9 Must-know Famous Serbian People Who Changed the World 

In 2023, the Serbian population is around 8.7 million. In other words, there are fewer people in Serbia than in the Chicago metro area. But despite its small population, this country has no lack of intellect or talent. Throughout history, famous Serbian people excelled in their fields and changed the world. 

From scientists to artists and athletes, Serbs stood out in many fields. So here’s a list of 8 famous Serbian people who changed the world.

1. Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla with his equipment.
Nikola Tesla ⚡

Of course, this list could start with none other than Nikola Tesla. This visionary and scientist revolutionized the field of electricity with his inventions. Namely, he developed the basis for AC electric power that most of the planet uses today.

Serbs are so proud of this scientist that they put his face on the 100 dinar note. On top of that, they’ve built an entire museum dedicated to Nikola Tesla and his inventions. So, next time you’re in Belgrade, drop by and get a thorough understanding of his life and work.

2. Emir Kusturica

Emir Kusturica is a filmmaker and a creative genius. He’s famous for his Balkan-flavored cinematic wonders. Undoubtedly, he knows how to capture the heart and soul of Balkan culture.

His movies like Time of the Gypsies (Dom za vešanje) and Underground (Podzemlje) brim with love and history. In addition to the mind-bending storytelling, most of his works have a touch of magical realism.

On top of that, Kusturica is a skilled musician and leads the No Smoking Orchestra.

Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra – Unza Unza Time (Official Video)

3. Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović – the artist is present

Not everyone likes or even understands her mind-boggling art. Still, Marina Abramović is an extraordinary artist. She has a knack for pushing boundaries and making you question everything you thought you knew about art.

Her most famous piece is “The Artist Is Present.” In this performance, Marina sat silently in a museum. At the same time, she invited visitors to sit with her and engage in a silent exchange. Her art often pushes her physical and mental limits, from cutting herself with knives to lying naked on a giant block of ice.

4. Mileva Marić

Of course, you know about Albert Einstein. But have you heard about Mileva Marić? Yes, she was the first wife of Albert Einstein, but she was so much more than that.

Born in Serbia in 1875, she was one of the few women studying physics at Zurich Polytechnic. There, she met her future husband and collaborator. 

While the full extent of her contributions is unclear, her involvement in Einstein’s scientific work can’t be denied. Sadly, Marić faced obstacles as a woman in science, which set back her scientific career. Even today, her story is a reminder of the challenges women face in the world of science.

5. Milutin Milanković

Milutin Milanković was a brilliant astrophysicist. He developed a theory that relates Earth’s motions to long-term climate change. In other words, he studied how the Earth’s tilt and orbit change over long periods, which helped us understand why we have different seasons.

Thanks to him, we understand that Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Besides, his research keeps helping scientists predict the changes that we can expect in the future.

Also, Milanković has created the most precise calendar in the world. Did you know the calendar we use today loses a day every 3300 years? Well, this scientist found a way to fix it. In comparison, his calendar loses a day every 43000 years. Impressive, right?

6. Duško Popov

My name is Popov, Duško Popov.

Did you know James Bond is, in fact, Serbian? Well, not exactly. But the guy who inspired Ian Fleming to write about the famous spy certainly is. 

Duško Popov was a Yugoslavian double agent in World War II. Also, he was a real-life inspiration for James Bond. Namely, Popov infiltrated Nazi circles to help the Allies. 

Of course, Popov’s missions lacked the gadgets and glamour of Bond stories. Still, His bold personality captivated Fleming, so he used elements from Popov’s life to shape the character of Bond.

7. Mihajlo Pupin

Mihajlo Pupin was a brilliant inventor and the first Serb to win the Pulitzer Prize. The invention of the “Pupin coil” brought him fame. This device helped improve telephone and radio technology. In this way, Pupin’s work paved the way for communication systems that connect people around the globe.

But that’s not all. Pupin was one of the founders of an organization that later became NASA. On top of that, there’s a crater on the moon called Pupin, after this amazing scientist.

8. Rade Šerbedžija

Did you know that the favorite Russian guy in Hollywood is a Serb? Admittedly, Rade was born in Croatia, but he claims to be Serbo-Croatioan. “I’m a Serb born in Croatia, and my language, mentality, and culture are Serbo-Croatian,” he said. 

Whether you know him as Gregorovitch in Harry Potter, Boris ‘The Blade‘ in Snatch, or Prince Kuragin in Downton Abbey, you probably remember him for his Eastern-European accent.

However, if you want to see Rade Šerbedžija speaking Serbian, check out Variola Vera (1982) or Una (1984). 

9. Novak Đoković

Novak Djoković playing tennis.
Nole 🎾

Of course, no list of famous Serbian people would be complete without Nole. While many love him for his sense of humor, some hate him for his temperament and behavior on the tennis court. Yet, no one can deny that he is one of the greatest tennis players ever.

His agility, precision, and mental strength made him a formidable competitor. Thanks to these, Đoković won more Grand slams than any other tennis player in history. On top of that, he continues to impress his fans by breaking new records.

More Famous Serbian People

Of course, this list can go on. Do your own research and you’ll find many famous Serbian people worth talking about. After all, Serbia has produced many impressive people, despite its unimpressive size. 

Finally, do these people make you want to learn their language? Check out our online Serbian lessons, and master the mother tongue of Nikola Tesla and Novak Đoković.

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