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Podgorica is the capital and largest city of Republic of Montenegro. It is located at 42°28'12?N, 19°16'48?E, 44 m above sea level.
A census in 2003 put city's population at 136,473. The favorable geographical position of Podgorica, at the confluence of the Ribnica and Moraca rivers, on the meeting point of fertile Zeta plain and Bjelopavlici Valley has made the city an attractive location for settlement. The city is situated only a few tens of kilometers from both winter ski centers in the north and seaside resorts on Adriatic Sea.
The municipality of Podgorica accounts for 10.4% of Montenegro's territory and 27.3% of its population. Besides being an administrative center of Montenegro, Podgorica is also its economic, cultural and educational focal point.
Podgorica is located at the crossroads of several important routes that lead down to the city along the valleys of the rivers Zeta, Moraca, Cijevna, Ribnica, and Sitnica, in the ravine of Skadar lake and in the vicinity of the Adriatic Sea, in the fertile lowland with favorable climate conditions. The area has been suitable for human habitation since ancient times, with the earliest human settlements being founded in prehistory. The oldest remains of material culture on this area belong to the late Stone Age. During the Illyrian age, the area of Zeta and Bjelopavlici ravine was inhabited by members of two Illyrian tribes - Labeates and Docleats, that directly influenced the genesis of local settlements.
Labeati inhabited the area from Skadar to today's Podgorica. They had their own fortress Meteon (now Medun), and developed organization of life, especially military.
Dokleats also inhabited the valley of the Zeta River, and thanks to the fertile plain and favorable geographical and road position, experienced fast economic growth. Their biggest settlement was Doclea. The city was situated about three kilometers northwest from today’s Podgorica. From the urban point of view, Doclea was adapted to the terrain configuration. At that time it was a big city, with 8 – 10 thousand inhabitants, in which all core urban issues were resolved. A relatively high population density in an area with a radius of just over ten kilometers was conditioned by geographical position, a favorable climate, positive economic conditions and defensive positions that were of great importance at that time.
Beginning in the 5th century, since the arrival of the first Slavic and Avar tribes and the beginning of the break up of the Roman Empire, the area bore witness to many noteworthy events. Eventually, the existing fortifications ceased their function, and new towns were created. Slavic groups that inhabited the area were in constant fights with Byzantium and tended to establish a new state. The result of the turmoil was establishment of a new settlement that was probably named after the river Ribnica on the banks of which it was erected. The first mention of Ribnica is related to the period of rule of Nemanjici. Geographical position conditioned route importance of Ribnica, as the crossroads of main road directions enabled connection of these areas with the West. When they finally inhabited these areas, the Slavs, by creating a new state, started developing their own culture and art. That culture was acceptable to the medieval church and feudal class.
The name of Podgorica is mentioned for the first time in 1326 in one court document of the Kotor archive. Podgorica was economically strong. Merchant connections between Dubrovnik and the State of Nemanjici, well developed at that time, were maintained over the road that led through Trebinje and Nikšic to Podgorica. As it was sited on the busiest crossroads, Podgorica was the center of very vivid flow of goods, merchants, messengers and other passengers that augmented to its development, economic power, military strength and strategic importance. The Turkish occupation of Podgorica in 1474 interrupted the economic, cultural and artistic rise of the city. The Turks built up a huge fortress in Podgorica and the existing settlement, with highly developed merchant connections, turned into the main defensive and attacking bastion against the rebellious tribes. The fortified city, with towers, gates and defensive ramparts, enabled the Turks to resist all attacks.
Pursuant to the decision of the Berlin Congress in 1878, Podgorica was integrated into Montenegro. That marked the end of four centuries of Turkish occupation and the beginning of new era in the development of Podgorica and Montenegro. The city has developed relatively fast and grew into a strong market. The first forms of capital concentration started to show up. In 1904 the first significant financial institution was formed – Zetska savings bank, which would soon grow into Podgoricka bank. Roads to all neighboring towns were constructed, and in 1902 Podgorica got its first significant commercial company - a tobacco plant.
In the period between the two wars Podgorica counted around 13,000 residents.
In World War II it was bombarded over 70 times and was devastated to the ground, with the deaths of over 4,100 victims. It was liberated on December 19, 1944.
Under the name of Titograd, on July 13, 1946, it becomes the capital of the Republic. That marked the beginning of new life. In the period that followed a general transformation of the town was realized. Material, personnel and scientific – technical potential was increased, education experienced strong growth, many new cultural and health institutions were founded, and by modern roads and air connections the city became connected to the rest of the state and foreign countries. Titograd thus became commercial, social-economic and cultural center of Montenegro.
The name of Podgorica was reinstated on April 2, 1992.
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