Diversity and Wealth of the Municipality of Novi Bečej: Geographic Monograph with Overview of Natural Characteristics, Population, Economy, and Settlements

Explore the deeply rooted natural charms and economic potentials of the Municipality of Novi Bečej through a comprehensive geographical monograph. Familiarize yourself with fascinating aspects of the terrain, geology, climate, water bodies, flora, and fauna, while simultaneously delving into vibrant settlements and diverse industries. This informative book provides valuable insights into the richness of this unique Vojvodina region, offering a broad spectrum of information useful for education, regional planning, and preserving local identity.



In the southeastern part of the Novi Bečej subregion lies Kumane. This settlement is closest to the center of the municipality — only 12 km away from Novi Bečej. It is built on a river terrace — an accumulative elevation left behind by the Tisa River. Due to the very low and flood-prone terrain and the unregulated course of the Tisa, Kumane changed its location several times in the past. The last time, in 1801, a new settlement was built at the current location.

Compared to the wider Banat region, Kumane is situated in the middle Banat, on a vast alluvial plain of the Tisa River. According to geographic coordinates, it is positioned at 20 degrees and 14 minutes east longitude and 45 degrees and 33 minutes north latitude.

The geographical position of the settlement is not the most favorable. Several natural-geographical and socio-geographical factors have influenced this. Among them are: large flood areas, a small percentage of high-quality and fertile land, and a long-standing location away from main transportation routes. Not so long ago, Kumane was connected to neighboring settlements and the wider area only by a railway line. Being outside of major transportation routes also contributed to the slower pace of the settlement's development and its economy. With the construction of an asphalt road from Melenac to Novi Bečej, which passes through the settlement, transportation conditions have significantly improved. Through this road, Kumane is connected, via Melenac, to a very important road connection in Banat: Belgrade — Zrenjanin — Kikinda. Through Novi Bečej, a road connection with other settlements in the municipality has been established, and through the dam-bridge, connections with Bečej and Bačka as a whole.

The territory of the settlement covers an area of 18,325 cadastral acres. It is bordered to the north by the territory of Novi Bečej, to the east by the territory of Melenac, to the south by the territory of Taraš, and to the west by the current course of the Tisa. The entire territory of Kumane is divided into smaller sections — fields, such as: Stara zemlja, Livade, Selište, Parlog, Mlaka, Srednji vinogradi, Borđoš, Mali rit, Veliki rit. About 82% of the total territory consists of productive soil. It is characteristic that these areas have very poor pedological composition, and in terms of the quality of arable land, Kumane ranks last among all settlements in the municipality. Degraded chernozem accounts for 57%, with significantly lower production capacity compared to typical chernozem. 23% is represented by swampy black soil, and the remaining 20% consists of saline soil.

There are several depressions around the settlement and within the territory, varying in shape, size, and depth. These are remnants of the former course of the Tisa, which are occasionally or permanently filled with water. These depressions represent unproductive areas, covering a total of about 700 cadastral acres. Among the larger depressions, which are filled with water throughout the year, notable ones include: Ostrovo, Tešanova jaruga, and Baba Midina jaruga. The "kopovi" are shallower depressions where water is retained only until July. They vary in size, from 20 to 150 hectares. Most of them have very characteristic names, such as "Trifunagića kopov," "Karlice," "Aranga," "Sinatrova kopov," "Kapamadžijina kopov," "Mutljača," "Prokina kopov."

The unsatisfactory pedological and hydrographic conditions have historically oriented the farmers of this settlement towards livestock farming more than is the case with other settlements in the municipality. In addition to agriculture and livestock farming, there is a brickyard in the settlement, producing full bricks, and a chemical industry plant producing various cleaning agents. Trade and hospitality are of local significance and character, while craftsmanship, like in other places, is poorly developed.

Name and history of the settlement
It is presumed that the name of the village originates from the Kumans, a branch of Asian Turks who, in the 11th century, in their campaign towards Central Europe, reached these areas. According to archaeological remains, the first human settlement at this location dates back to the Neolithic period. However, in historical documents, this settlement is mentioned only in the 17th century, during the period of Turkish rule. In the known Pećkatostigu, or the list of contributions to the Peć Patriarchate from 1660 and 1661, Kumane is mentioned as a Serbian municipality in Banat. Until the settlement of Serbs — border guards in these areas, the settlement had only a few houses. At the census of 1717, this village had only 13 houses, and on Merci's map, it was marked as a former destroyed habitat, under the name Kumani. From 1750, this settlement was owned by the imperial treasury, leased by the Society of lessees of the southern Hungarian imperial estates. At that time, in 1752, border guards began to settle the Tisza-Pomorišje military borders, and Kumane became the headquarters of one company. With the settlement of border guards, the number of inhabitants gradually increased, and the settlement began to expand territorially. Later, in 1774, this place joined the privileged Kikinda district. Dissatisfied with the demilitarization of these areas, some of the population protested, and 36 families emigrated from Kumane to the area of the Danube military border, which was then being formed.

During the war between Austria and Turkey in 1788, 18 large families relocated from Serbia to Kumane. Along with other villages in the Kikinda free district, this Banat settlement received a charter of privileged status. In the mid-19th century (1854), the village suffered from a major fire, which at that time engulfed most settlements in this area. In 1873, a cholera epidemic significantly reduced the total population. After all these events, at the end of the 19th century, Kumane began to develop again. According to the census of 1910, this settlement had 1,420 houses with 5,693 inhabitants, the majority being Serbs. Over the next decade, the population continued to grow, and the settlement expanded territorially. In 1921, Kumane had 6,212 inhabitants, the highest since the establishment of this settlement to date. From 1921, the total population began to decline, more pronounced after the Second World War due to the migration of inhabitants to cities.

In our recent history, Kumane represented a focal point for progressive ideas in this part of Banat. During the People's Liberation Struggle, the residents of this settlement were very active and made a significant contribution to the struggle for the country's liberation. Kumane is the birthplace of one of the giants of our socialist revolution and post-war development, Jovan Veselinov - Žarko.

According to censuses from 1931 to 1981, there were various changes in the total population of this settlement. These changes are best illustrated by the following data:
From 1931 to 1953, there was a gradual increase in the total population, while from 1953 to the last census in 1981, the absolute number of inhabitants steadily declined. This period saw younger people increasingly leaving the village in search of work in cities and more developed economic centers. At the same time, there was a decreasing birth rate and natural growth, which also significantly impacted the decrease in the total population. Compared to the population in 1953, the largest decrease was recorded in 1981, amounting to about one-fifth of the population from the 1953 census. Similar population trends were observed in other settlements in the municipality.
During the observed period, until 1961, the number of households increased, mainly due to the formation of new households by newlyweds. Gradual migration to cities led to a slight decrease in the number of households.
There were also characteristic changes in gender and age structure. In the total population from 1931 to 1948, the number of women was lower than men, but from 1948 until the last census in 1981, the number of women consistently exceeded that of men. According to the last two population censuses, there was a gradual increase in the elderly population compared to the younger population, a natural consequence of decreasing natural growth.
The occupational and activity structure of the population has similar characteristics to other rural settlements in the municipality. Out of the total population, around 35% are economically active. Two-thirds of the population rely on agriculture, and one-third on other activities. In terms of occupations, out of the 35% economically active population, 25.55% are agricultural workers, 4.5% are industrial workers, around 2% are craftsmen, and less than one percent are workers in other sectors such as construction, transportation, trade and hospitality, education and culture, healthcare, and other activities.
According to the last census in 1981, the educational structure of the population is satisfactory. Out of a total of 3,576 individuals aged 15 and older, 1,244 have completed primary education, 721 have secondary education, 41 have obtained higher education, and 27 have tertiary education. It is noteworthy that 1,154 individuals have incomplete primary education, which is relatively high compared to other categories in the educational structure. However, these are mostly older residents who, according to the previous educational system, completed primary education with four or six grades.

Ethnic Composition and Housing Type
The majority of the population consists of Serbs (3,872), with only 442 inhabitants belonging to other ethnic groups. Among them, the largest groups are Hungarians (153) and Roma (114).

Kumane is a settlement of the Pannonian type. It is built on a longitudinal elevation — a river terrace left behind by the Tisa, and later shaped by eolian accumulation. The settlement has a square shape. The streets are straight, parallel to each other, intersecting at right angles. They vary in width from 25 to 45 meters. The village has two main streets, one running north-south (Ljubica Odadžić Street) and the other east-west (Marshal Tito Street). These streets are the widest, intersecting at right angles in the center of the settlement and dividing Kumane into four parts. In the center of the village is a square, part of which serves as a marketplace. The square also houses a monument to the fallen fighters of the People's Liberation War, which, with its size and appearance, belongs among the most beautiful monuments of its kind in this region.
In the center of the settlement are the elementary school, cooperative hall, local office, health center, and other significant institutions and organizations.
Most streets are asphalted. Sidewalks are paved with bricks, and many are also concrete. Between the sidewalks and the roadways are spacious green areas, flower beds, ornamental shrubs, and rows of trees, giving the settlement an exceptional aesthetic appearance.
The houses are of the Pannonian type, similar to those in other rural settlements in the municipality. In addition to the residential space built up to the street, other auxiliary buildings necessary for agriculture are built within the economic courtyard.
In the initial development of the communal system, Kumane was an independent municipality, and since 1960, it has been part of the Novi Bečej municipality. In the current local self-government, it is organized as a single local community. The local office constitutes the organizational unit of the municipal administrative body. The settlement has a local water supply, modernly equipped clinic, sports grounds, library, and cinema, providing residents with various needs for permanent living.

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