north morava frontier servia country south servian west population east
SERBIA, a kingdom belonging to the Balkan peninsula of Europe, lying between Bosnia on the west and Bulgaria and Roumania on the east, and between the Turkish province of Albania on the south and the Austrian Military Frontier on the north. From Bosnia it is separated by the Drina, from Austrian and Roumanian territory by the Danube and the Save, and from Bulgaria partly by the Timok. Some parts of the southern frontier are indicated by mountains, but elsewhere there are no natural boundaries. In shape Servia is an irregular trapezium, situated between about 42° 30' and 45° N. lat. and 19° and 22° 30' E. long. The area is about 18,760 square miles, and the population (1,667,159 in 1874) was estimated at the end of 1884 to be 1,902,419, thus giving a density of about The surface is for the most part mountainous or hilly, though there are no well-defined mountain ranges of any extent. The highest summits lie near the middle of the southern frontier, where Mount Kopaonik attains the height of nearly 7000 feet. Towards the Bosnian frontier the mountains are pretty closely massed together, and some of the summits approach 4000 feet ; this height is exceeded on the eastern side of the country, where the mountains, forming a continuation of the Carpathians, are in many places more rugged and precipitous than anywhere else in the kingdom. The Rudnik Mountains, which begin immediately to the north of the Servian Morava, have their highest parts in the south and gradually sink towards the north from nearly 3000 to less than 2000 feet. Still lower are the elevations in the provinces in the extreme south acquired in 1878 under the treaty of Berlin. As a general rule the Servian highlands consist of detached groups of mountains and conical hills with gentle slopes rising from verdant valleys, and they are mostly covered to the top with forests, chiefly of oak and beech, the higher summits in the south also with conifers. But the plains, though numerous, are of no great extent, and occur chiefly along the banks of the rivers. Apart from frontier rivers, the most important stream is the Morava, which, rising on the western slopes of the Kara Dagh, a little beyond the Servian frontier, enters the country with a north-easterly course near the extreme south-east, and then turns north-north-west and flows almost in a straight line through the heart of the kingdom to the Danube. In the upper part of its course it is known as the Bulgarian Morava, and only after receiving the Servian Morava on the left is it known as the Morava simply or as the Great Morava. The only other important tributary is the Nishava, which it receives from the right at Nish. The valleys of all these rivers, especially those of the Bulgarian and the Great Morava, and of the Nishava, contain considerable areas of level or low-lying country well suited for the growth of corn, and the low grounds along the Save and the Danube from the Drina to the Morava are also well adapted for agriculture, though for the most part devoted only to pasture. Altogether no more than one-sixth of the surface is estimated to be occupied by cultivated fields and vineyards, while one-fifth is estimated to form pasture land and about an equal area woodland. Nearly one-half of the entire area is believed to be unproductive.
Besides the frontier streams on the north and west, the only river of any importance for navigation is the Morava, which is navigable for steamers of light draught as high as Tiupriia about GO miles from its mouth, but its valley is important as the main highway of the country, and all the more since the introduction of railways. Railways both to Constantinople and to Salonica are now (1886) in course of construction under a convention concluded with Austria in 1,881. The section common to the two systems, that from Belgrade to Nish, 152 miles in length, was opened for traffic in September 1884, and the line (76 miles) from Nish to Vranja was completed in March 1886, but the connexion with the Turkish railway from Salonica remains to be completed. At present, in consequence of the unsatisfactory communication with the south, only about 7 or 8 per cent. of the Servian imports enter by the southern frontier, 85 per cent. coming through Austria-Hungary. In the beginning of 1886 work had been begun on only one-half of the line from Nish to Pirot, on the other system, . The geological structure of Servia is varied. In the south and west the sedimentary rocks most largely de-. veloped are of ancient, pre-Carboniferous date, interrupted by considerable patches of granite, serpentine, and other crystalline rocks. Beyond this belt there appear in the north-west Mesozoic limestones, such as occupy so extensive an area in the north-west of the Balkan peninsula generally, and the valleys opening in that quarter to the Drina have the same desolate aspect as belongs to these rocks in the rest of that region. In the extreme north-east the crystalline schists of the Carpathians extend to the south side of the Danube, and stretch parallel to the Morava in a band along its right bank. Elsewhere east of the Morava the prevailing rocks belong to the Cretaceous series, which enters Servia from Bulgaria. The heart of the country - the Shumadia, as it is called - is mainly occupied by rocks of Tertiary age, with intervening patches of older strata ; and the Rudnik Mountains are traversed by metalliferous veins of syenite. The ;, mineral wealth of Servia is considerable and varied, though far from being adequately developed. Gold, silver, iron, and lead are said to have been worked in the time of the Romans. Heaps of ancient slag from lead mines still exist in the neighbourhood of Belgrade, and other old lead mines occur in the valley of the Toplitza. Gold dust is washed down by heavy rains in the valley of the Timok, where it is gathered by the peasants. In the syenite veins of the Rudnik Mountains ores of lead, zinc, copper, sulphur, and arsenic are present, but are not worked, and from the mines of Krupani in the north-west argentiferous lead, antimony, and other ores have been obtained. The principal mining centre east of the Morava is Maidanpek in the north, where there is a large iron-smelting establishment in the hands of an English company. Coal or lignite is met with in many places, including a number of points on the Servian railway. The largest deposit lies round Tiupriia, and measures about 19 miles in length by 7A- in breadth. All the minerals belong to the state, but permission to work them can be obtained on payment of a moderate royalty.
The climate of Servia is on the whole mild, though subject to the extremes characteristic of inland Eastern countries. In summer the temperature may rise as high as 106° Fahr., while in winter it often sinks to 13° or even sometimes 20° below zero. The high-lying valleys in the south are colder than the rest of the country, not only on account of their greater elevation but also because of their being exposed to the cold winds from the north and north-east. Accordingly, the chief products of the soil are such. as thrive under a warm summer and are unaffected by a cold winter. Both maize and wine are grown, but the olive is excluded by the severity of the cold season.
q. Maize is the principal object of agriculture, the average annual crop being estimated at upwards of +5,000,000 bushels, wheat coining next with an average crop of less than 4,000,000 bushels. Besides cereals, flax, hemp, and tobacco are grown, but the attempts made to cultivate cotton have proved unsuccessful. The chief wine-growing locality is in the north-east round Negotin. Inefficient as are the implements and backward the methods of agriculture, grain makes up a considerable portion of the exports, owing to the scantiness of the population and the deficiency of other industries, and it is expected that this export will be greatly increased on the completion of the railway system to the southern seaports. The grain chiefly exported is wheat, - maize supplying, as among all the Slays of the Balkan peninsula, the chief food of . the people. Hitherto live-stock has formed the largest item in the exports, sometimes amounting to over one-half. Among these pigs, which are fed in immense numbers on the mast of the forests, take the first place. Of late years their number has greatly declined, largely in consequence of American competition ; but relatively to population Servia still maintains a much greater number than any other country of Europe ; and the same is true of sheep, which are here relatively more than twice as numerous as in Spain. Cattle also are numerous, but are reared solely as beasts of draught and for export. Bees are very generally kept, - the honey being consumed in the country, the wax exported. The rearing of silkworms is spreading, especially since cocoons and eggs have begun to be exported to Italy. Orchards are very.extensive, and all kinds of fruit belonging to central Europe are grown in abundance, - above all, the plum, from which is distilled the favourite national spirit, slivoritza. The average annual value of the exports is a little over £1 per head of population. After live animals and grain come hides and prunes. Among the imports the chief items are sugar, salt (wholly absent in Servia), cotton goods, and other textiles. Import duties being high, a considerable amount must always be allowed for smuggled goods. Though the great bulk of the imports enter the country by the Austrian frontier, an increasingly large proportion comes originally from beyond Austria-Hungary. Thus in 1879, of the total quantity of imports across the Austrian frontier, 76 per cent. were of Austrian-Hungarian origin, in 1880 73 per cent., in 1881 65 per cent., leaving 24, 27, and 35 per cent. respectively for countries beyond. Among the latter Germany comes next after Austria-Hungary and then England. Colonial wares (sugar, coffee, &c.) are now imported cheaper:by way of Hamburg than by way of Trieste.
The natural increase of population in Servia is pretty rapid, the annual birth-rate being among the highest in Europe, while the death-rate, though high, is exceeded in several other countries. During the years 1879-84 the average annual number of births was 76,962, of deaths 47,181, the excess of births over deaths 29,781, which figures compared with a total population intermediate between that at the end of 1874 and that at the end of 1884 give a birth-rate of upwards of 43 per thousand, a death-rate of less than 27 per thousand, and an annual excess of births over deaths of nearly 17 per thousand. The average proportion of male to female births is 106 : 100. The people are mainly Serbs, though the proportions have been modified by the increase of territory under the treaty of Berlin. This territory, at one time occupied by Servians, had been to a large extent deserted by them in consequence of the oppressive Turkish yoke, and their place had been taken by Mohammedan Albanians west of the Morava and by Bulgarians in the valley of the Nishava. Most of the Albanians, however, quitted their homes at the time of annexation, and Servians are now returning to their former seats. Previous to the treaty of Berlin the principal element of the population next after the Servians consisted of Roumanians, of whom there were about 130,000. The Servian Church forms a branch of the Oriental Greek Church with a perfectly independent administration. The highest ecclesiastical authority is exercised by the national synod. Elementary education is in a very backward state, but recently a law has been passed to remedy this defect, by making education obligatory on all children between six and thirteen and laying the duty of providing accommodation, books, and teachers upon school districts. At Belgrade there is a high school or university with faculties of philosophy, law, and technics.
The agricultural population are scattered among a great number of villages, most of which consist of single isolated homesteads. Each homestead is occupied by a group of families connected by blood and acknowledging one head, the stareshina, who is usually the patriarch of the community, but is often chosen by the rest of the members on account of his prudence and ability. He regulates the work and distributes the proceeds of the labour of the entire homestead, and his ruling is followed without question. The land cultivated by a family or group of families is always their own property. The buildings belonging to the homesteads are enclosed within an immense palisade, inside which a large expanse of fields is mostly planted with plum, damson, and other fruit-trees, surrounding the houses of the occupiers. In the midst of these is the house of the stareshina, which contains the common kitchen, eating hall, and family hall of the entire homestead. In this last all the members assemble in the evening for conversation and amusement, the women spinning, while the children play. The people take delight in listening to the recitation of the poetical rhapsodies in which the Servian literature is remarkably rich. The houses are mostly very small wooden structures, serving for little else but sleeping places. But that of the stareshina is often of brick, and is invariably of better construction than the rest.
Since 6th March 1882 the government has :been a constitutional monarchy. The legislative body is called the sleurshtina, and in 1884 consisted of 178 members, three-fourths of whom are elected by the people, the remainder being nominated by the king. A new sknpshtina is elected every three years. For the settlement of special questions of great moment an extraordinary skupshtina or great national assembly is elected, in which there are. four times as many members, all elected, as in the ordinary skupslitma. There is also a permanent council of state of 15 members, who have the task of drawing up proposals for legislation, hearing complaints regarding the decisions of ministers, and performing other functions. For administrative purposes the kingdom is divided into twenty-two circles, besides the city of Belgrade. In the budget for 188384 the revenue and expenditure were each estimated at nearly £1,500,000, and for 1884.85 at about £1,840,000. Tho national debt at the end of 1884 was about £7,000,000. An additional debt of about £1,000,000 was contracted during the Servo-Bulgarian war of 1885-86.
The Servian army is divided into three classes. The first class, embracing men between 25 and 30 years of age, constitutes the standing army, which numbers 18,000 on a peace footing and about 100,000 on a war footing. The first two years are served with the colours and the remainder of the term in the reserve. The second class contains men between 30 and 37 who have served in the standing army. The third class, which is only called out in extraordinary emergencies, is composed of men between 37 and 50. The total military strength of Servia for cases of emergency is estimated to be about 210,000 men.
The capital of Servia is Belgrade, at the junction of the Danube and the Save. It is the only town with more than 15,000 inhabitants. Next in size is Nish, in the territory added by the treaty of Berlin, where the valley of the Nishava opens into that of the Bulgarian Morava. The other chief towns are Kragushevatz in the centre of the Shumadia, the former capital of the country, Shabatz on the Save, Semendria on the Danube, Krushevatz, Alexinatz (the centre of the flax and hemp growing district), Ushitze, Posharevatz, Vranja, and Leskovatz.
Bee Rev. W. Denton, &rota and the Serrians, London, 1862 ; Serbien: histortsche-ethnographische Beisestudten, Leipsie, 1868; Milne, La PrIneipante de Serbie, Paris, 1880. (G. G. C-)