Serbia's strategic location between two continents has subjected it to invasions by many peoples. Belgrade is believed to have been leveled to the ground by 30 different armies in recorded history. Apart from being under nominal Serbian rule since the 7th century (having been allowed to settle in Byzantium by its emperor Heraclius), through history various parts of the territory of contemporary Serbia have been claimed or ruled by the Roman Empire (conquered the indigenous Celts and Illyrians); the Western- and the Eastern Roman Empires (challenged by the incursions of the Huns, the Ostrogoths, the Gepidae, the Sarmatians, the Avars, the Serbs, the Frankish Kingdom, the Croats, the Great Moravia, the Bulgarians). Serbs formed their first unified state under the Vlastimirovic dynasty by 812, at times disrupted by the wars with the aforementioned states. At first heavily dependent on the Byzantine Empire as its tributary, in time the Serbian state would achieve full independence, evolving into the Serbian Kingdom in 1217, and the Serbian Empire in 1345 under the rule of the House of Nemanjić. Serbia reached an apogee in economy, law, military, and religion during the rule of the House of Nemanjić, especially during Emperor Stefan Dušan. As a result of internal struggle between the rival noble families, and heavy losses inflicted by the Ottomans, the Serbian Empire has dissolved into many statelets by the beginning of the 15th century. Early modern period saw the loss of Serbia's independence to the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, while Modern Times witnessed the rise of the Habsburg Monarchy (known as the Austrian Empire, later Austria-Hungary), that fought many wars against the Ottomans for the supremacy over Serbia. Following the success of two national revolutions between 1804-1817, Serbia overthrew Ottoman rule, emerging as the semi-independent Principality of Serbia. De facto independence was secured after the withdrawal of the last Ottoman forces in 1867. Formal independence of the country was internationally recognized at the Congress of Berlin in 1878. In 1882, Serbia was proclaimed a Kingdom. In the 20th century, following its expansion, Serbia was a major component of the various South Slavic states, including the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes from 1918 to 1941 (renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929), the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1992, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1992 to 2003, and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro from 2003 to 2006. After Montenegro voted for independence from the State Union, Serbia officially proclaimed its independence on June 7, 2006, as the successor state to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Early history
The proto-Serbs settled much of what is now Serbia proper, Montenegro, Bosnia and southern Dalmatia by 630 AD, assimilating with earlier South Slavic tribes and indigenous Balkan populations. According to some theories, they had been invited by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius to drive out the Avars. They were fully converted to Christianity by 865 AD. The roots of the Serbian state date back to the 7th century and the House of Vlastimirović, postulated to be the first Veljiki Zhupan (Grand Prince) of the various medieval Serbian prinipalities - Raska, Duklja, Travunia, Zahumlje, Pagania and Bosnia. However, a unified Serbian kingdom (centered around Duklja) was not established until the 11th century. It lasted until the end of the 12th century. ] Medieval Serb kingdoms and the Empire
King Stefan Uroš II Milutin of Serbia, late 13th century
Serbs existed in three distinctly independent kingdoms by the 14th century — Dioclea, Rascia, Bosnia and Syrmia. After the decline of the Serb Kingdom of Duklja, a new Kingdom arose in Raška in the 12th century, led by the Grand Župan Stefan Nemanja. In 1220, under Stefan the First Crowned, Serbia became a kingdom. In 1346, Stefan Dušan established the Serbian Empire. The...