Serbia the Republic of Serbia, is a country situated at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe in the southern Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. The sovereign state borders Hungary to the north, Romania to the northeast, Bulgaria to the southeast, North Macedonia to the south and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the west, Montenegro to the southwest; the country claims a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Serbia's population is about seven million, its capital, ranks among the oldest and largest citiеs in southeastern Europe. Inhabited since the Paleolithic Age, the territory of modern-day Serbia faced Slavic migrations to the Balkans in the 6th century, establishing several sovereign states in the early Middle Ages at times recognized as tributaries to the Byzantine and Hungarian kingdoms; the Serbian Kingdom obtained recognition by the Vatican and Constantinople in 1217, reaching its territorial apex in 1346 as the short-lived Serbian Empire. By the mid-16th century, the entirety of modern-day Serbia was annexed by the Ottomans, their rule was at times interrupted by the Habsburg Empire, which started expanding towards Central Serbia from the end of the 17th century while maintaining a foothold in the north of the country.
In the early 19th century, the Serbian Revolution established the nation-state as the region's first constitutional monarchy, which subsequently expanded its territory. Following disastrous casualties in World War I, the subsequent unification of the former Habsburg crownland of Vojvodina with Serbia, the country co-founded Yugoslavia with other South Slavic peoples, which would exist in various political formations until the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. During the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia formed a union with Montenegro, peacefully dissolved in 2006. In 2008, the parliament of the province of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence, with mixed responses from the international community. Serbia is a member of the UN, CoE, CERN, OSCE, PfP, BSEC, CEFTA, is acceding to the WTO. Since 2014 the country has been negotiating its EU accession with perspective of joining the European Union by 2025. Serbia dropped in ranking from Free to Partly Free in the 2019 Freedom House report. Since 2007, Serbia formally adheres to the policy of military neutrality.
An upper-middle income economy with a dominant service sector followed by the industrial sector and agriculture, the country ranks high on the Human Development Index, Social Progress Index as well as the Global Peace Index. The origin of the name, "Serbia" is unclear. Various authors mentioned names of Serbs and Sorbs in different variants: Surbii, Serbloi, Sorabi, Sarbi, Serboi, Surbi, etc; these authors used these names to refer to Serbs and Sorbs in areas where their historical presence was/is not disputed, but there are sources that mention same or similar names in other parts of the World. Theoretically, the root *sъrbъ has been variously connected with Russian paserb, Ukrainian pryserbytysia, Old Indic sarbh-, Latin sero, Greek siro. However, Polish linguist Stanisław Rospond derived the denomination of Srb from srbati. Sorbian scholar H. Schuster-Šewc suggested a connection with the Proto-Slavic verb for "to slurp" *sьrb-, with cognates such as сёрбать, сьорбати, сёрбаць, srbati, сърбам and серебати.
From 1945 to 1963, the official name for Serbia was the People's Republic of Serbia, which became the Socialist Republic of Serbia from 1963 to 1990. Since 1990, the official name of the country is the "Republic of Serbia". However, between the period from 1992 to 2006, the official names of the country were the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Archeological evidence of Paleolithic settlements on the territory of present-day Serbia are scarce. A fragment of a human jaw was believed to be up to 525,000 -- 397,000 years old. Around 6,500 years BC, during the Neolithic, the Starčevo and Vinča cultures existed in or near modern-day Belgrade and dominated much of Southeastern Europe. Two important local archeological sites from this era, Lepenski Vir and Vinča-Belo Brdo, still exist near the banks of the Danube. During the Iron Age, Thracians and Illyrians were encountered by the Ancient Greeks during their expansion into the south of modern Serbia in the 4th century BC.
The Celtic tribe of Scordisci settled throughout the area in the 3rd century BC and formed a tribal state, building several fortifications, including their capital at Singidunum and Naissos. The Romans conquered much of the territory in the 2nd century BC. In 167 BC the Roman province of Illyricum was established; as a result of this, contemporary Serbia extends or over several former Roman provinces, including Moesia, Praevalitana, Dalmatia and Macedoni
The Balkans known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in southeastern Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast; the Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined; the highest point of the Balkans is 2,925 metres, in the Rila mountain range. The concept of the Balkan peninsula was created by the German geographer August Zeune in 1808, who mistakenly considered the Balkan Mountains the dominant mountain system of Southeast Europe spanning from the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea; the term of Balkan Peninsula was a synonym for European Turkey in the 19th century, the former provinces of the Ottoman Empire in Southeast Europe.
It had a geopolitical rather than a geographical definition, further promoted during the creation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the early 20th century. The definition of the Balkan peninsula's natural borders do not coincide with the technical definition of a peninsula and hence modern geographers reject the idea of a Balkan peninsula, while scholars discuss the Balkans as a region; the term has acquired a stigmatized and pejorative meaning related to the process of Balkanization, hence the rather used alternative term for the region is Southeast Europe. The word Balkan comes from Ottoman Turkish balkan'chain of wooded mountains'; the origin of the Turkic word is obscure. From classical antiquity through the Middle Ages, the Balkan Mountains were called by the local Thracian name Haemus. According to Greek mythology, the Thracian king Haemus was turned into a mountain by Zeus as a punishment and the mountain has remained with his name. A reverse name scheme has been suggested. D. Dechev considers that Haemus is derived from a Thracian word *saimon,'mountain ridge'.
A third possibility is that "Haemus" derives from the Greek word "haema" meaning'blood'. The myth relates to a fight between the monster/titan Typhon. Zeus injured Typhon with a thunder bolt and Typhon's blood fell on the mountains, from which they got their name; the earliest mention of the name appears in an early 14th-century Arab map, in which the Haemus mountains are referred to as Balkan. The first attested time the name "Balkan" was used in the West for the mountain range in Bulgaria was in a letter sent in 1490 to Pope Innocent VIII by Buonaccorsi Callimaco, an Italian humanist and diplomat; the Ottomans first mention it in a document dated from 1565. There has been no other documented usage of the word to refer to the region before that, although other Turkic tribes had settled in or were passing through the Peninsula. There is a claim about an earlier Bulgar Turkic origin of the word popular in Bulgaria, however it is only an unscholarly assertion; the word was used by the Ottomans in Rumelia in its general meaning of mountain, as in Kod̲j̲a-Balkan, Čatal-Balkan, Ungurus-Balkani̊, but it was applied to the Haemus mountain.
The name is still preserved in Central Asia with the Balkan Daglary and the Balkan Province of Turkmenistan. English traveler John Morritt introduced this term into the English literature at the end of the 18th-century, other authors started applying the name to the wider area between the Adriatic and the Black Sea; the concept of the "Balkans" was created by the German geographer August Zeune in 1808, who mistakenly considered it as the dominant central mountain system of Southeast Europe spanning from the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea. During the 1820s, "Balkan became the preferred although not yet exclusive term alongside Haemus among British travelers... Among Russian travelers not so burdened by classical toponymy, Balkan was the preferred term"; the term was not used in geographical literature until the mid-19th century because then scientists like Carl Ritter warned that only the part South of the Balkan Mountains can be considered as a peninsula and considered it to be renamed as "Greek peninsula".
Other prominent geographers who didn't agree with Zeune were Hermann Wagner, Theobald Fischer, Marion Newbigin, Albrecht Penck, while Austrian diplomat Johann Georg von Hahn in 1869 for the same territory used the term Südostereuropäische Halbinsel. Another reason it was not accepted as the definition of European Turkey had a similar land extent. However, after the Congress of Berlin there was a political need for a new term and the Balkans was revitalized, but in the maps the northern border was in Serbia and Montenegro without Greece, while Yugoslavian maps included Croatia and Bosnia; the term Balkan Peninsula was a synonym for European Turkey, the political borders of former Ottoman Empire provinces. The usage of the term changed in the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century when was embraced by Serbian geographers, most prominently by Jovan Cvijić, it was done with political reasoning as affirmation for Serbian nationalism on the whole territory of the South Slavs, included anthropological and ethnological studies of the South Slavs through which were claimed various nationalistic and racistic theories.
Through such policies and Yugoslavian maps the term was elevated to the modern status of
Belarus the Republic of Belarus known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres is forested, its major economic sectors are manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, conquered by Soviet Russia; the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Belarus lost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921.
Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, were finalized after World War II. During WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources; the republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR; the parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has served as the country's first president since 1994. Belarus has been labeled "Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists, on account of Lukashenko's self-described authoritarian style of government. Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy.
Elections under Lukashenko's rule have been criticized as unfair. Belarus is the last country in Europe using the death penalty. Belarus's Democracy Index rating is the lowest in Europe, the country is labelled as "not free" by Freedom House, as "repressed" in the Index of Economic Freedom, is rated as by far the worst country for press freedom in Europe in the 2013–14 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Belarus 157th out of 180 nations. In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation. Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas. More than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, with sizable minorities of Russians and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Russian; the Constitution of Belarus does not declare any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The second-most widespread religion, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following.
Belarus is a member of the United Nations since its founding, the Commonwealth of Independent States, CSTO, EEU, the Non-Aligned Movement. Belarus has shown no aspirations for joining the European Union but maintains a bilateral relationship with the organisation, participates in two EU projects: the Eastern Partnership and the Baku Initiative; the name Belarus is related with the term Belaya Rus', i.e. White Rus'. There are several claims to the origin of the name White Rus'. An ethno-religious theory suggests that the name used to describe the part of old Ruthenian lands within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, populated by Slavs, Christianized early, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, predominantly inhabited by pagan Balts. An alternate explanation for the name comments on the white clothing worn by the local Slavic population. A third theory suggests that the old Rus' lands that were not conquered by the Tatars had been referred to as "White Rus'"; the name Rus is conflated with its Latin forms Russia and Ruthenia, thus Belarus is referred to as White Russia or White Ruthenia.
The name first appeared in Latin medieval literature. In some languages, including German and Dutch, the country is called "White Russia" to this day; the Latin term "Alba Russia" was used again by Pope Pius VI in 1783 to recognize the Society of Jesus there, exclaiming "Approbo Societatem Jesu in Alba Russia degentem, approbo." The first known use of White Russia to refer to Belarus was in the late-16th century by Englishman Sir Jerome Horsey, known for his close contacts with the Russian Royal Court. During the 17th century, the Russian tsars used "White Rus" to describe the lands added from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; the term Belorussia first rose in the days of the Russian Empire, the Russian Tsar was styled "the Tsar of All the Russias"
Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia is a self-governing body of the Eastern Orthodox Church that territorially covers the countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Archbishop Rastislav of Prešov was elected by the Extraordinary Synod held on January 11, 2014, as the new primate. On December 9, 2013, the Synod removed Archbishop Simeon of Olomouc and Brno from his position as Locum Tenens, appointed Archbishop Rastislav in his place, an action against which Archbishop Simeon protested and, deplored by Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople; the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia presents both an ancient history as well as a modern history. The present day church occupies the land of Great Moravia, where the brothers Ss. Cyril and Methodius began their mission to the Slavs, introducing the liturgical and canonical order of the Orthodox Church, translated into the Church Slavonic language, using Greek calques to explain concepts for which no Slavic term existed. In doing this they developed the first Slavic alphabet, a mixture of Greek and Hebrew-based characters with a few invented characters of their own to represent unique Slavic sounds.
This was done at the express invitation of the powerful ruler Rastislav of Moravia. Yet within the Moravian state there was a Frankish party among the nobility who desired closer ties with the Kingdom of Francia, whose ruler, Louis the German, was Ratislav's nominal suzerain, a Frankish bishop had ecclesiastical jurisdiction over a small part of Ratislav's domain that had earlier converted to Christianity. Despite the Photian Schism, the churches of Rome and Constantinople still preserved some semblance of unity, Pope Nicholas I did not want to see the formation of a large independent Frankish church in Central Europe; when an appeal of the ecclesiastical issue was made to Rome, Nicholas summoned both Cyril and Methodius and the complaining Frankish parties to his court to hear them out. Nicholas died before their arrival, but the new Pope Adrian II reached a compromise after hearing both sides: Old Church Slavonic was confirmed as a liturgical language alongside Greek and Latin, Methodius was confirmed as bishop with a Frankish co-adjutor, Wiching.
Adrian was convinced by Cyril's impassioned defence of the Slavic liturgy in which he cited 1 Corinthians 14:19 "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." Cyril fell ill while the brothers were still at Rome, on his deathbed he asked Methodius to swear to return to Moravia and complete the mission to the Slavs instead of returning to the monastic life on Mount Olympus as he had intended to do. Methodius kept his word and returned, but his mission was interrupted by the death of Ratislav, as the new ruler, Svatopluk I of Moravia sided with the pro-Frankish party and had Methodius imprisoned for three years, until he was freed through the intercession of Pope John VIII. For the next ten years, Methodius continued his work, but the death of John VIII in 882 removed his papal protection, Methodius died in 885. After this, Pope Stephen V of Rome confirmed his Swabian co-adjutor Wiching as bishop.
Methodius's disciples were imprisoned, expelled to Bulgaria, like Gorazd and many others, or enslaved. The expelled, led by Clement of Ohrid and Naum of Preslav, were of great importance to the Orthodox faith in the Christian from year 864 Bulgaria, after they were released from prison and escorted to the Danube. In AD 870 the Fourth Council of Constantinople granted the Bulgarians the right to have the oldest organized autocephalous Slavic Orthodox Church that little from autonomous Bulgarian archbishopric, became Patriarchate. Major event that strengthens the process of Christianization was the developement of the Cyrillic script in Bulgaria at the founded by Naum and Clement Preslav Literary School in the 9th century; the Cyrillic script and the liturgy in Old Church Slavonic called Old Bulgarian, were declared official in Bulgaria in 893. The Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical order survived in present-day eastern Slovakia and neighboring regions due to its nearness and influence to Kievan Rus among the population of Rusyn people, until the middle of 17th century when the Union of Uzhhorod was brought about in the Kingdom of Hungary.
During the times of suppression, remaining Eastern Orthodox Christians from the region kept their ties with neighboring Eastern Orthodox Eparchy of Buda of the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć and with the Metropolitanate of Karlovci. One of the most northern parishes of the Serbian Orthodox Church existed in the Slovak city of Komárno with local church built in 18th century still standing today. After the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, legal restraints to Eastern Orthodoxy were removed. In the new state, Eastern Orthodox communities were located in the eastern parts of the country, including Carpathian Rusynia, incorporated into Czechoslovakia in 1919. In that region, the city of Mukačevo was located with its traditions going back to the old Eastern Orthodox Eparchy of Mukačevo, that existed before the Union of Užgorod. In the spirit of Eastern Orthodox revival, many people in the region left the Greek Catholic Church. Since there were no Eastern Orthodox bishops in Czechoslovakia, local leaders looked to the Serbian Orthodox Church because Serbs were and ethnically close to Czechs and Rusyns.
That view was supported by state authorities of Czechoslovakia. In order to regulate the ecclesiastical order, Bishop Dositej Vasić of Niš arrived in Prague and
Slovakia the Slovak Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to the west, the Czech Republic to the northwest. Slovakia's territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres and is mountainous; the population is over 5.4 million and consists of Slovaks. The capital and largest city is Bratislava, the second largest city is Košice; the official language is Slovak. The Slavs arrived in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 6th centuries. In the 7th century, they played a significant role in the creation of Samo's Empire and in the 9th century established the Principality of Nitra, conquered by the Principality of Moravia to establish Great Moravia. In the 10th century, after the dissolution of Great Moravia, the territory was integrated into the Principality of Hungary, which would become the Kingdom of Hungary in 1000. In 1241 and 1242, much of the territory was destroyed by the Mongols during their invasion of Central and Eastern Europe.
The area was recovered thanks to Béla IV of Hungary who settled Germans which became an important ethnic group in the area in what are today parts of central and eastern Slovakia. After World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Czechoslovak National Council established Czechoslovakia. A separate Slovak Republic existed during World War II as a totalitarian, clero-fascist one-party client state of Nazi Germany. At the end of World War II, Czechoslovakia was re-established as an independent country. A coup in 1948 ushered in a totalitarian one-party state under the Communist regime during whose rule the country existed as a satellite of the Soviet Union. Attempts for liberalization of communism in Czechoslovakia culminated in the Prague Spring, crushed by the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. In 1989, the Velvet Revolution ended the Communist rule in Czechoslovakia peacefully. Slovakia became an independent state on 1 January 1993 after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia, sometimes known as the Velvet Divorce.
Slovakia is a developed country, with a high-income advanced economy and a high Human Development Index, a high standard of living and performs favourably in measurements of civil liberties, press freedom, internet freedom, democratic governance and peacefulness. The country maintains a combination of market economy with a comprehensive social security system. Citizens of Slovakia are provided with universal health care, free education and one of the longest paid parental leave in the OECD; the country joined the European Union on 1 May 2004 and joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2009. Slovakia is a member of the Schengen Area, NATO, the United Nations, the OECD, the WTO, CERN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Visegrád Group. Although regional income inequality is high, 90% of citizens own their homes. In 2018, Slovak citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 179 countries and territories, ranking the Slovak passport 10th in the world; as part of Eurozone, Slovak legal tender is the world's 2nd-most-traded currency.
Slovakia is the world's largest per-capita car producer with a total of 1,040,000 cars manufactured in the country in 2016 alone and the 7th largest car producer in the European Union. The car industry represents 43% of Slovakia's industrial output, a quarter of its exports; the first written mention of name Slovakia is in 1586. It derives from the Czech word Slováky; the native name Slovensko derives from an older name of Slovaks Sloven what may indicate its origin before the 15th century. The original meaning was geographic, since Slovakia was a part of the multiethnic Kingdom of Hungary and did not form a separate administrative unit in this period. Radiocarbon dating puts the oldest surviving archaeological artefacts from Slovakia – found near Nové Mesto nad Váhom – at 270,000 BCE, in the Early Paleolithic era; these ancient tools, made by the Clactonian technique, bear witness to the ancient habitation of Slovakia. Other stone tools from the Middle Paleolithic era come from the Prévôt cave in Bojnice and from other nearby sites.
The most important discovery from that era is a Neanderthal cranium, discovered near Gánovce, a village in northern Slovakia. Archaeologists have found prehistoric human skeletons in the region, as well as numerous objects and vestiges of the Gravettian culture, principally in the river valleys of Nitra, Ipeľ, Váh and as far as the city of Žilina, near the foot of the Vihorlat and Tribeč mountains, as well as in the Myjava Mountains; the most well-known finds include the oldest female statue made of mammoth-bone, the famous Venus of Moravany. The statue was found in the 1940s in Moravany nad Váhom near Piešťany. Numerous necklaces made of shells from Cypraca thermophile gastropods of the Tertiary period have come from the sites of Zákovská, Podkovice and Radošina; these findings provide the most ancient evidence of commercial exchanges carried out between the Mediterranean and central Europe. The Bronze Age in the geographical territory of modern-day Slovakia went through three stages of development, stretching from 2000 to 800 BCE.
Major cultural and political development can be attributed to the significant growth in production of copper in central Slovakia and northwe
Bulgaria the Republic of Bulgaria, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north and North Macedonia to the west and Turkey to the south, the Black Sea to the east; the capital and largest city is Sofia. With a territory of 110,994 square kilometres, Bulgaria is Europe's 16th-largest country. One of the earliest societies in the lands of modern-day Bulgaria was the Neolithic Karanovo culture, which dates back to 6,500 BC. In the 6th to 3rd century BC the region was a battleground for Thracians, Persians and ancient Macedonians; the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire lost some of these territories to an invading Bulgar horde in the late 7th century. The Bulgars founded the First Bulgarian Empire in AD 681, which dominated most of the Balkans and influenced Slavic cultures by developing the Cyrillic script; this state lasted until the early 11th century, when Byzantine emperor Basil II conquered and dismantled it. A successful Bulgarian revolt in 1185 established a Second Bulgarian Empire, which reached its apex under Ivan Asen II.
After numerous exhausting wars and feudal strife, the Second Bulgarian Empire disintegrated in 1396 and its territories fell under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 resulted in the formation of the current Third Bulgarian State. Many ethnic Bulgarian populations were left outside its borders, which led to several conflicts with its neighbours and an alliance with Germany in both world wars. In 1946 Bulgaria became part of the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc; the ruling Communist Party gave up its monopoly on power after the revolutions of 1989 and allowed multi-party elections. Bulgaria transitioned into a democracy and a market-based economy. Since adopting a democratic constitution in 1991, the sovereign state has been a unitary parliamentary republic with a high degree of political and economic centralisation; the population of seven million lives in Sofia and the capital cities of the 27 provinces, the country has suffered significant demographic decline since the late 1980s.
Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe. Its market economy is part of the European Single Market and relies on services, followed by industry—especially machine building and mining—and agriculture. Widespread corruption is a major socioeconomic issue; the name Bulgaria is derived from a tribe of Turkic origin that founded the country. Their name is not understood and difficult to trace back earlier than the 4th century AD, but it is derived from the Proto-Turkic word bulģha and its derivative bulgak; the meaning may be further extended to "rebel", "incite" or "produce a state of disorder", i.e. the "disturbers". Ethnic groups in Inner Asia with phonologically similar names were described in similar terms: during the 4th century, the Buluoji, a component of the "Five Barbarian" groups in Ancient China, were portrayed as both a "mixed race" and "troublemakers". Neanderthal remains dating to around 150,000 years ago, or the Middle Paleolithic, are some of the earliest traces of human activity in the lands of modern Bulgaria.
The Karanovo culture arose circa 6,500 BC and was one of several Neolithic societies in the region that thrived on agriculture. The Copper Age Varna culture is credited with inventing gold metallurgy; the associated Varna Necropolis treasure contains the oldest golden jewellery in the world with an approximate age of over 6,000 years. The treasure has been valuable for understanding social hierarchy and stratification in the earliest European societies; the Thracians, one of the three primary ancestral groups of modern Bulgarians, appeared on the Balkan Peninsula some time before the 12th century BC. The Thracians excelled in metallurgy and gave the Greeks the Orphean and Dionysian cults, but remained tribal and stateless; the Persian Achaemenid Empire conquered most of present-day Bulgaria in the 6th century BC and retained control over the region until 479 BC. The invasion became a catalyst for Thracian unity, the bulk of their tribes united under king Teres to form the Odrysian kingdom in the 470s BC.
It was weakened and vassalized by Philip II of Macedon in 341 BC, attacked by Celts in the 3rd century, became a province of the Roman Empire in AD 45. By the end of the 1st century AD, Roman governance was established over the entire Balkan Peninsula and Christianity began spreading in the region around the 4th century; the Gothic Bible—the first Germanic language book—was created by Gothic bishop Ulfilas in what is today northern Bulgaria around 381. The region came under Byzantine control after the fall of Rome in 476; the Byzantines were engaged in prolonged warfare against Persia and could not defend their Balkan territories from barbarian incursions. This enabled the Slavs to enter the Balkan Peninsula as marauders through an area between the Danube River and the Balkan Mountains known as Moesia; the interior of the peninsula became a country of the South Slavs, who lived under a democracy. The Slavs assimilated the Hellenized and Gothicized Thracians in the rural areas. Not l
The Serbs are a nation and South Slavic ethnic group that formed in the Balkans. The majority of Serbs inhabit the nation state of Serbia, as well as the disputed territory of Kosovo, the neighboring countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, they form significant minorities in North Slovenia. There is a large Serb diaspora in Western Europe, outside Europe there are significant communities in North America and Australia; the Serbs share many cultural traits with the rest of the peoples of Southeast Europe. They are predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christians by religion; the Serbian language is official in Serbia, co-official in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, is spoken by the plurality in Montenegro. The modern identity of Serbs is rooted in traditions. In the 19th century, the Serbian national identity was manifested, with awareness of history and tradition, medieval heritage, cultural unity, despite living under different empires. Three elements, together with the legacy of the Nemanjić dynasty, were crucial in forging identity and preservation during foreign domination: the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Serbian language, Kosovo Myth.
When the Principality of Serbia gained independence from the Ottoman Empire, Orthodoxy became crucial in defining the national identity, instead of language, shared by other South Slavs. The tradition of slava, the family saint feast day, is an important ethnic marker of Serb identity, is regarded their most significant and most solemn feast day; the origin of the ethnonym is unclear. Genetic studies on Serbs show that they have close affinity with the rest of the Balkan peoples, those within former Yugoslavia. Serbia's people are among the tallest in the world, after Montenegro and the Netherlands, with an average male height of 1.82 metres. Slavs settled the Balkans in the 6th and 7th centuries. Up until the late 560s their activity was raiding, crossing from the Danube, though with limited Slavic settlement through Byzantine foederati colonies; the Danube and Sava frontier was overwhelmed by large-scale Slavic settlement in the late 6th and early 7th century. What is today central Serbia was an important geo-strategical province, through which the Via Militaris crossed.
This area was intruded by barbarians in the 5th and 6th centuries. The numerous Slavs assimilated the descendants of the indigenous population; the history of the early medieval Serbian Principality is recorded in the 10th-century work De Administrando Imperio, which describes the Serbs as a people living in Roman Dalmatia, subordinate to the Byzantine Empire. Numerous small Serbian states were created, chiefly under Vlastimorović and Vojislavjević dynasties, located in modern Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. With the decline of the Serbian state of Duklja in the late 11th century, "Raška" separated from it and replaced it as the most powerful Serbian state. Prince Stefan Nemanja conquered the neighbouring territories of Kosovo and Zachlumia; the Nemanjić dynasty ruled over Serbia until the 14th century. Nemanja's older son, Stefan Nemanjić, became Serbia's first recognized king, while his younger son, founded the Serbian Orthodox Church in the year 1219, became known as Saint Sava after his death.
Over the next 140 years, Serbia expanded its borders, from numerous minor principalities, reaching to a unified Serbian Empire. Its cultural model remained Byzantine, despite political ambitions directed against the empire; the medieval power and influence of Serbia culminated in the reign of Stefan Dušan, who ruled the state from 1331 until his death in 1355. Ruling as Emperor from 1346, his territory included Macedonia, northern Greece and all of modern Albania; when Dušan died, his son Stephen Uroš V became Emperor. With Turkish invaders beginning their conquest of the Balkans in the 1350s, a major conflict ensued between them and the Serbs, the first major battle was the Battle of Maritsa, in which the Serbs were defeated. With the death of two important Serb leaders in the battle, with the death of Stephen Uroš that same year, the Serbian Empire broke up into several small Serbian domains; these states were ruled by feudal lords, with Zeta controlled by the Balšić family, Raška, Kosovo and northern Macedonia held by the Branković family and Lazar Hrebeljanović holding today's Central Serbia and a portion of Kosovo.
Hrebeljanović was subsequently accepted as the titular leader of the Serbs because he was married to a member of the Nemanjić dynasty. In 1389, the Serbs faced the Ottomans at the Battle of Kosovo on the plain of Kosovo Polje, near the town of Pristina. Both Lazar and Sultan Murad; the battle most ended in a stalemate, afterwards Serbia enjoyed a short period of prosperity under despot Stefan Lazarević and resisted failing to the Turks until 1459. The Serbs had taken an active part in the wars fought in the Balkans against the Ottoman Empire, organized uprisings. After allied Christian forces had captured Buda from the Ottoman Empire in 1686 during the Great Turkish War, Serbs from Pannonian Plain joined the troops of the Habsburg Monarchy as separate units known as Serbian Militia. Serbs, as volunteers, massively joined