The Morava Valley (Serbian: / Pomoravlje, pronounced [p?mra:v?e?]), is a general term which in its widest sense marks valleys of any of three Morava rivers in Serbia: the West Morava (West Morava Valley), the South Morava (South Morava Valley) and the Great Morava (Great Morava Valley). In the narrow sense, the term is applied only to the Great Morava Valley (Serbian: / Veliko Pomoravlje). The Serbian term follows the general manner of coining river valley names in Serbian using the prefix po- and suffix -je, meaning literally "(land) along the Morava". Morava valley lies in the central Balkans, at the crossroads which lead eastwards, towards the Black sea and Asia Minor, and further south, down the Vardar river into the Aegean sea.
The West Morava Valley (Serbian: ? / Zapadno Pomoravlje) is the valley of the West Morava. It is the southernmost Peripannonic region of Serbia. It is parallel, latitudinally elongated, in the west-to-east direction, opposed to the meridian, south-to-north direction of South Morava Valley and Great Morava Valley. It occupies and area of 5,220 square kilometers and generally corresponds to the valley of the West Morava River and sections of its watershed around the rivers of Skrape?, ?etinja (headwaters of West Morava) and Rasina (a tributary, near the confluence with South Morava). It is generally bounded by the mountains of Tara, Zlatibor, Jelica, Go?, Suvobor, Maljen, Kotlenik and Gledi?, that is, by the large geographical regions of ?umadija and Stari Vlah
The West Morava Valley is a composite valley, which means it consists of a sequence of valleys (depressions) and gorges. Sections include:
The West Morava Valley comprises several historical and geographical regions of Serbia, which are its own geographical sub-regions. From west to east, they are:
The West Morava Valley had a population of 531,978 inhabitants by the 2002 census of population, which gives an average population density of 102 inhabitants per square kilometer. The largest is in the area of ?a?ak (184 per km2) and the smallest in the neighboring area of Lu?ani (54 per km2). Despite large urban centers, population has been depopulating for almost two decades. The population of the Morava Valley by the official censuses of population:
Largest settlements of the West Morava Valley in 2002 were:
The West Morava Valley is economically the most developed of all three Morava river valleys. Being a large floodplain, frequently flooded by the West Morava due to the extreme fluctuation of its discharge, The West Morava Valley was always an agricultural area, but in the second half of 20th century industry also developed in all major towns along the river.
Fertile land in the valley is best for grains and orchards. Corn is being cultivated in the ?a?ak-Kraljevo depression, while wheat is being grown in the Kru?evac depression. Draga?evo region is known for the potato production. ?a?ak area is known for the plum growing, Po?ega is known for the apples ("budimka" brand) and ?upa region around Aleksandrovac is famous for the grapes and wine production. Artificial lake Parmenac near ?a?ak is created for the purpose of irrigation and further fertilization of the land. Also, out of all three sections of the Morava Valley, the West Morava Valley is the most forested one.
The West Morava Valley is rich in ores. It includes the mining of brown coal ("West Morava's coal basin"), hard coal, asbestos, magnesite, chromium, etc. As a result, the industry is very developed with a string of heavily industrialized towns: Po?ega, ?a?ak, Kraljevo, Trstenik and Kru?evac. With the valley of the Ibar, the West Morava has a huge potential in electricity production. Hydroelectric power plants Ov?ar (6 MW) and Me?uvr?je (7 MW) with artificial lakes are built near ?a?ak, in the Ov?ar-Kablar gorge, so as the lakes Parmenac (also on Morava) and ?elije (on Rasina).
The entire river valley is a natural route for both roads and railways connecting eastern, central and western Serbia, so traffic is also important for the economy of the region. Tourism is almost entirely based on mineral spas, as the West Morava Valley is dubbed "First spa region of Serbia". Best known spas include Vrnja?ka Banja, Mataru?ka Banja, Bogutova?ka Banja, Ov?ar Banja, Vi?ka Banja, Gornja Trep?a, etc. Additional interests are the Go? mountain and medieval Serbian Orthodox monasteries of ?i?a, Kaleni?, Lazarica, Ljubostinja, Naupara, etc. One of top mountain resorts of Serbia, Tara and Zlatibor, are marking the eastern border of the region.
The South Morava Valley (Serbian: / Ju?no Pomoravlje) is the valley of the South Morava. It is the southernmost region of Serbia, bordering Republic of Macedonia. It is meridionally elongated, in the south-to-north direction. In the narrower sense, as a valley of the South Morava, it occupies an area of 4,800 km2, of which 1,660 km2 on Kosovo and the rest in Central Serbia. In wider sense, the South Morava Valley is identified with southern Serbia in general and covers the entire watershed of the South Morava (15,469 km2).
Sub-regions which partially make up the South Morava Valley include:
The South Morava Valley had a population of 719,151 inhabitants by the 2002 census of population, with an average population density of 150 inhabitants per square kilometer, but the area's density is in general smaller, average density being enlarged by the large centers like the city of Ni? (420 per km2). The South Morava Valley has been known for rural depopulation almost for the last six decades while the cities grew larger, but in the last 30 years the entire area is depopulating. The population of the Morava Valley by the official censuses of population:
The largest settlements of the South Morava Valley (in the narrower sense) in 2002 were:
The South Morava Valley is the major vegetable growing area in Serbia, especially the areas of Leskovac and Vranje, which are specialized in the production of tomatoes and bell peppers, but other early vegetables as well. Vranje is also known for floriculture. The area is also producing grains (corn in Leskovac and Vranje, wheat in Vranje and Aleksinac- Ni? region), fruits (plums in Vranje, grapes in Leskovac) and industrial plants (sugar beet in Aleksinac- Ni?, tobacco in Aleksinac- Ni? and Vranje). Leskovac is also known for the poultry. Water from South Morava is also used for the irrigation.
The mountains surrounding the region are rich in minerals and ores. The mountain of Besna Kobila has findings of zinc and silver. Other findings include chromium, antimony, graphite, molybdenum and tungsten. Oil shales are found near Vranje and Aleksinac. Aleksinac is also part of a large Aleksinac coal basin. Though South Morava has a significant potential for electricity production, it has not been dammed, though some parts of its watershed on the east (Vlasina, Vrla) have a series of hydro electrical plants (Vrla I, II, III and IV). Area is rich in mineral springs with many spas: Vranjska Banja, Bujanov?aka Banja, Ribarska Banja, Kulinska Banja, Klokot Banja, etc. There are several large industrial centers in the region, some of them among the largest in Serbia (Ni?, Leskovac, Vranje). Secondary centers are Aleksinac and Vlasotince.
Along with the Great Morava Valley, its natural continuation, the South Morava Valley is an important European transportation route and Ni? is a major crossroads. It makes a section of the Belgrade-Skopje-Thessaloniki route, that is, of the European route E75 (which connects Norway and Greece), with a branch splitting at Ni? for Sofia, Bulgaria, which is actually a crossroads of the routes E75 and E80 which connects Portugal and Turkey. Except for the Leskovac-Macedonian border section, route has been turned into a highway. The South Morava Valley is also a railway crossroads: railway Belgrade-Ni?-Skopje, trans-Balkan railway Pe?-Prahovo, etc.
The Great Morava Valley (Serbian: / Veliko Pomoravlje) is the valley of the Great Morava. It is often referred to only as the Morava Valley (Serbian: / Pomoravlje; Pomoravlje District is located in the southern area of the Great Morava Valley). It the beginning, it is bounded by the mountains of Juhor on the west and Ku?aj on the east. In the later section, the Morava Valley gets much wider, with only smaller hills bounding it and opens widely to the Danube and Banat region, across the river. It covers an area of 4,360 square milometers, which is over 70% of the entire Great Morava watershed.
The Great Morava Valley is a valley region of the middle, Peripannonic Serbia. In the Neogene, it was a deep bay ("Morava Bay") of the inner Pannonian Sea, which flowed off through the ?erdap gorge 600,000 years ago. As the sea withdrew, the Great Morava cut in its flow through the drained bay, almost for 500 meters. The region is 120 kilometers long and up to 40 kilometers wide. Altitudes vary from 75 meters on the north to 130 meters on the south. It has a tempered continental climate with not much rainfall but frequend floods. Composite valley of the Great Morava has three main sections.
Regions, which partially or completely make the Great Morava Valley, include Jasenica, Lepenica, Resava and Temni?. Because the Great Morava and West Morava are considered the eastern and southern borders, respectively, of the super-region of ?umadija, they largely overlap with it in these areas.
The South Morava Valley had a population of 545,517 inhabitants by the 2002 census of population, with an average population density of 125 inhabitants per square kilometer. Extremes include Smederevo, with 230 per km2, and Despotovac, with 41 per km2. Despite being developed as an agricultural and industrial region, it has been depopulating for the last few decades. The population of the Morava Valley by the official censuses of population:
In the 1980s plans were made to join towns of Jagodina, Para?in and ?uprija into the first planned conurbation in Yugoslavia, including inter-city tramway lines, etc., but the idea was dropped later. The largest settlements of the Great Morava Valley in 2002 were:
With the most fertile arable land, almost endless gardens, orchards and vineyards and its intensive agriculture, the Great Morava Valley is the granary of Central Serbia. The Great Morava agricultural region covers much larger area than the Great Morava Valley or even the watershed of the Great Morava: regions of Mlava and Pek on the east (Brani?evo District) and almost half of ?umadija, on the west. Main products in the valley are corn, wheat, sugar beet and sunflower. Hilly areas surrounding the valley are producing fruits, grapes (Smederevo), fodder plants and livestock. Brani?evo region has the largest production of beans in Serbia. Horse stud farm Ljubi?evo is located near Po?arevac. In the past centuries the Great Morava Valley was famous for its vast forest, but today it is almost entirely turned into an arable land.
Unlike the West Morava Valley and South Morava Valley, the Great Morava Valley has almost no ores or minerals, except for the cement marl near Para?in. But the area has vast finding of coal, near Kostolac (Kostolac-Podunavlje Basin; brown coal), in the valley of Resavica (Despotovac Basin; brown coal at Makvi?te and Resavica, lignite at Despotovac) and near ?uprija (Senje Basin; brown coal). Also, the Great Morava Valley has only a few mineral springs (Lu?i?ka Banja, Stragarska Banja, etc.). Major industrial centers are Jagodina, Smederevo, Smederevska Palanka and ?uprija, followed by Para?in, Po?arevac and Velika Plana. Thermal power plant "Morava" (125 MW) is located near Svilajnac. One of three Serbian cement plants is located in Popovac (formerly "Novi Popovac", in 2002 bought by one of the Swiss cement company Holcim).
The Great Morava Valley was always an important traffic route. In Roman times, it was the location of Via Militaris, while in the medieval period Constantinople road ran through. Today, it makes a section of the European route E75 (Belgrade-Ni? highway) which continues into the South Morava Valley. It also a route for the Belgrade-Ni? railway. In past times, the Great Morava used to be navigable, but due to the huge amounts of materials which are brought by the South Morava, as a result of extreme erosion in its watershed, the river bed of the Great Morava is literally being covered up so the river is not navigable today. Only some 3 kilometers near its mouth into the Danube can be used for navigation.