of people were effectively forgiven debts or even allowed to make fortunes on perfectly legal bank-milking schemes. The banks adjusted their interest rates to inflation, but old credit contracts stipulated constant interest rates. Repayments of debts for privately owned housing, which was massively built during the prosperous 1970s, became ridiculously small and banks suffered huge losses. Indexation was introduced to take inflation into account, but the resourceful population continued to drain the system through other schemes, many of them having to do with personal cheques.

Personal checks were widely used in Yugoslavia in pre-inflation times. Cheques, which were considered legal tender, were accepted by all businesses. They were processed by hand and mailed by regular post, so there was no way to ensure real-time accounting. The banks therefore continued to deduct money from current accounts on the date they received the cheque, and not on the date it was issued. When inflation rose to triple and then quadruple digits, this allowed another widespread form of cost reduction or outright milking of the system. Bills from remote places would arrive six months late, causing losses to businesses. Since banks maintained no-fee mutual customer service, people would travel to small banks in rural areas on the other end of the country and cash in several cheques. They would then exchange the money for foreign currency, usually German Marks and wait for the cheque to arrive. They would then convert a part of the foreign currency amount and repay their debt, greatly reduced by inflation. Companies, struggling to pay their work-force, adopted similar tactics.

New legislation was gradually introduced to remedy the situation, but the goverment mostly tried to fight the crisis by issuing more currency, which only fueled the inflation further. In the late 1980s, the state of the economy was commonly considered a joke. Power-mongering in the big industry branch-wide companies led to several large failed investments (mostly large factories), which only increased the public perception of a deep crisis. After abortive attempts to fight inflation with various schemes, the government of Branko Mikulić was replaced by a new government, headed by Ante Marković, a pragmatic reformist. He spent a year introducing new business legislation, which quietly dropped most of the associated labour theory and introduced private ownership of businesses. While public companies were allowed to be partially privatized, mostly by investment, the concept of social ownership and worker councils were retained.

On New Year's Eve 1989, Ante Marković introduced his program of economic reforms. Ten thousand Dinars became one New Dinar, pegged to the German Mark at the rate of 7 New Dinars for on Mark. The sudden end of inflation brought some relief to the banks. Ownership and exchange of foreign currency was deregulated, which, combined with a realistic exchange rate, attracted foreign currency to the banks. Ante Marković's personal charm (he famously waved New Dinar banknotes at the federal parliament with a wry smile) and the end of inflation brought some economic optimism and prosperity, but in the late 1990, it was becoming increasingly clear that the federal government was effectively losing the power to implement its programme. Governments of individual republics refused to pay federal taxes or enforce federal import fees (border police and custom service were under the jurisdiction of republics), and the government of Serbia even managed to use the federal money printing facility in Belgrade to issue itself a short-term credit. The federal government was forced to raise the exchange rate for the German Mark first to 9 and then to 13 dinars. In June 1991, Marković, who had formed his own, Reform Party, led the last-straw attempt to save the federation in negotiations over federal income from custom offices in Slovenia, which was withholding the money, but with the break up of the country during the following year, the economy of Yugoslavia ceased to exist.

For later developments, see: Economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Economy of Croatia, Economy of the Republic of Macedonia, Economy of Serbia and Montenegro.

The Yugoslav wars, consequent loss of market, as well as mismanagement and/or non-transparent privatization brought further economic trouble for all former republics of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Only Slovenia's economy grew steadily after the initial shock and slump. Croatia reached its 1990 GDP in 2003, a feat yet to be accomplished by other former Yugoslav republics.

See also

Former Yugoslavia (SFRY)
Bosnia and Herzegovina | Croatia | Macedonia | Montenegro | Serbia | Slovenia
Autonomous provinces of Serbia
Kosovo | Vojvodina

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