Geography of Serbia

Map of Serbia including the historic claim to Kosovo
Geographical regions in Serbia

Serbia is landlocked country located in the Balkans (a historical and geographical region of southern [Europe]]) and in the Pannonian Plain (a region of central Europe). It shares borders with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Albania. It is landlocked, although access to the Adriatic is available through Montenegro, and the Danube River provides shipping access to inland Europe and the Black Sea.

General geographical information

Serbia covers a total of 88,361 km2 (34,116 sq mi), which places it 111th in the world. Its total border length amounts to 2,026 km (1,259 mi) (Albania 115 km (71 mi), Bosnia and Herzegovina 302 km (188 mi), Bulgaria 318 km (198 mi), Croatia 241 km (150 mi), Hungary 151 km (94 mi), Macedonia 62 km (39 mi), Montenegro 124 km (77 mi) and Romania 476 km (296 mi)).[1] It has 6,167 registered settlements, 207 urban and 5960 others (rural).[2]

Arable land covers 19,194 km2 (7,411 sq mi) (24.8%), and woods cover 19,499 km2 (7,529 sq mi) (25.2%) of the territory of Serbia.[3][4]

Extreme points



Serbia's terrain ranges from rich, fertile plains of the northern Vojvodina region, limestone ranges and basins in the east, and in the southeast ancient mountains and hills. The north is dominated by the Danube River. A tributary, the Morava River flows through the more mountainous southern regions.

In central parts of Serbia, the terrain consists chiefly of hills, low and medium-high mountains, interspersed with numerous rivers and creeks. The main communication and development line stretches southeast of Belgrade, towards Niš and Skopje (in Republic of Macedonia), along the valley of Great and South Morava river. Most major cities are located on or around that line, as well as the main railroad and highway. On the East of it, the terrain quickly rises to limestone ranges of Stara Planina and Serbian Carpathians, relatively sparsely populated. On the West, height of mountains slowly rises towards southwest, but they do not form real ridges. The highest mountains of that area are Zlatibor and Kopaonik.


Ivan forest in Serbia

Mountains cover the largest parts of the country. Four mountain systems meet in Serbia: Dinaric Alps in the west cover the greatest territory, and stretch from northwest to southeast. Carpathian Mountains and Balkan Mountains stretch in north-south direction in the eastern Serbia, west of the Morava valley. Ancient mountains along the South Morava belong to Rilo-Rhodope Mountain system.

The most significant mountains in Serbia are:

The highest peak in Serbia is Midžor on Stara Planina near the border with Bulgaria (2,169 m (7,116 ft)).


Main rivers of Serbia and their drainage basins

Practically the entire territory (92%) of Serbia belongs to the Danube (Black Sea) drainage basin, an area in Kosovo (5%) belongs to the Adriatic drainage basin, chiefly through the White Drin river, and the rest (3%) in Kosovo and southern Serbia belongs to Aegean basin, chiefly via the Vardar river.

Apart from the Danube, which flows 588 km through Serbia or as a border river (with Croatia on its northwestern flow and Romania on southeast), the chief rivers are its tributaries Sava (incoming from West), Tisa (incoming from North), Drina (incoming from South, forming a natural border with Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Morava; only the latter flowing (almost) entirely through Serbia. Their tributaries form a dense network of smaller rivers and creeks, covering most of the country.

Due to the configuration of the terrain, natural lakes are sparse and small; most of them are located in Vojvodina, like the glacial lake Palić or numerous oxbow lakes along river flows. However, there are numerous artificial lakes, mostly due to hydroelectric dams, the biggest being Đerdap on the Danube, Perućac on the Drina and Vlasina Lake.

Abundance of relatively unpolluted surface waters and numerous underground natural and mineral water sources of high water quality presents a chance for export and economy improvement; however, more extensive exploitation and production of bottled water began only recently. Despite this, many Serbian cities still suffer from water supply problems, due to mismanagement and low investments in the past, as well as water pollution (like the pollution of the Ibar River from the Trepča zinc-lead combinate, affecting the city of Kraljevo, or the presence of natural arsenic in underground waters in Zrenjanin).

The hydroenergetic potential of Serbia is around 17,000 GWh, of which around 10,000 GWh (60%) is utilized in power plants, chiefly big ones. The remaining unused potential can be realized using small and medium power plants (<25 MW), whose building by the private sector is seen as a chance for improvement of Serbia's economy and energy reliability.[5]

Serbia also has a huge geothermal potential, which is only partially and sporadically utilized. The use of geothermal waters is chiefly for balneological purposes: there are around 60 spas, which are seen as a great chance for improvement of the tourism sector.[6]


Main article: Climate of Serbia
See also: Climate

Climate of Serbia is moderate continental with a diversity on local level, caused by geographic location, relief, terrain exposition, presence of river and lake systems, vegetation, urbanization etc. Proximity of the mountain ranges of Alps, Carpathians, Rhodopes, as well as Adriatic Sea and Pannonian plain affect the climate. Location of river ravines and plains in the northern area of the country enable occasional deep southward protrusion of polar air masses on winters, while hot Saharan air often intrudes over the Mediterranean Sea on summers.

Average annual air temperature for the period 1961-1990 for the area with the altitude of up to 300 m (980 ft) amounts to 11 °C (51.8 °F). The areas with the altitudes of 300 to 500 m (984 to 1,640 ft) have average annual temperature of around 10.5 °C (50.9 °F), and over 1,000 m (3,281 ft) of altitude around 6 °C (42.8 °F).

Annual precipitation, generally, rises with altitude. In lower regions, it ranges in the interval from 540 to 820 mm (21.3 to 32.3 in), areas on altitude over 1,000 m (3,281 ft) receive in average 700 to 1,000 mm (27.6 to 39.4 in), and some mountainous summits in southwestern Serbia up to 1,500 mm (59.1 in). Major part of Serbia has continental precipitation regimen, with peak in the earlier summer period, except for southwest, which receives highest precipitation autumn. May–June is the rainiest month, with the average of 12 to 13% of total annual amount. February and October have the least precipitation. Snow cover can occurs from late November to early March, and majority of days with snow cover is in January.

Annual sums of solar radiation are in the interval from 1500 to 2200 hours annually.

Surface air circulation is largely influenced by orographic lift. In warmer part of the year, winds from northwest and west prevail. In Vojvodina and Sumadija, east-southeast wind, Košava, dominates over autumn and winter. Southwestern winds prevail in mountainous part of southwestern Serbia.[7]

Nature preservation areas and parks

Serbia has four national parks and many national nature reserves encompassing 5% of the territory.[8]

National parks
Nature parks
Special nature reservations
Nature monuments

See also



    1. CIA World Factbook:Serbia Archived August 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
    2. (Serbian) Republički zavod za statistiku Srbije, Administrativna i teritorijalna podela Republike Srbije
    3. Republic Statistical Office of Serbia, Annual book, Chapter 13-Agriculture
    4. (Serbian)Republički zavod za statistiku Srbije, Prikaz stanja šuma po površini
    5. "Energetski potencijali Srbije" (in Serbian). Elektroprivreda Srbije. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
    6. Utilization of Geothermal Hydrology in Serbia", M. Milivojević and M. Martinović, International Geothermal Conference, Reykjavik 2003.
    7. Hydrometeorologic Service of Serbia
    8. Significance of the biodiversity conservation within Natural heritage in Serbia as an objects of integral environmental protection by Vasiljević Nevena...
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