Monday, September 28, 2009

Banat Defined

The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe located between three countries: the eastern part lies in Romania, the western part in Serbia, and a small northern part in Hungary.  It is bordered on the east by Transylvania and Walachia, on the west by the Tisza River, on the north by the Mure┼čul River, and on the south by the Danube.

The term banat originally referred to a frontier provinces that were ruled by bans.  The word "ban" is of Slavic origin meaning lord, governor, or viceroy.

The region (with the exception of some eastern mountains) is primarily an agricultural area of fertile, rolling plains. Inhabited since prehistoric times, the Banat was occupied successively by Romans, Goths, Gepidae, Huns, and Avars.

By the Treaty of Passarowitz (1718), the Banat was made an Austrian military frontier zone known as the Banat of Temesvar. Empress Maria Theresa put the region under civilian government in 1751 and brought in thousands of German colonists. In 1779 the Banat passed to Hungary, to which it belonged until 1918, except for a brief period as an Austrian crownland.

Although the Allies in World War I had promised through a secret agreement to give the Banat to Romania, it was divided by the Treaty of Trianon (1920) between Romania and newly independent Yugoslavia, with the Szeged district reserved for Hungary.

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