Бањска стена - Тешке боје.jpg
The Drina River forms Perućac Lake, Bosnia and Herzegovina looking from Serbia mountain Tara
CountryBosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationBosnia and Herzegovina, between the slopes of the Maglić and Pivska planina mountains
 ⁃ location
Sava, at the Serbian-Bosnian border between Crna Bara and Bosanska Rača
 ⁃ coordinates
44°53′24″N 19°21′14″E / 44.890°N 19.354°E / 44.890; 19.354Coordinates: 44°53′24″N 19°21′14″E / 44.890°N 19.354°E / 44.890; 19.354
Length346 km (215 mi) [1]
Basin size20,320 km2 (7,850 sq mi) [1]
 ⁃ averagefrom 125 m3/s (4,400 cu ft/s) at the Ćehotina's mouth to 370 m3/s (13,000 cu ft/s) on the Drina's mouth into the Sava
Basin features
ProgressionSavaDanubeBlack Sea

The Drina (Cyrillic: Дрина, pronounced [drǐːna]) is a 346 km (215 mi) long international river,[1] which forms a large portion of the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. It is the longest tributary of the Sava River and the longest karst river in the Dinaric Alps which belongs to the Danube river watershed. Its name is derived from the Roman name of the river (Latin: Drinus) which in turn is derived from Greek (Ancient Greek: Dreinos).


The Drina is formed by the confluence of the Tara and the Piva rivers, both of which flow from Montenegro and converge on the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at Hum and Šćepan Polje villages. The total length of the Tara river is 144 km (89 mi), of which 104 km (65 mi) are in Montenegro, while the final 40 km (25 mi) are in Bosnia and Herzegovina along which form the border between the two countries in several places. The Drina flows through Bosnia and Herzegovina northward for 346 km (215 mi), of which 206 km (128 mi) is along the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, and finally spills out into the Sava river near Bosanska Rača village in northeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Measured from the source of the Tara, its longer headwater, the Drina is 487 kilometers (303 miles) long.


Kayaking on the Drina.

The river is not navigable today, but together with the Tara it represents the main kayaking and rafting attraction in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

However, during history, the small boats' traffic on the Drina was quite developed. Earliest written sources of the Drina boats date from the early 17th century. Traversing through this area in the second half of the 17th century, Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi noted that people in the Drina valley cut 40 m (130 ft) tall oak trees and use their trunks to make boats, by hollowing them with primitive tools and controlled fire. This type of boat is called monoxyl or dugout canoe. He writes that there were thousands of such boats at Zvornik, which navigated all the way to Belgrade, downstream the Drina and the Sava. Upstream from Zvornik, the boats didn't navigate.[2]

Jelav monoxyl

In September 2011, after local floods, an ancient boat was discovered, buried under the gravel in the Drina river, near Jelav, some 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Loznica. It is the first one in the Drina valley which was discovered in one piece and in such a good shape. The boat is 7.1 m (23 ft) long, 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in) wide and with the circumference of the back section of 4 m (13 ft). When dug out, it weighted 2 tons, but after drying out for two years in natural conditions, it was reduced to 1.3 tons. After being dried, it went through the conservation process in 2013. As the local museum in Loznica had no space to exhibit such a big item, a special annex was built especially for the monoxyl. It is estimated that it was made between 1740 and 1760 from the trunk of an oak that was 230 to 300 years old when cut. Based on the marks on it, this particular boat was most likely used for the transportation of the bulk cargo from one side of the river to another, as it seems to be too massive to be operated by the oars. Cuts and marks on it indicate that it was probably pulled over the river by the horses. It is possible that later, when it went out of service, it was used as the foundation of a watermill.[2]


Origin and gorges

Map showing the Drina within the Sava River watershed.
Drina Canyon.

The Drina originates between the slopes of the Maglić and Pivska planina mountains, between the villages of Šćepan Polje (in Montenegro) and Hum (Bosnia and Herzegovina). At its origin, it flows west, then makes a large curve to the northeast, around the Maluša mountains. Next, it flows through the villages of Kosman, Prijedjel, Dučeli, Čelikovo Polje, Kopilovi, Trbušće, Brod and the town of Foča. It receives the Sutjeska, Bjelava and Bistrica rivers from the left and the Ćehotina at Foča from the right.

Here the Drina carved the longest one of the several gorges on its course, the 45 km (28 mi)-long Suhi Dol-Biserovina gorge between the southernmost slopes of the Jahorina mountains from the north and the Kovač mountains from the south. The villages of Zlatari, Jošanica, Ustikolina, Cvilin, Zebina Šuma, Osanica, Kolovarice, Vranići, Mravinjac, Biljin, Vitkovići and Zupčići are located in the gorge, as well as the town of Goražde. The river receives the Kolunska rijeka and the Osanica as tributaries from the left.

The Drina continues to the northeast, flowing close to the villages of Žuželo, Odžak, Kopači and Ustiprača, entering the 26 km (16 mi) long Međeđa gorge carved between the Vučevica mountains from the south and the southern slopes of the Devetak mountains from the north. The narrowest part of the Međeđa gorge is Tijesno, the 8 km (5.0 mi)-long section of the gorge where the river is at its narrowest (only 12 m (39 ft) wide), but also at its deepest (12 m). Here it receives the Prača river from the left and the Janjina and Lim rivers from the right. The villages of Trbosilje, Međeđa and Orahovci are located in the gorge, which is for the most part flooded by the artificial Višegrad lake, created by the Višegrad hydroelectric power plant.

Drina at Banjska.

At the town of Višegrad, the Drina receives the Rzav River from the right and turns northwest at the Suva Gora mountain into the Klotijevac gorge. The gorge is 38 km (24 mi) long and up to 1 km (3,200 ft) deep, carved between the mountains of Bokšanica (from the west) and Zvijezda (from the east). The villages of Sase, Resnik, Đurevići and Gornje Štitarevo lie in the gorge and the Kukal river flows into the Drina from the right. At the Slap village, the Drina receives the Žepa river from the right and turns sharply to the west, becoming a border river between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia near the village of Jagoštica.

Border river

The Drina flows between the mountains of Zvijezda and Sušica and it is flooded by the artificial Lake Perućac on the northern slopes of the Tara mountain, created by the Bajina Bašta power plant. The villages of Prohići and Osatica (in Bosnia and Herzegovina) are located on the lake, as well as the ruins of the medieval town of Đurđevac. The river is dammed at the village of Perućac, where a strong well springs out from the Tara mountain, flowing into the Drina as a waterfall. In addition, the waters of Drina are used for several fish ponds for the rainbow trout spawning.

The river continues to the villages of Peći, Dobrak, Skelani (in Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Zaguline (in Serbia), reaching the town of Bajina Bašta. At the villages of Donja Crvica and Rogačica, the Drina makes a large turn, completely changing its direction from the northeast to the northwest. This distinct geographical feature forms the Osat and Ludmer regions of Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are separated by the river from the Azbukovica part of the Podrinje region of Serbia.

Upper Drina

Upper Drina.

Flowing on the western slopes of the Bukovica mountain, the Drina passes next to the villages of Gvozdac, Okletac, Strmovo, Bačevci, Donje Košlje, Drlače, Vrhpolje, Donja Bukovica (in Serbia), Boljevići, Fakovići, Tegare, Sikirići and Voljevica (in Bosnia and Herzegovina), before it reaches the towns of Ljubovija in Serbia, the centre of the Azbukovica (or Upper Podrinje) region, and Bratunac, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the center of the Ludmer region. Here the Drina receives the right tributary of Ljuboviđa and continues between the mountains of Jagodnja and Boranja (in Serbia), and Glogova (in Bosnia and Herzegovina). After the ruins of the medieval town of Mikuljak and the villages of Mičići, Uzovnica, Crnča, Voljevci (in Serbia), Krasanovići, Dubravice, Polom and Zelinje (in Bosnia and Herzegovina), the Drina is flooded again, this time by the artificial Zvornik Lake, as a result of the Zvornik power plant. The villages of Amajic, Culine (in Serbia), Sopotnik, Drinjača and Djevanje (in Bosnia and Herzegovina) are located on the lake. This is also where the Drinjača river flows into the Drina (now the Zvornik lake) from the left, flowing from the Bosnian region of Gornji Birač.

Lower Drina

Drina near to Ljubovija.

After the dual town of Zvornik (Bosnia and Herzegovina)-Mali Zvornik (Serbia), the Drina flows between the Bosnian mountain of Majevica and the Serbian mountain of Gučevo, and enters the Lower Podrinje region. For the rest of its flow after the village of Kozluk, it has no major settlements on the Bosnian side (except for the town of Janja, which is several km away from the river, and some smaller settlements, like Branjevo and Glavičice). On the Serbian side, the Drina passes next to the villages of Brasina and Rečane, the ruins of the medieval town of Koviljkin grad, the spa and town of Banja Koviljača, the industrial town and center of the Podrinje region, Loznica, and its largest suburb, Lozničko Polje.

Lowest section

The Drina enters the lowest section of its course, the southern Pannonian plain, including the Serbian regions of Jadar (where it receives the Jadar river) and Iverak (where it receives the Lešnica). This is where the rivers spills in many arms and flows, creating the largest flood plain in former Yugoslavia, which the river divides in half. The east side, Mačva, is in Serbia, and the west side, Semberija, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (where it receives the Janja river). The Drina spills over and meanders, forming shallows, islands and sandbars, before emptying into the Sava river between the Serbian village of Crna Bara and the Bosnian Bosanska Rača. The variability of the water flow and low altitude resulted in several course changes during history. The Drina previously flowed into the Sava river near Šabac, 30 km (19 mi) to the east of the present mouth.


Like the Velika Morava, the Drina is also a meandering river, with a very high meandering ratio (175:346), still slightly less than that of Velika Morava.

The Drina is a very fast river with cold and greenish water, which is from the limestone that underlays the area in which the river carved its bed.

Its average depth is 3 to 5 m (9.8 to 16.4 ft), the deepest being 12 m (39 ft) at Tijesno. On average, the Drina is 50–60 m (160–200 ft) wide, but it ranges from only 12–20 m (39–66 ft) at Tijesno to up to 200 m (660 ft) at Bajina Bašta and Ljubovija.

The drainage basin covers 19,570 square km (4.8 million acres), branching into Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania. The Drina belongs to the Black Sea drainage basin.

Before it was regulated by the several power stations, the Drina used to flood its valley. The most disastrous flood occurred in 1896, which destroyed the town of Ljubovija.


Major left tributaries: Sutjeska (at Kosman), Bjelava (at Trbušće), Bistrica (at Brod), Kolunska rijeka (at Ustikolina), Osanica (at Osanica), Prača (at Ustiprača), Žepa (at Slap), Drinjača (at Drinjača), Kamenica (at Đevanje), Sapna (at Karakaj) and Janja (at Janja).

Major right tributaries: Ćehotina (at Foča), Janjina (at Samobor), Lim (the longest one, 220 km, at Brodar), Rzav (at Višegrad), Kukal (at Đurevići), Rogačica (at Rogačica), Trešnjica (south of Ljubovija), Ljuboviđa (at Ljubovija), Jadar (at Straža) and Lešnica (at Lešnica).


HE Bajina Bašta.

The Drina originates at an altitude of 432 meters (1,417 feet) and flows into the Sava at 75 meters (246 feet). The large inclination is not constant because of many gorges and bends, but still more than enough to generate an estimated 6 billion kilowatt-hours of potential electrical power.

Also, the discharge steadily grows: 125 cubic metres per second (4,400 cu.ft./s) at the Ćehotina's mouth, and 370 cubic metres per second (13,000 cu.ft./s) on the Drina's mouth into the Sava. However, power capacity is not fully used since only three hydro electrical power stations (HE) have been constructed so far: HE Zvornik, HE Bajina Bašta, and HE Višegrad.


As a result of the inhospitable terrain and the lack of good railways and major roads, the surrounding territory is sparsely populated. Apart from many small villages, the major settlements on or near the river are:

The Drina is crossed by several bridges: at Višegrad, Skelani, Bratunac and Zvornik (in Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Loznica and Badovinci in Serbia. The most recent bridge is the one at Badovinci, the Pavlovića ćuprija.

In popular culture

In its lower, meandering course, the Drina is referred to as the kriva Drina ("bent Drina"). This has entered the Bosnian and Serbian languages as a phrase used when someone wants to resolve an unsolvable situation; it is said that he or she wants to "straighten the bent Drina".

During World War I, from September 8 to September 16, 1914, the Drina was the battlefield of bloody battles between the Serbian and Austro-Hungarian army, the Battle of Cer and Battle of Drina. In honor of the former battle, the Serbian composer Stanislav Binički (1872–1942) composed the famous March on the Drina, and in 1964 a movie of the same title was shot by director Žika Mitrović. The movie was later banned for a period of time by the Communist government, because of its portrayal of a true-to-life, bloody battle, and its use of Binički's march (banned at that time) as part of the soundtrack. The Slovenian band Laibach did a cover version of the March on the Drina titled Mars on the River Drina in their album NATO, released in 1994 during the Yugoslav Wars.

The largest impact the river has had in culture probably is the 1945 novel "Na Drini ćuprija" (The Bridge on the Drina) by the Nobel Prize laureate, Ivo Andrić; the book is about the building of a bridge near Višegrad by the Ottomans in the 16th century.[3]

Outside of Bosnia and Serbia, the rivers plays a role in some nationalist circles within Bulgaria. The song by the Bulgarian band Zhendema under the title "Разговор с дядо" (A conversation with grandfather) encapsulates the ambitions of Bulgarian veterans of the Great War that Bulgaria would stretch from the Drina river in the west all the way to the Black Sea in the east, encompassing all ethnic-Bulgarians in one nation.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Sava River Basin Analysis Report" (PDF, 9.98 MB). International Sava River Basin Commission. September 2009. p. 14. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  2. ^ a b S.Simić (21 May 2017), "Monoksil izronio iz Drine", Politika-Magazin No 1025 (in Serbian), pp. 26–27
  3. ^ Wayne S. Vucinich, ed. (1995). "Ivo Andrić Revisited: The Bridge Still Stands" (PDF). Division of International and Area Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-05-27.
  4. ^ Zhendema (10 April 2020), Razgovor s djado (in Bulgarian)


  • Mala Prosvetina Enciklopedija, Third edition (1985); Prosveta; ISBN 86-07-00001-2
  • Jovan Đ. Marković (1990): Enciklopedijski geografski leksikon Jugoslavije; Svjetlost-Sarajevo; ISBN 86-01-02651-6
  • Slobodan Ristanović: "Prvenac na Drini"

External links

  • Rafting on the Drina River (1951) - BH Film - Official chanal
  • Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Sutjeska National Park - Official website
  • Sutjeska National Park - BH Tourism Official website
  • Cultural and Historical information
  • Hydroelectric Power Plant BUK BIJELA
  • Hydroelectric Power Plant FOČA
  • Hydroelectric Power Plaint ZVORNIK
  • Battle of the Drina