Sorting Through Ethnicities in the Former Yugoslavia

A quick refresher on the terminology applied to Slavs living in the countries comprising the former Yugoslavia.

  • A Bosnian is a someone who lives in Bosnia, a Bosniak is a Slavic Muslim.
  • A Croatian is someone who lives in Croatia, a Croat is a Slavic Catholic.
  • A Serbian is someone who lives in Serbia, a Serb is a Slavic Orthodox Christian.

So ethnicity is defined by your family’s religious background. And one’s nationality and ethnicity do not always line up.

Example: most of the citizens of Novi Pazar are Serbian Bosniaks. They were born in the country of Serbia, but ethnically they identify as Bosniaks because of their family’s current or historical adherence to Islam.

Macedonians are mainly of Slavish decent, though living side-by-side with Turks, Albanians and Greeks for hundreds of years has given them a different ethnicity and slightly different language. Slovenes, are Slavs who’ve resided in the Alps north of Croatia and South of Austria since 600 A.D., today comprising the majority of people making up Slovenia.

The term Kosovar applies to someone who is ethnically Albanian, but living in modern day Kosovo. There are Serbs living in Kosovo too, but they would most likely consider themselves of Serbian Nationality since they consider Kosovo to be just a province of greater Serbia

People in Montenegro, where we are living, are all over the place on defining themselves. While Montenegrin in nationality, many consider themselves to be of Serb or Croat ethnicity based on their religious background. We’ve also met several Croats who argue that the northern coast of Montenegrin should very much still be a part of Croatia and they identify as Croat because of that. Others, descending from one of the original clans occupying the Montenegro mountains for 500 years, consider themselves strictly Montenegrin. Self-identification as Montenegrin has been increasing since Montenegro achieved independence in 2006.1203px-Former_Yugoslavia_Flag_Map_(Without_Kosovo)




One thought on “Sorting Through Ethnicities in the Former Yugoslavia

  1. Pingback: A Day in Novi Pazar, Serbia | Adam and Molly Go

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