Balcans, tourist destination of Kotor, Montenegro

This is the only country in Europe that remains free of the coronavirus

On Friday Kosovo confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus transmission, leaving only one country in Europe, the new focus of the COVID-19 according to the WHO, free of the virus.

Kosovo, one of the last places in Europe to remain free of the coronavirus, confirmed its first two cases on Friday, adding itself to the around 140 countries that have already been affected by the epidemic.

The health minister of the small Balkan country, Arben Vitia, confirmed on Friday that the first two infected with COVID-19 were a 20-year-old Italian woman and a 77-year-old Kosovar citizen, noting that “their condition is stable.” On Wednesday, this Muslim-majority country had decreed the closure of all schools and banned public meetings until March 27th, in addition to canceling flights with several European countries.

However, despite the fact that the WHO has declared that the epicenter of the pandemic is no longer in China but precisely in Europe, there is a country on the old continent that still remains free of the feared coronavirus: it is Montenegro, the only European country where no case has been registered despite sharing part of its border with Kosovo. All of its neighbours, including Serbia, Albania and Bosnia, have confirmed dozens of cases of the new virus.

Turkey, a country with numerous ties to the old continent and which in fact divides its territory between Europe and Asia, had also remained “immune” to the virus until it confirmed this week also its first case of coronavirus, a Turkish citizen who became infected precisely on a trip to Europe; so, the small Republic of Montenegro was left alone as the last bastion free of COVID-19.

A small Balkan country of Roman heritage and with two capitals, independent since 2006

With an area of ​​about 14,000 km2 and a heterogeneous and multi-ethnic population of just over 600,000 inhabitants, Montenegro was influenced for centuries by Serbia, a country with which, after World War I, it created a federation that decades later would form Yugoslavia. After its breakup, Montenegro remained united with Serbia, but a referendum in 2006 gave the majority to its independence from Belgrade, which took place that same year in a peaceful way.

The official name of Montenegro is Crna Gora (Black Mountain); a hypothesis about its origin is that it comes from latini nigri, a name that was given in the Middle Ages to the descendants of the Latin-Romans of the ancient Roman province of Dalmatia, who took refuge in these mountains fleeing from the Slavic invasions.

A curiosity derived from its long history is that the country has two official capitals: Podgorica, which is the country’s political and economic centre and its most populous city, and Cetinje, today a town of just 15,000 inhabitants but which has the status of old monarchical capital. Although it is one of the poorest countries in Europe, its economy has grown significantly in recent years and it has become a major tourist destination.

According to the latest data, worldwide the new coronavirus pandemic has so far infected more than 145,000 people, of whom almost 5,500 have died and some 72,000 have recovered. After China, the source of the outbreak, the 10 countries with the highest number of infected are almost all in Europe: Italy is in second place, followed by Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, France, the United States, Switzerland and Norway.