Diversity and Wealth of the Municipality of Novi Bečej: Geographic Monograph with Overview of Natural Characteristics, Population, Economy, and Settlements

Explore the deeply rooted natural charms and economic potentials of the Municipality of Novi Bečej through a comprehensive geographical monograph. Familiarize yourself with fascinating aspects of the terrain, geology, climate, water bodies, flora, and fauna, while simultaneously delving into vibrant settlements and diverse industries. This informative book provides valuable insights into the richness of this unique Vojvodina region, offering a broad spectrum of information useful for education, regional planning, and preserving local identity.

Preface

Through years of collaboration between the Institute of Geography at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Novi Sad and the Self-Governing Interest Community for Scientific Work of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, the creation of geographical monographs for the municipalities of Vojvodina is realized. This significant endeavor is undertaken by a team of geographers and scientific researchers from Vojvodina. Each study provides an overview of the natural characteristics and economy of a specific municipality. The geographical monograph of Novi Bečej represents a modest contribution to this series of scientific works, which will have a manifold significance upon the completion of the entire project, i.e., after processing all the municipalities in our Province.

Geographical Position, Boundaries, and Size of the Municipality

The municipality of Novi Bečej is located in the northwest part of Banat and the northeast part of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. It consists of four settlements: Novi Bečej, Kumane, Novo Miloševo, and Bočar. The administrative center of the municipality is in Novi Bečej.

To the north and northeast, the municipality shares borders with the territory of the Kikinda municipality, while to the east, southeast, and south, it borders the municipality of Zrenjanin. The western boundary of the municipality is formed by the Tisa River, from the Padej border in the north to Taraš in the south.

As a Banat-Potisje municipality, Novi Bečej belongs to the Zrenjanin subregion and is closely linked to the most developed economic center in Banat, Zrenjanin. Facing the Bačka region, the municipality is separated by the Tisa River from the neighboring Bečej municipality. Positioned between three significant economic centers in Vojvodina—Kikinda to the northeast, Zrenjanin to the south, and Bečej to the west—with excellent transportation connections, the municipality of Novi Bečej holds a favorable central location.

Physical-Geographical Overview

A comprehensive geographical monograph of each subregion in Vojvodina encompasses natural-geographical and socio-geographical characteristics of a specific area. To better understand the emergence and economic development of the municipality of Novi Bečej, it is crucial to first acquaint ourselves with the physical-geographic features of this Vojvodina regional unit, representing the natural conditions for economic development.

From a natural standpoint, the territory of the Novi Bečej municipality essentially exhibits a Pannonian, flatland physical-geographic profile. Its relief, climatic, and hydrographic features share similarities with the natural-geographic traits of neighboring and other subregions in Vojvodina. However, through a more detailed analysis of all physical-geographic factors and elements, partial differences are observed. These differences can influence, positively or negatively, the development of specific economic sectors and overall economic progress. Therefore, this chapter will present the geomorphological, geological, climatic, hydrographic, bio-geographic, and pedological features of this part of the Vojvodina region.

Geomorphic Characteristics

The relief of the Novi Bečej subregion is characterized by all elements common to the relief of northern Banat and the larger part of Vojvodina. Morphologically, the municipality's territory consists of lowlands, with an absolute elevation ranging from 86 to 76 meters. The lowlands gently slope towards the west, i.e., towards the Tisa River basin, and towards the south, in the direction of the Tisa's flow. Throughout the entire area, there are very uneven elevation parameters of the relief. The lowest parts of the territory, with an absolute elevation ranging from 76 to 77 meters, include areas such as Ljutovo, Biserno Ostrvo, Libe, Pustara, and Medenjača. These parts of the borders are differently distributed within the regional unit. Higher absolute elevations are observed in the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern parts, which are farther away from the current course of the Tisa River. The areas of Selište and Livade stand out with the highest elevation, including Bika Humka and Peskovita Humka, reaching an absolute height of 86 meters.

In the study of the relief of Vojvodina, especially northern Banat, Dr. Branislav Bukurov identified two main geomorphological forms in this area: the loess terrace and the alluvial plain.

Geological Composition

In geological and petrographic terms, the Novi Becej subregion is highly intriguing. We have already highlighted that the loess terrace is fundamentally composed of terrestrial—typical, re-deposited, and marsh loess. In delving deeper into this geomorphological entity, we emphasized that the material of the loess terrace accumulates on both dry and moist marshy soils, resulting in a mixture of terrestrial and marsh fauna in subaerial, fluvial, and marshy materials. The geological foundation of this area, besides loess, consists of fine-grained spatters and clays. Therefore, from a geological perspective, this region consists of diverse clays, sands, and loess sandy deposits, predominantly from the Quaternary era.

Climate Conditions

The Novi Becej subregion, as part of the broader Vojvodina region, is located in the area of a temperate continental climate. The insignificant range of geographic latitude between the northernmost and southernmost points in Vojvodina, within 2°, and the evenness of the terrain, have resulted in minimal microclimatic differences between individual subregions. The orotopographic structure of the Pannonian Plain, mostly surrounded by mountain massifs, has influenced the formation of the basic climatic characteristics of Vojvodina. The openness of the Vojvodina region to the north and west has allowed for stronger influences of air currents and weather changes from these directions. Therefore, the climate of this region has a more continental character than expected based on its general geographical position.

Hydrography of the Region

The Novi Bečej subregion shares similar hydrographic characteristics with other municipalities in the Tisza River Valley. The hydrography of this region consists of surface and groundwater. Surface hydrography includes the Tisza River, a section of the Danube-Tisza-Danube Canal, and several larger ponds and lakes. Given the relatively high level of groundwater in most of the Novi Bečej municipality's territory, this work will specifically address groundwater.

Flora and Fauna

The plant life of the Novi Bečej subregion exhibits basic characteristics of the Pannonian steppe vegetation, with distinct features of the vegetation in the Banat region. Natural vegetation in the majority of this area has been replaced by cultivated crops. Over 90% of the areas covered by the original steppe vegetation have been plowed and converted into arable land. Typical natural vegetation with indigenous plants persists along roadsides, in various depressions, on saline surfaces, in marshes and swamps, and in certain parts of the alluvial plain and loess terraces.

Pedological Composition

In the territory of the Novi Bečej subregion, all types and subtypes of soil characteristic for the Banat part of the Potisje region are represented. Therefore, there is a noticeable diversity of soil in the field, characterized by variability, unevenness, and a pronounced intermixing of individual soil types. All of this leads to the conclusion that, in addition to general and external factors, local factors have had a significant influence on the formation of the surface soil in this subregion.

It is a well-known fact that the basic factors in soil formation include geological composition, vegetation, climate, and hydrological conditions. Accordingly, the parent substrate or geological foundation is one of the fundamental factors in soil formation in Vojvodina, including the area of the Novi Bečej municipality. This substrate consists of sedimentary rocks, loess, and alluvial deposits—loose rocks characterized by water permeability. This property was a decisive factor in the settlement of plants and the formation of the humus layer during the period of surface soil formation, significantly affecting the fertility and basic quality of the soil.

A brief historical overview of settlements and population development

Based on detailed and multi-year archaeological research, it has been established that Banat, like the entire Pannonian Plain, was inhabited since prehistoric times. Throughout historical periods, various peoples settled in the territory of Banat. Some notable ones include Romans, Goths, Gepids, Huns, Avars, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Tatars, Turks, and many others. Among Slavic peoples, Serbs and Croats, and later other Slavic peoples of the Balkan Peninsula, also settled in the Banat region. Some of these peoples stayed longer, while others for a shorter time. Many have long since migrated, while some have disappeared, assimilated by other nations. Of all the mentioned peoples whose members now live in the Novi Becej sub-region, Serbs and Hungarians can be considered indigenous ethnic groups, while all others inhabiting the present territory of the municipality are considered newcomers who settled here after the expulsion of the Turks from these regions.

Quantitative Movement of Population (1869-1981)

Following a brief historical overview of the initial settlements and population origins, we will explore the population dynamics from the second half of the 19th century to 1981. Given the distinctive characteristics of population movement in the Novi Becej subregion, we will concurrently present and analyze data on the quantitative movement of populations in two neighboring municipalities, both on a narrower and broader scale.

Natural Population Growth

The natural population growth is influenced by two basic components among other factors: birth rate (or natality) and death rate (or mortality). The difference between these two components constitutes the natural population growth in a specific area. The natural development of the population in the Novi Bečej sub-region, observed and analyzed over a longer period, exhibits various changes.

Analysis of the gender and age structure of the population of the Municipality of Novi Bečej: An overview through the census years 1961 and 1971.

Due to the incomplete processing of data from the 1981 population census, a more detailed analysis of the gender and age structure of the population of the municipality of Novi Bečej can only be based on the results of earlier census years. According to the 1961 population census, out of a total of 33,507 residents, 16,965 or 50.60% were female. The proportional ratio between male and female population in this census year was quite good. When analyzing the population by year of birth and gender from 1951 to 1961, it is observed that more female than male children were born only in 1958 and 1961, while in all other census years during the observed period, masculinity was higher.

Dynamics of ethnic structure: Analysis of changes in the population of the Municipality of Novi Bečej

The ethnic structure of the population in the municipality's territory is highly diverse. In this subregion, more than 12 different ethnic groups have been residing for a long time. In a brief historical overview of the settlement of this territory, it was emphasized that Serbs were the first settlers, and they have remained in this area to this day. Subsequently, Hungarians settled in several instances, followed by Germans and other ethnic groups. Greater ethnic diversity emerged only after World War II.

Progress and challenges: The educational structure of Novi Bečej in the 20th century

The educational structure of the population has two significant components: literacy and the educational attainment of residents. The number of literate and illiterate individuals is determined for those aged 10 and above, who could have achieved literacy based on their age.

Demographic analysis of Novi Bečej: Population and economy in the second half of the 20th century

The population is divided into three main groups based on activity. The first group consists of active individuals, the second comprises individuals with personal incomes, and the third includes supported individuals. Active population consists of individuals working in various economic and non-economic activities, thereby earning income for their livelihood. Individuals with personal incomes include retirees, individuals under guardianship, etc. The category of supported individuals consists of the population unable to generate income for various reasons (children, elderly without pensions, sick individuals, etc.). This category is supported by active individuals and those with personal incomes.

Demographic and economic characteristics of the municipality of Novi Bečej in the 20th century

In a ten-year period, from the population census of 1971 to 1981, the number of households increased from 10,020 to 10,280, representing a growth of 2.59%. Analyzing data from 1953, a continuous mild increase in the number of households is observed until the last census. However, this growth is not a result of an increase in the total population or significant immigration of new families. On the contrary, the increase in the number of households results from the continuous division of larger families. Improved economic conditions and an increase in the standard of living lead younger families to build new houses and apartments, establishing entirely new households. Older family members remain in the old rural houses with agricultural holdings and the entire economy to which all household facilities were adapted.

Demographic dynamics and migration patterns of the municipality of Novi Bečej: A view through the 20th century

In the absence of processed and published data from the Provincial Institute of Statistics of the SAP Vojvodina on the 1981 population census, we will also analyze the migration characteristics of the population of the municipality of Novi Bečej based on the 1971 data. According to migration characteristics, the entire population of the municipality can be divided into two groups. The first group consists of indigenous population, i.e., individuals born in a specific settlement within this municipality and have been residing in the same place since birth. The second group consists of individuals who have migrated to the settlement of their permanent residence from the areas within the same municipality and other municipalities of SAP Vojvodina, the SR Serbia, and other republics.

Economic development of Novi Bečej in the 20th century: Stagnation and the first tendencies of change

The development of the economy in the Novi Bečej subregion is characterized by two periods. Before the Second World War, economic activity in the municipality was very uniform, primarily focused on agricultural production. The initial foundations of industrial production included brick and tile manufacturing, as well as flour and dairy product production in the food industry. These were modest capacities that only hinted at the future development of certain industrial sectors. Some types of crafts were more developed, making craftsmanship a significant economic branch in the municipality, especially in Novi Bečej.

Agriculture in Novi Bečej in the 20th century: Development, land structure and social sector

Agriculture in Novi Bečej in the 20th century: Development, land structure and social sector

Among the leading branches of the economy, agriculture and industry hold the first two positions. Agriculture, as an economic sector, has multiple significances. Serving as a producer of food and raw materials for the industry, it plays vital roles in the municipality's economy. There are highly favorable natural and economic conditions for the development of this economic activity. Out of the total area of the Novi Bečej subregion, which amounts to 60,961 hectares, arable land constitutes 70.5%. The majority of these areas, owing to favorable morphological, chemical, physical, and biological characteristics, represent fertile and productive soil.