Serbia is bordered by Hungary to the north; Romania and Bulgaria to the east; the Republic of Macedonia and Albania to the south; and Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to the west. The country's capital, Belgrade, was titled "City of the Future of South Europe" in 2006. Although landlocked, Serbia has 2,000 km of navigable waterways on the Danube, Sava, Tisza and their respective canals, through which it forms part of a European canal network, connecting the North Sea with the Black Sea.
For centuries, located at, and shaped by, the cultural boundaries between the East and the West, a powerful medieval kingdom - later renamed the Serbian Empire - occupied much of the Balkans. The Serbian state disappeared by the mid-16th century, torn by domestic feuds, Ottoman, Venetian, Hungarian and later, Austrian occupations. The success of the Serbian revolution against Ottoman rule in 1817 marked the birth of the Principality of Serbia, centered in the Šumadija region. This was the first nation-state in CEE. Formal independence was enacted in 1878. In 1912 Kosovo was reacquired from the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Raška (Sandzak) was terminated. In 1918 the region of Syrmia, followed by the former autonomous Habsburg crownland of Vojvodina, proclaimed their secession from Austria-Hungary to unite with the Kingdom of Serbia.