Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.

In 1875 Servia adopted the decimal system for money, weights and measures, which came into actual use in 1883. The monetary unit is the dinar (franc) of 100 paras (centimes). In circulation there are gold pieces of IO and 20 diners; silver of 50 paras, and I, 2 and 5rdina1sé niakel of 5, it; and F0 paras; and bronze of 2 paras. went - ve marse ua I sterln .

Chia; Towns.-Thr? chief towns o?Servia are Belgrade, the capital, with 69,097 inhabitants in 1900; Nish (24,451); Kraguyevats (I4, I6O); Pozharevats (12,957); Leskovats (13,000); Shabats (12,072); Vranya (II,92I); Pirot (10,421); Krushevats (10,000); Fzhitse (Zi0?<0);l Valyzevo (6800); Semendria (6912); Chupriya 6000;an ra evo 600 .

Corizmunicationii.-Uristil the middle of the 19th century, travellers through the Balkan Peninsula had a choice between two main routes, which started as a single highway from Belgrade, and up the Morava valley to Nish. Here two roads diverge; one branching off southeastwards to Pirot, Sofia and Constantinople; the other proceeding southwards to Vranya, Uskiib and Salonica. The railway which connects western and central Europe with Constantinople and Salonica takes the same course. That section of it which traverses Servia was begun in 1881 and finished in»1888. Branch lines give access to Kraguyevats, Zayechar, Semendria and other important towns, and there are several smaller railways in the valleys of the Save, the Danube, the Servian Morava and their tributaries. Apart from country lanes and footpaths, there are three classes of highways, controlled, respectively, by the nation, department and commune. Construction and repairs are, in theory, carried out by compulsory labour; but this right is seldom enforced. Even in the Shumadia, whge mate;ials arg plentg ul, the rlpaisl ralpidlyfgisée way unéller heavy tra c, ora ter ba weat er; in the ac va, 0 rinye an remoter districts, they are often impassable. The Constantinople and Salonica roads remain the best in Servia. Besides the frontier streams on the north and west, the only river of any importance for navigation is t(l§ 1lVlorava, Lvhich is naxégable by steaigiers of light draught as high as upriya, a out 60 m. rom its mout .

The postal system dates from 1820, when an organized system of couriers was established, for state correspondence only. From 1843 in 1868 the Servian government undertook the carriage of letters in Servia itself, while the Austro-Hungarian consulate in Belgrade forwarded correspondence to and from central and western Europe. In 1868 the whole business of (posting was taken over by the state; post offices are also maintainer by many communes, and a few are itinerant. Servia joined the International Telegraphic Union in 1866, the Postal Union in 1874. The first telegraph line was constructed as early as 1855; telegrams between Constantinople, Sofia, Budapest and Vienna pass over lines constructed by the Servian government (under conventions with Austria-Hungary and Turkey) in 1899 and 1906. The telephone service, inaugurated in 1900, is a state monopoly (both for construction and operation). Population.—With a continuous excess of births over deaths, and of male over female children, the population of Servia rose from 2,161,961 in 1890 to 2,493,770 in 1900, and to about 2,750,000 in 1910. More than four-hfths of this number belong to the Serbo-Croatian branch of the Slavonic race; while the remainder is composed of about 160,000 Rumans, 47,000 gipsies, 8000 Austro-Hungarians and Germans, and 5000 Jews. Many Servian emigrants returned, after 1878, to the territories which the Treaty of Berlin restored to their country. These territories had been occupied, under Turkish rule, by Albanians, west of the Morava, and by Bulgarians, along the Nishava; but, after 1878, the Albanians withdrew, and the Bulgarians were absorbed. The Rumans reside principally in the north-east, near the borders of their native land, and are peasant farmers, like the Serbs. The gipsies occasionally settle down, forming separate camps or villages, but in most cases they prefer a wandering life. They are often admirable artisans and, musicians, almost every town possessing a gipsy band. The Germans and Austro-Hungarians control a large share of the commerce of the country; the' Jews, as elsewhere in the Balkans, are retail traders. Anti-Semitism is not prevalent in Sewia, owing to the smallness of the Jewish communities. The stature and features of the Serbs vary in -different regions; but the northern peasantry are generally fairer and shorter than the mountaineers of the south. Those of the Shumadia are blue-eyed or grey-eyed. In many parts the prevailing types have been modified by intermarriage with Bulgars, Albanians and Vlachs; so that, along the Timok, for instance, it is impossible to make physiognomy a test of nationality. Even language does not adord a sure criterion, so nearly akin are many spoken dialects of Servian and Bulgarian. National Characteristics.-Servia is a land without aristocracy or middle class. Instead, it possesses an army of placemen and officials; but these being mainly recruited from the peasantry, do not disturb the prevailing social equality. In 1900 there was neither pauper nor workhouse in the country., The people, less thrifty and industrious than the Bulgars, less martial than the'Montenegrins, less versatile and intellectual than the Rumans, value comfort far more highly than progress. A moderate amount of work enables them to live well enough, and to pass their evenings at the village wine-shop; although, being a sober race, they meet there rather to discuss politics than to drink. Of politics they never tire; and still greater is their devotion to music, poetry and dancing. Perhaps their most characteristic dance is the kolo, sometimes performed by as many as 100 men and women, in a single serpentine line. Their national instrument, the gusle (gusla), is a single-stringed fiddle, often roughly fashioned of wood and ox-hide, the bow being strung with horsehair. All classes delight in hearing or intoning the endless romances which celebrate the feats of their national heroes; for every true Serb lives as much in the past as in the present, and medieval wars still constantly furnish themes of new legends and ballads. It is largely this enthusiasm for the past which keeps alive the desire for a reunion of the whole race, in another Servian Empire, like that overthrown by the Turks in 1389. The fasts of the Orthodox Church are strictly kept; while the festivals, which are hardly less numerous, are celebrated even by the Servian Moslems. As in Bulgaria and Rumania, the slava, or patron saint's day, is set aside for rejoicing. A Servian crowd at a festival presents a medley of brilliant and picturesque costumes, scarlet being the favourite colour. Men wear a long smock of homespun linen, beneath red or blue waistcoats with trousers of white frieze. The women's dress consists of a similar smock, a “zouave” jacket of embroidered velvet and two brightly coloured aprons tied over a white skirt, one in front and one behind. The head-dress is a small red cap, tambourine shaped, and strings of coins are coiled in the hair, or worn as necklaces and bracelets. In 'this manner a farmer's wifeiwill often decorate herself with her entire dowry. During the cold months, both sexes wrap themselves in thick woollen coats or sheepskins, with the fleece inwards; both are also shod with corded sandals, called opanke. The Rumanian women retain their native costume, and are further distinguished by the wooden cradles, slung over the shoulders, in which they carry their infants; the Servian mothers prefer a canvas bag. Women weave most of the garments and linen for their families, besides sharing in every kind of manual labour. Turkish ideas prevail about their social position; but so highly' valued are their services, that parents are often unwilling to see their daughters marry; and wives are in many cases older than their husbands. The relationship called pobratimstvo is only. less common than in Montenegro (q.1, '.); equally binding is kumstvo, or sponsorship, e.g. the relation subsisting between the “ best man” and the bridegroom 'at a wedding, or between godparents and godchildren. Persons connected by kumstvo, pobralimstvo, or cousin ship, however distant, may not marry. At a funeral, the cofiin is left open until the last moment-a custom found everywhere in the Balkans, and said to have been introduced by the Turks, who found that cofiins were a convenient hiding-place for arms. The same practice is, however, common in Spain and Portugal. Few countries are richer than Servia in myth and folklore. The peasants believe in charms and omens, , in vampires, were-wolves, ghosts, the evil eye and vileor white-robed spirits of the earth, air, stream and mountain, with hoofs like a goat and henna-dyed nails and hair. Even at the beginning of' the 20th century, education had done little to dispel such superstitious. ~,

Constitution and Government:-In 1-903, after the murder of King Alexander Obrenovich, and the accession of Peter Kara.georgevich, the constitution of 1889 was revived. By this

instrument the government of Servia is an independent constitutional monarchy, hereditary in the male line, and in the order of primogeniture. The executive power is vested in the king, advised by a cabinet of eight members, who are collectively

and individually responsible to the nation, and represent the