The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Slavonia

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

SLAVONIA, a former territory of Austria-Hungary which, with Croatia, constituted the provinces of Croatia and Slavonia, forming part of the possessions of the Hungarian crown. It is bounded on the northeast by Hungary, on the south by Bosnia and part of Serbia and on the west by Croatia and has an area of 3,640 square miles, exclusive of that portion of the military frontier lying between Slavonia and Croatia, which may be regarded as falling within its limits. A branch of the Carniolan Alps, entering Slavonia from Croatia on the west, traverses it throughout its whole length, forming the watershed between the Drave on the north and the Save to the south. The forests are very rich and cover the upper mountain sides on whose lower slopes cultivation is actively carried on. The valleys are extremely fertile; but there are large swamps created by the frequent inundations of the river, rendering the climate in parts extremely unhealthy. Agriculture is the most important occupation, the principal products being grain, fruit, flax, hemp and wine, and the leading exports, grain, wine, fruit, cattle, lumber and the celebrated Slivovitz brandy, distilled from plums. The inhabitants are chiefly Serbs and profess for the greater part the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox faith. The chief town is Eszek. With Croatia it had a national Landtag or Diet and sent representatives to the Hungarian Parliament. The population of Croatia and Slavonia is about 2,600,000.

As part of Illyricum, Slavonia was acquired by the Romans in the reign of Augustus and was incorporated with the province of Pannonia. From the Byzantines it was wrested in the 5th and 6th centuries by the invading Slavic tribes, from which time dates its close union with the country to the west which came to be known as Croatia. The united state was ruled by princes of the Hungarian royal house till the early part of the 16th century, when Slavonia was overrun by the Turks. They were driven out at the end of the following century and the territory was organized on a military basis for the defense of the Austrian frontier. Part of Slavonia was placed under civil administration in 1745, but the military frontier was not done away with until 1873. The two provinces had autonomy for home affairs, public instruction and justice. At the Jugoslav Convention held in Geneva in November 1918 a national government representing all Jugoslav provinces was constituted and Slavonia became a part of the new state. See Jugoslavia; Austria-Hungary; Croatia-Slavonia.