Belgrade (Serbian: Београд, Beograd listen (help·info)), is the capital and largest city of Serbia. The city lies at the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers in north central Serbia, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkan Peninsula. With an official population of 1,576,224 (2002), Belgrade is the largest city in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and the fourth largest in Southeastern Europe, behind Istanbul, Athens and Bucharest.
One of Europe's oldest cities, Belgrade's wider city area was the birthplace of the largest prehistoric culture of Europe, the Vinča culture. The foundation of the city itself dates back to Celtic and later, Roman periods, followed by the settlement of Slavs around the 7th century. In medieval times, it was in the possession of Byzantine, Frankish, Bulgarian, Hungarian and Serbian rulers, until it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1521 and became the seat of the Pashaluk of Belgrade. It became the capital of an independent Serbian state for the first time in 1284 (lost to Hungary in 1427), the status that it would regain only in 1841, after the liberation from the Ottomans. In the 20th century, it was also the capital of several incarnations of Yugoslavia, up to 2006, when Serbia became an independent state again.
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