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Country Reports

Serbia Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Political stability in the young (independent since 2006) state of Serbia (population 7.2 million), located in the restive Balkans region, remains fragile.

POLITICS

Since Kosovo’s proclamation of independence in February 2008, Serbs, who comprise the majority of the population in northern Kosovo, have ramped up social and political actions in defiance of international and Kosovar authorities. Hundreds of people regularly take to the streets of Mitrovica (Kosovo) in front of the Ibar River Bridge, which connects the mostly Serbian north of the city to the mostly Albanian south. Tensions along the border between Serbia and Kosovo are palpable.

Despite Kosovo’s declaration of independence seven years ago, it is still not recognized by Serbia. This point remains a source of tension in the region, particularly between Serbs and Albanians (who form the majority in Kosovo). Serbia is continuing on the path to becoming a member of the European Union; however, during negotiations, the EU has demanded that Serbia recognize Kosovo as an independent state, something it has thus far refused to do. The issue will likely remain extremely sensitive in the country in the coming years. Relations with other neighboring countries (Croatia, Bosnia) are also poor due to lingering ethnic tensions in the region.

Foreign visitors will notice that anti-governmental protests led by Serb ultranationalists are often organized in city centers and can turn violent.

The next legislation elections are due to take place in 2020.

NATURAL RISKS

Regarding natural hazards, it should be noted that Serbia is located in an active seismic zone. A magnitude-5.3 earthquake struck Kraljevo (125 km [75 mi] south of Belgrade) on November 3, 2010. Floods often impact valley regions during the spring months.

HEALTH

The principal health risks for travelers to Serbia is diarrheal diseases; hundreds of cases of trichinosis, a parasitic disease contracted by consuming undercooked meat, are reported each year. Cases of tick-borne encephalitis are also common. While medical personnel are usually well-trained and competent, medical facilities and infrastructure are often lacking, particularly outside cities.

TRANSPORTATION

Buses tend to be outdated and often very crowded. Finally, rail travel is also best avoided due to outdated infrastructure and frequent delays.

MIGRANT CRISIS

Hundreds of thousands of migrants have recently been traveling through Serbia to reach destinations in northern Europe. This mass movement of people prompted temporary border closures by Hungary and Croatia in the second half of 2015 in an attempt to control the situation. These closures usually result in a backup of migrants within Serbia, which can lead to tensions and even demonstrations. As the crisis is ongoing, spontaneous border closures or restrictions could occur with little notice, particularly along the Croatian, Hungarian, and Macedonian borders.

OTHER

Travelers should also be aware of the existence of unexploded landmines and munitions near the Kosovo border, as well as near government buildings (e.g. border posts, military depots).

Climate

Serbia has a continental climate. Winters are cold (0°C) and dry. Summers are hot, humid, and often rainy.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +381 Police: 92 Fire Dept.: 93 Ambulance: 94

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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