The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in Romania (the counties of Timiş, Caraş-Severin, Arad south of the Mures/Maros river, and Mehedinţi), the western part in Serbia (the Serbian Banat, mostly included in the Vojvodina region, except for a small part included in Central Serbia), and a small northern part in Hungary (Csongrád county). It's populated by Serbs, Romanians, Hungarians, Roma, Germans, Krashovans, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Czechs and by many other in smaller number. People who live in Banat are called Banatians.
The Banat is a part of the Pannonian plain bordered by the River Danube to the south, the River Tisza (Theiss, Tissa, Tisa) to the west, the River Mureş to the north, and the Southern Carpathian Mountains to the east. Its historical capital was Timişoara, now in Timiş county in Romania.
The word "ban" is of Slavic origin meaning lord or governor or viceroy. Thus, Banat may be translated loosely as "province". In the 1920s and 30's the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was divided into several banovinas: Zeta, Drinska, Savska, Moravaska etc.
There were several banats in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, such as the banats of Dalmatia, Slavonia, Bosnia, and Croatia; these disappeared during the course of the Ottoman wars in Europe. But when the word is used without any other qualification, it indicates the Banat of Temeswar, which strangely acquired this title after the 1718 Treaty of Passarowitz, though it was never governed by a ban.
The name of the Banat is similar in the languages of the region; Romanian: Banat, Serbian: Банат (Banat), Hungarian: Bánát or Bánság, German: Banat, Turkish: Banat, Slovak: Banát, Banat Bulgarian: Banát, and Standard Bulgarian: Банат (Banat).
The area of the Temes river was not the land of the Magyar royal tribe, and from the middle of the 10th century - the weakening of the royal rule - the local tribes began to pursue a more and more independent foreign policy. As a consequence, in the eastern part of the Carpathian basin, the Byzantine rite started to gain ground. This was halted with the establishment of the Hungarian kingdom, and István I's country-unitive efforts, who made the last tribal leader, Ajtony (Ahtum in other sources) bow. In the 14th century, the region became a number one priority, as the southern border of the Banat was the most important defensive line against Ottoman expansion.
The Banat was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1552, and became an Ottoman eyalet (province) named the Eyalet of Temeşvar. Due to the continuous Ottoman raids and resulting destruction, most of the local Hungarian population fled to the north or were killed, and Serbs and Vlachs migrated to the area. Since the 16th century, the Banat region was mainly populated by Rascians (Serbs) and Vlachs (Romanians); thus, in some historical sources it was referred to as Rascia and in others Wallachia. In 1594, Serbs in Banat started a large uprising against Ottoman rule. The Romanians also participated in this uprising.
In the 17th century, parts of the Banat were incorporated into the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria. In 1716, Prince Eugene of Savoy took the last parts of the Banat from the Ottomans. It received the title of the Banat of Temeswar after the Treaty of Passarowitz (1718), and remained a separate province in the Habsburg Monarchy under military administration until 1751, when Empress Maria Theresa of Austria introduced a civil administration. The Banat of Temeswar province was abolished in 1778. The southern part of the Banat region remained within the Military Frontier (Banat Krajina) until the Frontier was abolished in 1871.
During the Ottoman rule, parts of Banat had a low population density after years of warfare, and much of the area was nearly uninhabited marsh, heath, and forest. Count Claudius Mercy (1666-1734), who was appointed governor of the Banat of Temeswar in 1720, took numerous measures for the regeneration of the Banat. The marshes near the Danube and Tisza rivers were cleared, roads and canals were built at great expense of labour, German artisans and other settlers were attracted to colonize the district, and agriculture and trade encouraged.
Maria Theresa also took a great interest in the Banat; she colonized the region with large numbers of German peasants, encouraged the exploitation of the mineral wealth of the country, and generally developed the measures introduced by Mercy. German settlers arrived from Swabia, Alsace and Bavaria, as well as people from Austria. Many settlements in the eastern Banat thus were mostly German-inhabited. The ethnic Germans in the Banat region became known as the Danube Swabians, or Donauschwaben. Some of them, coming from French-speaking or linguistically mixed communes in Lorraine, maintained for some generations the French language, and a specific ethnic identity, later labelled as Banat French, Français du Banat. Hungarians were not allowed to settle down in Banat after the colonization for a long time.
In 1779, the Banat region was incorporated back into Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary, and the three counties Torontál, Temes and Krassó were created. In 1848, the western Banat became part of the Serbian Vojvodina, a Serbian autonomous region within the Habsburg Monarchy. During the Revolutions of 1848–1849, the Banat was respectively occupied by Serbian and Hungarian troops. The date also started expandment of Greater Serbian propaganda against the Banatians.
After the Revolution of 1848–1849, the Banat (together with Syrmia and Bačka) was made into a separate Austrian crownland known as the Voivodship of Serbia and Tamiš Banat, but, in 1860 this province was abolished and incorporated again into Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary.
After 1871, the former Military Frontier located in southern parts of the Banat came under civil administration and was incorporated into the Banat counties. Krassó and Szörény were united into Krassó-Szörény in 1881.
In 1918, the Banat Republic was proclaimed in Timişoara in October, and the government of Hungary recognized its independence. However, it was short-lived. After just two weeks, Serbian troops invaded the country, and that was the end of the Banat Republic.
In 1918 and 1919, most of the Banat became part of Romania (Krassó-Szörény completely, two-thirds of Temes, and a small part of Torontál). The southwestern part (most of Torontál, one-third of Temes) became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (which became Yugoslavia). A small area near Szeged became part of newly independent Hungary. These borders were confirmed by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles and the 1920 Treaty of Trianon.
The territory of the Banat is presently part of the Romanian counties Timiş, Caraş-Severin, Arad and Mehedinţi, the Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodina and Belgrade City District, and the Hungarian Csongrád County.
In 1938, the counties of Timiş-Torontal, Caraş, Severin, Arad, and Hunedoara were joined to form Ţinutul Timiş, which encompassed the Romanian Banat.
In 1956, the southern half of the existing Arad Region was incorporated to the Timişoara Region.
In December 1960, the Timişoara Region was named the Banat Region.
Since 1998, Romania has been split into eight development regions, which act as a form of territorial autonomy divisions. The Vest development region is composed of four counties: Arad, Timiş, Hunedoara, and Caraş-Severin; thus it has almost same borders as the Timiş Province of 1929. The Vest development region is also a part of the Danube-Kris-Mures-Tisa Euroregion. A minority of Hungarians make up 5.6% of the population.
The Romanian Banat is mountainous in the south and southeast, while in the north, west and south-west it is flat and in some places marshy. The climate, except in the marshy parts, is generally healthy. Wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, flax, hemp and tobacco are grown in large quantities, and the products of the vineyards are of a good quality. Game is plentiful and the rivers swarm with fish. The mineral wealth is great, including copper, tin, lead, zinc, iron and especially coal. Amongst its numerous mineral springs, the most important are those of Mehadia, with sulphurous waters, which were already known in the Roman period as the Termae Herculis (Băile Herculane). The present "Banat Region" of Romania includes some areas that are mountainous and were not part of the historical Banat or of the Pannonian plain.
The Serbian Banat (Western Banat) was part of Serbian Vojvodina (1848-1849) and part of the Voivodship of Serbia and Tamiš Banat (1849-1860). After 1860, the Serbian Banat was part of Torontál and Temes counties of Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary. The center of Torontál county was Veliki Bečkerek, the current Zrenjanin.
The region was county of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes between 1918 and 1922 (in 1918-1919, county was part of the province of Banat, Bačka and Baranja) and from 1922 to 1929 it was divided between Belgrade oblast and Podunavlje oblast. In 1929, most of the region was incorporated into the Danube Banovina (Danubian Banat), a province of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, while the city of Pančevo was incorporated into self-governed Belgrade district.
Between 1941 and 1944, the Serbian Banat was occupied by the World War II Axis powers. Formally it was part of Serbia, but it actually was a virtually separate autonomous region ruled by its German minority. Since 1945, the Serbian Banat (together with Bačka and Syrmia), has been part of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, first as part of the Second and Third Yugoslavias, then as part of Serbia and Montenegro, and, since 2006, as part of an independent Serbia.
In Serbia, the Banat is mostly plains. Wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, hemp and sunflower are grown, and mineral wealth consists of oil and natural gas. A popular tourist destination in the Banat is Deliblatska Peščara. There is also a sizeable Hungarian minority, which makes up 10.21% of the population.
The districts of Serbia in Banat are:
See also: Geographical regions in Serbia
In 1743–1753, ethnic composition of Banat looked as follows:
According to 1774 data, the population of the Banat of Temeswar numbered 375,740 people and was composed of:
In 1900, the population of Banat numbered 1,431,329 people, including:
(*) Note: according to the 1910 census, the population of Romanian Banat included 52.6% Romanians, 25.6% Germans, 12.2% Hungarians, and 4.9% Serbs, while population of Serbian Banat included 40.53% Serbs, 22.14% Germans, 19.18% Hungarians, 12.94% Romanians, and 2.86% Slovaks. In Serbia the German population mostly fled or was expelled from the region after World War II, as a consequence of war time events. In Romania they mostly migrated after 1989 from economic reasons.
The historical population of the Banat region in different time periods:
|1880||744,367||426,368 (57.3%)||37,586 (5.0%)||202,698 (27.2%)||46,983 (6.3%)||n/a|
|1890||812,799||446,816 (55.0%)||50,899 (6.3%)||233,006 (29.9%)||41,356 (5.1%)||n/a|
|1900||871,598||468,508 (53.8%)||78,656 (9.0%)||243,582 (27.9%)||41,960 (4.8%)||n/a|
|1910||902,210||474,787 (52.6%)||109,873 (12.2%)||231,391 (25.6%)||44,598 (4.9%)||n/a|
|1920||822,639||450,817 (54.8%)||79,955 (9.7%)||208,774 (25.4%)||n/a||n/a|
|1930||878,877||473,781 (53.9%)||91,421 (10.4%)||215,031 (24.5%)||37,113 (4.2%)||16,471 (1.9%)|
|1941||898,262||505,448 (56.3%)||80,575 (9.0%)||213,840 (23.8%)||n/a||n/a|
|1956||896,668||589,369 (65.7%)||85,790 (9.6%)||137,697 (15.4%)||40,018 (4.5%)||9,309 (1.0%)|
|1966||966,322||674,062 (69.8%)||85,358 (8.8%)||133,197 (13.8%)||38,535 (4.0%)||6,769 (0.7%)|
|1977||1,082,461||796,007 (73.5%)||86,763 (8.0%)||119,972 (11.1%)||29,514 (2.7%)||15,755 (1.5%)|
|1992||1,076,380||886,958 (82.4%)||70,742 (6.6%)||38,658 (3.6%)||25,029 (2.3%)||22,612 (2.1%)|
|2002||1,011,145||859,690 (85.0%)||56,380 (5.6%)||20,323 (2.0%)||19,355 (1.9%)||23,998 (2.4%)|
|1910||566,400||229,568 (40.5%)||108,622 (19.2%)||125,374 (22.1%)||73,303 (12.9%)||16,223 (2,9%)|
|1921||559,096||235,148 (42.1%)||98,463 (17.6%)||126,519 (22.6%)||66,433 (11,9%)||17,595 (3,2%)|
|1931||585,579||261,123 (44,6%)||95,867 (16,4%)||120,541 (20,6%)||62,365 (10,7%)||17,900 (2,1%)|
|1948||601,626||358,067 (59,6%)||110,446 (18,4%)||17,522 (2,9%)||55,678 (9,3%||20,685 (2,4%)|
|1953||617,163||374,258 (60,6%)||112,683 (18,4%)||n/a||55,094 (8,9%)||21,299 (3,4%)|
|1961||655,868||423,837 (64,6%)||111,944 (17,1%)||n/a||54,447 (8,3%)||22,306 (3,4%)|
|1971||666,559||434,810 (65,2%)||103,090 (15.5%)||n/a||49,455 (7,4%)||22,173 (3,3%)|
|1981||672,884||424,765 (65,7%||90,445 (14,0%)||n/a||43,474(6,7%)||21,392 (3,3%)|
|1991||648,390||423,475 (65,1%)||76,153 (11.7%)||n/a||35,935 (5,5%)||19,903 (3.1%)|
|2002||665,397||477,890 (71.8%)||63,047 (9.5%)||908 (0,1%)||27,661 (4,1%)||17,994 (2,7%)|