Profile: Yugoslavia

These are the key facts about Yugoslavia, made up of the two republics of Serbia and Montenegro.

Population: 10,600,000. (Serbia 9,900,000. Montenegro 700,000 - source: International Institute for Strategic Studies).

Eligible Voters: 7,861,327.

Area: Serbia borders Croatia on the northwest, Hungary to the north, Romania to the northeast, Bulgaria to the east, Macedonia to the south and Albania to the west. Montenegro, bordering the Adriatic, provides the only access to the sea.

Capital: Belgrade. Population 2.5 million (estimate)

Languages: Serbo-Croat, now referred to as Serbian, is the majority language.

Religions: The Serbian Orthodox church is the predominant faith, based in Belgrade. Roman Catholics and smaller Christian sects are represented as well as Islam and Judaism.

Armed Forces: Active forces number 108,700, including 43,000 conscripts. Reserves about 400,000.

    Economy: Yugoslavia's economy is in steep decline under the strain of international sanctions following the violent collapse of old socialist Yugoslavia and last year's NATO air strikes.

    Independent economists calculate 2000 inflation at roughly 125 percent, up from 85 percent last year. Official statistics put the rise in consumer prices at 26 percent so far this year, after a 45 percent increase in 1999.

    Military spending accounts for more than 70 percent of the Yugoslav federal budget. In preparing its 2000 budget, the government said such spending would account for 7.4 percent of an estimated 221 billion dinar ($4.8 billion) gross domestic product.

    Serbia and Montenegro each have their own budgets.

    Average monthly wages have dropped to a dinar equivalent of 80 to 90 German marks ($35 to 40) from 130 marks a year ago.

    Key industries include metallurgy and machine-building.

    History: Before the 20th century, the Turkish Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires occupied most of the territories making up Yugoslavia. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed on Dec 1, 1918, after the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed. It was a constitutional monarchy under the Serbian royal house with political parties until January 6, 1929, when King Aleksandar imposed a dictatorship.

    Aleksandar was assassinated during a visit to Marseille on October 9, 1934, and his cousin Paul became prince regent.

    The Nazis invaded on April 6, 1941. Josip Broz Tito's Communist partisans emerged from World War Two victors over Nazi, quisling and right-wing Yugoslav forces. Tito ruled the new, communist Yugoslavia unchallenged until his death in 1980.

    Yugoslavia was divided into six republics — Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia — and the Serbian provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. Belgrade broke with the Soviet Union in 1948. It charted its own "self-management" socialism and co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement.

    After Tito's death Yugoslavia was ruled collectively. Regional power increased and the Communist Party gradually lost its grip. Communists or renamed communists lost power in all republics except Serbia and Montenegro in 1990 in the first free elections since the war.

    The republics bickered over the future, with Slovenia and Croatia saying they would secede unless Yugoslavia became a loose alliance of sovereign states. Serbia and Montenegro wanted to keep central rule.

    Slovenia fought a brief war of independence in 1991 and Croatia's secession resulted in fierce fighting, with rebel Serbs capturing a third of Croatia. Serbs in Bosnia rebelled against moves to break with the federation and fighting raged between Serbs, Moslem-led government and Croat forces from April 1992 until the signing of the Dayton, Ohio, peace accords by the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian presidents in November, 1995.

    Subsequent lifting of U.N. sanctions revitalized political and economic prospects for Yugoslavia. But the war, popular protests against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's rejection of opposition victories in 1996 municipal elections, as well as the 1998 flare-up in Kosovo took their toll.

    From mid-1998, Montenegro's desire for market reform and democratization increased strains with Milosevic's Serbia.

    The 1998-99 conflict between Serbian security forces and the ethnic Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) led to last year's NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia, launched to halt Belgrade's repression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.

    The air strikes came to an end after Milosevic agreed to pull out Yugoslav forces from Kosovo, now under de facto international rule.

    Despite predictions of his imminent downfall after the loss of Kosovo and his indictment by a U.N. court for war crimes, Milosevic strengthened his grip on power, launching a reconstruction campaign and cracking down on dissent.

    Seeking to prolong his grip on power for years to come, he pushed through constitutional changes last July allowing him to seek re-election as president in a direct popular ballot.

    Confident of victory, he called Yugoslav presidential and parliamentary elections for September 24. Local elections in Serbia, the dominant republic, are also due on the same day.

    Most opposition parties united behind Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia as their candidate for the presidency job. The pro-Western Montenegrin leadership is boycotted the polls.

    Milosevic was ousted from power during a popular uprising after he covered up Kostunica's win at the polls.