LANDSCAPE AND WILDLIFE IN MONTENEGRO
The landscape of Montenegro is extraordinarily varied primarily for the reason that from sea level to the top of the coastal mountains there is no more than a few kilometers by air and from the sea to the main chain of the High Dinaric Alps, with peaks up to 2,500 m, no more than 50km. The same contrast is to be observed in the climate, with conditions changing from the region to the other forming specific associations of flora and fauna.
The coastline of Montenegro is 293 km long. It has two distinct parts: in the north is Boka Kotorska ( The Gulf of Kotor, a series of four basins connected by straits and ringed with hills. At its north and east edge these hills climb almost horizontally from the sea to the peaks of Mt Orijen (1895m) and Lovćen (1749m ). Warm air that comes from the sea rises along the cliffs cooling rapidly and generating rain in such quantities that is keeps the Gulf pleasantly green even in the warmest of summers and makes the highlands of the Krivošije clan the region with most precipitation in the whole most precipitation in the whole of Europe. The rest of the coastline is open towards the sea, with a small numbers of covers and just a few tiny islands. The feature it shares with Boka is the mountainous hinterland, which here also limits the extent of the Mediterranean climate to the narrow coastal belt. Prevalent in this region is Mediterranean vegetation of thick evergreen bushes ( maquis) with many aromatic plants. Oak woods, tall cypress trees, maritime pine and olive groves are also found is abundance. The summers are long and hot and the winters mild and rainy.
Between the coast of the mountain giants the rise to the east of Podgorica and Nikšić lays the region affected to an extent by the Mediterranean climate. In its north the extremely rugged terrain of “fierce-karst” (ljuti krš) prevails- an 800 m high plateau dotted with holes and scarred with small rocky vales. The inhospitable looking scenery is dominated by sparse shrubbery while the hillsides rising from this tableland are almost bare. The scattered houses of relatively numerous villages cling to the little arable land available. There are just two fields with some more land suitable for agriculture and these are dominated by the towns of Grahovo and Cetinje. Though the region sees a lot of rain during the colder part of the year there are no rivers or streams here as all the water quickly disappears through the porous limestone rocks. To protect themselves from the draught the inhabitants gather rain water in protected basins or man-made sinks. Somewhat different from this harsh region is the field of Nikšić, the largest karst field in Montenegro ( 660 square kilometers). It abounds in hydrological phenomena getting its water from the 330 springs and losing it through 886 sinks, with 30 more estavelles and one intermittent spring. The river Zeta also emerges here only to sink at the edge of the field and reappear again some kilometers to the south. The valley of Zeta is the narrow thread of green arable kand stretching between the cliffs of the adjoining mountains from the NW to the SE. The river ends in the plain of Zeta ( Zetska ravnica) in which lies Podgorica, the country’s capital and largest city. Watered by the zeta, Cijevna and Morača rivers this flat piece of land makes up most of the 13% of territory suitable for agriculture in Montenegro. To the south, the plain ends with Lake Skadarsko ( also called Lake Scutari), the largest lake in the Balkans. As the lake considerably varies in size due to the uneven flow in water it abounds in wetland areas rich in birds, amphibians plants and fish.
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