Geography of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Trnovo (FBiH)

Author: Boris Avdić

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are many cases in which a single pre-war municipality was divided into two parts by an entity line in 1995. In some examples, both newly formed municipalities have even retained the same name, and Trnovo is one of them. Trnovo in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina administratively belongs to the Sarajevo Canton and is a complete geographical contrast compared to other municipalities.

Trnovo (FBiH) is the southernmost and spatially largest municipality of the Sarajevo Canton. It covers an area of 338 km². This municipality originated from most parts of the pre-war Municipality of Trnovo, which became part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The parts that belonged to the Republic of Srpska form the Municipality of Trnovo (RS). Despite the legacy of strained relations from the past war, these two municipalities are referred to each other for functional reasons. Other municipalities with which Trnovo (FBiH) borders are separated by high mountains. The municipal territory has an elongated east-west direction, with the western part being significantly wider than the eastern part, which has a corridor character. Trnovo is located in the extreme south of the Mountain-Valley macroregion, in the area where it passes into the High Karst Macroregion. Thanks to the proximity of Sarajevo, it has a relatively favourable geographical position, but due to the passivity of southeastern Bosnia, the geo-traffic position is declining. The backbone of this area is the main road M-18, which connects Sarajevo with Foča.

Municipality of Trnovo (FBiH)

Physical features

Almost 80% of the territory of Trnovo is located in the zone above 1000 meters above sea level, so it is a municipality that is among the highest located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The central part of the Municipality is intersected by the valley of the Željeznica, whose bottom is located at about 800 meters above sea level, and thus represents a significantly lower part of the terrain compared to the surrounding mountains. The western part of the Municipality is dominated by the Bjelašnica plateau, from which its highest peaks rise: Bjelašnica (2067 meters), Vlahinja, Krvavac and others. The Bjelašnica massif is mostly built of Triassic limestones, which are covered by Pleistocene glacial sediments in the area of mountain bays, such as Babin do. In the extreme south are the mountains Treskavica and Visocica, whose geological structure is characterized by a large presence of Jurassic-Cretaceous flysch. On Treskavica is the highest peak of the Municipality of Trnovo (FBiH), but also the entire Sarajevo Canton - Mala Ćaba (Đokin Tower) with 2086 meters. Bjelašnica and Treskavica are connected by the Hojta mountain, on the eastern side of which there is a relatively spacious and undulating plateau, bounded by the Željeznica valley in the east and Prečko polje in the north. The eastern part of the municipality is spatially smaller. It is dominated by the southwestern slopes of Jahorina. Here, in the geological sense, is a Paleozoic base, over which in some places lie Werfen limestones.

The climate of this area is described as pre-mountain in the valley of the Railway, or mountain in the rest of the municipality. According to Köppen's classification, the climatic varieties Cfb, Cfc, Dfc, as well as ET on the highest peaks of Bjelašnica and Treskavica are dominant. One of the best equipped meteorological stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the observatory at the top of Bjelasnica. It has a negative average temperature for six months (-6 °C in January). The lowest temperature ever measured on Bjelašnica was -41 °C. Average summer temperatures do not exceed 10 °C, and the highest ever measured is 24 °C. The amount of precipitation is relatively high, and at the annual level, it is about 1300 millimetres, with the highest values being achieved in the autumn. Winter is characterized by rather harsh climatic conditions and a large amount of snow. In the central part of the Municipality, the northern and southern directions of wind blowing are pronounced, predisposed by the Željeznica valley. In the higher regions, the wind circle acquires a more uniform shape.

The watershed of the Black Sea and Adriatic basin passes through the area of this municipality. A much larger part of the municipal territory belongs to the Black Sea, or the Bosna River Basin. It drains through the Željeznica, which is the hydrographic backbone of the Trnovo region. It flows through a relatively narrow valley from south to north. It springs near Godinja, west of Trnovo, and is one of the most important tributaries of Bosna. As it has a certain hydropower potential, a smaller HPP Bogatići was built on it in the period of the SFRY. Its most important left tributaries are the Bijela rijeka and the Krsinja, and the Crna rijeka flows to the right. All streams in this area have a pluvio-nival regime. Most of the Bjelašnica plateau is waterless, given the phenomenology of karst hydrography. Here, however, we can find some smaller streams, such as Studeni potok, known for its ambient attractiveness. Between Bjelašnica, Treskavica and Visočica, the river Rakitnica, a tributary of the Neretva known for its picturesque canyon, is formed. Its immediate surroundings are part of the Adriatic basin. There are also four glacial lakes on Treskavica: Veliko, Crno, Bijelo and Platno.

The eastern part of the municipality is dominated by acidic soils such as district cambisol, while going west increases the share of limestone soils. The distribution of chalcocambisol and calcomelanosol is especially pronounced. In the Rakitnica valley, rendzina are more widespread, while on the steep slopes of almost all mountains, especially Bjelašnica, the presence of lithosol is evident, and in some places bare karst. Fertile agricultural land in the area of the Municipality is quite fragmented and in terms of aggregate is underrepresented. On the other hand, large parts of the terrain are overgrown with dense forest vegetation (over 60% of the territory). High areas of the terrain are represented by mountain barren lands without vegetation. Vegetation extends mostly in the zone between 1000 and 1600 meters. These are mainly beech and fir forests, with occasional examples of zone inversion. In higher areas, it is possible to find a higher prevalence of juniper pine. The area of Bjelašnica has great biological and ecological value.

(Photo: Boris Avdić)

Geopolitical features

Trnovo, as a distinctly mountainous area, is not often mentioned in historical records, as large settlements never existed here. Only a large number of stećak tombstones testify to the population of this area in the Middle Ages. The necropolis of stećak tombstones near Umoljani is listed on the World Heritage List (UNESCO), and similar sites in this area also include Šabići, Delijaš, Prečko polje, etc. From the Middle Ages until today, this has remained almost entirely a rural area, administratively connected to Sarajevo. After the disbandment of the districts in the 1950s, Trnovo became a separate municipality, one of a total of ten to form part of Sarajevo in a broader sense. The most turbulent part of Trnovo's history was the last war. In that time, the area gained great strategic importance. During May and June 1992, control of the municipality was exercised by the Army of RBIH. At the same time, certain crimes were committed against the Serb population (especially in the villages of Ledići and Presjenica). With a later offensive in 1993, the RS Army occupied about three-quarters of the municipal territory, including the very top of Bjelasnica, thus further tightening the ring around Sarajevo. However, under pressure from the international community, its forces withdrew from Bjelasnica and Igman, and these mountains became a UN formally neutral zone. New major shifts in the front lines were recorded in 1994 and 1995 on Bjelasnica and Treskavica, during an unsuccessful attempt to unblock Sarajevo by the RBiH Army. With the Dayton Agreement, however, most of the Municipality of Trnovo became part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the corridor across Grepek to the Bosnian-Podrinje Canton. In that way, there was an inter-entity division of this pre-war municipality.

Even before the last war, Trnovo was considered a sparsely populated and demographically passive municipality. Trends in population decline were particularly pronounced during the 1970s and 1980s when the local rural population increasingly emigrated to nearby Sarajevo, which was then experiencing urban expansion. After the destructive events of the last war, the demographic profile became even more unfavourable. Today, Trnovo (FBiH) is one of the weakest and least populated municipalities in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the latest census, it has about 1500 inhabitants, which gives it a density of only 4 inhabitants / km². It is interesting that the central valley part of the Municipality is quite sparsely populated, and that most of the inhabitants are concentrated in the west, at the foot of Bjelašnica and Treskavica. The municipality has a large share of the elder population, so the average age is as high as 49 years. Due to the lack of a young and reproductive population, the rate of natural increase has record-low values (-20 ‰ in 2015). Trnovo is also one of the municipalities with the most illiterate population in Bosnia and Herzegovina (19%). The ethnic structure is dominated by Bosniaks, with over 90% of the total population.

According to the Dayton Agreement, approximately 5% of the urban zone of Trnovo, i.e. the extreme north of this town, became part of the municipality. There are the municipality seat and the health care centre. However, about 95% of the municipality's population lives in rural settlements. They are divided into four local communities. In addition to Trnovo, whose headquarters are in the urban zone, the other three local communities are Šabići, Dejčići and Delijaš. The most populated is Dejčići, in which, in addition to the village of the same name, there are also Dujmovići as a larger settlement. These two villages are the only ones in the entire municipality of Trnovo with more than 100 inhabitants. In Dejčići there is the only still-active primary school in the area. The process of depopulation of a large number of villages in this area is very worrying, some of which no longer have a single inhabitant. This is especially true in the municipal east, i.e. Delijaš. However, it should be noted that an asylum centre is located next to this village, which has become particularly active due to the ongoing migrant crisis.

The economy of this municipality is completely dependent on agriculture and tourism. Agricultural production is especially focused on the production of healthy food, for which there are ideal conditions, given the very low degree of degradation of the natural environment. The tourist offer can be divided into two segments. Mass tourism is connected to the locality of Babin do, where the main ski resort on Bjelašnica is located, as well as two larger hotels - Maršal and Bjelašnica. It is also a site with Olympic history. Part of the ski competitions at this year’s European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) were also held here. In recent years, the development of rural and eco-tourism, as alternative forms of tourist offer, has been very pronounced. It is locationally connected to mountain villages, such as e.g. Umoljani. Recently, the realization of a large Kuwaiti investment in the construction of the tourist town of Buroj Ozone on the site of Prečko polje is planned.

City of Trnovo – entity division
(author: Boris Avdić)

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