Montenegro_Intro_02 PDF Print E-mail
The area of Montenegro is 13,812 Km2; it represents only 5.4% of the area of Yugoslavia and is the smallest republic. Its two points furthest from each other are not more than 190 Km away as the crow flies. A small area on which men and nature seem to compete to create variety. The contrasts of land, of the natural environment in general, are caused by the climate. On the Adriatic coast the climate is Mediterranean: in the interior, only 10 Km from the sea, it is already continental. The chain of the Dinaric mountains (Orjen, Lovcen, Rumija) rises steeply above the coast like a gigantic backdrop and prevents the sea climate from penetrating into the interior. Along the valley of the river Bojana, across Lake Skadar and upstream from the river Mora£a, a greater measure of heat manages to penetrate, making the city of Titograd the hottest city in Yugoslavia. A short distance from there, the city of Zabljak, 1450 metres above sea level, has an annual average temperature of 5.6° Centigrade.
Montenegro is not a silent country. Its winds blow fairly often, at times violently. Currents of air form over the coast as a result of the different temperature between the coast and the mountainous background; but in the interior, depending on the position, the direction and the width of the valleys, the winds begin to blow suddenly, and one cannot foresee their direction and strength.
The sudden shifting of these masses of air, very damp owing to the proximity of the sea, the mountain peaks and the great contrasts of temperature provoke strong electric discharges. The rumble of thunder is perhaps not so frequent and terrifying elsewhere as it is over Lovcen. Reality is perfectly reflected by this poetic image: "Thunder is music for Lovcen." Two peaks of this massif, the Jezerski and the Stirovnik, are so close that the electric discharges there take place with hardly any interval between lightning and thunder. The lightning strikes frequently and with a lot of noise. The narrow valley multiplies the crash and makes the sounds clearer and noisier: you think you are in a hell of heavenly fury. Montenegro represents a surprising variety of natural environments as if they had been worked out on purpose to be studied by an Institute of Geography. It is difficult not to be amazed in front of stunning changes which occur at frequent intervals in the landscape. Hence probably the fantastic and inspired descriptions of Montenegro. The Italian botanist Baldacci says that nature here is "harsh and gentle." There is much truth in this picturesque description. Nature in Montenegro is gentle, because the landscape is mild and rich in small shapes, in variety, in the beauty of the sea, of the lakes, of the woods with their clearings; here you feel friendship for the Mediterranean and the spell cast by this mountainous landscape.
This gentle character is in contrast with the scream from the mountain peaks, with the chasms of the canyons, with the aridity of the grey limestone and with the valleys on the Karst, in which earth is collected as in a hand, with the beauty of the coast and the fury of the sea when it bites the rocks with the bright light of day and the pitch darkness of night—"the eyes are full of darkness and air."
To the south the mild climate of the Adriatic Sea with its long sandy shores, explodes with light and vegetation, the bizarre nature of the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska), its mountain suddenly plunging into the sea: a grandiose interplay between the horizontal planes of the waters and the vertical lines of the mountains. In the immediate background the arid Karst, its greyness is only tempered now and then by the green colour of withered flora, which in the Autumn can light up with a bright red. In this Karst everything is bare and desolate, the hostility to man becomes practically cruelty. This landscape has inspired many comparisons and metaphors: "the sea of stone", "the lunar landscape", "the mountain of marble."
Slightly further to the north of that naked rock, we find the area of the higher mountains, of the steep slopes of the canyons of the stupendous rivers, which in the past (and often even today) have divided one population from another: even the piles of snow constitute for months insuperable obstacles. In this district we find the Nevidio canyon, a thousand metres deep and in some places only a few metres wide. There we also find the peaks of the Durmitor, more than 2,500 metres high and the most beautiful rivers of Montenegro; the Piva, the Tar a, the Mora£a. Towards the east rises the most impressive and roughest mountain of the Balkans, the Prokletije, its desolate crests follow the frontier between Yugoslavia and Albania. Between these mountains, there are large stretches of pasture ground, woods, rivers, lakes: here all those who love the landscape of the Alps admire the unmistakable beauty and the extraordinary shapes taken by Nature. In this area we find the valley of Lim, very rich in water, earth and trees. A large stretch of Karst land links it with the valley of Pljevlja.

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