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Herzegovina (Bosnian, Croatian: Hercegovina, Serbian: Херцеговина, English ( or ), ) is the southern region of Bosnia-Herzegovinamarker, comprising 11,419 sq km or around 22% of the total area of the present-day country. In other sources it comprises 12,276 sq km, this constitutes 24% of Bosnia and Herzegovina. There is no official border distinguishing it from the Bosnian region, though it is generally accepted that the borders of the region are Croatiamarker to the west, Montenegromarker to the south, the canton boundaries of the Herzegovina-Neretva Cantonmarker in the east and Gornji Vakuf-Uskopljemarker in the north.

The name Herzegovina means "duke's land", referring to the medieval duchy of Herceg Stjepan. Herceg is derived from the German title Herzog.


The population of Herzegovina throughout history has been ethnically mixed, however the recent war resulted in mass ethnic cleansing and large-scale displacement of peoples. The last pre-war census in 1991, recorded a population of 437,095 inhabitants.

Bosnian Croats generally populate the areas closest to the Croatian border focused on Mostarmarker and Tomislavgradmarker. The Bosniak population mainly lives in the areas along the Neretvamarker River, including the cities of Konjicmarker and Jablanicamarker. The eastern parts (centered on Trebinjemarker) are mainly populated by Bosnian Serbs.


In the early Middle Ages, the territory of modern Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker was divided into many smaller more or less independent territories. Herzegovina encompasses the regions then known as the Land of Hum or Zahumlje and Travunija, through the late Middle Ages belonging to the Serbianmarker kings of the Nemanjić dynasty. The westernmost parts of Herzegovina belonged to the Kingdom of Croatia until its union with Kingdom of Hungary in 1102. Bosnian Ban Stjepan II Kotromanić and King Tvrtko I Kotromanić adjoined these regions to the Bosnian state in the 14th century.

Following the weakening of the Bosnian crown after the death of Tvrtko I, powerful noblemen of the Bosnian Kosača family, Grand Duke Sandalj Hranić and his nephew, Herzog Stefan Vukčić, ruled the Hum region independently, only nominally recognizing the overlordship of the Bosnian kings. In a document sent to Frederick III on January 20, 1448, Bosnian duke Stjepan Vukčić Kosača called himself Herzog (duke) of Saint Sava, lord of Hum and Primorje, great duke of the Bosnian kingdom and so the lands he controlled became (much later) known as Herzog’s lands or Herzegovina.
In 1482, the lands of Herzog Stefan's successors were occupied by Ottoman forces. In the Ottoman Empire, Herzegovina was organized as a county (sanjak) within the province (pashaluk) of Bosnia. From 1833 to 1851, Herzegovina was a separate pashaluk ruled by vizier Ali-paša Rizvanbegović. After his death, the pashaluks of Bosnia and Herzegovina were merged. The new joint entity was after 1853 commonly referred to as Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker. Throughout the mid-19th century, Herzegovina was a target of expansion of the young Montenegrinmarker state in the name of the liberation of the Serbianmarker people from Ottoman rule. Herzegovinian Serbs and Croats actively participated in the Montenegrin efforts to liberate them and to that end, they frequently rose in rebellion against the Ottoman rule. These efforts culminated in 1875 and 1876, during the Nevesinjska puška uprising. Montenegro did succeed in liberating and annexing large parts of Herzegovina before the Berlin Congress of 1878, including the Niksic area.

In 1878, Herzegovina, along with Bosnia, was occupied by Austria-Hungary, only nominally remaining under Ottoman rule. This caused great resentment among its populace which resisted the invaders in small flare-ups of rebellious activity that ended in 1882. The Serbian population of Herzegovina and Bosnia had hoped that the province would be divided and annexed to Serbia and Montenegro. The occupation caused a temporary rift in the Serbo-Austrian relations and threatened to grow into an open conflict.

In 1908, Austria-Hungary annexed the province, leading to the Bosnian Crisis, an international dispute that almost started a world war. The assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand came as a result of the resentment of the Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Austro-Hungarian rule.

During World War I, Herzegovina was a scene of inter-ethnic conflict. During the war, the Austro-Hungarian government formed Šuckori, Muslim and Croat militia units. Šuckori units were especially active in Herzegovina.

In 1918, Herzegovina became a part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker (later renamed Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker). In 1941 Herzegovina fell once again under the rule of a Croatian state, Independent State of Croatia. From 1941 to 1945, Herzegovina was a battle ground for conflicts between Croatian Ustaše, Serbian Chetniks, and the pan-Yugoslav Partisans. In 1945, Bosnia and Herzegovina became one of the republics of SFR Yugoslaviamarker. It remained so until the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

Political status

In the modern Bosnian-Herzegovinian state, Herzegovina is divided between two entities, Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (see Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and History of Bosnia and Herzegovina). Republika Srpska's part of Herzegovina, commonly referred to as East Herzegovina or, as of late, Trebinje Region is administratively divided into municipalities of Trebinjemarker, Bilećamarker, Gackomarker, Nevesinjemarker, Ljubinjemarker, Berkovićimarker, Istočni Mostarmarker and Fočamarker. Within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Herzegovina is administratively divided between the cantons of Herzegovina-Neretvamarker, West Herzegovinamarker and includes part of Canton 10marker.


Herzegovina in spring
The terrain of Herzegovina is mostly hilly karst with high mountains in the north such as Cvrsnica and Prenj, except for the central valley of the river Neretvamarker. The largest city is Mostarmarker, in the center of the region. Other larger towns include Stolacmarker, Trebinjemarker, Široki Brijegmarker, Konjicmarker and Čapljinamarker. Borders between Bosnia and Herzegovina are unclear and often disputed.

The upper flow of the river Neretva lies in the northern parts of Herzegovina, a heavily forested area with fast flowing rivers and high mountains. Towns like Konjic and Jablanica lie in this area, considered by many the most beautiful part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

River Neretvamarker rises on Lebršnik Mountain, close to the border to Montenegromarker, and as the river flows towards west, it enters Herzegovina. The entire upper catchment of Neretva constitutes a precious ecoregion with many endemic and endangered species. Fast flowing emerald river carves its way through the precipitius karst terrain, providing excellent opportunities for rafting and kayaking, while the spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains and forests is a challenging hiking terrain.

Neretva's tributaries in the upper flow are mostly short, due to the mountainous terrain: Notably river Rakitnica has cut a deep canyon, its mystical waters being one of the least explored areas in this part of Europe. River Rakitnica flows into Neretva upstream from Konjic.

Neretva then flows towards northwest, through the town of Konjic. The river enters the artificial Jablanica Lake ("Jablaničko jezero"), one of the biggest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The lake ends near the town of Jablanica, famous for the Battle of Neretva, marking a crucial victory of Yugoslav Partisans over the German army and its quisling allies during World War II. From here on, Neretva turns southward continuing its course towards the Adriatic Seamarker.

With mountains lining its shores gradually receding, Neretva enters a valley where the city of Mostarmarker lies. It flows under the famous old bridge Stari mostmarker and continues now more widely flowing towards the town of Čapljina and the Neretva delta in Croatia before emptying into the Adriatic Sea.


There are several famous cities in Herzegovina, Mostarmarker is the most famous city and unofficial capital, but also the only city with over 100,000 citizens. There are no other big cities in Herzegovina but they are historical and famous nonetheless.Stolacmarker, for example is maybe the oldest city in Herzegovina. There have been settlements dating from paleolithic period (Badanj cave), Ilyric tribe lived in city Daorson, there have been also several Roman settlements alongside Bregava river and medieval habitants have left us largest and most beautiful stone grave monuments called stećak in Radimlja. Trebinjemarker is the southernmost city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the border with Montenegromarker, and this beautiful city is a historical city on the river Trebišnjica. Čapljinamarker and Ljubuškimarker are famous for their history and rivers; village of Međugorjemarker is famous for its religious importance for many Croats and Catholics. Konjicmarker and Jablanica become famous during World War II, and other cities in Herzegovina are: Prozor, Široki Brijegmarker, Posušjemarker, Čitlukmarker, Grudemarker, Nevesinjemarker, Ulog, Gackomarker, Bilećamarker, Ljubinjemarker, Ravnomarker and the coastal town of Neummarker.


In Herzegovina there are many beautiful and famous natural landmarks,such as the falls of Kravica. These consist of several waterfalls near the city of Ljubuški and a popular spot for the local people, to take a bath in the hot Herzegovinian weather, or just to enjoy the view.

The Hutovo Blatomarker is a bird reserve, one of the most important in Europe and a gathering place for many international ornithologists.

Vjetrenicamarker cave is a cave system near the border with Croatia, in the Ravno municipality. The cave has not been explored totally yet but it is open for visitors. More and more species are being discovered there and it is a unique ecosystem with cave animals and other interesting things.

The mouth of Blagaj is also famous as the origin of the river Bunamarker, inside a cave system.

Neummarker at the Adriatic Sea, Bosnia and Herzegovina's only coastal town, is also a popular tourist attraction.


Image:Mostarbridge2004.jpg|The "Old Bridge" ("Stari most") in Mostarmarker, rebuilt in 2004.Image:NeumCoastBH.jpg|Neummarker and the Herzegovinian coast.Image:Pocitelj.PNG|Počiteljmarker, Old townImage:IMG_0899.jpg|Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, near the mountain IvanImage:Trebinjeview.jpg|TrebinjemarkerImage:Neretva in Mostar.JPG|River Neretvamarker in Mostarmarker, 2004

See also


  2. Administrativno uređenje Hercegovine od 1945. do 1952. godine by Adnan Velagić, published in Most - časopis za obrazovanje, nauku i kulturu, No. 191, Year 2005 (october), pp. 82-84. ISSN 0350-6517
  4. Ekonomska regija Hercegovina, Regionalna razvojna agencija za Hercegovinu (REDAH) in conjunction with the EU RED Project, Bosnia and Herzegovina, November, 2004, pp 24-26

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