The Junior Eurovision Song Contest began in 2003. The Contest was based on a Scandinavian song festival for children, Melodi Grand Prix Nordic. The EBU picked up the idea for a song contest featuring children and opened the competition to all EBU member broadcasters, making it a pan-European event.
The first contest was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in November 2003. 16 countries competed, with Croatia's Dino Jelušić taking the title with his song Ti si moja prva ljubav (You Are My First Love). The second competition was organised in Lillehammer by Norwegian broadcaster NRK after the United Kingdom, and later Croatia, declined to host the contest. Since 2004, broadcasters had the right to bid to host the competition. This took the pressure off the young performers since the winning country would not necessarily have to stage the contest the following year.
Over the years, a total of 39 countries has competed in the competition. This includes Serbia and Montenegro which participated for one year only, in 2005, prior to the dissolution of the country. Serbia made its debut as an independent country in 2006 and Montenegro followed in 2014.
Since 2014, the winners of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest have made guest appearances at the Eurovision Song Contest. However, in order to participate all performers must be aged 16 or older. Over the years, several young singers have made the leap from the Junior Eurovision Song Contest to the Eurovision Song Contest. You can read more about those singers here.
Initially, the winner of Junior Eurovision was decided by televote. But from 2008, the winner was chosen through a combination of 50% televote and 50% national jury vote. In 2016, the winner was decided solely through the use of juries and an expert panel. 2017 saw the return of the public vote that accounted for 50% of the final result, the current voting system in place today.