The main topographical features of Serbia are represented by lowlands in the north and mountain ranges in the south.
The Pannonian Plain makes up the northern lowland area of Serbia. It takes up the extensive level plain in the territory of Vojvodina (Srem, Banat, and Bačka) and the narrow belt south of the Danube and Sava rivers. The greater part of the Pannonian Plain lies 200m below sea-level.
The Pannonian area of the territory is made up of the Rhodope, Carpatho-Balkan, and Dinaric mountain ranges and in between are many ravines and river valleys. The Rhodope Mountains lie in southeastern Serbia, among which the highest and most well known are: Dukat, Besna Kobila, Vardenik, Čemernik, Kukavica, Vid-ojevica, Jastrebac and Juhor. The Carpatho-Balkan mountain range takes up the eastern area of Serbia. Among the highest and most well known of these are: the Homolje mountains, Beljanica, Kucaj, Miroč, Deli Jovan as well as others. The Balkan range spreads out south of the Crnorečka valley and winds its way toward the Bulgarian border. This range is made up of the Rtanj, Ozren, Devica, Suva Planina and Stara Planina. The Dinaric Alps make up the largest part of the mountain ranges of south/southwestern Serbia. They are made up of many mountainous groupings: Prokletije, Sar-Planina, Starovlasko-Raske mountains and the Kopaonik mountain group. The Prokletije group falls into the category of the highest and most rocky mountain group in the Balkans. Here lies the tallest peak in the country – Deravica (2.656 m). The many glacial lakes, peaks, and rolling hills lend a particular natural value to these mountains. Sara Mountain is known for its meadows, pastures, glacial lakes and beautiful pastures which are attractive to tourists.
The Starovlaško-Raške mountains make up an integral part of the Dinaric Alps. They include: Tara, Zlatibor, Zlatar, Čemerno, Giljeva, Javor, Golija, Jelica, Ljubišnja, among others. Rich forests, meadows, pastures, along with a multitude of flowers and medicinal herbs adorn the Starovlaška mountains. Kopaonik, Željin, Goč and Stolovi lie in the surroundings of the Ibar and Western Morava valleys. Due to the presence of certain ores and minerals (iron, zinc, copper) this district represents the ’’Serbian Urals”. Kopaonik is presently renowned as a Serbian and world-class tourist center with many different kinds of flora and fauna. The most well known mountains of the Šumadija group are: Avala, Kosmaj, Bukulja, Venčac, Rudnik and Juhor. Mineral rich mountains stretch from the Sava in the north to the Detinja River in the south. The best known of this group of mountains are: Gučevo, Boranja, Sokolske Planine, Povlen, Maljen, Suvobor, while Cer and Vlašić fall into the category of a particular type of rocky mountain.
When taking into account effects resulting from external and internal factors, Serbia has three climatic types: continental, mildly-continental and mountainous. A continental climate is prevalent in the Pannonian lowlands. Mildly-continental is prevalent in the mountain valley regions, while in higher altitudes (above 800-1,000m) the climate is quite severe; real mountain weather. Of course, in the higher mountains the weather is of a severe, mountain-climate type. Abundant snow cover and a high number of days with snowfall make mountain climate accommodating for the development of tourism. Kopaonik, Stara Mountain and Šar-Planina are good examples of this.
The many rivers and lakes, water-filled chasms, along with hot and mineral springs make Serbia very multifaceted hydrographically.
The largest river in Central and Southeastern Europe, the Danube, flows through Serbia for a length of 588km. Breaking out of the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube carves out the largest penetrating gorge in Europe (the ’’Iron gates”) which spans 96km. Some of the other large rivers in the Black Sea watershed are the Sava, Tisa, Drina, Kolubara and Velika Morava. Velika Morava, collectively, is the largest domestic river and originates from the Južna (South) and Zapadna (Western) Morava which meet at Stalac. It forms an expansive web of waterways and represents an important traffic thoroughfare in the Balkan Peninsula.
Lakes The territory of Serbia holds many smaller lakes – both natural and artificial. The largest and most well-known of these are: Đerdap (the largest artificial lake, it was made by the damming of the Danube), Vlasina (near Surduli-ca), Perućac (near Bajina Bašta), Zlatar (near Nova Varos), Palic and Ludos (near Subotica), among others. In the high mountain area around Prokletije and Sar Planina are a number of small glacial lakes.
Hot and mineral waters There are few countries in the world that possess, in such a relatively small area, such a large number of thermal and mineral springs. Serbia is often referred to as the “land of springs”, however, only a small number of these have been utilized and developed into spas or are used for touristically-recreative and health needs. Most of the springs in Serbia were used by the ancient Romans, who built saunas, baths, summer homes, pools, fountains and the like, which has been borne out through archeological digs.
Today in Serbia the most well known and most frequented spas are: Vrnjacka, Niska, Sokobanja, Banja Koviljaca, Kanjiza, among others. The hottest mineral spring in Serbia and Europe is Vranjska Banja with water temperatures of 90 – 96°C. The highest spa in Serbia is Lukovska Banja (680m), which is on the eastern slope of Kopaonik. When it comes to geysers, the biggest attraction is Sijarinska Banja. It is located in the southeastern part of Serbia and its column of water shoots out at around 9m in height.
Plant and animal life
I he plant life in Serbia is made up of many different types. In the area of the Pannonian Plain, the native steppe-grass has been cultivated and converted into cultured vegetation, becoming a grain-producing area. The interior of the land is mostly taken up by meadows and deciduous and evergreen forests, among which are included types that are endemic to the area, such as: Panciceva omorika (Picea omorika), Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) and Macedonian pine (Pinus peuce). Some plant types are associated with significant cultural and tourist manifestations: “Beli narcis” or White Narcissus (Divčibare), “Dužijansa” (celebration of the wheat harvest in Subotica), “Berba grožđa” (grape picking in Vršac, Aleksandrovac, Smederevo…), “Kosidba na Rajcu” (the scything competition in Rajac) and others.
Tourists can best get to know the world of plant and animal life in Serbia by touring its national parks, of which Serbia has five (5), park preserves (20), nature preserves (115), natural monuments (403), and forest preserves (9). There you can see 251 types of rare, protected plants and 427 different types of rare, protected animals.
Of the animal kingdom in the Pannonian Plain the most common, and most represented, members are: the wolf, fox, rabbit, wild boar, and various types of wild fowl. The mountain regions contain bears, deer, wolves, foxes, badgers, wild boars, martens, squirrels, etc. In the water live many different species of fish and crabs.