The official name of Belgrade is: Beograd (Бeоград), from Beo that in Serbian means white and Grad means city.
Belgrade is the capital of Serbia and one of the most populated cities in South-Eastern Europe.
It is located in a prominent position, where the river Sava merges into the Danube. The historical core of Belgrade, Kalemegdan, was on the right riverbanks. Since 19th Century the city has been expanding to south and east and after the World War II, New Belgrade was built on the left bank of Sava river. In the past due to its position Belgrade was properly called "the gate of the Balkans” and "the door of Middle Europe”.
Belgrade covers an area of 322.268 km² and hosts a population of about 1.750.000 habitants that is equivalent to the 21% of the total population of Serbia. Moreover Belgrade is a young city: more than 40% of its citizens are between 15 and 44 years of age.
Belgrade territory is divided into 17 municipalities: 10 urban municipalities (Čukarica, Voždovac, Vračar, Novi Beograd, Palilula, Rakovica, Savski venac, Stari grad, Zemun, Zvezdara) and 7 suburban municipalities (Barajevo, Grocka, Lazarevac, Obrenovac, Mladenovac, Sopot, Surčin).
Serbian is the official language, part of the group of south Slavic languages; Cyrillic script and Latin script are both officially used and taught in schools. The Serbian Cyrillic has 30 letters (one letter for each phoneme) that makes it unique among scripts.
Geography and Climate
The geographic coordinates of the centre of Belgrade (Knez Mihailova Street) are: 44°49’14" of latitude north, 20°27’44" of longitude east and 116.75 m above sea level. The city of Belgrade and its surroundings consist in two different environments: Pannonian plain in the north area and Šumadija in the south area. The highest mountains in Šumadija area are Kosmaj (628 m) and Avala (511 m). In the south there are wide plateaus sectioned by stream and river valleys. Altogether the riverbanks are 200 km long and the are also 16 river islands: the largest are Ada Ciganlija and the Great War Island.
Belgrade has a moderate continental climate with four seasons and uniformly spread precipitations. Spring is the wettest season and the city receives about 680 millimetres of rainfall per year. Autumn is longer than spring and it is also sunnier and warmer. January is the coldest month, the winters are not very harsh. On average there are 21 days with temperatures below 0 °C during the winter. The average temperature varies from 0.4 °C in January to 21.8 °C in July. Statistically there are 95 days per year in which the temperature is above 25 °C. Moreover there are two weeks in October of “belated summer” called St. Martin’s Summer (miholjsko leto). Another distinctive element of Belgrade climate is also a strong and cold southest-est wind called Košava: it arises in the Carpathians and brings clear and dry weather to Belgrade. It mostly blows during autumn and winter, in 1-3 -7 days intervals, its average speed is 25-43 km/h but it can reach up to 130 km/h of speed. During the autumn and winter, Košava regularly ventilates the city: it is the best air cleaner of Belgrade!
Belgrade Coat of Arms
The first record of Belgrade coat of arms dates back to 1403 when Belgrade was appointed for the first time capital of the Serbian state, however there are no clues about how it looked like. Unfortunately the tradition of Belgrade coat of arms was interrupted under Turkish occupation and it reappeared only in the XVIII century when the Austrians conquered Belgrade. At that time, upon the proposal of the royal governor Alexander of Wurttemberg, the Royal War Council adopted a new seal in 1725. In 1931 the President of the Municipality of Belgrade, Mr Milan Nešić, formed a committee consisting of heraldists, artists, generals and state counselors and university professors. They met several times and on May 19th 1931 they finally settled the main features that the coat of arms should contain. First of all Belgrade coat of arms should be shield-shaped and slightly pointed at the bottom; it should contain 4 components:
- the national colours;
- the river: symbol of the primordial power of Belgrade;
- a Roman vessel (trireme): symbol of the ancient Belgrade;
- a tower with white walls and open gates: symbol of the merchant city, free market and communication.
The colours chosen have all a metaphoric value: the ground between the rivers and under the walls is red, as the blood poured and the eternal suffering of Belgrade; the walls and the tower are white since Belgrade is “the white city” and the sky is blue as symbol of hope and faith.
According to these features, there was a competition won by a Belgrade painter, Đorđe Andrejević-Kun: the officially adopted sketch of the coat of arms was printed in the Gazette of Belgrade, "Beogradske opštinske novine", No. 1/32. After World War II the city seemed to forget its coat of arms; only in the beginning of 1991 a new committee was formed by the City Assembly of Belgrade. The working group reestablished legitimacy to the 1931 coat of arms making only three minor corrections to the graphic layout, the blazon of the coat of arms and the flag.
Belgrade is the economic engine of Serbia and the headquarter of its National Bank. Most of main companies are based in Belgrade such as Telekom Srbija, Jat Airways, Telenor Serbia, Elektroprivreda Srbije , Comtrade group, Komercijalna banka, Delta Holding, Ikarbus.
New Belgrade represents the leading business district of the city and the central sectors are food, metallurgic and chemical-pharmacist industries.
Due to the troubled political and economic changeover in the 1990s, Belgrade, as the rest of the country, has been severely afflicted by an internationally imposed trade embargo. The Yugoslav currency (Dinar) suffered the highest inflation rates ever recorded all over the world. Belgrade economy was decimated. In the second half of the 1990s Serbia succeeded in overcoming the inflation and Belgrade has been growing steadily ever since.
In the year 2009, statistics point out that over 40% of Serbia's GDP was generated by Belgrade, which also has 31,4% of Serbia's employed population. The average monthly pay in 2010 was 46.500 RSD (€505).