Montenegro Nature PDF Print E-mail

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The evaporation of water from very large surfaces, the proximity of the mountains, the violent and sudden changes of temperature, produce abundant rains. In the south-western area there are districts with the highest percentage of rainfall in Europe. At Crkvice, in one day alone, about 480mm of rain falls. In the late Autumn and during the Winter, the long and abundant rains on the coast of the Mediterranean and in its immediate hinterland can influence the behaviour of the people. The low clouds and the mistral wind get on people's nerves, they become irritable. Once upon a time there were even laws which allowed for extenuating circumstances for crimes committed in these weather conditions.
The rainfall in the continental region is not very satisfactory: it falls very abundantly, but not at the time when the vegetation needs it most.
There is also plenty of snow. While along the coast and near Lake Skadar it is a rarity, at Cetinje it can reach two metres in height and five metres on the Durmitor. In the north and especially on the high peaks, as evaporation is practically nil, the snow remains for many months, sometimes all year round: on the Durmitor summer ski races are held.
The heavy rainfall feeds the torrents and rivers. You could say that Montenegro, apart from the Karst region, is the land of torrents. A great quantity of water, whether it comes from the sky or from the melting snows, emerges from the surface of the earth with great violence. This mass of water gushes out, rushing and splashing, it hurls down like a torrent from the rocks in a wild white foam until, not far from its source, it disappears entirely, it dries up, leaving only a few traces in the colour of the stone.

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In the Karst region, the water disappears underground, creating subterranean rivers of varying strength and length. How many marvels there must be in that hidden world! What will those most generous waters have created during their millenniums of existence? In the Spring they arrive with terrific force as at Gurdic near Kotor, or at Sopot near Risan, or at Obod in the district of Rijeka Crnojevica. How many underground passages, caves, how many strange shapes carved along their journey are still largely unexplored? Judging only from the caves of Lipska and Cetinje you might assume that under this naked surface of the Karst there exist large galleries adorned with unusual shapes, which will one day reveal their beauty.
In the Karst region there are no rivers but moving north the network of rivers gets thicker. The rivers in Montenegro flow towards the Adriatic Sea or the Black Sea; their territory is divided in two equal parts on the two slopes. Rivers are the pride of Montenegro, a source of great riches. Thanks to their swift course and to the care displayed in keeping them clean, they are among the least polluted rivers of Europe. They are carved into deep canyons, picturesque and suitable for navigation by rafts, for fishing and other sports: they are of use in many ways and offer many attractions. They can produce 10 billion kilowatts per year. As they flow at two different levels with a difference of 600 metres, one could link their waters (from the Tara to the MoraCa, from the Komarnica to the Zeta) thus obtaining an immense reservoir of energy. All the rivers in Montenegro, even the smallCijevna, have a great volume of water at different levels: they are thus suitable for forming artificial reservoirs.
The lakes are another of the natural characteristics of Montenegro. The most famous one is Lake Skadar. It is the longest lake in the Balkans and has a surface of 390 km2 when the water is low and 530 km2 when the water is high (two-thirds of the lake is in Yugoslav territory and one-third in Albanian). The bed of the lake at its deepest point is under sea level: a typical example of crypto-depression. This lake is very important for the economy (fishing, hunting, transport) and is also the natural reserve of fresh water for the coastal region.
Montenegro has 29 mountain lakes. The most famous are the Black Lake on the Durmitor, the Biograd on the Bjelasica, and the Plavsko at the foot of Mount Visitor. Lake Biograd is considered the most beautiful in the Balkans. The lakes refresh the landscape, enrich it, and make it extremely attractive for tourists.
Many visitors come to admire the lakes, the rivers, the riverheads, even at a height of 2,000 metres, as for instance the Savina voda(water);on the Durmitor.They marvel when they enter the "museum of ice", a cave which is 1900 metres high and adorned with sculptures in ice. You can picJs edelweiss, that rare mountain flower, on the Durmitor, on the Sinjajevina, on the Prokletije.
Botanists have estimated that there are 2,833 species and sub-species of flowers in Montenegro. The variety of climate and the different types of soil favour this growth of varied vegetation, as in botanical gardens: from the agaves to olive trees and citrus fruit in the south, through vineyards and scrub and pasture land. Forests and pastures cover 80% of the territory: a factory of oxygen for the lungs of Montenegro, Timber was exploited for industrial work in the past and this has left traces especially in the south and has even changed the geographic appearance: thus the problem of defending the forests and their exploitation is the subject of much reflection. The four national parks (Lovcen, Orjen, Durmitor, Biogradska Gora) bear witness to the concern for conservation. The great stretches of pasture land are very important for the economy. Mount Sinjajevina, which some consider the largest pasture land in the Balkans, can feed 200,000 sheep during a Summer.
The natural conditions and the climate have aided the development of many kinds of animals, birds and fish. The largest animal of the region is the bear. There are also wolves, boars, foxes, jackals, roebucks, chamois, deer, squirrels, badgers, hares . . . The king of the birds is the eagle of the Prokletije. It is practically impossible to count all the kinds of birds, which live in this area or which use it as an emigration base. We find many European grouse, turtledoves, seagulls, little sparrows, larks, ravens, swallows, wild pigeons, quails and grey partridges. Their real kingdom is Lake Skadar, the largest reserve of birds in Europe: we find there crowds of pelicans, herons, black ibises, ducks, woodcocks, seagulls. There are also many snakes and lizards. In Lake Bukumir, 1340 metres above sea level, there lives a strange species of vertebrate which has roused the curiosity of zoologists. Apart from the fish in the Adriatic, typically Mediterranean fish, the best known fish living in lakes and rivers are the "ukljeva" in Lake Skadar, carp and trout.Though Montenegro is small there are three distinct geomorphological zones: the coast, the old Montenegrin Karst with Lake Skadar and the valley of the Zeta, and the high mountain.
The Mediterranean coast enters the sea with small strips of land, a few islands and the shallow gulf of Kotor: with its long sandy beaches it has excellent economic prospects. The coast of Montenegro is highly populated and suitable for tourism, trading by sea and agriculture. Thus the district is made very prosperous by Kotor with its forts, its historical links with the sea, trade and culture, Budva the centre for tourism, Bar the great port and Ulcinj with its salt pits and agricultural hinterland.
The sandy beaches, the sweet and gradual'f ailing away of the sea-bed, the shelter from the winds, the abundance of drinking water, of thermal waters and the therapeutic mud baths, the rich Mediterranean vegetation and the many days of sunshine, amount to a great many advantages for the tourist industry.

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The coast is always green, there are flourishing cities such as Herceg Novi, Kotor, Budva, and Perast, the laurel, the vines, the figs on sunny terraces of the Bay, the plantations of lemons and oranges, the olive grove of Bar, the greatest on the Adriatic and above all the ports, old and modern, the dockyard and the powerful fleet, all these are the characteristics of a country which has clearly developed along the Mediterranean coast.
The vast plateau of the Karst in the interior, between 800 and 1000 metres high, slopes down to Lake Skadar in two terraces: the mountains separate it from the sea. In that district, because woods and pastures have been overexploited, the exhausted district makes the fight for existence very bitter: maize, barley and cattle breeding provide a bare living.
In the whole surface of the Karst (642 Km2) besides two small "fields" (Njegusi and Cetinje) there are more than 1850 valleys in which once upon a time local cultivation existed. The destruction of the cover provided by vegetation is visible everywhere: only in certain districts have shady woods survived.In the district near Lake Skadar, in the plains of the Zeta and of Bjelopavlic, the vine and the fig grow easily. You feel the influence of the Mediterranean climate here, even if it bears some special characteristics. Trade routes crossed this district. At Crmnica, north-west of Lake Skadar, there is much water and vegetation. This is the only district in Montenegro where Mediterranean life could develop, as witness the terraced land, the cultivation of figs and vines, the structure and the apperance of the houses. In the central part of Montenegro there are hills and mountains above 2000 metres (the highest is the Durmitor, 2522 metres). The winters here are long and full of snow. The inhabited areas are to be found in the valleys next to the woods, the waters and the fertile land. From the end of the 19th century the "katuni", pastures where shepherds live only during the summer, have always been inhabited. This is the highest place in Yugoslavia which is regularly inhabited. The rivers Tara, Piva and Moraca begin here. The Piva is flanked by the canyons of Piva, SuSica and Komarnica, cut deeply into the mountain pasture lands and in the woods of conifers. On the Durmitor there is a vast region called Jezerska, from the lakes which we find there: it has abundant vegetation, stretches of level ground and offers also some easy passes. The view from the Durmitor is spectacular, the mountains and the valleys, the chasms, the rocks, the four rivers flowing along the slopes covered with snow, stress the feeling of space and remove the sensation of narrow constriction, typical of the landscape in Montenegro. The mountains Sinjajevina and Bjelasica with stretches of grass and scrubland are a very important region from the economic point of view and are fundamental for this central hydrographic point.In the north-east of Montenegro, in the valleys of the Lim, along the lower course of the Tara and of the Cehotina, there stretches a region lower down, different from the others because it suggests greater intimacy, the land is more fertile, better suited to the cultivation of market gardens and orchards. Nevertheless, the fields do not yield very much and there are not very many of them. Agriculture, hemmed in by historical events in the Karst area and in the mountains, resorted to deforestation: today it has moved to the plains, where it has greatly developed and is obtaining excellent results, thanks to agro-technical improvements. The forest remains a natural wealth of first importance and the pastures of the mountains the basis for cattle breeding.The sources of energy are so many and rich that they can supply the whole of this region with enough energy for a long period.

  Montenegro is very rich in lignite and anthracite coal. It is believed that there may even be some oil fields. The mineral sources in Montenegro have not yet been fully exploited. In the Roman and Medieval mines of lead and zinc, at Mojkovac and Suplja stijena near . Pljevlja, there are now modern machines to separate minerals. Among the most important mines are those of red bauxite in the Karst region of the south-west of Montenegro. This mineral is of excellent quality and provides the foundation for an aluminium industry which is well developed. But the land of Montenegro is not only rich in metals. There is also white bauxite which is very rare in Europe. There are deposits of dolomite, bentonite, baryta, marl and quartz sand. The geographical conditions and the climate have encouraged settlement in these areas from remotest times. The possibility of hunting and fishing, the Karst caves, the warm sea, the areas suitable for agriculture and breeding livestock attracted men and persuaded them to stay. Students of pre-history, however, cannot date accurately the beginning of life in these places.
The cave of the Red Rock, above the valley of the underground river Trebisnjica near Niksic, is an extraordinary discovery, given the thickness of the sediments and the range of cultures revealed. The hearth of the Neanderthal man (100,000 years old) smelt of damp ashes when it was discovered. It is believed that the most ancient stratum was inhabited 180,000 years ago and that the last inhabitants of the cave abandoned it in 1500 B.C.
The archaelogical discoveries always provide new data. Thus, a short time ago, a dredger which worked in the River Piva, enabled historians to change by more than 10 millennia the date of the settlement begun in this area. During the building of a dam, which changed the appearance of the mountain landscape, at the mouth of the River Vrbnica near the Piva, the excavations brought to light the cave of Odmut, which was inhabited 10,000 years ago. Tools of stone were found and also clay cups and bones: these objects have been entrusted to scientists and the cave has sunk again to its peace at the bottom of the artificial lake.

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