Most in former Yugoslavia favor multicultural society, although some tensions remain

Source: Pew Research Center

The former Yugoslavia spent much of the 1990s in turmoil, with a series of wars taking place amid the country’s breakup into its present-day states – each of which has a distinct ethnic and religious makeup.

But a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in the three largest former Yugoslav republics finds that, in general, most people in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia seem willing to share their societies with ethnic and religious groups different from their own – quite a change from the situation during the Yugoslav Wars. At the same time, some underlying signs of tension and distrust linger.

The survey, conducted as part of a broader study of religion in Central and Eastern Europe, finds that Bosnia, the smallest of the three countries in population and in size, is also the most religiously diverse, with roughly half of adults identifying as Muslim and about one-third as Orthodox Christian. Croatia and Serbia each have a single dominant religion: More than eight-in-ten adults identify as Catholic and Orthodox, respectively.

While religious affiliations differ by country, large majorities in all three say a multicultural society is better than a religiously and ethnically homogeneous one. Nearly three-quarters of adults in Bosnia (73%) and about two-thirds in Serbia (66%) and Croatia (65%) agree that “it is better for us if society consists of people from different nationalities, religions and cultures.” Of the 18 countries surveyed in the region, these are the three where this view is most widespread; in several other countries, the prevailing opinion is that it is better for society if there is less religious and ethnic diversity.

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