Montenegro_intro_01 PDF Print E-mail

Crna Gora, Montenegro, Karadag. These are the names which from the 14th century have meant for us this country in the Balkans, a Mediterranean country whose history has roots in the distant past; it has been the theatre of many cultural influences and historical events. On its land traces of many civilisations can be found, the Illyrian, the Greek, the Roman, the Byzantine, the Venetian and the Islamic.
Montenegro, which is situated near powerful countries, has always been obliged to defend itself against the stronger neighbours or to surrender. Plundered of all that could be stolen, this country has always retained its faith in freedom and the zeal to conquer it. Montenegro has chosen to fight: an age long fight for independence and freedom. The resistance against the oppressors has linked the destiny of the Montenegrins to that of other people, above all to Serbs, Croats, Albanians and Moslems.

 Today Montenegro has an identity thanks to the common destiny of its component parts, which in turn are the result of different influences from the remotest times: influences of different intensities of feeling and historical importance, imprints which left a lively cultural and civil fermentation.
It would be difficult for Montenegro to be present on the European political scene with its small territory and its small population, if it had not become involved in a number of diplomatic and military events and dramas.
Unconquerable and proud, this country appealed to the European spirit as a surprising anachronistic phenomenon, and appealed to poets as a romantic dream. And so the travellers arrived: the visitors full of curiosity, painters, journalists, scientists, spies, diplomats. They in turn have left impressions, drawings and memoirs. It is from these reports, from the war time correspondences that today's myths and poetic creations are born, sometimes detailed items of news (the number of guns has also been quoted and details concerning affairs of State): it has always been, however, the history of small, poor but heroic people.
There are more signs of fighting in Montenegro than poetical masterpieces, more martial banners than schools, more legends than books. But all this belongs to the past and is jealously guarded as proof of resistance and much suffering.
Montenegro has come to terms with its conscience and that of others. Living in continuous conflict and in fear, it has created its own moral values, its own philosophy of life. It is a land with boundaries with the East and the West, with Christian and Islamic countries, with Catholic and Orthodox countries; Montenegro has absorbed and digested these external influences, it has acquired a national political conscience, a cultural identity. You can recognise Montenegro by its natural environment, and also by its many characteristics. There are many factors in the history of Montenegro: political, military, economic, moral, psychological, organisational, a social life which is bound up with very long wars and sacrifices for liberty. None of these elements can be explained satisfactorily without some knowledge, superficial at least, of the land where for centuries the drama of the Montenegrin has unfolded. During the First World War, the Austrian-Hungarian Officers realised that, despite the great military efficiency of their cadres, their great army was not able to overcome the Montenegrin guerillas. So they called a meeting of their cartographers, sculptors, painters, to prepare a plastic model of Montenegro, in order to understand the secret of this small country and to find a way to break its resistance. This map in relief on a scale of 1:10,000 is kept today in the Cetinje museum, together with all the other plans of the occupying forces: it is ironical to note that it has become a tourist attraction.
Yugoslav scientists and those of other nations have studied the geological composition and the tectonics of Montenegrin land, the age of the mountains, the depths of the rivers, how valleys were formed and the slow changes in the surface of the land.
To pause on this technical subject would mean to start a long and interesting journey in the distant past, but also to inflict on the reader the tedium of theories and of incomprehensible words. It will be better therefore to stress only a few details.
The rivers dig incessantly into the rock of the Karst. The canyon of the Tara River near Obzir is 1300 metres deep, the second deepest and longest in the world after the Colorado. To the west the rivers Zeta and MoraCa have formed one of the most typical Karst regions in the world. The rocks have been so corroded that all the earth and vegetation have vanished, all the waters which flow into this area have dried up or have disappeared underground. It is difficult to understand how man survived on these rocks but not difficult to see how much they have influenced him: we shall simply recall that there are available in this area 132 units for measuring surfaces, but only the "KrS" (the Karst) is used locally to measure land. This part of Montenegro is rich in rain-water, but not one drop of water remains on the surface: as it pours with rain, the formation of violent torrents increases the erosion. Rather like a coral island, there is no area with more rain and at the same time suffering from such dearth of water as Montenegro's Karst.



 
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