Inspiration for Game of Thrones - Former Yugoslavia!
George RR Martin wrote the first book from 1991-1996, when the Croatian and Bosnian wars were a big deal for American foreign policy and got a lot of popular news coverage. It started out with six republics (seven if you count Kosovo) of Yugoslavia, each with differing cultures, started fighting for autonomy.
What was Yugoslavia?
Yugoslavia was a country in Southeast Europe during most of the 20th century. It came into existence after World War I in 1918. under the name of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (itself formed from territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) with the formerly independent Kingdom of Serbia.
The Serbian royal House of Karađorđević became the Yugoslav royal dynasty. That dynasty, or better said prince Aleksandar united the country (it was his idea). So, Yugoslavia gained international recognition on 13 July 1922 at the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris. The country was named after the South Slavic peoples (Serbs, Croats etc.) and constituted their first union, following centuries in which the territories had been part of the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary.
Renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 3 October 1929, it was invaded by the Axis powers on 6 April 1941. In 1943, a Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was proclaimed by the Partisan resistance. In 1944, the king recognised it as the legitimate government, but in November 1945 the monarchy was abolished. Instead of Aleksandar’s son Petar II, Tito, the Partisan’s leader, came to power. Yugoslavia was renamed the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946, when a communist government was established.
After Tito’s death in Slovenia, an economic and political crisis in the 1980s and the rise of nationalism, Yugoslavia broke up along its republics’ borders, at first into five countries, leading to the Yugoslav Wars.
“..they (Yugoslavs) attempted to do the American model taking these five countries to construct Yugoslavia. So long as Josip Broz Tito was alive it seemed to be working, I mean, that people would say: “I am Yugoslav”. But nobody says that anymore; there are all are Serbs, or Croats, or Bosnians, and the ethnic identity is clearly more important than jumping out of the melting pot. They don’t wanna melt into Yugoslavs like we melted to Americans, so I don’t know… It’s interesting.” - George RR Martin
One Croatian comedy site first wrote about this and, really there are many similarities between people of Former Yugoslavia and people of Westeros:
Lannister - Slovenians blond, rich, people, who think that they are better than others.
The Reach- Slavonia and the Coast (North Croatia), a rich and fertile soil, never in charge, but always the crucial factor.
Greyjoys - Dalmatians (Croats from Dalmatia), only people who they respect are themselves, they believe that others are weak. They are the people of the sea, pirates.
The Vale - Montenegro, a separate mountainous land, unconquerable. Strange family relations, sons on the first place. They have hawk as a coat of arms.
Dorne - FYR Macedonia Land in the south. They have the sun as coat of arms. They have always been segregated from the rest. Dark handsome men, somewhat different than the others from ex YU.
Baratheons - people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a large, happy people ready to drink and eat, brave and burly. Neum is Storm’s End, since it has access to the sea. Robert is like Tito, who died when collapse of unity begins.
The North - Serbia the country of wolves and ancient heroes. Proud people, freedom fighters. Some see them as wild, cruel. White Harbor is Belgrade, Kosovo is The Wall. behind The Wall wildlings (Albanians? lol) live.
Targaryen - Karadjordjevic, the royal family in exile, young Danny as throne princess.
Riverlands - Vojvodina (Northern Serbia), a neutral land, similar to Slavonia. Somehow always affected by wars.