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  • Writer's pictureMatthias

Free lowlands and cultural diversity

What makes the province of Vojvodina (derived from Voivode, medieval title for a Slavic military leader) so special within Serbia are two things in particular: the (spoiler alert: almost!) completely flat geography as well as its political autonomy. The former comes from the fact that the area is part of the Pannonian Basin which used to be the ancient Pannonian Sea and is in fact one of the largest sedimentary basins in Europe. Framed by the Eastern foothills of the Alps, the Carpathian Mountains, the Balkan Mountains and the Dinaric Alps the sea in the Pannonian dried up about 5-10 mill. years ago, leaving only the last remains that make up today's nature reserve Slano Kopovo (salty copper) near Novi Bečej.

Photo by Sanja Kostić

However, in case you're a more ambitious hiking fan you don't have to do without panoramic views entirely when visiting Serbia's Vojvodina. Around the town of Vršac you can even find a few Vojvodin mountains. Thanks to the abundant marine fossils in the ground the province also enjoys a very happy fertile soil, to which it owes its flourishing agriculture, an important economic sector. Aside from excellent fruits and vegetables this mostly shows in the form of some of the best and most important wine-growing regions in the whole country.

Getting back to the second USP Vojvodina was always somehow and then again never fully an autonomic province. In the 19th century part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the region was first taken over by the Kingdom of Serbia following World War I. After its attack and division by German and Hungarian troops in 1941 and its liberation by the Red Army in 1945 the political autonomy was already declared that very year. What followed was Yugoslav president Tito's expansion of its independence in 1974, its complete abolishment by Slobodan Milošević, president of the Socialist Republic of Serbia, in 1989 and eventually its recognition once again in 2014 after a vote on the revision of the Serbian constitution.

Photo by Sanja Kostić

The breakup of Yugoslavia along with the corresponding wars and banishments resulted in all sorts of social classes ending up in Vojvodina. Today its population consists of more than 20 different nationalities, besides Serbs mainly Hungarians as well as Slovaks, Croats, Romanians and even one or two Germans (not counting myself). Actually, in a census back in 1931 more than 340,000 Vojvodina residents identified themselves as Germans (both of origin and language). Considering all that it's hardly surprising that there are six administrative languages coming together here, including Rusyn (even if some consider it merely a Ukrainian dialect).

The majority of the Serbian population will assure you that everything in Vojvodina is very different from the rest of the country. Admittedly, in contrast to the Ottoman influence in most of Serbia the long Austro-Hungarian influence in this region may have left its pretty specific mark, most visibly in the local architecture. But in general Vojvodina is considered a little prettier, more affluent and a little posher. And truly, you will notice a lot more color and shine looking at the old buildings while the people overall seem somewhat tidier. Which of course may very well be the result of a certain financial cushion. Then again it might just be the fantastic Vojvodin wine.

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