Slavonia or Not Slavonia: How to Call Eastern Croatia?

Total Croatia News

Eastern Croatia is perhaps the least known part of the country, and even Croats have difficulty defining how to refer to the region. We are delighted to welcome eastern Croatian – or should that be Slavonian? – native Senka Vlahovic to the TCN team on April 7, 2016, with her thoughts on the branding of eastern Croatia. 

Let’s talk a bit about Eastern Croatia and how to refer it in the future. I do not mean to discuss it far and wide starting from times when Adam and Eve have walked on Earth (although I wouldn’t be surprised if some new study suggests that they lived in Slavonian city Vinkovci). Joking aside, this isn’t going to be any kind of expert piece of work where I claim anything or being a smart ass. This is just me thinking aloud, trying to clear out some confusions and figure out some conclusions.

Eastern Croatia has five counties:

Osijek-Baranja County,
Vukovar-Srijem County,
Brod-Posavina County,
Požega-Slavonia County and
Virovitica-Podravina County

Note: If we look the map of Croatia not all the counties are quite placed in the east. Part of Virovitica – Podravina County is more in central then eastern Croatia and this is a right time to complicate things a little bit. Five regions are mentioned in the names of five counties: Baranja, Srijem (Syrmia), Posavina, Slavonia and Podravina.

Baranja is the region of a historically larger entity which belonged to Hungary for centuries. Present Croatian Baranja was a part of the County of Baranya with administrative center in Pecs, Hungary. It was divided after World War I and the territory of present-day Croatian Baranja was allotted to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

Srijem or Syrmia refers to the easternmost part of Slavonia, placed between the rivers Vuka and Danube to the north and east and Sava to the south and Vukovar – Vinkovci – Županja line today. In the past it was County of Syrmium which was divided into the western part remained within Croatia and the eastern part allocated to Vojvodina in Serbia following World War II.

Podravina and Posavina are geographical regions around the Drava and Sava rivers and these regions Slavonia ‘share’ with two other countries Hungary and Bosnia.

In most articles I have found, eastern Croatia refers to Slavonia, Baranja and Syrmia regions. But, what about Podravina and Posavina? We know Podravina and Posavina are geographical regions, but… what about the city of Osijek? It is on the Drava River and I have never heard anyone refer Osijek to Podravina. In fact, the ‘border’ between Podravina and Slavonia is in the town of Pitomača, Virovitica – Podravina county. How is it possible? It is, because a geographical term of Podravina is much bigger than the cultural – historical term which refers to Virovitičko-Podravska, Koprivničko-križevačka and Varaždinska County. Do you follow or have I lost you somewhere between the terms of Podravina? I am trying really hard not to pop up the question about the Dunav River and Podunavlje too.

Don’t want to go into the details of Slavonian history because it would be too long and I really don’t want anyone to fall asleep by reading all of it in one post. Throughout history the eastern part of Croatia was called Slavonia. To be precise, the name of Slavonia originates from the Early Middle Ages when the area was named after the Slavic tribes first settled there back in the 7th century.

Let’s go just little bit more back in the past, a million years back to the time of the Panonnian Sea. The Pannonian Sea existed for about 9 million years and disappeared about 600,000 years ago. Present-day Slavonia is entirely located in the Pannonian Basin, which is one of the three major geomorphological parts of Croatia. It is believed the name Pannonia derived from Illyrian, the Indo-European root pen – swamp, water, wet. Under Roman rule it was the Roman province of Pannonia.

To conclude:

To be fair and square, Eastern Slavonia should be called Pannonia BUT we all know that is not going to happen. Further on, it’s also very impracticable to use several words for one meaning. Try to imagine yourself as Chinese and you want to visit this part of Europe, how hard would it be for you to remember terms Slavonia, Baranja, Srijem? Even if we shorten it into two words Slavonia and Baranja, it seems pretty unfair to e.g. Podravina… and we can go on and on in circles about it.

Now what? I suggest we all agree to disagree, even before starting to discuss this issue and just be practical. In terms of tourism we all have one goal: to be noticeable and easily remembered.

Right? Right! 



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