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Vukovar's main street with obvious damage from the shellings during the war
Vukovar is a city and municipality in eastern Croatiamarker, and the biggest river port in Croatia located at the confluence of the Vukamarker river and the Danube. Vukovar is the center of the Vukovar-Srijem countymarker. The city's registered population was 30,126 in the 2001 census, with 31,670 in the municipality.


The name Vukovar (Serbian Cyrillic: Вуковар) (Vukovár, Valkóvár, Вуковар) means "the town on the river Vuka" ('Vuko' from the river Vuka, and 'vár' from the Hungarian word for 'castle'). The name of the river Vuka itself originates from the Slavic word 'vuk', meaning 'wolf'.


It is located east of Vinkovcimarker, southeast of Osijekmarker with the elevation of . Vukovar is located on the main road (M7) Osijekmarker —Vukovar—Ilokmarker and on the Vinkovcimarker—Vukovar railway. Vukovar was formerly a larger municipality, but after the war it was divided into several municipalities.


The municipality contains the villages of Lipovača, Sotin, and Grabovo.


Early history

Slavic tribes settled in this area in the 6th century. In the 9th century, the region was part of the Slavic Balaton Principality ruled by prince Pribina, part of the Pannonian Croatia ruled by prince Ljudevit, and part of the Bulgarian Empire, while in the 11th-12th century, the region was part of the Kingdom of Croatia, while from the 13th to 20th century was part of the Hungarian Kingdom.

Vukovar was mentioned first in the 13th century as Volko, Walk, Wolkov (original Croatian/Slavic name of the town was Vukovo). Since the 14th century, the most common name used for the town was Vukovár. In the Hungarian Kingdom, Vukovár was a seat of the Szerém (Syrmia) county, which was located between rivers Drava and Sava. In the 16th-17th century, the town was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. In the end of the Ottoman rule, its population numbered about 3,000 inhabitants.

Since the end of the 17th century, Vukovar was part of the Habsburg Monarchy and was included into Kingdom of Slavonia, a Habsburg province that formally was part of both, the Kingdom of Croatia and the Kingdom of Hungary. During this time, Vukovar was a seat of the Syrmia county. Since 1868, when the Kingdom of Slavonia and the Kingdom of Croatia were joined into the single Kingdom called Croatia-Slavonia, Vukovar was part of this kingdom. In 1910, the population of Vukovar numbered 10,359 people, including 4,092 (39.50%) Croats, 3,503 (33.80%) Germans, 1,628 (15.70%) Serbs, 954 (9.20%) Hungarians, and 183 (1.80%) others.

Since 1918, Vukovar was part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenesmarker (later known as Yugoslavia). Between 1918 and 1922, Vukovar was administrative seat of Syrmia (Szerém) county, and between 1922 and 1929 administrative seat of Syrmia oblast. Since 1929, it was part of the Sava Banovina, and since 1939 part of the Banovina of Croatia. Between 1941 and 1944, Vukovar was part of the Independent State of Croatiamarker. During World War II the city was bombed by the Allies. In 2008 an unexploded bomb was found in the city from this period. From 1945, it was part of the People's Republic of Croatia within new socialist Yugoslaviamarker.

Vukovar during the Croatian War of Independence

The water tower in Vukovar, 2005.
Heavily damaged in the battle, it has been preserved as a symbol of the town's suffering.
Vukovar was completely devastated during the Croatian War of Independence. The town had for months warded off the JNA-supported Serb military attacks on the city. 2,000 self-organised defenders (the army of Croatia was still in an embryonic stage at that time) defended the city for approximately 87 days against approx. 36 000 JNA (Serbian) troops aided with 110 vehicles and tanks, and dozens of planes when it was eventually overrun, with the city destroyed almost beyond recognition. It is estimated that 2,000 defenders of Vukovar and civilians were killed, 800 went missing and 22,000 civilians were killed or forced into exile.

Vukovar is notorious for the devastation it suffered, the worst in Europe since World War II, drawing comparisons with the World War II-era Stalingradmarker, although Vukovar was on a much smaller scale. The watertower riddled with bullet holes, was retained by city planners to serve as a testimony to the events of the early 1990s.

On 18 November 2006 approximately 25,000 people from all over the country gathered in Vukovar for the 15th anniversary of the fall of the city, where they commemorated those who were killed. A museum dedicated to the siege was opened in the basement of the hospital that was attacked, which has now been rebuilt.

On 27 September 2007, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslaviamarker convicted two former Yugoslav Army officers and acquitted a third of involvement in the hospital massacre.

The story of Vukovar is now the subject of a major international feature film. [22978]


Vukovar municipality within Vukovar-Syrmia County, 2001
In the years from 1948 until 1991 Vukovar's population increased quickly due to industrial development. Primarily it was immigration that fed the growth in the Vukovar region and in the town particularly. The region's population distribution changed notably too when the town of Ilokmarker ( ) became the second largest town in the region.

The Croats were in the majority in most villages and in the region's eastern part, whereas the Serbs dominated in northwest. Vukovar's population was ethnically mixed and had 28 ethnic groups before the war.

Since the boundaries of the municipality have changed a few times, there are significant differences in the population census between '61 and '71, and '91 and '01.

Year of census total Croats Serbs Others
1961 54,707 24,527 (44.83%) 22,774 (41.63%) 7,406 (13.54%)
1971 76,602 34,629 (45.21%) 28,470 (37.17%) 13,593 (17.09%)
1981 81,203 30,157 (37.14%) 25,146 (30.97%) 25,903 (31.89%)
1991 84,024 36,910 (43.93%) 31,910 (37.98%) 15,204 (18.09%)
2001 31,670 18,199 (57.46%) 10,412 (32.88%) 3,059 (9.66%)

In 2001, the municipality of Vukovar had a population of 31,670 people, including:

Particularly since the war in Croatia, much of the native Croat population has moved to other areas of Croatia or emigrated to Western Europe (notably Germanymarker) or Austriamarker and many Serbs have either moved to Serbiamarker or to Canadamarker and Western Europe.

Fifteen years after the war, in 2006, the city's ethnic makeup shows equal percentages of Serb and Croat residents. The city remains very divided, as a deeper sense of reconciliation has failed to take root. The ethnic communities remain separated by mistrust, divided institutions and disappointment. Separate schooling for Croat and Serb children remains in place. Incidents involving Croats and Serbs occur regularly, and public spaces have become identified not by the services they offer but by the ethnicity of those who gather there. Even coffee shops are identified as Serb or Croat.


Vukovar is the largest Croatian town and river port on the Danube. Its economy is based on trade, farming, viticulture, livestock breeding, textile and food-processing industry, footwear industry and tourism.

Following the end of the war, much of the infrastructure in Vukovar remains unrestored and unemployment is estimated to stand at 40 per cent.

Cultural heritage

Among a number of attractive buildings, severely damaged in the recent war, the most interesting are the Eltz Manormarker of the Eltz noble family from 18th century, Baroque buildings in the centre of the town, the Franciscan monastery, the parish church of St. James, the Orthodox church of St. Nicholas, the birth house of the Nobel prize winner Lavoslav Ružička, etc. Since 1998 and peaceful reintegration under Croatian control, many buildings have been rebuilt, but there are many ruins still in the town.

Outside the town, on the banks of the Danube toward Ilokmarker (Újlak), lies a notable archaeological site, Vučedolmarker. The ritual vessel called the Vučedol Dove (vučedolska golubica) is considered the symbol of Vukovar. Vučedol is also a well-known excursion destination, frequented by anglers and bathers, especially the beautiful sand beach on Orlov Otok (Eagle's Island).

Sports and recreational opportunities are provided at the attractive confluence of the Vukamarker river into the Danube, on the promenades along the Danube and maintained beaches. Bathing is possible in the summer months. Angling is very popular both on the Vukamarker and the Danube (catfish, European perch, carp, pike, sterlet).


Vukovar has seven primary schools and five high schools (including one gymnasium and one music school). The city is also home to the Lavoslav Ružička polytechnic, which offers study opportunities in the fields of economics and trade, law and kinesitherapy. Additionally, the University of Splitmarker runs dislocated studies in information technology, economics and law in Vukovar. Similarly, the University of Osijek offers programmes in economics and law.

Famous people from Vukovar

Twin cities


External links

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