The Port of Vukovar is the largest river port in Croatia. Located just 1.2 kilometers west of the border with Serbia, the Port of Vukovar rests where the Rivers Vika and Danube meet. The local economy depends on trade, wine-growing, farming, breeding of livestock, and the manufacture of processed foods and footwear. Tourism is also important to the economy.
The Croatian War of Independence was extremely difficult for the Port of Vukovar. By the end of the war, much of the city had been destroyed. Today, much of the Port of Vukovar’s infrastructure has not been restored, and unemployment has reached 40%. In 2001, over 31 thousand people lived in the Port of Vukovar.
The River Danube is an ancient thoroughfare. Written accounts tell of the old Roman Empire using the river to move men, equipment, and food for their legions.
As early as the 6th Century AD, Slavs inhabited the area around the Port of Vukovar. In the 9th Century, it was ruled by Prince Pribina as part of the Slavic Balaton Principality, which was ruled by Price Ljudevit of the Pannonian Croatia. Until the 11th Century, the Port of Vukovar was included in the Empire of Bulgaria. During the 11th and 12th Centuries, the Port of Vukovar was part of the Kingdom of Croatia. The Hungarian Kingdom ruled the Port of Vukovar from the 13th Century to the 20th Century.
First mentioned as Volko or Wolkov in the 13th Century, its name since the 14th Century has been Vukovar. As part of the Hungarian Empire, the Port of Vukovar was the seat of the county of Syrmia, located between the Rivers Sava and Drava. During the 16th and 17th Centuries, the Ottomans occupied the city of about 3000 people.
The Port of Vukovar came under the rule of the Habsburgs in at the end of the 17th Century as part of the Kingdom of Slavonia under both kingdoms of Croatia and Hungary. Then in 1868, it became part of the united kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia.
By 1910, over ten thousand people lived in the Port of Vukovar with a very mixed cultural base (40% Croat, 34% German, 16% Serb, and 9% Hungarian). In 1918, it became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia).
From 1941 to 1944, the Port of Vukovar was part of the German-held Independent Sate of Croatia. During World War II, Allied bombers damaged the city. In fact, an unexploded bomb from WWII was found in the city in 2008. After 1945, the Port of Vukovar was part of the People’s Republic of Croatia and part of socialist Yugoslavia.
During the Croatian War of Independence that lasted from 1991 to 1995, the Port of Vukovar was destroyed. Its diverse population, with large groups from either side of the conflict, led to terrible fighting. The Battle of Vukovar lasted from August to November in 1991. During the siege, the Yugoslav People’s Army and Serbian forces defeated the Croatian National Guard by destroying the Port of Vukovar and either killing or expelling most of the Croats that lived there.
At the end of the battle, 2000 Port of Vukovar defenders were dead, 800 were missing, and 22 thousand were exiled. Croatia did not control the town again until 1998. It is said that the Port of Vukovar suffered the worst destruction as any city in Europe since World War II, comparing the battle to the infamous Battle of Stalingrad. In 2006, 25 thousand people gathered there to commemorate the fall of Vukovar, and a museum was opened in a rebuilt hospital that had been attacked.
After the Port of Vukovar fell, the Serbian dragged the wounded, including children, out of the hospital and killed them at Ovcara. It is said that UN forces outside the hospital took no action to prevent the killing. In 2007, two former Yugoslav officers were convicted for their involvement in the hospital massacre.