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This article is about the geographical region. For the administrative division, see Šumadija District.
Geographic region of Serbia
Relief map
Relief map
Country  Serbia
Largest city Kragujevac
 • Total 1,407,143

Šumadija (pronounced [ʃumǎdija], Serbian Cyrillic: Шумадија) is a geographical region in the central part of Serbia. The area used to be heavily covered with forests, hence the name (from šuma 'forest'). The city of Kragujevac is the center of the region, and the administrative center of the Šumadija District in the Šumadija and Western Serbia statistical region.

The region is very fertile, and it is known for its abundance in fruits.


Šumadija received it's name from the dense and impassable forests which covered the region, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries. These forests were preserved until the early 19th century; they are mentioned in literature and tradition. Bertrandon de la Broquière (1400–1459) passed through Serbia, on the road from Palanka to Belgrade he "passed through very large forests". During the reign of Prince Miloš (1817–1839), Serbia was covered with dense forests, through which "no one could walk through, let alone with horse". When Alphonse de Lamartine took a trip to Serbia (1833), he described the forests as "like he was in the middle of the North American forests". In the Jasenica villages a tradition was maintained "that everywhere there were empty forests, and settlers called relatives to come and occupy the land how much they want ... the forests were in need of cutting down trees and burning for years ... it was so impassable, that one could walk for days through it, without seeing the sun".[1]

The inhabitants of the region received the demonym, Šumadinci, which is used for the inhabitants between Morava in the east, Kolubara in the west, and the mountains of Crni Vrh, Kotlenik and Rudnik in the southeast, south and southwest. The inhabitants outside these border call this population Šumadinci.[1]


Šumadija is located between rivers Sava and Danube in the north, river Great Morava in the east, river West Morava in the south, and Kolubara, Ljig and Dičina in the west.[2] According to some interpretations (for example, physiologist J. Cvijić and ethnologist J. Erdeljanović), the northern border of Šumadija lay between Avala and Kosmaj mountain.[3] According to that view, the capital of Serbia, Belgrade does not belong to this region.

Central Šumadija is well known for its rich horticulture, with major products being plums, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, nuts, cherries, strawberries, and raspberries.[4]

The geological region of Šumadija includes formations of enhanced uranium, such as the Brajkovac granitic massif, and volcanites of Medvednjak, Rudnik[disambiguation needed] and Borac[disambiguation needed], with high average instance of uranium and thorium.[5]



Archaeological sites of the Neolithic Starčevo culture and Vinča culture (5500–4500 BC) are widespread in Šumadija.[6] Settlements of the late Starčevo phase are present in the entiry territory of central Šumadija. Notable sites include Grivac and Kusovac in the west, Divostin in the middle, and Dobrovodica and Rajac in the east.[7]

Middle Ages[edit]

Slavs settled the Balkans in the 6th and 7th century. In the early 9th century, the region was part of the tribe of Merehani (or "Moravians", not to be confused with that of Great Moravia in Central Europe). In 844, the Bavarian Geographer mentioned the Merehani as bordering the Franks furthest away.[8] They lived in the Morava river basin valleys and were still unconquered by the Bulgars.[8] However, after 845, the Bulgars added these Slavs to their societas (they are last mentioned in 853).[8] Šumadija was located directly northeast of Raška, the centre of the Serbian Principality. It is unclear where the exact border with the Bulgarian Khanate went in the 10th century. Prince Zaharija is known to have united several Slavic tribes along the common border to rebel against Bulgaria in the 920s. Časlav (r. 927–960), and Constantine Bodin (r. 1081–1101), may have held parts of Šumadija. The southern half of Šumadija later came under the rule of Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja and the Nemanjić dynasty (1166–1371).

Central Šumadija's three parts – Gruža, Jasenica and Lepenica, most likely existed as administrative divisions or župe (counties) during the Byzantine era. Of these, Gruža was mentioned in the beginning of the 11thc entury as a peripherial province. The province of Lepenica, with the status of župa, officially entered the realm of Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja in 1183, and later Nemanja granted it as property to his endowment, the Hilandar monastery (see metochion), which he confirmed in the 1198 chrysobull.

Early modern history[edit]

Sunflower fields in Šumadija.

Until the fall of the Serbian Despotate, the region was advanced, rich and well-populated. This stands out from the travellers that passed through Šumadija in that period. Many topographic names that have survived until today confirm old settlements, churches and monasteries (selište, crkvine, manastirine, kućerine, podrumine, varoševo, etc.), as does old graveyards and other traces. After the fall of the Despotate, opportunities changed. The Ottoman invasion and the events that took place in Šumadija up until the early 19th century were the primary cause for the population motion. Removing themselves ahead of the Ottomans, they left their homes, concealed themselves up in the mountains and ravines, or left in different directions. Settlements disappeared, the churches and monasteries were destroyed, and the population numbers constantly decreased. One traveller, Gerlach, described the path from Batočina to Palanka: "I couldn't find no trace of settlements or culture, everywhere there is wasteland, not a single piece of land has been cultivated, there is not a single village".[9]

Pavle Bakić, who had estates on the Venčac, left between 1515 and 1522 "with a large group of people into Hungary". Schweiger, who passed through Serbia in 1577, among other things, said that he travelled from Kolar "[through] a deserted region, scarcely settled and badly processed, in three days not having seen more than five poor villages". In groups, or individually, families left their homeland and went in different directions, over (preko) the rivers, to Syrmia, Banat, Bačka and Slavonia, to Bosnia, and other regions. This flight lasted until the end of the 18th century, then again, after 1813. During the Austro-Turkish War (1787–91), in 1788, the population of the Šumadija villages Koraćice, Nemenikuća and Rogače fled preko. Among them were Milovan Vidaković, who described their way: "we are watching the villages through which and along which we passed, all are already covered in grass, not a living soul in them, all has gone; vineyards, gardens, flats, it's all empty and lying in weeds". More flights ensued after 1813. For example, the parents of activist Ilija Milosavljević-Kolarac fled preko with the rest of the peasants in 1813, to take shelter in front of the Ottoman army. In Orašac they crossed the Danube and settled in Crepaja, from where they later returned to their homes.[9]

In addition to population emigration, there was also immigration, more or less, depending on the circumstance which prevailed in Šumadija. However, after the Austro-Turkish War, after the establishment of Koča's frontier, when Šumadija had a more bearable situation, it saw an increasing influx of settlers with its height after the outbreak of the First Serbian Uprising (1804). In the first decades of the 19th century Šumadija received most of its population. A liberated region, fruitful, and until then sparsely populated, it attracted settlers.[10]

During the 18th century, the forests and hills of Šumadija were the refuge for the hajduk bands (brigands, rebels, guerilla fighters) that fought against Ottoman occupation. Parts of the Sanjak of Smederevo, all of Šumadija, were liberated by the Austrian army in 1718, resulting in the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbia (1718–39). After the Austro-Russian–Turkish War (1735–39), the sanjak was re-established. In 1788, the Habsburg-organized Serbian Free Corps liberated Šumadija, which, after subsequent Austrian military involvement, came together with the rest of the sanjak under Habsburg occupation (1788–92). The First Serbian Uprising, which broke out in 1804, saw the region liberated under self-organized Serbian rebels led by Šumadijan-born Karađorđe, the national hero of Serbia. The Second Serbian Uprising in 1815 was led by Miloš Obrenović who successfully repelled Ottoman forces and, by 1830, gained full autonomy for Serbia, leading to the independence of central Serbia after several centuries under Ottoman rule.


Between 1922 and 1929, one of the administrative units in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was the Šumadijska Oblast. It roughly included territory of present-day Šumadija District with its administrative seat in Kragujevac, which is the seat of the modern district as well.


Cities and towns[edit]

Map of Šumadija region with cities and towns.

This section includes towns with a population larger than 16,000.

Cities (with urban pop.):



The most common folk costume of Serbia is that of Šumadija.[11] It includes the national hat, the Šajkača,[12][13] and the traditional leather footwear, opanci.[14] Older villagers still wear their traditional costumes.[11]

The fertile region of Šumadija is particularly known for its plums and Slivovitz (Šljivovica), plum brandy, the national drink of Serbia. Plum and its products are of great importance to Serbs and part of numerous customs. Serbia is the largest exporter of Slivovitz in the world, and second largest plum producer in the world.


Studies by J. Cvijić[edit]

In the Šumadija regions – Kačer, Gruža, Lepenica, Kragujevačka Jasenica, Smederevsko Podunavlje and Jasenici, Kosmaj and in the villages around Belgrade, 8,894 kin families with 52,475 households were included in the study of J. Cvijić. Of these, only 464 families with 3,603 houses were "old" (starinci, also called "natives"), which is close to the number of families of unknown descent (470 families with 2,464 houses), with the rest of the population being settlers (7,960 families, 46,408 houses). Šumadija was settled from almost all of the regions of the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia, though most of which came from the Dinaric areas, that is, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from Raška and Sandžak, Dalmatia, Lika, and the rest of the Dinaric areas. In lesser numbers they hailed from Kosovo, from Metohija, and the rest of the Yugoslav regions.[10]

According to the studies by J. Cvijić, almost 90% of the families of Šumadija descended from settler families of various Serb ethnographic groups. The Dinaric group was predominant, while other South Slavic regions are included in lesser percentages. This diverse population blended, mutually permeated and leveled, thus creating an ethnographic group (the Šumadinci), with characteristical psychical traits.[15]

Cvijić noted the particular striking character of the Šumadinci as "something very strong, bold, with great activeness, and healthy nerves", that many of them are capable, "it seems, they manage to succeed in any enterprise", and that "there is increasingly appearing personalities with great will", "Foreign observers would have the impression that everyone thrives with intractible persistence and tenacity", "Rigid traditionalism has almost completely disappeared. All adapt to new ways of life. There is less talk, less epic poems and epic preferences than in pure Dinaric people". Among other traits, it should be noted that the Šumadinac has "common sense, measures and sense of reality. They know how to assess things and events fairly and without anger, when they are fully aware of these. The peasants are often characterized by sensing measures, which is rarely held by their schooled compatriots."[15] They were shown to be a very honest and humourous people.[16]

In popular culture[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Drobnjaković 1998, intro
  2. ^ Miodrag Milošević, Geografija za 8. razred osnovne škole, Beograd, 1994.
  3. ^ Ivić, Beleske o biogračićkom govoru, Srpski dijalektoloski zbornik, 24/1978, 125
  4. ^ Alan McPherron; Dragoslav Srejović (1988). Divostin and the Neolithic of central Serbia. Dept. of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh. ISBN 978-0-945428-00-8. Central Sumadija is well known as a fruit producing region, the major products being plums, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, nuts, cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. Domesticated animals are the same as those raised in other regions of Europe. A variety of wild mammals occur in the region and include boar, deer, wolf, fox, weasel, hare, badger, polecat, hedgehog, squirrel, mole, and a variety of smaller rodents. Birds are also numerous and various. Wildlife was obviously more abundant in the past, with bear, roe deer, and sparrow hawk as well as migratory birds. 
  5. ^ Miomir Komatina (31 March 2004). Medical Geology: Effects of Geological Environments on Human Health. Elsevier. pp. 210–. ISBN 978-0-08-053609-5. 
  6. ^ A. W. R. Whittle (23 May 1996). Europe in the Neolithic: The Creation of New Worlds. Cambridge University Press. pp. 83, 101, 103, 105. ISBN 978-0-521-44920-5. 
  7. ^ Alan McPherron; Dragoslav Srejović (1988). Divostin and the Neolithic of central Serbia. Dept. of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-945428-00-8. 
  8. ^ a b c Komatina, P. (2010). "The Slavs of the mid-Danube basin and the Bulgarian expansion in the first half of the 9th century" (PDF). Zbornik radova Vizantološkog instituta (Belgrade: Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts - SASA, Institute for Byzantine Studies) (47): 55–82. doi:10.2298/ZRVI1047055K. 
  9. ^ a b Drobnjaković 1998, Do pada Despotovine Šumadija je bila razvijen i bogat kraj
  10. ^ a b Drobnjaković 1998, Vrhunac doseljavanja u Karađorđevo vreme
  11. ^ a b Dragoljub Zamurović; Ilja Slani; Madge Phillips-Tomašević (2002). Serbia: life and customs. ULUPUDS. p. 194. 
  12. ^ Deliso, Christopher (2009). Culture and Customs of Serbia and Montenegro. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-313-34436-7. 
  13. ^ Resić, Sanimir; Plewa, Barbara Törnquist (2002). The Balkans in Focus: Cultural Boundaries in Europe. Lund, Sweden: Nordic Academic Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-91-89116-38-2. 
  14. ^ Mirjana Prošić-Dvornić (1989). Narodna nošnja Šumadije. Kulturno-Prosvjetni Sabor Hrvatske. p. 62. 
  15. ^ a b Drobnjaković 1998, Karakter Šumadinaca, po Jovanu Cvijiću
  16. ^ Drobnjaković 1998, Društvenost i sklonost ka šalama i ismejavanju



External links[edit]