Serbia, officially the Republic of Serbia, is a state situated at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. Relative to its small territory, it is a diverse country distinguished by a transitional character, situated along cultural, geographic, climatic and other boundaries. For centuries straddling the boundaries between East and West, the territory of Serbia had been divided among the Eastern and Western halves of the Roman Empire; then between Byzantium and the Kingdom of Hungary; and in the Early modern period between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire. These overlapping influences have resulted in cultural varieties throughout Serbia; its north leans to the profile of Central Europe, while the south is characteristic of the wider Balkans and even the Mediterranean. There are 377 protected areas of Serbia, encompassing 4,947 square kilometers or 6.4% of the country. Those protected areas include 5 national parks such as Djerdap, Tara, Kopaonik, Fruska Gora and Sar Mountain, 15 nature parks, 15 "landscapes of outstanding features", 61 nature reserves, and 81 natural monuments. Serbia numbers around 7 million residents and its capital, Belgrade, ranks among the largest cities in Southeast Europe
Belgrade lies 116.75 metres above sea level and is located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. The historical core of Belgrade, Kalemegdan, lies on the right banks of both rivers. Since the 19th century, the city has been expanding to the south and east; after World War II, Novi Beograd (New Belgrade) was built on the left bank of the Sava river, connecting Belgrade with Zemun. The city has an urban area of 360 square kilometres, while together with its metropolitan area it covers 3,223 km2. On the right bank of the Sava, central Belgrade has a hilly terrain, while the highest point of Belgrade proper is Torlak hill at 303 m. The mountains of Avala (511 m) and Kosmaj (628 m) lie south of the city. Across the Sava and Danube, the land is mostly flat, consisting of alluvial plains and loessial plateaus.
Belgrade hosts many annual international cultural events, including the Film Festival, Theatre Festival, Summer Festival, Music Festival, Book Fair, Eurovision Song Contest 2008, and the Beer Fest. The Nobel Prize winning author Ivo Andrić wrote his most famous work, The Bridge on the Drina, in Belgrade. Other prominent Belgrade authors include Branislav Nušić, Miloš Crnjanski, Borislav Pekić, Milorad Pavić and Meša Selimović. Internationally prominent artists from Belgrade: Marina Abramović and Milovan Destil Marković.
The historic areas and buildings of Belgrade are among the city's primary attractions. They include Skadarlija, the National Museum and adjacent National Theatre, Zemun, Nikola Pašić Square, Terazije, Students' Square, the Kalemegdan Fortress, Knez Mihailova Street, the Parliament, the Church of Saint Sava, and the Old Palace. On top of this, there are many parks, monuments, museums, cafés, restaurants and shops on both sides of the river. The hilltop Avala Monument and Avala Tower offer views over the city.