MINELRES: The Vlachs of Serbia

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Mon Apr 23 17:22:10 2007

Original sender: Ionas Aurelian Rus <rus@polisci.rutgers.edu>


Vlachs of Serbia
>From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Total population
50,000 (cens.) - 245,700 (est.)

Regions with significant populations

Vlach (Romanian)

Predominantly Eastern Orthodox.

Related ethnic groups
other Latin peoples

Vlachs (Vlach/Romanian: Rumâni, Serbian) are an ethnic group of Serbia,
culturally and linguistically cognate to Romanians.

They mostly live in eastern Serbia, mainly in Timočka Krajina region
(roughly corresponding to Bor and Zaječar districts), but also in
Braničevo and Pomoravlje districts. Some Vlachs also live around Vidin
in Bulgaria. Also a small Vlach population exists in Smederevo and
Velika Plana (Podunavlje District), and in the municipalities of
Aleksinac and Kruševac (Rasina District), as well as in the South Banat
District in Vojvodina.

1 Religion and language
2 Subgroups
3 Origins
4 Population
4.1 Historical population (according to different censuses)
4.2 Number of Vlachs in Serbia by municipality
5 Vlach identity
6 Famous Vlachs
7 See also
8 References
9 External links

Religion and language
Most Vlachs are Eastern Orthodox Christians by faith and they speak the
Vlach (Romanian) language. The language spoken by one major group of
Vlachs is similar to the Oltenian dialect spoken in Romania while that
of the other major group is similar to the Romanian dialect of Banat.

The Serbian Vlachs belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church. However, by
the canon of Orthodox church, no other local Orthodox church is allowed
to operate within its territory. The relative isolation of the Vlachs
has permitted the survival of various pre-Christian religious rites that
are frowned upon by the Orthodox Church. Like the Serbs, Vlachs
celebrate the 'slava', though its meaning is chtonic (related to the
house and farmland) rather than familial.

Although the Vlachs of the Timočka Krajina are culturally and
linguistically cognate to Romanians, their history since the fall of the
Ottoman Empire in the 19th century has significantly affected their
political and cultural orientation towards the Serbian state and church.

Vlachs are divided into four different groups, each speaking their own
distinct dialects:

the Carani (Ţărani)
the Ungurjani (Ungureani / "Ungureni")
Ungurjani-Munćani (Ungureani-Munceani / "Ungureni-Munteni")
Of these, the Ungurjani or 'Ungureni' of Homolje are related to the
Romanians of Banat and Transylvania, since 'Ungureni' (compare with the
word "Hungarians") is a term used by the Romanians of Wallachia to
describe their kin who once lived in provinces formerly part of the
Kingdom of Hungary. The connection is evident in the similarities of
dialectal phonology and folk music motifs as well as in sayings such as
"Ducă-se pe Mureş" (May the Mureş take it away), a reference to the
Transylvanian river.

The Ţărani (Carani) of the Bor, Negotin and Zaječar regions are closer
to the Olteni in their speech and music. The Ţăran saying 'Nu dau un leu
pe el' (He's not worth even a leu) can possibly show their Romanian
origin since the leu is a Romanian monetary unit. However, it can also
show a possible trade connections between Carani and the Romanian
population that lives just across the Danube.

There has been considerable intermixing between the Ungureni and Ţărani
so that a dialect has evolved sharing peculiarities of both regions.

There is also a group of Vlachophone Roma centered around the village of
Lukovo, as well as a few Aromanian families who live in Knjaževac, but
they form a tiny migrant group.

Some of the Vlachs of East Serbia were settled there from regions north
of the Danube by the Hapsburgs at the beginning of the 18th century. The
origins of these Vlachs are indicated by their own self-designations:
Ungurjani (Ungureani), i.e., those who came from Hungary (that is, Banat
and  Transylvania). The Carani (Ţărani) are either an autochthonic Vlach
population of the region (their name means "people of the country" or
"countrymen"), or they came from Wallachia (in Romanian, Ţara Românească
- "Romanian State").

The area roughly defined by the Morava, the Danube and the Timok rivers
where most of the Vlachs live became part of modern Serbia starting from
1830. Prior to that, the land was part of the Habsburg Empire and the
Ottoman Empire (Pashalic of Vidin and Pashalic of Smederevo).

The second wave of Vlachs from present-day Romania came at the beginning
of the 19th century. In 1835 feudalism was fully abolished in the
Principality of Serbia and a large number of individuals and smaller
groups from Wallachia came there to enjoy the status of free peasants.

Thus the idea that all Vlachs of Serbia are descendants of the original
Romanized population of the Balkans that never moved from this region is
incorrect. However, it is likely that some of them can trace their
ancient roots to this region. The present geographic location of the
Vlachs is near the medieval Bulgaro-Vlach empire of the Asens,
suggesting their continuity in the area. In addition a Vlach population
in the regions around Branicevo (near the ancient Roman city of
Viminacium) is attested by 15th century Ottoman defters (tax records).
The modern Vlachs occupy the same area where in antiquity the Romans had
a strong presence for many centuries: Viminacium and Felix Romuliana. In
addition, the Vlachs from the area around Vidin in Bulgaria, with whom
the Vlachs of Timok form a continuous group, separated only by the
Danube by the Romanians, are natives to the area, not being the result
of recent colonization or emigration.


Area inhabited by Vlachs in 2004 according to Romanian organizationsIn
the 2002 census 40,054 people in Serbia declared themselves ethnic
Vlachs, and 54,818 people declared themselves speakers of the Vlach
language.[1] The Vlachs of Serbia are recognized as an autochthonous
ethnic group, separate to the Romanians of Serbia, which number 34,576
according to the 2002 census. On the census, the Vlachs declared
themselves either as Serbs or Vlachs. Therefore, the "real" number of
the people of Vlach origin could be much greater than the number of
recorded Vlachs, both due to mixed marriages with Serbs and also Serbian
national feeling among some full-blooded Vlachs.

Historical population (according to different censuses)

The following numbers reflect on the possible number of Vlachs in the

1816: 97,215 Romanians/Vlachs (10% of Serbia's population. Note that
Serbia was several times smaller than today in 1816.)[2]
1859: 122,593 Romanians/Vlachs
1884: 149,713 Romanians/Vlachs
1890: 143,684 Romanians/Vlachs
1895: 159,510 Romanians/Vlachs
1921: 142,773 Vlach-speakers in Central Serbia
1931: 57,000 Romanian/Vlach/Cincar speakers were recorded in Eastern
Serbia (52,635 in the Morava Banovina and the rest in southern parts of
Danube Banovina south of the Danube)[citation needed]
1953: 198,793 Vlach-speakers in central Serbia (169,670 declared as
Serbs, 29,000 as Vlachs)[citation needed]
1961: 1,330 Vlachs
1981: 135,000 people declared Vlach as their mother language (population
figure given for the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)[3]
1991: 71,536 Vlach-speakers in Serbia (of those 53,721 Serbs, 16,539
Vlachs, 42 Romanians; out of the 17,807 declared Vlachs, 677
Serbocroat-speakers) [citation needed]
2002: 40,054 declared Vlachs, 54,818 people declared Vlach as their
mother language (population figures given for entire Serbia) or 39,953
declared Vlachs, 54,726 people declared Vlach as their mother language
(population figures given for Central Serbia only)[1]

The Vlach population is concentrated mostly in the region limited by
Morava River (west), Danube River (north) and Timok River (south-east).
According to the sources from the Vlach community, the Vlachs live in
134 villages (exclusively with Vlach population) and in 20 towns (with
mixed population - Zaječar, Negotin, Bor, Kladovo, Majdanpek, Požarevac,
Smederevo, Velika Plana, Jabukovac, etc).

By some Vlach organizations, in Eastern Serbia live around 250,000
people of Vlach origin, although the results of censuses can't prove

Number of Vlachs in Serbia by municipality
Official numbers of declared Vlachs (2002 census) and unofficial
estimated numbers of people of Vlach origin (2004 data).[citation
needed] Note that the second given number also include people for whom
is just thought that they are of Vlach origin, but whom neither consider
themselves Vlachs neither can speak Vlach language.

Bor District
Bor - 10,064 (18.03%) declared Vlachs; 46,100 (82.2%) estimated people
of Vlach origin
Kladovo - 568 (2.41%) declared Vlachs; 16,300 (74.1%) estimated people
of Vlach origin
Majdanpek - 2,817 (11.89%) declared Vlachs; 18,600 (78.2%) estimated
people of Vlach origin
Negotin - 3,000 (6.91%) declared Vlachs; 28,900 (65.8%) estimated people
of Vlach origin

Zaječar District
Zaječar - 2,981 (4.52%) declared Vlachs; 16,100 (24.4%) estimated people
of Vlach origin
Boljevac - 4,162 (26.26%) declared Vlachs; 10,200 (63.8%) estimated
people of Vlach origin
Knjaževac - 3 (0.008%) declared Vlachs; 600 (1.62%) estimated people of
Vlach origin
Sokobanja - 9 (0.05%) declared Vlachs; 200 (1.05%) estimated people of
Vlach origin

Braničevo District
Požarevac - 109 (0.15%) declared Vlachs; 13,900 (18.6%) estimated people
of Vlach origin
Veliko Gradište - 354 (1.71%) declared Vlachs; 3,800 (18.1%) estimated
people of Vlach origin
Golubac - 870 (8.78%) declared Vlachs; 5,200 (52.0%) estimated people of
Vlach origin
Žabari - 342 (2.62%) declared Vlachs; 2,000 (15.4%) estimated people of
Vlach origin
Žagubica - 3,268 (22.05%) declared Vlachs; 11,400 (76.0%) estimated
people of Vlach origin
Kučevo - 5,204 (27.67%) declared Vlachs; 15,700 (82.6%) estimated people
of Vlach origin
Malo Crniće - 401 (2.90%) declared Vlachs; 6,100 (43.8%) estimated
people of Vlach origin
Petrovac - 3,535 (10.24%) declared Vlachs; 18,200 (52.8%) estimated
people of Vlach origin

Pomoravlje District
Ćuprija - 1,356 (4.04%) declared Vlachs; 4,200 (12.5%) estimated people
of Vlach origin
Despotovac - 427 (1.67%) declared Vlachs; 16,600 (64.82%) estimated
people of Vlach origin
Svilajnac - 235 (0.92%) declared Vlachs; 10,300 (40.38%) estimated
people of Vlach origin
Jagodina - 30 (0.04%) declared Vlachs; 1,400 (1.97%) estimated people of
Vlach origin
Paraćin - 1 (0.002%) declared Vlach; 700 (1.20%) estimated people of
Vlach origin

Podunavlje District
Smederevo - 9 (0.008%) declared Vlachs; 4,800 (4.50%) estimated people
of Vlach origin
Velika Plana - 35 (0.08%) declared Vlachs; 4,000 (9.10%) estimated
people of Vlach origin

Nišava District
Svrljig - 0 (0%) declared Vlachs; 400 (1.79%) estimated people of Vlach

South Banat District
Alibunar - 12 declared Vlachs
Bela Crkva - 3 declared Vlachs
Vršac - 11 declared Vlachs
Kovačica - 11 declared Vlachs
Kovin - 35 declared Vlachs
Pančevo - 7 declared Vlachs

TOTAL: 40,054 declared Vlachs in Serbia; 245,700 estimated people of
Vlach origin

Vlach identity

The term "Vlach" is the English transcription of the Serbian term used
describe this group (Vlasi), while "Romanians" is the English
transcription of its Romanian counterpart (român/rumân).[4][5]

Despite their recognition as a separate ethnic group by the Serbian
government, Vlachs are cognate to Romanians in the cultural and
linguistic sense. Some Romanians, as well as international linguists and
anthropologists, consider Serbia's Vlachs to be a subgroup of Romanians.
Additionally, the Movement of
Romanians-Vlachs in Serbia, which represents some Vlachs, has called for
the recognition of the Vlachs as a Romanian national minority, giving
them similar rights to the Romanians of Vojvodina. However most Vlachs
of Eastern Serbia opt either for the Vlach, or Serb identity rather than
the Romanian one.[1]

Romania has given modest financial support to the Vlachs for the
preservation of their culture and language, since at present the Vlachs'
language is not recognized officially in any localities where they form
a majority, there is no education in their mother tongue and there is no
media or education funded by the Serbian state. Also there are no church
services in Vlach and the giving of
baptismal Vlach names is not permitted.

Family names of Vlachs either are or sound Serbian because of the late
19th century edict that all citizens of Serbia must have last names
ending in -ić, the base of the name usually coming from the then
father's name:
Nikolić, Marković, Radulović. There are a few notable exceptions where
the Vlach / Romanian origin is evident, as in Jepurović (from iepure,
meaning rabbit), Florić (from floare, meaning flower) or Stangačilović
stângaci, meaning left-handed).

On the other hand, some Vlachs consider themselves to be simply Serbs
that speak the Vlach language. In fact ethnic research has found
[citation needed] that among the Serb-speaking population of Eastern
Serbia, some are Slavicized Vlachs and some Vlach-speakers were formerly
Slavs (such as in the village of Šljivar near Zaječar and the village of
Slatina near Bor, where Serbs had been assimilated as Vlachs for
centuries) or even Roma (such as in Lukovo). Most Vlachs do not see
themselves as ethnic Romanians, because, while culturally and
linguistically cognate to Romanians, they have lived in Serbia for
generations and hence do not identify with the Romanian state, but
rather see themselves as a distinct Eastern Romance people.[citation

Many of those Vlachs who see themselves as Serbs were historically
hard-line Serbian nationalists, and many fought as volunteers on the
Serbian side in the wars in Krajina and Bosnia, together with Serbs from
those regions whom they saw as religious and ethnic brethren. One of the
reasons why Vlachs consider Serbs to be their ethnic brethren is because
many Serbs have Vlach origin. The Serbian Orthodox Church has played a
large role in this.[citation needed] In addition, during the Ottoman
rule, Serbs migrated from the valleys to the mountains where they mixed
with the Vlach population; thus, many present-day Serbs have both Slavic
and Vlach blood.

It must be noted that Vlach is commonly used as a historical umbrella
term for all Latin peoples in Southeastern Europe, including Romanians.
In more recent usage, it is a synonym for Latin peoples south of the
Danube, hence excluding Romanians. The old meaning is the origin for the
modern Vlach ethnic identity, since Vlachs see themselves as descendants
of those ancient Vlach peoples, and rather see Romanians as a subgroup
of the Vlachs than Vlachs as a subgroup of Romanians. From the Vlach
point of view, Romanians are those Vlachs who created their state of
Romania and succeeded in gaining world acceptance for their own name for
themselves, rather than the exonym term Vlach. In their own language
Vlachs never use the term Vlach, but Rumân. They call their language
română,[6] but sometimes also rumâneşce/româneşte.[citation needed]

In some notes of the government of Serbia, officials recognise that
"certainly members of this population have similar characteristics with
Romanians, and the language and folklore ride to their Romanian origin.
The representants of the Vlach minority sustain their Romanian

Famous Vlachs

Possibly the best known Vlach from eastern Serbia is Zoran Lilić, who
was the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1993 and

See also
Romanians of Serbia
Romanians in Bulgaria
History of the term Vlach

^ a b c (Serbian) Official Results of Serbian Census 2002–Population by
groups PDF (477 KiB), p. 2 and Official Results of Serbian Census
2002–Population by languagePDF (441 KiB), p. 12 
^ (Romanian) V. Arion; Vasile Pârvan; G. Vâlsan; Pericle Papahagi; G.
Bogdan-Duică. România şi popoarele balcanice (1913). Tipografia
Românească. Bucureşti, p. 22
^ (Serbian) Ranko Bugarski, Jezici, Beograd, 1996.
^ Ziua.net
^ Interview with Predrag Balašević, president of the Romanian/Vlach
Democratic Party of Serbia: "We all know that we call ourselves in
Romanian Romanians and in Serbian Vlachs."
^ Website of the Federaţia Rumânilor din Serbie
^ All about Romanians in Timoc, published 31 May 2005

External links
Romanians-Vlachs of Serbia
The Vlach (Roumanian) Federation of Serbia
Museum of Majdanpek
MP3 recordings of Vlach speech
Romanian Ethnogenesis
Maps of Vlachs in north-east Serbia
The Vlachs in Yugoslavia and their magic
The Vlach gardens of Eastern Serbia
Report on the State of Human Rights of Rumanians and Vlachs in Serbia
Where the Vlachs of Homolie

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