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During the AD 500s and 600s various groups of Slavs including the ancestors of the Serbs settled in the Balkan Peninsula in the area of present-day Serbia Each group had its own leader until the late 1100s when Stefan Nemanja a warrior and chief formed the first united Serbian state During the 1300s Emperor Stefan Dusan led the country in successful wars against the Byzantine Empire The Serbian empire began to break up after his death in 1355 The Ottoman Empire based in what is now Turkey conquered Serbia in the Battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389 The Ottoman Empire ruled Serbia for more than 400 years but the Serbs never lost their national pride Djordge Petrovic a Serbian peasant who was nicknamed Black George led an uprising against the Ottomans in 1804 Another Serbian peasant leader Milos Obrenovic led a second revolt in 1815 The Serbs won some liberties in these struggles Serbia regained independence only in 1878 following the Ottoman Empires defeat by Russia in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 In the First Balkan Wars 1912-1913 Serbia and the other Balkan states gained control of almost all of the Ottoman Empires territory in Europe During the early 1900s various economic and political conflicts developed between Serbia and Austria-Hungary In June 1914 the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip a Serbian from the province of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Austria-Hungary The assassination touched off World War I which began a month later when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia After the war ended in 1918 Serbia led the way in forming the Kingdom of the Serbs Croats and Slovens The kingdom was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929 During World War II 1939-1945 the Axis powers--led by Germany and Italy--occupied Yugoslavia and divided it among themselves Most of Serbia was occupied by the Germans A group of Communists led by Josip Broz
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