Jovan Cvijić


Jovan Cvijić : biography

October 11, 1865 – January 16, 1927

He was:

  • the honorary doctor, University of Paris
  • the honorary doctor, Charles University in Prague
  • member of Serbian royal academy
  • president of Serbian royal academy from April 12, 1921 until 1927 (the time of his death)
  • rector of University of Belgrade, twice
  • member of Czech Academy
  • member of Academy in Brussels
  • member of All union geographical society of the USSR
  • correspondent member of Yugoslav Academy, Zagreb
  • correspondent member of Italian academy
  • correspondent member of Parmasus Science association, Athens
  • correspondent member of Russian geographical society, Saint Petersburg
  • correspondent member of various geographical societies: Budapest, Vienna, Geneva, Warsaw, Bucharest, Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam, London etc.
  • honorary president of congress of geographers and ethnologists, Prague (1922)

Contribution to determining of state borders of SCS Kingdom

After the First World War Cvijić contributed to the determining the state borders of new Yugoslav state using his scientific researches as an argument in the negotiations. He used the researches in demography and anthropogeography. The knowledge he gathered was used in setting the accurate ethnic expansion of South Slavs.

Famous French geographer Paul Vidal de la Blache invited professor Cvijić to Paris; where in 1917 and the beginning of 1919 on the University of Paris. Cvijić gave lectures on Balkan land and nations. In the end of 1918, the Serbian government named him the first expert on ethnographic boarder and in 1919. he was elected president of territorial unit within a state delegation in peace conference in Paris where due to his efforts as an ethnographer (created ethnographic charts of Yugoslav countries 1918–1919) and efforts of Mihajlo Pupin, a well-known and acclaimed scientist and politically influential man, set the borders of a new country – Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. It was agreed that the new country should get Banat, Baranja, Dalmatia and Bled triangle (Bled, Bohinj, Triglav).


After graduating from elementary school in Loznica, Cvijić went to lower grammar school in Loznica (first two years) and then to grammar school in Šabac (third and fourth year). Finally he enrolled and graduated from The First Belgrade Grammar school, department of natural sciences and mathematics in 1884. Upon graduation he wanted to study medicine, but Loznica municipality was unable to give him a scholarship to study abroad. His teacher in grammar school suggested he attend geography classes on "Velika skola" in Belgrade (nowadays University of Belgrade). Cvijić took his advice and enrolled in the natural sciences department. He graduated in 1889. During his education Cvijić was dedicated to reading in many languages. In grammar school he studied English, German and French, which was very helpful during his university studies because they did not have a corresponding literature in Serbian. He wrote his scientific and other papers in these foreign languages.

During the 1888/89 school year he worked as a geography teacher in The Second Male Grammar School in Belgrade. In 1889 he enrolled in the study of physical geography and geology at Vienna University. At the time, geomorphology was taught by a famous scientist, Dr. Albrecht Penck, and geotectonics was taught by Professor Sis (the president of the Austrian Academy of that time), and climatology by Julius Han.

Cvijić received his PhD in 1893, in the Vienna University. His thesis was called "Das Karstphanomen", and it introduced him to the public, making him well known in the science world. His paper was later translated into several languages (in Serbian as "Karst", 1895) and thanks to it Cvijić is regarded as the founder of karsology. British scientist Archibald Geeky wrote that this was a "pioneering" paper.