1979 Montenegro earthquake

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1979 Montenegro earthquake
Yugoslavia (1946-1990) location map.svg
Green pog.svg
UTC  time1979-04-15 06:19:44
ISC  event 666588
Local dateApril 15, 1979 (1979-04-15)
Local time07:19:44
Magnitude6.9 Mw [1]
Depth10 km (6.2 mi) [1]
Epicenter 42°02′N19°10′E / 42.03°N 19.17°E / 42.03; 19.17 Coordinates: 42°02′N19°10′E / 42.03°N 19.17°E / 42.03; 19.17 [1]
Areas affected Montenegro, Albania
Max. intensity X (Extreme) [2]
Peak acceleration.46 g [3]
Tsunami.6 m (2 ft 0 in) [4]
Aftershocks6.3 Ms May 24 at 17:23 UTC [5]
Casualties136 dead, 1,000+ injured

The 1979 Montenegro earthquake occurred on 15 April at 06:19 UTC with a moment magnitude of 6.9 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). It was the most devastating earthquake on the territory of present-day Montenegro, then part of SFR Yugoslavia, [6] and was mostly felt along the Montenegrin and Albanian coastline. It was also felt in other parts of the country (in Podgorica with intensity of VII, in Sarajevo and Skopje V-VI, in Belgrade IV, in Zagreb and Ljubljana III-IV) and was followed by more than 90 aftershocks stronger than 4.0 on Richter scale. [7] [8]

The moment magnitude scale is a measure of an earthquake's magnitude based on its seismic moment, expressed in terms of the familiar magnitudes of the original "Richter" magnitude scale.

Montenegro Republic in Southeastern Europe

Montenegro is a country in Southeastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea. It borders Bosnia and Herzegovina to the north; Serbia and Kosovo to the east, Albania to the south and Croatia to the west. Montenegro has an area of 13,812 square kilometres and a population of 678,000, most of whom are Orthodox Christians. Its capital Podgorica is one of the twenty-three municipalities in the country. Cetinje is designated as the Old Royal Capital.

Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia socialist republic in Southeast Europe between 1943 and 1992

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a country located in central and Southeastern Europe that existed from its foundation in the aftermath of World War II until its dissolution in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. Covering an area of 255,804 km², the SFRY was bordered by the Adriatic Sea and Italy to the west, Austria and Hungary to the north, Bulgaria and Romania to the east, and Albania and Greece to the south.



Budva's Old Town, one of Montenegro's Cultural Heritage Sites, was heavily devastated. Of the 400 buildings in Budva's Old Town, 8 remained unscathed from the earthquake. The 15th century walls and ramparts protecting the Old Town were severely damaged as well. Praskvica Monastery, located between Miločer and Sveti Stefan in the Budva Municipality, suffered greatly too. The church inside the monastery had all but totally collapsed, whereas the frescoes in the monastery were completely damaged.

Budva Town and municipality in Montenegro

Budva is a Montenegrin town on the Adriatic Sea, former bishopric and present Latin Catholic titular see. It has around 14,000 inhabitants, and it is the centre of Budva Municipality. The coastal area around Budva, called the Budva riviera, is the center of Montenegrin tourism, known for its well-preserved medieval walled city, sandy beaches and diverse nightlife. Budva is 2,500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast.

Praskvica Monastery Monastery in Montenegro

Praskvica Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox monastery in Čelobrdo, a village in the Budva municipality in modern-day Montenegro. It was a spiritual and political center of the Paštrovići clan. The name of the monastery is taken from the peach-scented water of the nearby spring.

The walls surrounding Stari Bar had suffered very little damage from the earthquake, in comparison to the Aqueduct in Stari Bar which was completely destroyed. Herceg Novi, the youngest town on the Montenegrin coast, suffered heavily as well. Parts of the walls of Herceg Novi's Old Town fell into the Adriatic Sea. Ulcinj's Old Town, another Montenegrin Cultural Heritage Site, was almost totally devastated. The centuries-old Balšić Tower in Ulcinj nearly collapsed as a result of the earthquake.

Stari Bar Town in Bar Municipality, Montenegro

Stari Bar, meaning Old Bar, is a small town in Montenegro. It is located inland, a few miles from the new city of Bar, resting on Londša hill, at the foot of Mount Rumija. According to the 2003 census, the town has a population of 1,864 people.

Bar Aqueduct aqueduct

The Bar Aqueduct is a stone aqueduct, located on the northern side of Stari Bar, the old town of Bar,, Montenegro. The Bar Aqueduct is the only remaining aqueduct in Montenegro, and one of the largest and best preserved aqueducts of the three in former Yugoslavia, namely the Diocletianus Aqueduct near Split, Croatia, and the Skopje Aqueduct in the Republic of Macedonia.

Adriatic Sea Body of water between the Italian Peninsula and the Balkan Peninsula

The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto to the northwest and the Po Valley. The countries with coasts on the Adriatic are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia. The Adriatic contains over 1,300 islands, mostly located along its eastern, Croatian coast. It is divided into three basins, the northern being the shallowest and the southern being the deepest, with a maximum depth of 1,233 metres (4,045 ft). The Otranto Sill, an underwater ridge, is located at the border between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The prevailing currents flow counterclockwise from the Strait of Otranto, along the eastern coast and back to the strait along the western (Italian) coast. Tidal movements in the Adriatic are slight, although larger amplitudes are known to occur occasionally. The Adriatic's salinity is lower than the Mediterranean's because the Adriatic collects a third of the fresh water flowing into the Mediterranean, acting as a dilution basin. The surface water temperatures generally range from 30 °C (86 °F) in summer to 12 °C (54 °F) in winter, significantly moderating the Adriatic Basin's climate.

Over 450 villages were razed to the ground. [9] In addition, many villages in the regions of Crmnica, Grbalj, Krajina and Paštrovići were in danger of near total collapse. Further inland, Cetinje, Danilovgrad, Nikšić and Montenegro's capital city, Titograd (present Podgorica) were damaged as well, but not as severely. [10]

Crmnica historical region in southern Montenegro

Crmnica is a historical region in southern Montenegro, lying within the municipality of Bar and is unofficially considered a division of that municipality. The capital of the region is Virpazar. The region consists of the following 27 villages: Boljevići, Braćeni, Brijege, Bukovik, Donji Brčeli, Dupilo, Gluhi Do, Godinje, Gornji Brčeli, Komarno, Krnjice, Limljani, Mačuge, Mikovići, Orahovo, Ovtočići, Popratnica, Seoca, Sotonići, Tomići, Trnovo, Utrg, Virpazar and Zabes. The population adheres to Orthodoxy; roughly, the majority of the population declares as Montenegrins, the rest as Serbs.

The Paštrovići is a historical tribe and region in the Montenegrin Littoral. Paštrovići stretches from the southernmost part of the Bay of Kotor, from the cape of Zavala to Spič. Its historical capital was the island of Sveti Stefan. Paštrovići was a province of Venetian Albania, a Venetian possession on the Adriatic coast, from 1423 until 1797, with interruptions by the Ottoman Empire. It was part of the Kingdom of Dalmatia from 1815 to 1918, then Yugoslavia, then became part of Montenegro only after World War II. It is historically one of two major "maritime tribes", the other being Grbalj.

Cetinje Old Royal Capital in Montenegro

Cetinje, is a city and Old Royal Capital of Montenegro. It is also the historic and the secondary capital of Montenegro, where the official residence of the President of Montenegro is located. According to the 2011 census, the town had a population of 14,093 while the Cetinje municipality had 16,657 residents as of 2011.

According to a 1984 UNESCO report, a total of 1,487 objects were damaged, nearly half of which consisted of households and another 40% consisting of churches and other sacred properties. Only 30% of the 1,487 objects damaged were destroyed. Over 1,000 cultural monuments were suffered, as well as thousands of works of art and valuable collections. [10]

By the end of the catastrophe, 101 people had died in Montenegro [6] [9] and 35 in Albania [9] and over 100,000 people were left homeless. [10]

Albania country in Southeast Europe

Albania, officially the Republic of Albania, is a country in Southeast Europe on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea within the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, Greece to the south and a maritime border with Italy to the west.

Aid and relief

Damage done to Hotel Slavija in Budva Hotel Slavija, 1979 Yugoslavia Earthquake.jpg
Damage done to Hotel Slavija in Budva

Days after the earthquake, $30,000 was made available immediately for aid work and restoration of disaster areas. On 28 May 1979, the Director-General of UNESCO issued a worldwide appeal for donations to help the nation recover for the devastation as the federal budget was insufficient for aid funding. [10]

Several months later, in October 1979, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO decided to list the Natural and Culturo-historical Region of Kotor in the World Heritage List and in the List of World Heritage in Danger. [10]

UNESCO, through ICCROM, aided the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Cetinje for the restoration of frescoes in the Church of the Virgin in Podlastva Monastery. Similar help was given for the restoration of the Church of Alexander Nevsky on the island of Sveti Stefan. [10]

First estimates of the cost of damaged cultural property was about YUD10,527,690,000 ($10.5 billion), which is just under 15% of the total earthquake damage. The 1984 inflation rates put that amount at about YUD3,174,098,500,000 (3.1 trillion), equaling to $31,700,000,000 (31 billion). The Yugoslav Government agreed to pay 82% of the total estimated cost of damaged cultural property, whereas the remaining 18% was to be paid by the local municipalities. To help meet the total costs of the disaster, the Government had set up a statutory fund whereby each worker across SFR Yugoslavia contributed 1% of his monthly salary towards the restoration effort in a ten-year period, from 1979 to 1989.

Till September 1, 1983, the Government had budgeted for a total expenditure of YUD54,722,849,000 (54.7 billion), of which 3.7% or YUD21,023,620,800 (21 billion) were allocated for cultural property.

By 1984, Montenegro was still under restoration, the entire Montenegrin coast, especially Budva and Kotor, and Cetinje receiving the heaviest amounts of restoration. Several objects had been fully restored by 1984, including the Memorial Museum of Jovan Tomasevic in Bar; Monastery of St. Vid and Church of St. Alexander Nevsky in Budva; Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments (former Austrian embassy), State Museum (former Palace of King Nicholas), National Gallery and the Bishop's House in Cetinje; the Archives and Gallery of Josip Bepo Benkovic in Herceg Novi, Cultural Center in Kotor, Church of St. George in Orahovac (Kotor), Church of Our Lady in Krimovice (Kotor), Church of St. John in Dub (Kotor), Church of St. George in Sisici (Kotor), Church of St. George in Sutvara (Kotor), Church of St. George in Prijeradi (Kotor), Church of St. Eustacius in Dobrota (Kotor), Church of Our Lady of the Rocks in Perast (Kotor), Roman mosaics in Risan (Kotor) and twelve church buildings in Grbalj (Kotor).

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Social Democratic Party of Montenegro, or just the Social Democratic Party is a centre-left political party in Montenegro. It is the only party in Montenegro to have full membership in the Socialist International.

The Coastline of Montenegro, also called the Montenegrin Littoral, historically the Littoral or the Maritime, is the littoral region in Montenegro which borders the Adriatic Sea. Prior to the Creation of Yugoslavia, the Montenegrin Littoral was not part of the Kingdom of Montenegro, but rather a bordering region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, latterly part of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs.

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  1. 1 2 3 ISC (2015), ISC-GEM Global Instrumental Earthquake Catalogue (1900–2009), Version 2.0, International Seismological Centre
  2. USGS (December 1, 2008), EXPO-CAT Earthquake Catalog, Version 2007-12, United States Geological Survey
  3. Leeds, A.; Matthiesen, R. B.; Anicic, D. (1980), Montenegro, Yugoslavia earthquake, April 15, 1979 : reconnaissance report, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, p. 4, archived from the original on 2015-04-07, retrieved 2015-04-03
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  7. "Pitanja".
  8. "Pitanja".
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  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNESCO (1984), Montenegro Earthquake: The Conservation of the Historic Monuments and Art Treasures (PDF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization