South Morava

The South Morava (Macedonian and Serbian: Јужна Морава, romanized: Južna Morava, pronounced [jûːʒnaː mɔ̝̌rav̞a]; Albanian: Lumi Morava) is a river in eastern Kosovo[a] and in southern Serbia, which represents the shorter headwater of Great Morava. Today, it is 295 km long, including its source river Binačka Morava.[1] It flows generally in the south to north direction, from the Macedonian border to Kosovo and onwards to Central Serbia, where it meets West Morava at Stalać, to create Great Morava.

South Morava
Juzna Morava.JPG
South Morava near Niš
Morava méridionale.png
Native nameMacedonian: Јужна Морава, romanizedJužna Morava
Serbian: Јужна Морава / Južna Morava
Albanian: Lumi Morava
CountryNorth Macedonia
Physical characteristics
 • locationNear Skopska Crna Gora in North Macedonia
 • location
with the West Morava forms the Great Morava at Stalać, Serbia
 • coordinates
43°41′57″N 21°24′18″E / 43.69917°N 21.40500°E / 43.69917; 21.40500Coordinates: 43°41′57″N 21°24′18″E / 43.69917°N 21.40500°E / 43.69917; 21.40500
Length295 km (183 mi)[1]
Basin size15,696 km2 (6,060 sq mi)[2]
 • average100 m3/s (3,500 cu ft/s)
Basin features
ProgressionGreat MoravaDanubeBlack Sea


The river rises in the Skopska Crna Gora mountain north of Skopje, in North Macedonia. The streams Ključevska reka and Slatinska reka join together to form the river Golema, which is, after passing the Macedonian-Serbian border, known as the Binačka Morava. After 49 km it meets the Moravica (further upstream called Preševska Moravica) at Bujanovac, and for the remainder, 246 km, flows as the South Morava.


The South Morava belongs to the Black Sea drainage basin, and its own drainage area is 15,696 km²,[2] of which 1,237 km² is in Bulgaria (through its right tributary Nišava). Its average discharge at the mouth is 100 m³/s and it is not navigable.

South Morava has a composite valley, which means it consists of series of gorges and valleys in this order: Gnjilane valley – Končulj gorge – Vranje valley – Grdelica gorgeLeskovac valley – Niš valley – Aleksinac valley – Stalać gorge. After breaking through the last, Stalać gorge, it meets the West Morava.

South Morava in Moravac

In macro-geological terms, the South Morava connects the Aegean basin with Pannonian basin. This creates a phenomenon named "apparent flow inversion": it seems that the river from one lowland climbs up the mountains and then flows into another lowland. However these two large geological basins are connected by the Grdelica gorge (Serbian: Grdelička klisura/Грделичка клисура). The bottom of the gorge, where the river flows, is much lower than the mountains surrounding it, and of course the river flows downwards through the gorge.

The South Morava used to be 318 km long, and represented a longer and natural (flowing in the same direction) headwater of Great Morava. Historically it sometimes caused severe floods. But the river's meanders have now been shortened by almost 30 km; and today it is shorter than the West Morava. However, the West Morava has always had bigger discharge.

Areas in southern Serbia where the South Morava flows have been almost completely deforested, which has caused one of the most severe cases of erosion in the Balkans. As a result of this, the river brings large amounts of materials to the Great Morava, filling and elevating its river bed, which exacerbates the huge floods of its daughter river.


The South Morava has 157 tributaries. The most important left tributaries are: Jablanica, Veternica, Pusta reka and Toplica. Right tributaries are: Vrla, Vlasina, Nišava (the longest) and Sokobanjska Moravica.


The South Morava has a significant potential for electricity production, and a huge hydroelectrical system (Vlasina- Vrla I-IV power stations) has been constructed in its drainage basin.

To a certain extent, its waters are used for irrigation.

The river valley's most important role is as a channel for transportation. It is the natural route for both railway and highway between Belgrade–Skopje–Thessaloniki. It is part of the Pan-European corridor X, and the route of the E75 Highway.

Historical nameEdit

Till early 20th century and beyond it has been also known as Bulgarian Morava (Bulgarian: Българска Морава, Balgarska Morava; Serbian: Бугарска Морава, Bugarska Morava).[3][4][5] This historical name derives from the Ottoman times when it was considered that as a whole the river was a natural border between Bulgarians from the east side, and Serbs and Albanians from the west one.[6][7][8] Detailed ethnographic map of the mixed then (Albanian, Serbian and Bulgarian) population of the western bank of Bulgarian Morava Valley was made by Hahn and Zach in 1861.[9]

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 96 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states are said to have recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.
  1. ^ a b Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Serbia 2017 (PDF) (in Serbian and English). Belgrade: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. October 2017. p. 16. ISSN 0354-4206. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b Velika Morava River Basin, ICPDR, November 2009, p. 2
  3. ^ Serbien und die Serben, Spiridon Gopčević Publisher Elischer, 1891, pp.5 - 6.
  4. ^ The Russo-Turkish War, R. Grant Barnwell, 1878, p.402
  5. ^ A handbook of Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and adjacent parts of Greece, Great Britain. Naval Intelligence Division, 1920, p.11
  6. ^ Drezov K. (1999) Macedonian identity: an overview of the major claims. In: Pettifer J. (eds) The New Macedonian Question. St Antony’s Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp 47-59.
  7. ^ J. von Hahn, Bulgarians in southwest Moravia, edited by A. Teodoroff-Balan, Sofia, September 1917, Al. Paskaleff & Co. publishers, pp. 2-3.
  8. ^ Ethnic Mapping on the Balkans (1840–1925): a Brief Comparative Summary of Concepts and Methods of Visualization, Demeter, Gábor and al. (2015) In: (Re)Discovering the Sources of Bulgarian and Hungarian History. Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia; Budapest, p. 85.
  9. ^ №20. The Ethnological Map by von Hahn and Zach (1861).
  • Mala Prosvetina Enciklopedija, Third edition (1985); Prosveta; ISBN 86-07-00001-2
  • Jovan Đ. Marković (1990): "Enciklopedijski geografski leksikon Jugoslavije"; Svjetlost-Sarajevo; ISBN 86-01-02651-6

External linksEdit