Population of Yugoslavia by Ethnicity

The former nation of Yugoslavia has a very interesting history. Perhaps what it’s best known for is the multiple different ethnic groups within its borders. This chart shows the population of Yugoslavia by ethnicity as of its 1981 census.

The nation of Yugoslavia first came to be following World War I. For centuries the territory had been ruled by a combination of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. Now the Slavic people finally were united as a sovereign state.

Unfortunately, this state did not last long. The axis powers invaded and occupied the nation during World War II forcing the king into exile. Post-war a communist government was installed and maintained close relations with the communist block and Soviet Union.

Despite this, the country actually split from the Soviets in 1948. Their economy transitioned around this time from a command economy to a more market based socialism approach. This was very rare from a communist nation at the time.

Yugoslavia was always unique in that so many different ethnic groups were all living in the same territory, under the same leadership. Under the leadership of Josip Tito, tensions between ethnicities were mostly kept at bay. The structure of government with several powerful republics helped with this.

Population of Yugoslavia by Ethnicity

Population of Yugoslavia by Ethnicity chart

After Tito’s death in 1980, economic woes led to a rise in ethnic nationalism. As communism collapsed around Eastern Europe in the early 1990’s, Yugoslavia too fell prey.

As the nation dissolved, in its place now stands seven different nations: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia.

One interesting note about the country is that it played host to the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. It was here the country received its first Winter Olympic medal.


Source: Rand Corporation

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