Country Listing

Yugoslavia Table of Contents




Lake Bled, Slovenia
Courtesy Sam and Sarah Stulberg


Harbor at Dubrovnik
Courtesy Sam and Sarah Stulberg


Albanian man and boy in oda, traditional family room, Kosovo
Courtesy Chuck Sudetic

Although Yugoslavia's ethnic landscape remained relatively stable during the twentieth century, its socio-economic structure underwent especially profound changes after World War II. On the eve of that war, Yugoslavia was a predominantly agricultural land with slowly developing basic industries. Society's broad base was the peasantry, which made up over 80 percent of the population. The country had a minuscule working class; government bureaucrats and a few entrepreneurs, professionals, merchants, and artisans made up the elite. After World War II, Yugoslavia's communist rulers ordered rapid industrialization, and peasants left their farms in droves to fill industrial and office jobs in the cities. The communists brushed aside the prewar elite, nationalized about 80 percent of their property, and established a new class of government bureaucrats. For several decades, party membership and education were the keys to upward mobility in Yugoslav society. But the economic downturn of the 1970s and 1980s brought nagging unemployment and stifling bureaucracy that seriously impeded entry into the working and managing classes, even for educated and skilled individuals. Yugoslavia's immense postwar social transformation brought profound changes to the family structure, the lives of women, young people, and the elderly.

Data as of December 1990