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Yugoslavia As a nation Yugoslavia was established in 1918 after World War I Its core was SERBIA which had already been independent joined by Montenegro another independent country and former Austro-Hungarian areas inhabited by southern Slavic peoples On the eve of World War II Yugoslavia had a population of 15500500 43 percent of whom were Serbs 34 percent Croats 7 percent Slovenes and 7 percent Macedonians the rest were Germans Hungarians Albanians Jews and Gypsies By religion 49 percent belonged to the Orthodox church 37 percent were Catholics 11 percent Moslems 2 percent Protestants and 05 percent Jews1 According to the 1922 constitution Yugoslavia was to be a unified state headed by the Serbian Royal House of Karageorgevic in practice the largest single ethnic group the Serbs ruled the other peoples creating a situation that became a source of constant tension The major opposition to the Serbs came from the Croats the second largest group in the country The ethnic differences were exacerbated by the economic gaps between the north of the country - Croatia and Slovenia a relatively developed area - and the backward south by the different religions Orthodox versus Catholics and by the conflicting national aspirations of the Serbs on the one hand and the Croatians and Macedonians on the other To these internal pressures were added pressures from beyond the countrys borders in the earlier years from Italy and Hungary which had irredentist claims on Yugoslav territory and later From Nazi Germany as it developed its drive for the conquest of Europe At the beginning of 1929 after the assassination of the Croatian leader Stjepan Radic King Alexander seized power and created an authoritarian regime In October 1934 Macedonian and Croatian nationalists assassinated Alexander in Marseilles while on an official visit to France Prince Pavel who became regent for Crown Prince Peter still a minor took over and ruled the country with the support of the army commanders and Serbian
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