Personal tools


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment


Country profile (Montenegro)

What distinguishes the country?

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Montenegro is located in south-eastern Europe on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Its geographical coordinates are 4° 30' N, 19°18' E. The total area of the country is 13,812 km2 of which 13,452 km2 is land and 360 km2 water. Land boundaries bordering five countries total 625 km and the coastline 300 km. Montenegro has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfalls inland. The terrain is a highly indented coastline with a narrow coastal plain backed by rugged high limestone mountains and plateau. The elevation varies between 0 m on the coast to a highest point of 2 522 m above sea level at Bobotov Kuk. Agricultural land covers 5 165 km2 of the country, 37.4 %, arable land 13.7 % and permanent crops 1 %. Agricultural crops grown are cereals, potatoes, tobacco, grapes, citrus fruit, olives and figs. The main natural hazard in Montenegro is destructive earthquakes.


map of Montenegro

Figure 1. Map of Montenegro

Source: EPA – Montenegro

Population Density

According to the 2003 census, Montenegro had a declining population of 620 145 inhabitants with an average density of 44.9 per km². At the time of the last census Montenegro was a civic state and the new constitution, adopted in 2007, recognises the main ethnic groups: Montenegrins 44.5 %, Serbs 33.6 %, and Bosnian-Muslims 12.7 %, Albanians 5 %, others: 4.2 %. This summed to 99.9%. It has been adjusted to 100%

Ethnic groups in Montenegro

Figure 2. Ethnic groupings in Montenegro

Source: Statistical office of Montenegro (Monstat)

Economic structure

Montenegro has benefitted from EU autonomous trade measures since 2000. In 2007, both exports and imports of goods and services increased, representing respectively 57 % and 104.7 % of GDP. The main sources of export revenues are tourism and aluminium production. The EU is the main trading partner of the country, also with reference to foreign direct investments, which in 2007 represent 44.2 % of GDP, with the EU-27 accounting for half of total inflows. Since January 2008, access of Montenegrin products to the EU has been expanded and EU exports to Montenegro have been granted trade preferences following the enforcement of the Interim Agreement.

Since 2002, the currency in Montenegro has been the Euro. Total GDP in 2007 was €2 807.9 million and GDP per person €4 484. Growth of GDP, at constant prices, was 10.7 % in 2007.

The rate of poverty in Montenegro has fallen significantly: the percentage of poor people decreased from 11.3 % in 2006 to 8.0 % in 2007, the consequence of overall economic growth, and growth of income and expenditure of households.

Transformation from communist to democratic system

The Republic of Montenegro became an independent state following the referendum on 21 May 2006. Before gaining independence, Montenegro was part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, from 27 April 1992 until February 2003. One year later, Montenegro became part of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro (SCG).

Montenegro has undergone two transitions in the past decade, the first introduced a multiparty system – the so-called ‘anti-bureaucratic’ revolution of 1989 – the second started in 1996 and ended with the fall of Milosevic on 5 October 2000 when the process of economic and political consolidation, which was completed in the referendum in 2006, started.

In the 2007 constitution, Montenegro is defined as a civil, democratic, ecological and social justice state.


The government of Montenegro has 17 ministries, with the Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment responsible for creating policy and legislation. The Agency for Environmental Protection was established on 16 November 2008 and is responsible for the implementation of environmental legislation.

The Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment is responsible for the institutions that are active in the field of environmental protection: the Agency for Environmental Protection, the Hydro-meteorological Service, the Public Institution Centre for Eco-toxicological testing, the Institute for Nature Protection, the Public Enterprise for National Parks of Montenegro, the Public Enterprise for Coast Regional Water Supply, the limited liability company ‘Procon’, and the Public Enterprise for managing marine property.


What have been the major societal developments?

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 22 Dec 2010

EU accession/enlargement

Montenegro is a potential candidate for membership of the EU. The European perspective was reaffirmed by the Council in June 2006 after recognition of the country's independence by EU Member States. On 15 October 2007, Montenegro signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and an Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related issues. A European partnership with Montenegro was adopted by the Council on 22 January 2007 and the Montenegrin government adopted a National Action Plan (NPI) on 17 May 2007. Montenegro submitted its application for EU membership on 15 December 2008. Montenegro has received candidate status on 9. November 2010.

Progress in Environmental Management in Montenegro

In 1991, Montenegro’s National Assembly declared the country to be an ecological State, committed to protecting the environment to the highest level. Since 1991, the Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment has prepared, and the Montenegro Parliament adopted, a series of environmental laws, regulations and ordinances.

In 2000, Montenegro published its first national State of the Environment Report. It outlines the state of the environment in general terms, as specific data were not available due to poor and unorganised monitoring systems. In 2001, the government adopted the Development Directions for Montenegro, which provided a long-term strategic direction, including environmental, economic and social orientation. Between 2000 and 2006, the government adopted the main legal framework that included environmental protection, strategic environmental impact assessments, impact assessment and waste management laws. In 2006, the government completed a final draft of the National Sustainable Strategy that was based on the concept of sustainable development, identification of environmental problems, natural resource management, and economic and social development.

From 2006 until today the following laws have been adopted in the field of environment:

·        Law on Environment (Official Gazette of Montenegro, no. 48/08)

·        Law on air quality (Official Gazette of RM, br.48/07)

·        Law on the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (Official Gazette of RM, no. 17/07)

·        Environmental Protection Act (Official Gazette of Montenegro, no. 51/08, 21/09)

·        Law on chemicals (Official Gazette of Montenegro, No. 11/07)

·        Law on genetically modified organisms (Official Gazette of Montenegro, br.22/08)

·        Law on Sea (Official Gazette of Montenegro, no. 17/07, 06/08).


With the Environmental Law (Official Gazette of Montenegro, No. 48/08) and the Decree on Amendments to the Regulation on organisation and working methods of public administration (Official Gazette of Montenegro no. 68/08) of 16 November 2008, the Agency for Environmental Protection was established. The Agency formally and legally began to function on 1 March 2009 when regulations on the internal organisation and systematisation of Agency for Environmental Protection were enforced.

Internal organisational units are:

·        Sector for monitoring, analysis and reporting;

·        Sector for the issue of permits;

·        Sector for communication and information system management;

·        Department of environmental inspection;

·        Service for legal and financial affairs.

Transformation from centrally planned economy to market economy

The Montenegrin economy weakened in the 1990s because of economic sanctions, wars in the region and the unstable political environment. This resulted in hyperinflation, high unemployment and low income for citizens. Additional problems for economic development arose from differences in economic, political and social spheres between Serbia and Montenegro, which remained until Montenegro became an independent state. As a result of these complex factors, GDP reached its lowest level for the period 1991-2007 in 1993 when it was only $ 1 706 per person – including frozen prices from 1994 and the informal economy.

The economy of Montenegro has made progress since 2006. In terms of current prices, GDP in 2007 reached $ 5,355 per person, or $ 9,934 per person based on purchasing power parity (PPP) which is 2.2 times more than in 2000. GDP growth has resulted mainly from a large increase in foreign direct investment (FDI), expansion of the service sector in areas such as tourism and jobs related to tourism, and the real estate sector.

The government has conducted a series of economic reforms, of which the most important were privatisation, the introduction of the euro as the official currency, price liberalisation, tariff reduction, opening the economy and the establishment of control over the budget deficit.

These developments and other effective strategic changes have provided a solid basis for rapid economic progress in the years that followed. More than 80 % of state-owned enterprises have been privatised, which led to the development of stock markets. The influx of FDI in 2007 amounted to €1 007.7 million, while the outflow amounted to €482.2 million. A series of laws and regulations have been adopted which promoted a competitive business environment.


Globalisation, urbanisation, production and consumption

Macroeconomic stability is as significant for Montenegro as economic policies that enable the use of the global market as an opportunity for development. Due to this, Montenegro is increasingly open for foreign investment and is among the first in Europe in terms of foreign investment per person.

Cities and other urban settlements are the centres and carriers of economic and social development, as, to a lesser extent, are some rural, tourist and areas of special natural importance. As a consequence of the migration process, demographic pressure is high particularly in the cities and the largest urban settlements. Every year sees a reduction in the population density of settlements outside the cities and in rural areas.

Productivity in Montenegro is growing much more slowly than consumption.


Armed conflict / war legacy

During the 1991-1995 Bosnian War and Croatian War, Montenegro participated as part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and faced a big challenge. In May 1992, the United Nations imposed an embargo on FRY that affected many aspects of life in the country. The entire Montenegrin industrial production stopped, and the republic's main economic activity became the smuggling of consumer goods – especially those in short supply including petrol and cigarettes, both of which skyrocketed in price. It became a de facto legalised practice and it went on for years.

This had very negative impacts on the environment, especially because of the increased risk of illegal imports of dangerous waste as well as the danger of industrial accidents due to the lack of imported raw materials and spare parts for industrial facilities. Negative effects were also caused by the suspension of international cooperation and the interruption of international financial support for projects in the field of environmental protection. NATO bombing of FRY during 1999 also had a very negative impact on the environment.

 All these issues had long-term negative consequences for the environment and development in general.


What are the main drivers of environmental pressures?

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 22 Dec 2010


During the past 50 years, industry has been the main driver of economic development. In that period, energy, metallurgy (steel and aluminium) and transport infrastructure were the drivers of development.

Industrial facilities were spread over the whole former Yugoslavia so that 90 % of production was outside the borders of Montenegro. Montenegro now has the capacity to produce 400 000 tonnes of crude steel per year, 1 000 000 tonnes of bauxite, 280 000 tonnes of alumina, 100 000 tonnes of aluminium, 75 000 tons of sea salt, 2 700 000 tonnes of coal, and about 3 000 GWh of electricity from the Perućica and Piva hydropower plants and the Pljevlja thermo-power plant, as well as hectolitres of beer in Niksić.

Industrial production in 2008 slowed and by the end of the year growth was 2 % less than in 2007, with all sectors recording a slow down. Manufacturing experienced a decline – caused mainly by lower production of aluminium. Production of basic metals declined by 11.3 % in 2008. This had the effect of reducing the growth rate, total industrial production and total Montenegrin exports. In 2008 higher production was achieved in the electric power sector (31.9 %), mining and quarrying (17.7 %), and in four areas of manufacturing industry: production of food products and beverages (21.8 %), production of leather products and footwear (115.9 %), publishing, printing and reproduction (9.5 %), and production of furniture and various products (4.1 %).

The basic economic structure provides adequate capacity for the metal processing industry, machinery industry, wood processing, textile and chemical industry, leather and footwear, clothes, civil engineering and forest machinery, and significant capacity for building operations.

In Montenegro, there are significant capacities for industrial processing and output of agricultural and food products: abattoirs, fish processing factories, grain mills with silos, dairy, bakery, beer and soft drinks factories, fruit processing plants, facilities for processing grapes and wine cellars, processing of medicinal herbs, factories for production of cigarettes and confectionery products, coffee processing, etc.

Industrial production in Montenegro is underdeveloped and is characterised by outdated technology, low energy and raw material efficiency, weak technological discipline and high levels of waste.

So-called wild building is particularly pronounced on locations that are attractive for tourism development.

The technologies applied in Montenegro are characterised by high greenhouse gas emissions and the production of large amounts of waste. Such technologies are represented in the currently active mining and metal industries, and were also characteristic for the plants and mines that are no longer in operation. Technologies with the most significant negative impacts on the environment are used in metallurgy, plants where combustion of coal is used – thermo-power plant – and mining.

Industrial ecological problems are expected to be solved through the complete implementation of the IPCC Directive and compliance and implementation of environmental standards.


Agriculture in Montenegro, together with the food industry, contributes about 11.3 % of GDP, and 20 % of employment. About 60 % of the activity is related to cattle breeding, and the rest to plant culture.

In agro-industry, which contributes 9.1 % of the total, the largest contributors are food products (47.5 %) and beverages (32.2 %).

Many people own agricultural property, which provides either basic or a supplementary source of income for more than 60 000 households.

The total value of fisheries in Montenegro is €7.4 million, 0.5 % of national GDP or 3.1 % of the gross product of the agricultural sector.

Despite the limited agricultural land of about 518 000 ha, Montenegrin agriculture is very versatile. Another comparative advantage is the fact that land, generally speaking, is not over-exploited and the use of fertilisers and pesticides is still low – more than 10 times below the EU average.

Existing negative trends of loss of agricultural land (primarily its use for other purposes)

Forests and forest land cover an area of 720 000 ha – 54 % of the area of the country – most of which, 572 000 ha, is in the north-eastern part. Under the economic conditions for its development, agriculture remains a low productivity sector based on a large number of private holdings: 60 043 holdings constitute around 96.3 % of arable land and about same of livestock. Holding companies and cooperatives own 7 040 ha of arable land, of which 828 ha are fields, 376 ha orchards, 1 891 ha vineyards and 3 945 ha meadows. Of the total area, forests and forest lands cover 720 000 ha or 54 % of the state’s territory, of which 621 000 ha (45 %) are forest and 123 000 ha (9 %) are bare forest soil. Along with Scandinavian countries, which have 0.9 ha of forest of per citizen, Montenegro is one of the countries with the highest amount of forests with great potential for recreation and tourism. Forests and forested areas in state ownership cover 500 000 ha (67 % of total land) while private forests and forested areas cover 224 000 ha (33 %). Total timber in forests in Montenegro is estimated as 72 million m3, of which 29.5 million (41 %) is conifers and 42.5 million (59 %) deciduous trees. The forests that are intended for timber cover 348 000 ha (81 % of the total area), protected forests 66 000 ha
(16 %) and forests in national parks 12.975 ha (3 %).

Maritime and Land Transport

Montenegro has five registered maritime companies that provide maritime transport mainly in the basin of the Adriatic Sea. The companies have 13 ships with a capacity of more than 40 000 DWT. The Port of Bar, located at the gates of the Mediterranean Sea, is capable of handling about 5 million tonnes of goods per year. The immediate hinterland of the Port of Bar is a free customs zone that offers wide opportunities for the development of production and service capacity and for storage, as goods can easily be transported by sea or the Bar-Belgrade railway and onwards into Central Europe.

In addition, the Montenegrin territorial sea carries a significant volume of maritime traffic, including many yachts and small boats during the tourist season. The control of safety and security system for navigation in the territorial sea is not fully in accordance with international regulations – for example, protection services should be based on pollution indicators, which are still not operational.

Montenegro has a road network of 5 227 km, of which 1 720 km are modern highways and regional roads; the rest are local roads. The length of the standard railway is 250 km, mainly electric. The rail hub of Podgorica connects the interior of the country to the Adriatic Sea, through the Port of Bar and the Podgorica-Božaj railway with neighbouring Albania.

Montenegro has two airports, in Podgorica and in Tivat.

There are about 170 cars per 1 000 people, which is relatively high for a country with similar GDP per person, but far below the EU average. Trains are characterised as very old, as are trucks and buses – for example 18 years for buses.  Control of the freight load of road vehicles is inadequate, and over-loaded vehicles contribute significantly to damage of the road network.


Tourism is an important economic sector, including marine and mountain tourism. Tourist accommodation facilities comprise 150 000 beds, of which hotels, motels, inns, and tourist villages have around 37 000. On the 300 km of coastline there are 117 beaches, with a total length of 73 km. The Montenegrin coast belongs to the group of coasts with the highest number of sunny days and is one of the hottest tourist regions of Europe. Although classified as a Mediterranean country, Montenegro is a typical mountain area in which land above 1 000 meters above sea level represents 60.5 % of the territory. Around 2 800 beds are available in the mountain region. There are five national parks, which are the most attractive and ecologically best-preserved nature reserves – Durmitor, Biograd primeval forest, Skadar Lake, Lovcen and Prokletije. Since previous and current tourism has been developed mostly in the coastal area, ecotourism has a great potential for the future.

The main problems and pressures that have impacts on tourism are poorly resolved or unresolved treatment of water and solid waste, as well as water supply and electricity shortages, especially during the high tourism season.


Seventy-five percent of domestic electricity comes from hydropower plants, and 25 % from one thermo-power plant. Total production varies from year to year, depending on precipitation levels, amounting up to 3 000 GWh. The largest consumer is the Podgorica Aluminum factory (KAP) which uses about 1 400 GWh per year though before the global recession it was more than 2 000 GWh; then households with about 1 200 GWh per year – electricity is used for heating in almost half of them. A large deficit of electricity and the low level of exploitation of the hydroelectric potential has resulted in plans for large new hydropower plants, with dams and reservoirs that may endanger valuable natural resources, some of which are under national and international protection regimes. Small hydroelectric power plants and solar energy are generally insufficiently utilised or resourced, although there is significant potential. Available hydro potential is estimated at approximately 7 000 GWh with a natural flow of water, with a potential of 11 000 GWh with integrated water use.

The existing thermo-power plant, Pljevlja, has been one of the greatest polluters of the environment.  In previous year large filters were added, which significantly – but not sufficiently – improved its ecological parameters.

Multi-pollutant, multi-effect

Key environmental problems

Major environmental problems include:

  • old and polluting industry (technology) – contamination of specific locations and negative environmental effects of major pollutants: Aluminum Factory Podgorica, Niksic Steel Factory, Thermal Power Plant Pljevlja; a particular problem is industrial liquid wastes discharged to rivers;
  • high levels of urban pollution – solid waste, liquid waste, undeveloped infrastructure – is also an obstacle to economic development and especially for tourism, the state of infrastructure and facilities and equipment for water supply being generally poor; large amount of water are lost in the system;
  • unsustainable use/over-exploitation of resources such as energy, water and forests;
  • increased impact of traffic – both road – unsatisfactory fuel quality, old vehicles, congestion in large cities and poor public transport systems, the need to build new roads –and maritime – lack of measures for addressing pollution caused by ships/ boats;
  • threats to biodiversity due to destruction of habitats of certain species, and excessive exploitation of commercial species;
  • problems with the use of land and unplanned construction.


What are the foreseen developments?

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 22 Dec 2010

Demographics and economics forecasts

Demographics forecast

Population growth in urban areas is expected to be rather higher than in rural areas.

Economics forecasts


Tourism and the property sector are areas where foreign investors play an important role. There is significant demand for good offices, retail, hotel and both permanent and holiday housing space. Taking into account the natural beauty of the country, environmentally-friendly sustainable development is an important requirement.

The main problems and pressures that tourism imposes are poorly resolved or unresolved treatment of wastewater and solid waste as well as water-supply and electricity shortages. This is particularly marked during the high season.


Emphasis is placed on the future development of transport infrastructure. Construction of the Bar-Boljare highway is planned.


Because Montenegro has significant hydropower potential, as recognised by the Energy Development Strategy, the construction of four hydropower plants is planned. This could also have significant environmental impacts.

Strategic futures and development plans

·        Energy Development Strategy to 2025;

·        Tourism Development Strategy to 2020;

·        Sustainable Development Action Plan 2012 projects future development directions in Montenegro.

From the perspective of environmental protection, the Sustainable Development Strategy has the greatest importance because it is an integrated action plan that balances development plans with the need for environmental protection.


  • Environmental Policy in South-Eastern Europe, UNDP, 2007
  • The National Sustainable Development Strategy, Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Protection, 2007
  • Tourism Development Strategy to 2020, Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Protection 2007
  • Annual reports of The Ministry for Economy for 2006, 2007. and 2008.
  • Monstat,
  • Documentation of Environmental Protection Agency



The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100