The Drina River

The name Drina comes from a Roman name of the river, Drinos which they took over from the native population. Most probably it was the name of a mythical pagan deity to whom even human sacrifice was made. Serbs adopted the name Drina, but for a long time the river was also called Zelenika, the green river, for its green waters. Because of its winding course, there is a saying, Who would straighten the winding Drina (do something impossible) or Don’t you make out the curvy Drina (wasting time doing useless and futile things).

If the Morava river is central to Serbia, its main blood vessel, the Drina is a historic and a critical one, dividing and connecting Serbs from Serbia and those “across” the Drina – of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Throughout history, the Drina has been more often than not a border, separating Serbs of different countries.

The Drina was also an old borderline between the Eastern and Western Roman Empire, the East and the West.

It is formed by the confluence of two rivers, the Piva and the Tara, both flowing from Montenegro, creating a juncture at Šćepan-polje, on the border between Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska). Along its course, the Drina has created steep ravines and canyons, and in its lower course, near the confluence with the Sava, it winds through the flatlands like a snake. The juncture with the Sava is at Sremska Rača (between Bijeljina, Bosnia and Šabac, Serbia). The whole area along its course is called Podrinje, the Drina region. The most important towns and places around the Drina are: Foča, Goražde, Višegrad, Zvornik and Bijeljina (already in Posavina, the Sava region), Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bajina Bašta, Ljubovija, Banja Koviljača, Loznica and Šabac (Posavina), Serbia.

It used to be notorious for its floods. In the late 19th century the level of the Drina waters was recorded at 14m higher than normal. In the 20th century three hydroelectric power plants were built on the river: Višegrad, Bajina Bašta and Zvornik. Thus the wild river was finally tamed. Today, its remaining rapids are favourite tourist places for white water rafting. Also, there are artificial lakes around the power plants, tourist attractions, as well. There are several famous bridges, or ćuprija (a Turkish word for bridge) over the Drina. The best known is the one in Višegrad, described in The Bridge on the Drina, a novel by a Nobel Prize winner, Ivo Andrić. The more recent ones are the Pavlovića Bridge nearby Bijeljina, connecting two fertile regions along the Sava – Semberia on the left Drina bank (B&H) and Mačva on the right bank (Serbia).

The Drina waters are still clean and clear. There are several sorts of fish that people like to fish in the river and its lakes, the Drina salmon (Hucho hucho) being the most famous, then there are catfish, carp and common nase fish. The largest Drina tributaries are the Sutjeska, the Drinjača and Janja as its left tributaries, and the right ones are the Ćehotina, Lim, Rzav and Jadar.

The best known mountain on the Drina course is Tara (mid course), and below Maglić (the upper course) are the last remains of the oldest primordial forest – Perućica.

Today the Drina and its surroundings rank among the greatest Serbian tourist attractions.

Кад је Ђорђе Србијом завлад’о,
И Србију крстом прекрстио,
И својијем крилом закрилио
Од Видина пак до воде Дрине,
Од Косова те до Биограда,
’Вако Ђорђе Дрини говорио:
„Дрина водо! племенита међо
„Измеђ’ Босне и измеђ’ Србије!
„Наскоро ће и то време доћи,
„Када ћу ја и тебека прећи
„И честиту Босну полазити!“

Taken from the folk epic The Beginning of the Revolt against the Dahi.

,,For its longest course, the Drina goes through narrow gorges between the steep mountains or deep canyons of vertical sides. Only on several points of the river course its banks get wider into open valleys, creating glens either on one side only or on both, that are sometimes flat, sometimes wavy, landscapes fit for farming and settlements.”

Taken from the novel The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric.