Serbia is located at the crossroads between central, southern and eastern Europe, and is bordered by no fewer than seven neighboring countries: Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. This location has proven to be both strategic and unfortunate. Belgrade is believed to have been leveled by 30 different armies in recorded history: the Romans, the Huns, the Ostrogoths, the Franks, the Bulgarians, the Magyars, the Ottomans and many others. In the early 19th century, the Serbs threw off Ottoman rule and emerged as a semi-independent principality, and in 1882 Serbia became a kingdom. After World War II, Serbia became a federal unit within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, led by Josip Broz Tito until his death in 1980. In the 1990s Yugoslavia was dissolved, and in 2006 Serbia again became an independent state.
Serbia has five navigable rivers which connect it to Europe, mostly via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal route. Although the population is overwhelmingly Serbian, the country is religiously diverse with Serbian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim institutions. Serbia boasts eight UNESCO World Heritage sites; many of them are monasteries but one of them is the archive of Nikola Tesla. Born and raised in Serbia, Tesla was a brilliant inventor, physicist, mechanical engineer and electrical engineer. A riveting historical figure, he was sometimes regarded as a “mad scientist” due to his eccentric behavior and claims.