Geography Of Yugoslavia Essay, Research Paper
Yugoslavia is an intriguing country to me. After playing on a basketball team with a Croat, a Serbian, and a Bosnian, I started learning about Yugoslavia. When I began learning the language each of them would teach me little parts, and when words like scissors would come up, they would fight between themselves to decide on a word. The Croat would say “Scoti” and the Serbian would say “Markse”. I was always learning the differences and similarities between the former country, Yugoslavia. As I began meeting more Yugoslavians, I would speak with them about the different parts of their country. When I asked my friends which work would be the most accurate description of the country, everyone recommended The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric, translated into English.
Ivo Andric was a novelist, short story writer, poet, and winner of a Nobel Prize for literature. He was a Croat by birth and a Serbian by choice. He studied philosophy and history at the universities of Zagreb, Vienna, Cracow and Graz where he received his doctoral. (Mukeye 43) In 1911, he started to publish his work, mostly poetry. From 1920-1941, he was an ambassador to Germany in the diplomatic service of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. When he became a professional writer in 1945, he wrote “poetry and prose, producing accurately observant stories and novellas about the full blooded, passionate, and richly assorted people in Bosnia” (7).
The historical chronicle The Bridge on the Drina was published fifty three years ago, and already represents the classical work of Serbian and European literature. With its harmony, this novel covers five centuries of human lives, in which death is an everyday thing, misfortune is common, and only life is eternal. The Bridge on the Drina has become a strong symbol that connects ethical and esthetical values. The artwork became a symbol of great wealth.
In the book, The Bridge on the Drina, the two peoples, the Serbs and the Turks are not separate at all, but rather modeled of the same good clay out of which God has chosen to make the simple peasants and tillers of the soil. “The two nationalities are like huge oak trees growing side by side; the trunks are separate, but the upper leaves and branches have grown among one another and intermingled to such an extent that they form a solid, indistinguishable mass” (Andric 13). The book covers the period from the height of the Ottoman Empire in the latter half of the sixteenth century to its decline and fall in the early twentieth century. The fortunes of the Moslems in Visegrad reflect the fate of their coreligionists in the rest of the Empire, and Andric draws similarities between the microcosm of Visegrad and Macrocosm of the Empire itself. Just as the empire represented the old and unchanging order, so did the Moslem citizens of Visegrad.
In setting the stage for the story, Andric shows the parallel lines of thought of the citizens of Visegrad regarding the bridge, its construction, and the legends surrounding both. The tales were similar, but the nationality of the protagonist change from Serb to Turk depending upon whom is telling the story. Andric also points out that the Visegrad peasant whether Turk or Serb, had the same characteristic love for song, drink, and dances, as well as, a largely devil-may care attitude toward wealth: for both accepted the vagaries of fortune with the tight-lipped stoicism that comes from a heritage of centuries of unrelenting toil for small reward. In these things the Moslems and the Christians differed only in individual perception of their objective situations.
Andric?s The Bridge on the Drina can not be called a novel in any sense of the word. Instead, it is to be numbered among that genre known as the historical chronicle (Barac 62). There is no plot throughout the work; rather it is a description of lives and events that took place over a span of many centuries in the little Bosnian town of Visegrad. The one unifying factor through the entire book is bridge over the Drina river. Andric begins the book with several chapters that relate the story of the construction of the bridge by the Turks and the usually unwilling workers, the Slavs of Visegrad. The central portion of the book is devoted to description of life in the town under Turkish rule, the portrayal of Serbs and Turks living side-by-side with all their differences and unity in the face of common disasters, such as the occasional floods which wreaked havoc in all quarter of the town- whether Christian or Muslim. The entire second half of the book is devoted to the great upheavals of the last half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth when the Austro-Hungarian Empire began to migrate into Bosnia.
Yugoslavia has a lack of uniformity within their culture; the physical landscape, climate, urbanization, ethnic composition, religion, and language are the best examples of this. This paper is designed to show Yugoslavia and the lack of uniformity in their country.
The landscape of Yugoslavia is an important part the country. The former Yugoslavia is separated into eight different republics : Macedonian, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Vojvodina, and Slovenia (See Figure 1). Five of the republics have separate leaving Yugoslavia with three republics: Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Vojvodina. The different ecology of the former Yugoslavia is not uniform at all, and that is why the mountains, plains, rivers, and the Adriatic Sea play a major role in the former Yugoslavia.
” With dark green hills on three sides, the heavens, filled with clouds or stars, above and the open view down river like a narrow amphitheater bounded by the dark blue mountains behind” (Andric 20). Andric shows through out his book the importance of the ecology. The Dinaric Alps, the Julian Alps, and the Carpathain and Balkan mountains occupy about 60 percent of its territory ( Nickels 75). The composition of Yugoslavia?s mountains varies. For example, the Dinaric Alps are made of limestone that form long valleys and contain caves, disappearing rivers, and fresh water lakes, and on the other hand, the Carpathian mountains are crystalline rock with sedimentary rocks with in (63).
The Dinaric mountain range goes following a direction northwest to southeast ranging the length of the coast (See Figure 2). The Julian Alps and Karavanke range are in the north going through of Croatian and Slovenia (See Figure 2). The Julian Alps of Slovenia are an extension of the Italian and Austrian Alps ( Andrija 63). The high ranges of Macedonia, south Serbia, and Montenegro that run south and south-west are the Transylvania Alps. The mountains backing the coast are composed of caverns, fresh water lakes (on the north Adriatic island of Cres) and underground rivers ( Andrija 63). Some of the rivers disappear for brief areas then reappear sometimes hundreds of kilometers away (Nickels 75). The mountainous coast has poor soil, though the mild climate encourages bursts of lush vegetation (76). When the mountains formed during the Carboniferous period, fault lines formed causing occasional earthquakes( Byrnes 46).
The plains of Yugoslavia are separated from the coast by the mountain ranges. The only flat area in the former Yugoslavia is formed by the Pannonian Plains of eastern Croatia and north Serbia. This is the most fertile region. The landscape changes to rolling hills and isolation mountains towards the south in Bosnia (Bosnet 1). A region of bare limestone ridges are not very fertile valleys encompasses western Bosnia (1).
The hydrographic regions that former Yugoslavia is very important asset to the country. Yugoslavia possesses about 1,500 kilometers of the Adriatic coastlines (Andrija 62). The coast is a place which bring tourist for their economy. Bosnia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Croatia all have coast. The rivers of the former Yugoslavia are important for boarders of republics and transportation. The most important rivers within Yugoslavia are the Sava, Danube, Drina, Morava, and Vardar. The Sava river forms a border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Also, the Drina river forms a boarder between Bosnia and Serbia. In Andric?s book he describes the sides of the river. “For this great stone bridge a rare structure of unique beauty, such as many richer and busier towns do not possess was the one real and permanent crossing in the whole middle and upper course of the Drina and an indispensable link on the road between Bosnia and Serbia” (78).
“Naturally winter should not be taken into account, for then only whoever was forced to do so would cross the bridge, and then he would lengthen his pace and bend his head before the chill wind that blew uninterruptedly over the river. Then it was understood, there was no loitering on the open terraces of the kapia. But at every other time of year the kapia was a real boon for great and small” (Andric 20). Yugoslavia lies in the southern half of the northern temperate zone, but the climate of its mountains, interior plain, and seacoast varies dramatically according to elevation, prevailing winds, and distance from the sea. The mountain regions fall under the influence of continental air currents and Mediterranean air masses (Byrnes 59). Snow blankets most of the highlands during the winter, but temperature and precipitation differ with elevation (59). The interior plain has a continental climate featuring hot, humid summers. The southern coast enjoys mild Mediterranean weather. Summers on the coast are hot and dry with a fair sea breeze that cools the land during mornings and afternoons ( 58). The winters on the coast are cool and rainy. The weather in Yugoslavia varies depending on the location.
The people of the former Yugoslavia have separated due to their differences in religion, culture, and urbanization. Religion has since the Turkish Ottoman Empire and still is a major conflict in Yugoslavia, and lead to the destruction of the country. Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholicism, and Islam are the three main religions. The distribution of Yugoslavia’s major religions roughly follows the new boarders. Serbia?s national religion is Serbian Orthodox, an Eastern Orthodox religion. Macedonia has another form of Eastern Orthodox, Macedonian Orthodox. On the other hand, Croatia and Slovenia are predominately Roman Catholic. Bosnia-Herzegovina contains Muslim Slavs, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats. The two states of Yugoslavia, Vojvodina and Kosovo, are not predominately Eastern Orthodox. The main religion in Kosovo is Islam, but there are also Roman Catholic Albanians and Orthodox Serbs. Vojvodina has a significant of Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant believers.
Andric describes how Serbs religious nationalist militias used the famous bridge on the Drina river at Visegrad as a killing ground. Muslims captives would be taken to the bridge for prolonged torture and then thrown off in the 1900?s. Then in the 1950?s, he states, ” Though rising to the heights of power and influence, to the point that he could even establish a relative of his as Patriarch of the Serb Church, hopeless and doomed with in the alien racio-religious world he must inhabit” ( 253). He shows the religious problems through time and how different religions had control throughout Yugoslavia?s past. He also says, “While much is made of the contrast between the enduring stone of the bridge and the ephemeral lives of the people who lived by it, it offers is something more unusual- insight into both the continuities and the changes in human culture of a span of centuries” (222). Andric writes, the turning of memory was at work like undercurrents in the Drina itself. On the surface (as in the quiet years of the Austro-Hungarian empire), things seemed placid. But “everything else was flushed away into that dark background of consciousness where live and ferment the basic feelings and indescribable beliefs of individual races, faiths, and castes: which, to all appearances dead and buried, are preparing for later, far-off times unsuspected changes and catastrophes without which, it seems, peoples can not exist and above the peoples of this land” (255). Yugoslavia is always changing is their culture and he shows that there is a way to predict the future.
After the destruction of the bridge on the Drina by the Serbs, Andric describes the
Visegrad had been cleansed, not of garbage, of which there was a neglected mess on its streets and alleys, but of people. It felt like a ghost town in a western movie, minus the tumbleweeds rolling down Main Street. Shutters clanged open and shut with every breeze, while dogs roamed around snarling and licking open sores on their haunches. They made good target practice for bored solders wandering about. Front doors were ajar, left that way by looters and soldiers, and you would walk into any Muslim home in Visegrad, and what you saw changed little from one to another. The floorboards were ripped up by intruders searching for jewelry or German marks, the preferred reserve currency in Yugoslavia. Mattresses were knifed open like pigs for slaughter, draws were emptied onto the ground, and copies of the Koran were urinated on. Dried blood might be splattered on one of the walls ore several. Everything of any value, including light bulbs, had vanished (83)
The connection between religious belief and nationality posed a special threat to the postwar communist government?s official policies of national unity and a federal state structure in the 1950 and still today( Heppell 107).
Eastern Orthodox churches have an almost symbiotic connection to nation state (Heppell 108). There are an estimated 11.5 million Eastern Orthodox family backgrounds (108). The capital of Serbia, Belgrade, is the head quarters of the Serbian Orthodox church. Yugoslavia had two main Orthodox churches; The Serbian Orthodox Church, present since the Middle Ages, and the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which split from the Serbian church. The Romanian Orthodox Church was also present in Vojvodina. An estimated 11.5 million Yugoslavs, primarily Serbs, Montenegrins, and Macedonians, were Eastern Orthodox by family background (108). In the centuries after its founding, the church served a series of kings and emperors, and it acted as the repository of Serbian culture during the centuries of the Ottoman Empire domination. The church came into direct conflict with the communist regime?s policy on nationalities and lost its secular role and influence (135). One result of this conflict was the refusal of the Serbian church hierarchy to recognize the Macedonian Orthodox Church, given self governing status by the Yugoslav state(135).
The Roman Catholic Church was Yugoslavia?s most highly organized religion community before World War II. About 7.5 million Catholics mostly Croats, Slovenes, Hungarians, and ethnic Albanians live in Yugoslavia ( Nickels 93). The Catholic Church had uneasy relations with Yugoslavia?s communist regime throughout the post WWII period. “This was because its hierarchy was loyal to Rome and partly because the Catholics supported Croatian nationalism in the early 1970s” (Andrija 109). During that time many Yugoslavs retained a strong, emotional association between Catholicism and war crimes, forced conversations, and deportations by the Croatian fascist state in WWII ( 111).
Yugoslavia?s Islamic community, the largest in any European country west of Turkey is concentrated among three ethnic groups: Muslim Slavs, located in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo; ethnic Albanians, primarily in Kosovo and Macedonia. Most of the Muslim Slavs and Albanians converted to Islam in the early stages of the Ottoman occupation to gain the higher social status that Ottoman policy afforded to converts. They were the only groups in the European provinces of the Ottoman Empire to convert in large numbers (Heppell 169).
There are a number of minority religions in Yugoslavia. During the Protestant Reformation, a number of Protestant communities arose in Yugoslavia (Andrija 113). The Calvinist Reformed Church in Vojvodina is mostly Hungarian citizens. In the twentieth century, numerous Protestant faiths (Seventh-Day Adventist and Jehovah?s Witnesses) were developed in Yugoslavia ( 114). The Jewish community was destroyed in the Holocaust and emigrated to Israel, but some still remain in Yugoslavia (115). Yugoslavia is a melting pot of people from different religious backgrounds.
There have always been differences, and Andric describes this in his novel when speaking about the bridge:
They did not even squabble about this, so convinced were both sides in their own belief. And there was never an instance of any one of them being able to convince another, or that any one had changed his belief. All this excited fear and apprehension in the little town and surrounding villages, especially among the Christians(205).
The separation was there since the different empires would attack Yugoslavia. The Muslims occupied Yugoslavia.
The ethnic composition the former Yugoslavia in a 1981 census the Serbs constituted more that 33 percent of the total population( See Figure 3). They were followed by Croats (19.7 percent), Muslim Slavs (8.9 percent), Slovenes (7.8 percent), Albanians (7.7 percent), Macedonians (6.0 percent), Montenegrins (2.6 percent), and Hungarians (1.9 percent). Yugoslavia?s six republics and two provinces showed significant ethnic diversity (See Figure 3). Only Serbia, Slovenia, and Montenegro were largely homogeneous composition. In Croatia, three were a substantial minority of 12 percent. Muslim Slavs, Serbs, and Croats make up the population of Bosnia-Hercegovina, but no single group predominated. Kosovo is predominately Albanian with Serbian, Montengrin, and Muslim Slav minorities. A Serbian majority shares Vojvodina with Hungarians, and Croats.
Complicating the ethnic situation in the Balkans is the fact that most nationalities are not confined within the borders of the country?s republics, provinces, or districts. Andric describe the animosities and essential difference between the people:
The very way of life of a Serb and Croat is a deliberate provocation by each to the other. The second, a self-complimentary Serbian stereotype, says: In a conflict with authority, the Serb reaches for the sword and the Croat for his pen.” (268)
Yugoslavia is still ranked as one of Europe?s least urbanized countries in 1990 (Andrija 102). Almost 80 percent of the Yugoslav population live in villages (102). Geographers say over the nest twenty-five years, about 4.6 million people (equivalent to 20 percent of the population) will migrate to cities (102). Obtaining adequate housing is a major problem in all Yugoslav cities. Many single people would resort to dormitory-style living accommodations that many companies provided for their workers. The higher educated and professional level people lived in urban areas. Housing still remains in short supply in every urban area (104). Building material are rising construction costs are causing a shortage of housing accommodations.
Yugoslavia?s housing system offers two methods of obtaining long- term housing: through private initiative, using banks or private loans; or through allocation of socially owned apartments. About two-thirds of Yugoslavia?s housing units are privately owned and about 80 percent construction was done by private enterprise(Andrija 103). Socially owned apartments are allocated by the state without investment by the occupant; rent and maintenance payment were nominal(104).
Most countries have an official language spoken by a large percentage of the people, but not the former Yugoslavia. Thee are four languages (Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian) and tow alphabet (Roman and Cyrillic). (Nickels 97) The language spoken by Bosnians, Montenegrins, Croatians, and Serbians is named Serbo-Croat, but in actuality each has their own words and dialects. The base language is derived from the Yugoslavians and have had words implemented in the vocabulary by the Turkish, Greek, and Austro-Hungarian empires. In Andric?s book, he describes how the Serbian and Turkish cultures communicated. “Turks and Serbs went out to work and met on another with dull and expressionless faces, greeted one another and talked together with those hundreds or so past circulated in the town and passed from one to another.”
The main variations between the Serbo-Croat is s slight differences in sentence construction and pronunciation (Nickels 97). The Serbians use the Cyrillic alphabet (shown in figure 4), which was derived from the Greek letters passed down from Eastern Orthodox Church. The Croatians use the Roman alphabet that they acquired from the Roman Catholic Church. Bosnia uses both alphabets since there is many people from each culture in their country.
On the other hand, Macedonian and Slovenian are to far from the core area of the former Yugoslavia to be affected this way. They are each spoken only in the boundaries of their republics. There are also a number of minority languages spoken between the number of minority nationalities ( Nickels 97). Every educated person in the former Yugoslavia can communicate using Serbo-Croatian. The Slovenian alphabet, Glagolitic, varies from the Roman and Cyrillic and can be seen in old churches and other ancient buildings in most parts of Croatia (97).
When I began to read The Bridge on the Drina, I did not understand why the Turkish and the Serbians had differences. My friends asked me what I was getting from the book, and my general answer was not much because I do not understand the history. So one day, my friend sat me down for a couple of hours and explained the history of Yugoslavia starting from the tribes and going back and forth between the Hausberg Empire and the Ottoman Empire. As fascinating of the history of Yugoslavia is , it was a shame that I never learned it. As for Andric?s book, I realized that for fifty years The Bridge on the Drina still represent one of the most important works of Serbian literature. For Serbians, it is not just piece of art, but the historical chronicle in which they can also find the roots and the explanation of primarily religious problems in their country at the present time. After all, The Bridge on the Drina was awarded the most important and prestigious prize for literature and science, the Nobel Prize, which also shows the recognition of its value.
I learned that history has a lot to do with all the aspect of the geography. Language was the most interesting to me since I am learning Serbo-Croatian. The differences in the Cyrillic letter and Roman letters corresponded to the religions that first settled the tribes. The Ottoman Empire added many Turkish words with Serbian as mentioned in Andric?s book. Croatia added much of their dialect from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bosnia, because of their mixed culture, has words from the Serbian and Croatian languages.
The former Yugoslavia is a country with many unique characteristics. The lack of uniformity throughout the country will always be there, and with the tensions between the different cultures and religions it will probably never disappear.
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