Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lands of the Former Yugoslavia

(pictures and info from pgs 142-144 & 147 of the 2009 Yearbook)
The country known formerly as Yugoslavia is a region of fascinating diversity. With Central and Eastern Europe to the north, Greece and Turkey to the south, and Italy to the west, this area is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and religions. For many, however, the name Yugoslavia evokes images of conflict and strife. From the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914 to the ethnic cleansing of more recent times, this section of the Balkan Peninsula has experienced little peace. As the peoples of this region clashed to gain independence, republics have become countries. Eventually Yugoslavia splintered, and now in its former territory are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. Against this backdrop of political, ethnic, and religious strife emerges a most remarkable account - a chronicle of love, unity, and trust. Jehovah's Witnesses here have overcome the prejudices and hostilities that have shattered the Balkans. Their cross-cultural accord is the product of loyalty to a superior government - God's Kingdom...

Contrasts Within the Former Yugoslavia
If you ask a group of people about the differences within the former Yugoslavia, chances are you will get several different answers. What can be agreed upon is that there were seven distinct peoples professing different religions and even speaking seperate languages with different alphabets. Ethnic groups are primarily distinguished by religion. Over 1,000 years ago, Christendom was divided between those belonging to the Roman Catholic Church and those professing the Orthodox Catholic religion. The dividing line between these two passes right through the heart of former Yugoslavia. People living in Croatia and Slovenia are predominantly Roman Catholic, while those in Serbia and Macedonia are mostly Orthodox. Within Bosnia there is a mixture of people of the Islamic, Catholic, and Orthodox faiths.

As religion has served to divide people, so has language. Most people of the former Yugoslavia, with the exception of Kosovo, speak a South Slavic language. While each country has its own language, the use of many common words makes communication between Serbs, Croatians, Bosnians, and Montenegrins possible. This is less so in Kosovo, Macedonia, and Slovenia.
While efforts were made at the end of the 19th century to consolidate the languages with similarities, Yugoslavia's breakup in 1991 put an end to that. Over the past decade, all the countries have tried to establish their uniqueness by using certain words and not others.

*so that gives you a basic backdrop, describing the political and religious climate of the region, before going on with the rest of the yearbook experiences from this area...