Ah! It is so great to be back in the Balkans. I actually love researching this place because it’s like you’ll never get bored. It’s Europe’s most dysfunctional family. However, when it comes to Montenegro, it’s kind of like… Welcome to quite possibly the sleepiest nation on the planet. [Geography Now intro] Hi everyone, I’m your host Barbs. Montenegrin geograpeep Bogdan wrote this joke about Montenegro: “When all the countries were gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, Montenegro was so lazy, they took a 14 year long nap and finally caught up in 2006.” *laugh track* Jokes aside though, Montenegro is such an amazing hidden treasure locked away in the Balkans that very few people seem to pay attention to – – probably because their publicity department is taking their lunch break. *chuckle* Anyway, let’s find out where this little guy is located, shall we? By the way, thank you to the person that sent me this Montenegrin scarf. Love it. [♪♪] Ah, Montenegro. Europe’s newest country. Kosovo: No, *I* am. Serbia: No you’re not. Yes, I am! Nu-uh. Yes I am!! NO! [Arguing] Well, until that gets fully settled we’ll have to settle for Montenegro. You know, how like when you’re playing a video game, there’s like a side mission or like a cool hidden level that you have to unlock? That’s kind of like what Montenegro is, Europe’s little bonus. And it’s like, the best place in the world to take a nap. First of all! The country is located in the southeastern European region known as the Balkans, right along the Adriatic Sea, bordered by 4 other countries. Yes, the southernmost tip of Croatia borders them, which took off these extra 5 miles (8 kilometres) of coastline, and depending on where you stand on the issue, they border the partially recognized disputed area of Kosovo that Serbia claims, …and that’s a whole other story for another episode. The country is divided into 23 municipalities, 2 of which are urban centres: the former royal capital of Cetinje and the current capital Podgorica, located further inland. The country has two international airports, the busiest and largest one in the capital Podgorica, as well as a smaller but conveniently located one in Tivat, along the Bay of Kotor, a huge tourism spot. Those who come in by sea can stop at one of the many marinas and seaports, the largest and busiest one being the Port of Bar in the south which also operates cargo and passenger vessels daily. Finally along the coast and inland, there are many small rocks and islets. However, the largest and main ones are Mamula Island, which has a fortress on it guarding the entrance to the Bay of Kotor where you can find Stradioti Island with a small resort on it. And further south you find St. Nikola Island, just off the coast of Budva, Finally, the triangle-shaped Bojana Islands, just along the border with Albania, also has a nice beachside resort. Phew! Other than that, they do have 2 main state-operated railways that transect the country. It stops in the main hub Podgorica, the capital, where you can decide to continue on either to Albania or Serbia. Oh, and the country is kind of shaped like a screaming turtle. Otherwise! Some interesting places to visit might include spots like: …has some cool stuff and there are so many …the most notable one probably being the …carved into a cliff. It’s like a huge pilgrimage spot. And, speaking of crazy-looking cliffs and fascinating natural landmarks, let’s jump into the… [♪♪] Now, the name “Montenegro” is derived from Venetian Italian meaning “black mountain,” derived from the densely forested Mt. Lovćen. Keep in mind though, Montenegro is a Slavic nation, not Latin. They actually call their country “Crna Gora,” which means “black forest.” The point is, there’s lots of mountains and forests, and it looks great. I mean, Casino Royale was partially filmed there. Anyway, the country is over 80% mountainous and hilly, located in the geological region of Europe known as the Dinaric Alps, which extend all the way to Greece. Within these hills, there are 2 smaller ranges that shield the coastal regions: the Durmitor and Bjelasica mountains. In between them, you find the longest river, the Tara, which flows south not too far from the tallest peak, Zla Kolata. which is also on the border with Albania, Just a skip away you can find the largest lake, Lake Skadar, again shared with Albania, which is found at the edge of the Zeta Plain, the largest area of flat valley land in all of Montenegro where, no shocker, the capital is located. Just a skip over the last mountains, with surprisingly beautiful beaches in the south by Doni Stoj, close to the Albanian border. Many of the beaches kind of stole names of famous beaches around the world to boost tourism, like “Miami” Beach, or “Copacabana.” Further up north, Buljarica Beach is one of the most popular areas. Sometimes you can even find flamingos there. And finally, up north, you reach the most famous coastal region, the Bay of Kotor. Uniquely shaped in these triple-locked marinas with narrow corridors that played a huge role in the historical Kingdom era. Ah, I love that name!
[firmly] “Kotor”! It sounds like some kind of cartoon superhero from the ’80s. And speaking of superheroes, time for my triple shot of espresso break, which means Noah comes in and fills in for the physical geography section. You got it! The interesting thing for Montenegro has a number of species per area unit index over 0.8. This means it has the highest index recorded in any European country. Species like fish, amphibians, and brown bears. Out of the 526 species of European birds, it is believed that 333 of them can be regularly found in Montenegro. So yeah, bird watchers, book your “flights.” [laughs] “Book.” As mentioned, the country is loaded with many notable mountain and coastal landmarks. You have the Durmitor and the Blue Grotto cave. They’re just nice, peaceful places to get away from it all, you know, and take a nap. I call the 2,000 year-old olive tree thing. Economically speaking, they aren’t really much of an agrarian or resource extraction based society. Most of their essentials are actually imported. I mean, yes, they do have farms and export a little bit of metal, but ever since the early 2000s, they’ve been booming in the service, tourism, and foreign investment sectors. To this day, they have consistently placed multiple times at the top of the list of European countries with the largest foreign investment per capita, especially from Russian and British billionaires. So it’s like they don’t need to farm, people just see potential in this place and pay to see it? Best job ever! And now, food! Some of the top notable dishes you guys, the Montenegrin geograpeeps, told us include things like: And of course, like all of the countries around them, they love a good shot of that pan-Balkan rakija. And speaking of culture they share… [♪♪] Whoo! Gotta love that rakija. Thank you, Noah. Follow him on Instagram. You’re welcome. I see you’ve upgraded to an adult beverage. Yeah, Geography Now! does not endorse underage drinking. We are of-age though so we can drink. Just a little disclaimer. Now, I asked a lot of you guys, the Montenegrin geograpeeps, “How would you guys distinguish yourself apart from the rest of the Balkan cousins?” Surprisingly, a lot of you kind of agreed on one thing. You all kind of proudly said something along the lines of: “We are kind of known for being the sleepy, lazy people.” I mean, they literally even have a lazy Olympics in the town of Brezna. You can win about 400 euros just for being the one that lays down and does nothing for the longest. Spain: Hmm, we should hang out sometime. No, but seriously, they also come from a very strong background rooted in kingdoms that fought relentlessly against invaders, too – not everything is a siesta here. But anyway, the country has about 630,000 people and is the least populated Balkan nation. The country is multi-ethnic, made up of about 45% that identify as Montenegrins and about 29% Serbian, whereas about 9% are Bosnian, 5% Albanian, and the rest are other groups, mostly Europeans and a few non-Europeans as well. Although they are not part of the EU, they do use the euro as their currency. They use the type C and F plug outlets and they drive on the right side of the road. Now, back to the Montenegrin/Serbian thing, this is where things get a little tricky. Geograpeep Savo(?) said, “There’s a saying: Serbia and Montenegro are like two eyes in one head.” Culturally speaking, they are pretty close and often sometimes Montenegrins or Serbs in the country might interchangeably identify with the other group for whatever reason, so exact statistics and numbers on the populace is not always completely accurate. But in the end, unless they specify, do not call a Montenegrin a Serb. Basically with Montenegro you see a little bit of … Italian influence, kind of, I guess you could say? Historically speaking, the Renaissance contemporaries played a major role in influencing parts of the country. It was kind of like: -Hey! You got some great beaches and landscape.
-Oh, thank you. But you know, it could really use some sprucing up. Why don’t I teach you some architecture techniques ,maybe spice up your literature style, you know, just like polish up a few things? -Uh, sure!
-Dude, what are you doing talking to that stranger? Oh, and I’m gonna give you a name. And that’s kind of how it happened. Their traditional costumes are a little different, a little more colorful than their Serbian brothers and sisters. They also have their own folklore, national dances like the Oro dance, or “eagle” dance. Weddings are fun. Traditionally, couples will plant an olive tree together to symbolize unity. Like we explained in the Bosnian-Herzegovina episode, basically all of these countries more or less can understand each other. There might be some small subtle accents or word switches, but let’s not fool ourselves, they all pretty much get each other when they talk. It’s like: [Australian accent] Hi, I’m speaking Australian. [Southern accent] Hi, I’m speaking Alabama. Hello, I’m speaking Belize. [Irish accent] I hear bombs out the winnae, what ye be saying lads and lass? What the he — Now, the Montenegrin language can be written in both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. They have a few extra letters. However, I’ve been told that recently more people have been favoring the Latin one. Faith-wise, again, the nation is quite diverse so you get people from multiple denominations. But the most predominant one adhered to being Eastern Orthodox. At least three-quarters of the population claims to be a part of the church. And the second largest one being Islam at about 20% In addition, Montenegro is known for being the second tallest country on earth, after the Netherlands, which has, like, really helped them in men’s water polo and women’s handball championships. They do *really* well in these sports. Anyway, we’ve been rambling on and on. History time! In the quickest way I can put it: …Roman Empire collapses, blah blah blah, we’ve told you about this story a million times. Ancient Slavs come in around the 6th century, …it didn’t really work out, …they switched their name to Zeta, Venetians come in and influence things for like three centuries, …Russians come in and help with the fight against the Ottomans, …things got really messy, They joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, later called Yugoslavia, World War II, now they’re part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, civil war in the ’90s, Yugoslavia breaks up, all that’s left is Montenegro and Serbia, they finally gained full independence from Serbia in 2006, and here we are today. I asked you guys, the Montenegrin geograpeeps, for a list of some notable people from Montenegro. Again, I was told it can be kind of hard because the whole Serb-Montenegrin identity thing we talked about, but that people might include: historical figure… …these football players, these NBA stars, these painters, this musician guy. …this comedy group, and finally, Ah, so many creative people. I mean, when you have all that time to chill and think, you know, no surprise. Now, let’s just finish up this episode with the last segment. I want to take a nap. [♪♪] Montenegro is seriously like the most relaxed and chill former Yugoslav country. They don’t really start any drama and all their neighbors, let alone visitors from all over the world, love to come and enjoy the tranquil forests and beaches. It’s just how it is. First of all, the EU has been getting more and more close over the years and currently Montenegro is a candidate to join, with lots of outside support, especially Italy who has helped and influenced them greatly in the past. Russia is also very close. Montenegrins will never forget the rule they played in assisting and protecting them from the Ottoman Empire. Nonetheless, they must have slept in and forgot the memo that joining NATO was totally something Russia would feel a little antsy about. Their inner circle, of course, would be the former Yugoslav states like Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia, to some extent maybe even Slovenia. These countries are some of their biggest trading partners and many Montenegrins have family in each nation. When it comes to their best friends, however, most Montenegrins will probably say Serbia. Despite the desire to clearly distinguish themselves apart, they are essentially blood brothers. “Two eyes in one head.” Not only is business crucial between them, as Serbia likes to use Montenegro’s ports as access to the Mediterranean, but many Montenegrins go to school in Serbia, marry Serbians, and have families with them. In conclusion, hey, if your country went through over a thousand years of wars, dynasties, battles, political turmoil, chances are you’d probably want to take a nap, too, okay? You deserve every last bit of that lazy stereotype, Montenegro. Go ahead. Knock yourself out. Stay tuned. Morocco is coming up next! [♪♪]