Country Listing

Yugoslavia Table of Contents




Fifth International Technical Exposition, Belgrade, 1961
Courtesy Yugoslav National Tourist Office, New York

World War II and Recovery

Before World War II, Yugoslavia was one of Europe's most underdeveloped countries. The eradication of feudalism after World War I left over 75 percent of the population living in poverty and dependent on small, inefficient peasant farms. Economic growth, though steady, was modest. In 1938 per capita income was 30 percent below the world average.

The German invasion of Yugoslavia and the subsequent partition of the country among Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Italy destroyed all semblance of normal economic life. The Germans built new factories in Slovenia and Croatia and converted remaining plants to produce military equipment. The peasants continued to farm, but over 50 percent of livestock and 80 percent of equipment were destroyed or confiscated during the occupation. The communications network was sabotaged, and over half the railroads and rolling stock was demolished. Inflation was rampant, and barter became the prime means for transacting business. The most devastating blow to Yugoslavia fell on its people: over 11 percent of the prewar population was killed; another 25 percent was left homeless.

Postwar reconstruction in Yugoslavia was financed by aid from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. The administration provided a total of US$60 million of aid in food, clothing, medical supplies, seed, livestock, jeeps, and railroad stock. By the end of 1946, Yugoslav national income was restored to its 1938 level.

Data as of December 1990