About Sombor


The city of Sombor is situated between 19°06'44’ east longitude and between 46°34'15’ to 45°46'27’ north latitude.

The territory of Sombor is spread over an area of 1 177.22 km², covering 13.50% of the District territory, 5.47% of AP Vojvodina, i.e. 1.33% of the territory of the Republic of Serbia. According to size, the city of Sombor is the second largest administrative unit in the AP Vojvodina, after Zrenjanin, and with the total population of 97 263, according to the 2002 census, it is the fourth most populous municipality in the AP Vojvodina, after Novi Sad, Subotica and Pančevo.

Sombor is also the administrative centre of the West Bačka District.

The city’s territory comprises the city itself and 15 settlements – villages: Aleksa Šantić, Bački Breg, Bački Monoštor, Bezdan, Gakovo, Kljajićevo, Kolut, Rastina, Riđica, Svetozar Miletić, Stanišić, Stapar, Telečka, Čonoplja and suburban settlements: Bilić, Bukovac, Gradina, Žarkovac, Kozara, Lenija, Lugovo, Milčić, Nenadić, Obzir, Radojevići, Rančevo, Centrala, Čičovi, Šikara and Šaponje.

Sombor is spread over an area of 17 cadastral municipalities, covering the total of 117 722 ha, 36 are and 90 m², with an average of 69 km² per cadastral municipality.

There are 22 local communities in Sombor. The city itself has 7 local communities, while the other 15 are in the surrounding settlements. The most densely populated one is the local community of Gornja Varoš with 15 738 and the least populated one is Rastina with 567 inhabitants.

82.65 % of the city area is agricultural land, which represents a major potential for further intensification of agriculture.



According to the 2002 census, the city of Sombor has a population of 99 949. At the end of the 20th century, the number was rising, with the exception of the year 1991 when the population growth rate was negative (-3.09) and considerably low compared to the West Bačka District or Serbia. The next census, carried out in 2002, has already shown a population growth and the growth rate was 4.00 which was 100% higher than the rate at the District level and considerably higher in comparison to the national growth rate.

According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia that conducts annual municipal population assessments, the number of Sombor inhabitants, in comparison with the last, 2002, census (97 515), has been decreasing over the past years.

The population declined by 1.000 inhabitants on average, therefore, according to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, it was found to amount to 92 887 in 2006. The population growth rate of Sombor is negative as well as in the West Bačka District and the Republic of Serbia as a whole.

According to settlement types, as per the 2002 census, 52.92% of the population belongs to urban population, and 47.08% to other types.

During 2007, the total number of births in the territory of Sombor was 669. According to statistics, 7.3 children are born per 1 000 people. The number is slightly higher in the West Bačka District - 7.5, while on the state level it amounts to 9.2 newborns per 1 000 inhabitants.

The population growth rate is negative which is very distinct in comparison with both district and national level.

58.17% of inhabitants aged 15 and over (82 845) are married. There is a large percentage (24.81%) of single and unmarried men and women. This is a common trend in all rural areas of Serbia, including Sombor. Male population stays and works in the rural households, while female population gravitates to urban areas and moves to the city. A positive image of the city is projected in a low divorce rate (4.69) which reflects traditionalism and firmly rooted attitudes toward true values of life.



According to 2002 statistics, 48.16% (46 839) of the total population (97 263) is male and 51.84% (50 424) female. 51 417 people are citizens of the City itself (urban population 52.92%), while the rest of the population – 45 792 is rural (47.08%). The city’s population is mostly elderly, considering that 14.82% of citizens are younger than 15, while 37.71% are aged over 50. Average age of the population is 41.0 (39.1 for men and 42.7 for women), with rural population being slightly older (41.7) than urban (40.3). Within all age groups under 49 years, male population is prevailing. Within the 35-39 age group, the number of women is equal to the number of men, while there are more women than men in all other 50 and over age groups. The largest proportion of population is aged between 50 and 54 years (8.08%).

The city’s age structure shows that the majority of citizens (67.76%) belongs to the working-age population (15-64 years old) while the smallest age group comprises preschool children under the age of 6 (5.91%).

The aging index, representing the ratio between old (60 years and over) and young population (between 0-19 years of age), indicates that the population of Sombor is mostly elderly. The average life span of men is 69.2 and 75.2 for women.

The city of Sombor has 3.68% larger female than male population. A similar discrepancy (3.1%) is present at the district level as well as in the entire Republic of Serbia (2.74%). Out of the total population (97 263), 50 424 citizens of Sombor are female and 46 839 male.

Sombor is ethnically diverse, with as many as 21 registered ethnicities. 61.48% (59,799) of the total population, is Serbian, 12.73% (12 386) Hungarian, 8.33% (8 106) Croatian, 2.81% (2 730) Bunjevac, 926 citizens registered as Montenegrins, 5,098 Yugoslavians, 100 Albanians, 30 Bosniaks, 32 Bulgarian, 42 Goranci, 167 Macedonians and 94 Muslims, but there are also registered Germans (339), Roma (415), Romanians (250), Ruthenians (75), Slovaks (117), Slovenians (81), Ukrainians (27) and Czechs (16).

Since majority of Sombor population is Serbian, the predominant religion is Orthodox Christianity (61.31%). 28.07% of the population is Roman Catholic, while Protestantism is practiced by 0.49%. Other religions and the non-religious make up 10.13% of the population.

The most common native language in Sombor is Serbian (81.93%), followed by Hungarian (12.14%) and Croatian (2.93%).

The number of economically active individuals in Sombor amounts to 42 235. Out of the total number of working individuals (32 924), the majority are men (19 545). There are 22 057 of individuals with personal income, the vast majority of whom (20 759) are men. The number of dependants is almost the same as the number of working individuals, i.e. it is only 0.11% smaller. The percentage of expatriates is negligible as they make up only 0.16%.

According to the 2002 census, the working population amounts to 32 924, 19 545 of whom are men and 13 379 women. The majority of the population is engaged in agriculture, hunting and forestry, followed by the processing industry. Share of women in total employment is 40.6% and their participation is only bigger in health and social work, education, financial mediation and trade.

There are 28 455 registered families in Sombor, 31.31% of which are without children and 68.69% with children. According to the number of children, one-child families (9,738) make up the largest percentage (34.22%) of the total number of families and only 64 families (0.22%) have 5 or more children. The average number of children under 25 years of age per family is 1.63.

According to the 2002 statistics, there were 34 140 households in Sombor with an average of 2.84 members. The majority of households has two members (8 961), followed by 7,152 four-member households, 7 080 single-member households and 6 856 three-member households. Only 16 households have 10 or more members.

Immigrants make up 45.89% of Sombor population, while native-born citizens make up 54.10%. The majority of immigrants (16 029) immigrated during the period between 1991 and 2002 as a consequence of the war in ex-Yugoslavia. The individuals make up 16.48% of the total population of Sombor. A large number of inhabitants immigrated between 1946 and 1960 (8,395) which makes up 8.63% of the total Sombor population.

There are 7 869 commuters in the city. 5 486 (69.72%) of them commute for work on a daily basis; 4 715 to other settlements of the same municipality, 745 to other municipalities, and 21 to other countries. The number of daily commuters for school is 2 383 (30.28%), 1,667 of which are school children and 716 are university students.

The largest number of the daily commuters (5 486) works in the processing industry (2 143 i.e. 39.06%), followed by agriculture, hunting and forestry (564 i.e.10.28 %), transport, storage and communication (537 i.e. 9.79%), and trade and motor vehicle repair (457 i.e. 8.33%). Others work in public administration, defence, construction and health and social welfare.

Out of the total 35 621 housing units in Sombor, 34 535 are owned by natural persons. Most of the units are two bedroom houses (36.79%) with average surface of 61.17 m², followed by three bedroom houses (30.26%) with average surface of 82.61 m² and four bedroom houses (13.05%) with average surface of 101.67 m². More than 95% of the housing units are supplied with water and electricity and include bathrooms.

95.59% (32 629) of the total number of occupied housing units are used by individual households. Houses accommodating 2 people are predominant and make up 25.09% of the total number of housing units in the territory of the city of Sombor. There are 20.90% of houses accommodating 4 people and 19.35% accommodating a single person. The number of housing units accommodating 7 or more people is extremely low and comprises 1.99% of the total number of housing units in Sombor.

The highest real estate price per sqm is paid for a studio in the city centre (750 €), while the price on the outskirts is 100 € lower. Price of one bedroom flat is 30 € per sqm lower, while two bedroom houses sell for 70 € less. The lowest price per sqm is paid for houses with more than three bedrooms (400 €).


History


In the 14th century, a feudal Hungarian property owned by Cobor-Szent Mihály started to grow into a small town. The city today bears his name.

The Cobor-Szent Mihály was rapidly growing and progressing and the fact that meetings of the Assembly of the Bodrog County were occasionally held there, testifies to it.

In 1541, Cobor-Szent Mihály was conquered by the Ottomans. In their ‘defterler’ (notebooks) dating back to 1543, the Turks use the name Sombor instead of Cobor-Szent Mihály.

At the time of the Ottoman conquest, Sombor was a large town, with a citadel and many jewellery stores (Serbian: kujundžije from the Turkish kuyumcular). There was about 2 000 houses and Sombor was considered a rich town. Most of the citizens were Christian Vlachs (Serbians) but Hungarians lived there too.

In 1554, Sombor became the administrative centre of the Sanjak of Segedin (Serbian: Segedinski sandžak, Turkish: Segedin Sancağı, Hungarian: Szegedi szandzsák) which comprised 46 settlements and was a wide area military, administrative, juridical, commercial and religious centre. At the time, Sombor had two madrasahs (Islamic schools) and tekijas (dervish houses for meditation from the Turkish word tekke meaning dervish), 6 primary schools, 2 khans (roadside inns) for travellers and a hamam (Turkish bath).

On 12 September 1687, Sombor was conquered by Austrians. In 1687, 5 000 Bunjevci settled in it and Serbians led by Arsenije III Čarnojević came in 1690. It was then that Sombor became a frontier town and its military unit assisted in the Battle of Slankamen in 1691 and the Battle of Senta fought on 11 September 1697. As a result, Sombor acquired a good reputation and became the administrative centre of the Bačka County. In 1702, Sombor became ‘oppidum fossatum’ within the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1717, it was granted the status of an ‘oppidum militare’, and the Count Jovan Branković became the first captain of the military town. The first Orthodox religious school in Sombor was founded the same year and a Catholic primary school in 1722. In 1716, the people of Sombor, led by the captain Branković, assisted the conquest of Petrovaradin and, in 1717, of Belgrade as well. They suffered casualties fighting for the Habsburg Monarchy in Poland, Turkey and various battlefields in Europe. Two thirds of Sombor population at the time were Orthodox.

For its loyalty to the Monarchy, Sombor was granted land and the people of Sombor were exempt from paying taxes to the Austrian Monarchy. The Monarchy granted pieces of land to the soldiers depending on their rank. Infantrymen got 18 ha of arable land, corporals and cavalrymen 24 ha, infantry first sergeants 31 ha, cavalry first sergeants 46 ha, infantry flag bearers 61 ha, cavalry flag bearers 96 ha, lieutenants 112, and captains 192 ha. The grand captain had high privileges and was granted 354 ha of arable land.

When the Ottomans no longer presented a danger, upon request by the county government and Hungarian aristocrats, the military was stripped of their privileges. The Viennese Court opposed the changes but the Empress Maria Theresa had been under a lot of pressure so, in 1741, she signed the ‘Legal Article XVIII’ subjugating military towns to county authorities, and the military unit was disbanded. Sombor then joined the Bačka County and was placed under the authority of the Hungarian Court. By this, the people of Sombor were deprived of all privileges. Aware of their loss, they gathered in front of the Great Orthodox Church, on 18 November 1745, and agreed not to give up on their privileges. They managed to keep them but for a high price of 150 000 golden forints paid to the royal treasury.

On 17 February 1749, the Empress Maria Theresa signed the Charter of Privileges granting Sombor the Free Royal City status.

Despite the high price that Sombor paid, in the same time, it gained a lot. The city was granted 11 unpopulated areas later on used to establish, mostly rural, settlements that still bear their old names: Bukovac, Čičovi, Gradina, Ivanovo Selo, Šaponje, Bilić, Nenadić, Karakorija, Rančevo, Bračevac and Pipereš.

In 1759, the Serbian Orthodox Church founded a four-year Grammar School and later on a Latin school managed by the Franciscans. By establishing ‘Norma’, Avram Mrazović built a foundation for teacher education of Serbians and other South Slavic nations in the area.

In 1786 Sombor became the permanent seat of the Bács-Bodrog County. The second largest county in Hungary covered the vast area between the rivers Danube and Tisa, bordering with Kalocsa to the north encompassing also the cities of Subotica and Novi Sad.

Many cultural, educational and banking institutions and, later on, sports associations, were established in Sombor at the time. It became an important administrative, trade, craft, traffic, cultural and educational centre. It got its first railway in 1869. Already existing greenery spread around turning the city into a green oasis. On 12 October 1850, Károly Bitterman started the first printing company and the first newspapers and magazines were issued.



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