Montenegro

  
A fairly small south-eastern European country in the Balkans that is wedged in between Albania to the south, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina to the west and north and Serbia to the north-east. It has but a few points of interest worth the journey for the dark tourist, but fortunately these are all conveniently located in the country's capital city Podgorica:
 
 
Montenegro is one of the "youngest" countries in the world, independent only since 2006. Before that it had enjoyed only a very brief period as an independent kingdom after centuries of Ottoman rule namely at the beginning of the 20th century (from 1910), only to be merged with Serbia in the wake of World War One. In WWII it was briefly occupied by Italy, then Germany, and liberated by Tito's partisans in 1944.
 
Since then the country had been part of Yugoslavia. When the former socialist Yugoslav state fell apart during the 1990s, with the wars breaking out especially in neighbouring Bosnia and Croatia, Montenegro continued to side with Serbia defiantly keeping a rump Yugoslavia together – Montenegrin forces also took part in the Serbian war efforts (and war crimes) against these countries (including the bombing of Dubrovnik).
 
The union with Serbia continued (despite some calls for independence) for a while even when later Macedonia, too, departed from the rump Yugoslav federation. So then there were only two. Eventually the name Yugoslavia was dropped as well, in favour of the cumbersome and indicative name "Serbia and Montenegro". This last vestige of a loose tie was finally severed after a 2006 referendum in Montenegro which the pro-independence movement narrowly won.
 
Podgorica became the capital of the new state and the process was begun of restructuring and rebuilding the economy, including tourism, which had suffered severely during the Balkans wars of the 1990s.
 
And the country has always had a tremendous tourism potential! This is mostly concentrated on the Adriatic coast – whose 200 miles (300 km) include the fabled old town and the bay of Kotor (actually more a Mediterranean fjord) as well as the old city of Budva. The inland mountainous areas are also drawing more tourists in pursuit of exceptional scenery and nature – in that vein, the gigantic Tara canyon in the Durmitor range is definitely the star piece. It's one of those canyons in the world that assume the accolade "second largest canyon" after the Grand Canyon in the USA – and with a depth of up to 4300 feet (1300 metres), the Tara canyon may actually be justified in its claim.  
 
For the dark tourist, Montenegro is unlikely to qualify as a prime destination in its own right. However, a stopover in Podgorica is rewarding enough to justify a detour when travelling around the region, in particular to neighbouring Albania, Serbia or Bosnia & Herzegovina.  
 
 
 
  • Montenegro - mountains and vineyardMontenegro - mountains and vineyard
  • Montenegro - stonyMontenegro - stony
  • Montenegro - strewn plastic rubbish like everywhere in the BalkansMontenegro - strewn plastic rubbish like everywhere in the Balkans
  • Montenegro - these mountains look white rather than blackMontenegro - these mountains look white rather than black
  • Montenegro - wetland on the edge of Lake Shkoder - a paradise for bird-watchersMontenegro - wetland on the edge of Lake Shkoder - a paradise for bird-watchers

 

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