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April 22, 2019

Europe: The Complex History of Yugoslavia

Filed under: Architecture, Croatia, Europe, Photography, Slovenia, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , , — anotherheader @ 8:39 am

There are many beautiful places along the Adriatic coast of Slovenia and Croatia.

Travel is a great history teacher. It puts a context to the historical events that one reads about. We usually come away from places we visit with a better comprehension of the when’s, what’s, why’s and where’s that punctuate a region’s history. But in the former territories of Yugoslavia it’s not so easy.

Usually the historical context starts sinking in a few days after we arrive in a region. But it didn’t work that way for us while traveling in what was until relatively recently Yugoslavia. The area’s history is particularly complex. It’s more than I could assimilate on a short visit.

Maria Theresa of the House of Habsburg, whose dominion over the region was an important part of the history.

In the last two millennia the Romans, Byzantines, Holy Roman Empire, Venetians, Austria-Hungarians, French, Ottomans, and more took their turns as powers in this area of Europe. The region’s ancient history is complicated but it’s the 20th Century the history that is for me even more confusing. Major events include the Balkan Wars, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo (the spark that triggered World War I), World War I, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the fall of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes that was later rebranded as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the onset of World War II and the slicing and dicing of the region’s territories during World War II, the establishment of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia and its evolution to the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, the breakup of Yugoslavia after the end of the Cold War, the wars of Yugoslavian independence, the Bosnian War, and the Kosovo War. In the last 100 years the region has seen many rulers, much conflict, and little stability. The borders have been redrawn repeatedly.

Laid on the canvas of its past the last twenty years in the region have been a period of relative peace and growing prosperity. For now the region’s wars have been left behind and the Yugosphere has gained traction in the world’s economy. Ethnic strife remains but it is not the immediate threat the stability of the region as it once was.

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With all of the factions, all the changes, and all the conflict, it is very difficult to piece the history of this region of Europe together. At least for us it takes more than a short trip to understand the nuances and motivations that shaped this region.


We spent eight days in the former territories of Yugoslavia in October of 2018.

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