It is a historic and geographical area of Central Europe, presently divided among three countries. Westerb Banata is in Serbia, eastern in Romania, and a small northern one in Hungary. The Banat population consists of Serbs and Romanians, and a small number of Hungarian, Roma and Germans.
RELIGION AND TRADITION
In the 16th and 17th century, the Serbian Orthodox population was numerous and there were several eparchies (dioceses): Lipov, Timisoara, Bečkerek and Vršac. After the 1690 Great Serbian Migration, the Bečkerek eparchy was united with the Timisoara one.
In the 20th century, the Vršac and parts of the Timisoara eparchy were united into the Banat eparchy in Yugoslavia. There is still an old Timisoara eparchy in the Rumanian part of Banat because of the Serbs who live there.
Banat is part of the Pannonia flatland between the Danube in the south, Tisza in the west and Muresh in the north and the Carpathian edge line in the east.
The Serbian Banat area covers three regions: Northern Banat, Central Banat and Southern Banat, as well as Pančevački Rit (the Pancevo Bogs), belonging to the Belgrade municipality of Palilula.
The major Banata towns are Zrenjanin, Pančevo, Kikinda and Vršac.
In the 17th century, parts of Banat were annexed to the Habsburg monarchy. In the mid 18thcentury, when the danger from the Ottomans ceased, the Empress Maria Teresa started a process of demilitarisation of the frontier region and the introduction of the new civil administration. She moved to Banat a great number of peasants from other parts of the empire.
Serbs were offered to stay, but in a new role and without any political priviliges they used to have as frontiersmen of the Austrian state.
Instead of the erstwhile frontier, the imperial authorities – some twenty years later – established the Great Tisza Basin District and the Great Kikinda Distric.
The serbs did not accept the new political status in Banat. A great number of frontiersmen moved to the Russian regions, where –several generations later – they lost their national identity.
After the WWI there were attempts to establish the Banat Republic with Timisoara as its capital, but the Serbian army prevented it. Banat was divided into Romanian counties of Timis, Karas-Severin and Arad, the Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodinu and the Hungarian county of Csongrad.