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Total population
c. 305,000
Regions with significant populations
 United States210,395 (2021)
(Yugoslav Americans)[1]
 Canada38,480 (2016)
(Yugoslav Canadians)[2]
 Australia26,883 (2011)[3]
 Serbia23,303 (2011)
(Yugoslavs in Serbia)[4]
 Bosnia and Herzegovina2,507 (2013)
 Montenegro1,154 (2011)[5]
 Croatia942 (2021)[6]
 Slovenia527 (2002)[7]
 North Macedonia344 (2021)[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; Macedonian, Montenegrin and Serbian: Југословени/Jugosloveni; Slovene: Jugoslovani) is an identity that was originally designed to refer to a united South Slavic people. It has been used in two connotations: the first in a sense of common shared ethnic descent, i.e. panethnic or supraethnic connotation for ethnic South Slavs,[a] and the second as a term for all citizens of former Yugoslavia regardless of ethnicity.[b] 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 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 in the United States, Canada, and Australia by the descendants of Yugoslav migrants who left while the country still existed.


Yugoslavism and Yugoslavia[edit]

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.[10] 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.[11] The movement was led by Ljudevit Gaj, whose script became one of two official scripts used for the Serbo-Croatian language.[11]

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";[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."[13] 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."[13]

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.[13]

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[edit]

Percentage identifying as Yugoslav[18]
Region 1961 1971 1981
Croatia 0.4 1.9 8.2
Central Serbia 0.2 1.4 4.8
Bosnia and Herzegovina 8.4 1.2 7.9
Kosovo 0.5 0.1 0.1
Macedonia 0.1 0.2 0.7
Montenegro 0.3 2.1 5.3
Slovenia 0.2 0.4 1.4
Vojvodina 0.2 2.4 8.2
Yugoslavia 1.7 1.3 5.4

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, Central Serbia, Vojvodina, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the lowest were in Slovenia, Macedonia, and Kosovo. The 1971 census recorded 273,077 Yugoslavs, or 1.33% of the total population. The 1981 census, a year after the death of Tito, recorded a record number of 1,216,463 or 5.4% Yugoslavs.[citation needed]

  • In the 1991 census, 5.54% (242,682) of the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared themselves to be Yugoslav.[20] 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 ethnic Muslims, 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.
  • Approximately 5% of the population of Montenegro also declared themselves Yugoslav in the same census.
  • The 1981 census showed that Yugoslavs made up around 8.2% of the population in Croatia, this being the highest ever percentage of Yugoslavs within a constituent republic's borders. The percentage was the highest in multiethnic regions and cities with large non-Croatian population and among those of mixed ancestry. 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 176 Yugoslavs, less than 0.001% of the population at the time.[21] The next census in 2011 registered 331 Yugoslavs in Croatia (>0.01% of the population).[22]
  • The autonomous region of Vojvodina, marked by its traditionally multiethnic make-up, recorded a similar percentage as Croatia at the 1981 census, with ~8% of its 2 million inhabitants declaring themselves Yugoslav.[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[edit]


Number of people identifying as Yugoslav by country
Country Number (census year)
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 2,507 (2013)[citation needed]
 Croatia 942 (2021)[6]
 North Macedonia 344 (2021)[8]
 Montenegro 1,154 (2011)[5]
 Kosovo[c] N/A
 Serbia 23,303 (2011)[4]
 Slovenia 527 (2002)[7]
Total c. 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 North Macedonia is the lowest on both. No official figures or reliable estimates are available for Kosovo.[c]


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[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ Note that Serbo-Croatian term Jugoslaveni or Jugosloveni was a popular neutral supraethnic compound of jug ("south") and Slaveni/Sloveni (Slavs), literally meaning South Slavs, coined in late 19th century and officially adopted in 1929 by the authorities of Kingdom of Yugoslavia. "Yugoslavia" was adopted by English and other non-Slavic languages as a unique proper noun in favour of literal translations such as "South Slavia". Nowadays in Serbo-Croatian and other Slavic languages, Jugoslaven/Jugosloven refers exclusively to Yugoslavs, the people of Yugoslavia, and not South Slavs, the cultural and linguistic group; the latter is rendered in Serbo-Croatian as "južni Slaveni/Sloveni"
  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. ^ a b The political status of Kosovo is disputed. Having unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo is formally recognised as an independent state by 101 UN member states (with another 13 states recognising it at some point but then withdrawing their recognition) and 92 states not recognizing it, while Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own territory.


  1. ^ "2021 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". American Community Survey 2021. United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 8 April 2022. Retrieved 19 November 2022.
  2. ^ "Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity Highlight Tables". statcan.gc.ca. 25 October 2017.
  3. ^ Fact sheets : Ancestry – Serbian (last updated 16 August 2012, retrieved 22 December 2012)
  4. ^ a b 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 2 December 2012.
  5. ^ a b Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in Montenegro 2011 Monstat – Statistical Office of Montenegro
  6. ^ a b Anđelković, Nataša (10 October 2022). "Balkan, Srbija i popis 2022: Ko su danas Jugosloveni i ima li ih uopšte" [The Balkans, Serbia and the 2022 census: Who are the Yugoslavs today and are there any?]. BBC News na srpskom. Retrieved 19 November 2022. Ipak, najdrastičniji „nestanak" Jugoslovena vidi se na primeru Hrvatske. Dok se 1991. njih 106.041 osećalo tako, na popisu 2001. bili su u nivou statističke greške - ukupno 176. Naredne decenije, broj se blago popeo na 331, da bi na poslednjem popisu, 2021. godine 942 ljudi navelo tu opciju, kažu iz hrvatskog Državnog zavoda za statistiku. [However, the most drastic "disappearance" of Yugoslavs can be seen in the example of Croatia. While 106,041 of them felt that way in 1991, in the 2001 census they were at the level of a statistical error - a total of 176. In the following decade, the number rose slightly to 331, and in the last census, in 2021, 942 people indicated this option, according to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics.]
  7. ^ a b "Statistični urad RS - Popis 2002". stat.si.
  8. ^ a b Попис на населението, домаќинствата и становите во Република Северна Македонија, 2021 - прв сет на податоци (in Macedonian) State Statistical Office
  9. ^ S. Szayna, Thomas; Zanini, Michele (January 2001). "Chapter Three". The Yugoslav Retrospective Case (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  10. ^ Enciklopedia Jugoslavije, Zagreb 1990, pp. 128-130.
  11. ^ a b Singleton, Frederick Bernard (1985). A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples. Cambridge University Press. p. 93. ISBN 0-521-27485-0.
  12. ^ Ivo Banač. The national question in Yugoslavia: origins, history, politics. Cornell University Press, 1984. Pp. 204-205.
  13. ^ a b c Wachte, Andrew (1998). Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia. Stanford University Press. pp. 92–94. ISBN 0-8047-3181-0.
  14. ^ Banač, Ivo (1988). The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-9493-1.
  15. ^ "First World War.com Primary Documents: Archduke Franz Ferdinand's Assassination, 28 June 1914". 3 November 2002. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  16. ^ Malcolm, Noel (1996). Bosnia: A Short History. New York University Press. p. 153. ISBN 0-8147-5561-5.
  17. ^ Ahmet Ersoy, Maciej Górny, Vangelis Kechriotis. Modernism: The Creation of Nation-States. Central European University Press, 2010. Pp. 363.
  18. ^ 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. JSTOR 2096134.
  19. ^ Norbu, Dawa (3–9 April 1999). "The Serbian Hegemony, Ethnic Heterogeneity and Yugoslav Break-Up". Economic and Political Weekly 34 (14): 835.
  20. ^ Ethnic composition of Bosnia-Herzegovina population, by municipalities and settlements, 1991. census, Zavod za statistiku Bosne i Hercegovine – Bilten no.234, Sarajevo 1991.
  21. ^ Population of Croatia 1931–2001
  22. ^ "Državni zavod za statistiku Republike Hrvatske". dzs.hr.
  23. ^ U Zagrebu osnovan Savez Jugoslavena (in Croatian). Jutarnji list. Portal Jutarnji.hr; 23 March 2010
  24. ^ U Zagrebu osnovan Savez Jugoslavena: Imamo pravo na očuvanje baštine Jugoslavije (in Croatian). Index.hr. L.J.; 23 March 2010
  25. ^ a b Yugoslavs in the twenty-first century: ‘erased’ people openDemocracy.net. Anes Makul and Heather McRobie; 17 February 2011
  26. ^ Udruženje "Naša Jugoslavija" osniva Klubove Jugoslavena Archived 1 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine (in Croatian). Dubrovački vjesnik. Silvana Fable; 25 July 2010
  27. ^ Osnovano udruženje "Naša Jugoslavija" u Puli (in Serbian). Radio Television of Vojvodina. Tanjug; 30 July 2009
  28. ^ "Naša Jugoslavija" širi se Hrvatskom (in Serbian). Vesti online. Novi list; 27 July 2010
  29. ^ Perković pozvao Crnogorce da se izjasne i kao Jugosloveni Archived 5 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in Serbian). Srbijanet. 03-03-2011
  30. ^ Tito and his People by Howard Fast
  31. ^ Liberation of Belgrade and Yugoslavia Archived 2 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Lepa Brena u Zagrebu?! (in Croatian). Dnevnik.hr. B.G.; 13 December 2008
  33. ^ "Lepa Brena: Nisam ni Hrvatica ni Srpkinja, ja sam Jugoslavenka!" [Lepa Brena: I am neither Croatian or Serbian, I am Yugoslav!]. Index.hr. 8 August 2008.
  34. ^ DANI – Intervju: Joška Broz, unuk Josipa Broza Tita[permanent dead link] (in Bosnian). BH Dani. Tamara Nikčević; 14 August 2009
  35. ^ Слушам савете многих, али одлуке доносим сам Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine (in Serbian). Evropa magazine/Democratic Party web site. Dragana Đevori
  36. ^ "Dulić: 'Nisam Hrvat nego Jugoslaven'" (in Croatian). Dnevnik.hr. 23 May 2007.
  37. ^ ЏОЛЕ: Со Слаѓа сум во одлични односи! Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in Macedonian). Večer. Aleksandra Timkovska; 5 September 2006
  38. ^ "Ich bin ein alter Jugoslawe" (in German). Ballesterer. Fabian Kern; 13 May 2008
  39. ^ "Pas do pasa, beton do betona" (in Serbian). Vreme. 29 July 2010.
  40. ^ U fudbalu nema nacionalizma (in Montenegrin). Monitor Online. Nastasja Radović; 16 July 2010
  41. ^ Intervju: Magnifico Il Grande. Po domače, Car Archived 19 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine (in Slovenian). Mladina. Max Modic; 2007/52
  42. ^ А1 репортажа – Словенија денес (in Macedonian). A1 Television. Aneta Dodevska; 1 January 2009
  43. ^ D. Milićević (12 April 2010). "Uz mališane 33 godine" (in Serbian). Blic. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  44. ^ Život za slobodu (in Serbian). E-Novine. Dragoljub Todorović; 4 October 2010
  45. ^ Ostao sam ovde iz inata (in Serbian). Blic. Žiža Antonijević; 23 March 2008
  46. ^ Nikad nisam skrivao da sam Jugosloven Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine (in Bosnian). E-Novine. Mario Garber; 19 May 2009
  47. ^ Kako preživeti slavu Archived 18 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine (in Serbian). Standard. No. 28; 29 November 2006
  48. ^ "ISPOVEST Dževad Prekazi za Blicsport: Još sam zaljubljen u Jugoslaviju, sahranite me sa dresom Partizana".
  49. ^ Тивка војна меѓу Србија и Хрватска за Џони Штулиќ!? Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in Macedonian). Večer . 05-11-2009
  50. ^ Tifa: Navijam za mog Miću (in Serbian). Blic. M. Radojković; 4 March 2008
  51. ^ Sve za razvrat i blud Archived 25 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine (in Serbian). Glas Javnosti. P. Dragosavac; 17 September 1999
  52. ^ U Crnoj Gori oko 1.000 Jugoslovena, 100 Turaka, 130 Njemaca... Archived 13 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine (in Montenegrin). Vijesti. Vijesti online; 12 July 2011


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


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