The Republic of Montenegro (Serbian: Crna Gora, Црна Гора) is a constituent republic within the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in the Balkans, on the Adriatic Sea. By its constitution, Montenegro is defined as a "democratic, welfare, and ecological state".
Crna Gora translates literally to "black mountain", a reference to the dark forests that once covered the slopes of the Dinaric Alps as seen from the coast. The country's name in most Western European languages, including English, reflects an adoption of the Venetian term "monte negro" which also means black mountain. Other languages use their own direct translation of black mountain, ranging from Mali i Zi in Albanian to Μαυροβούνιο in Greek.
Throughout a number of centuries Montenegro was a de facto independent principality ruled by a succession of dynasties and rulers. The country obtained de jure international recognition of its independence, following the Eastern Crisis (1875-1878), at the Congress of Berlin. On 28 August 1910, Montenegro's ruler Prince Nikola Petrović Njegoš proclaimed himself King. In 1918, Montenegro's Serb-approved legislature, sitting in Podgorica, voted for Montenegro to become part of Serbia. Montenegrins loyal to King Nicholas rebelled in 1919 and were suppressed by 1924 by the Serbian Army.
Between 1945 and 2003, Montenegro was a Republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia respectively. It is now one of two constituent states of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. On May 21, 2006, Montenegro will hold a referendum to determine whether or not to terminate the union with Serbia.
Union with Serbia
Duklja in the 10th centuryThe Slav tribes mixed with Illyrians, Avars, and Romans organized into a semi-independent dukedom of Duklja by the 10th century. In 1077, Pope Gregory VII recognized Duklja as an independent state, acknowledging its King Mihailo (Michael) (of the Vojisavljević dynasty founded by nobleman Stefan Vojislav) as rex Doclea (King of Duklja). The kingdom, however, paid tribute to the Byzantine Empire; it gave birth to the later medieval kingdom of Serbian Great Zupan (Serbian: župan) Stefan Nemanja, who originated from Duklja.
The independent principality of Zeta (which more closely corresponds to the early modern state of Montenegro) asserted itself towards 1360. The Balšić (1360s – 1421) and Crnojević (1421 – 1499) dynasties ruled Zeta; and though the Ottoman Empire controlled the lands to the south and east from the 15th century, it never fully conquered Zeta.
In 1516, the secular prince Đurađ Crnojević abdicated in favor of the Archbishop Vavil, who then formed Montenegro into a theocratic state under the rule of the prince-bishop (vladika) of Cetinje, a position held from 1697 by the Petrović-Njegoš family of the Riđani clan. Petar Petrović Njegoš, perhaps the most influential vladika, reigned in the first half of the 19th century. In 1851 Danilo II Petrović Njegoš became vladika, but in 1852 he married, threw off his ecclesiastical character, assuming the title of knjaz (Prince), and transformed his land into a secular principality.
In 1910, Prince Nikola I became King of Montenegro, a position he held until 1918. An allied power during World War I, Montenegro was occupied by Austro-Hungarian troops. In 1918, Montenegro's legislature approved annexation by Serbia. However, pro-independence Montenegrins revolted on Christmas Day, 1919 against Serbia. The revolt was supressed in 1924.
From 1919 to 1941, Montenegro was a part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. During World War II, Montenegro was occupied by Italian troops and later Nazi troops (1941-1944). From 1945 to 1992, Montenegro was a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It was during this time that the present capital Podgorica was known as Titograd.
Montenegro is currently a part of the state union of Serbia-Montenegro. On May 21, 2006, a referendum will be held that will decide whether or not Montenegro should be an independent nation.
Municipalities of Montenegro
The principal cities and towns of Montenegro are:
• The Capital Podgorica (136,473 inhabitants)
• Nikšić (58,212)
• Pljevlja (21,377)
• Bijelo Polje (15,883)
• Herceg Novi (16,493 - incl. Igalo)
• Berane (11,776)
The former royal capital and the seat of the throne is Cetinje.
Internationally, it borders Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania. Within the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro it borders Serbia as well as the southern Serbian province of Kosovo.
The Montenegrin surface ranges from high peaks along its borders with Kosovo and Albania, a segment of the Karst of the western Balkan Peninsula, to a narrow coastal plain that is only one to four miles wide. The plain stops abruptly in the north, where Mount Lovcen and Mount Orjen plunge abruptly into the inlet of the Bay of Kotor.
Montenegro's vast Karst region lies generally at elevations of 1,000 meters (3,281 ft) above sea level - however some parts rise to 2,000 meters (6,560 ft) like Mount Orjen (1,894 m / 6,214 ft), the highest masif among the coastal limestone ranges. Zeta River valley is the lowest segment at an elevation of 500 meters (1,640 ft).
The rough mountains of Montenegro include some of the most rugged terrain in Europe. They average more than 2,000 meters (6,560 ft) in elevation. One of the country's notable peaks is Bobotov Kuk in the Durmitor mountain, which reaches a height of 2,522 meters (8,274 ft). The Montenegrin mountain ranges were among the most ice-eroded parts of the Balkan Peninsula during the last glacial period.
Longest beach: Velika Plaza, Ulcinj - 13,000 meters (8 miles)
Highest peak: Bobotov Kuk (Durmitor Mt.) - 2,522 meters (8,274 ft)
Largest lake: Lake Skadar - 391 km² (151 mi²) of surface area
Deepest canyon: Tara River - 1,300 meters (4,265 ft)
Biggest bay: Bay of Kotor
National parks: Durmitor - 390 km² (150 mi²), Lovćen - 64 km² (25 mi²), Biogradska Gora - 54 km² (21 mi²), Lake Skadar - 400 km²(154 mi²)
UNESCO World Heritage sites: Durmitor and Tara River canyon, old city of Kotor.
Ethnic map of Montenegro according to the 2003 census
Ethnic composition according to the 2003 census:
• Montenegrins: 267,669 (43.16%)
• Serbs: 198,414 (31.99%)
• Bosniaks: 48,184 (7.77%)
• Albanians: 31,163 (5.03%)
• Muslims: 24,625 (3.97%)
• Croats: 6,811 (1.1%)
• Romas and Egyptians: 2,826 (0.46%)
NB: Montenegrin and Serb identities are not exclusive and the size of each group varies with each census, due to political events and as people view themselves, on balance, as more one than the other. A "Montenegrin" may view himself as a "Serb" as well, and vice versa. Of course, in both groups there are those who view themselves as belonging to one group exclusively.
Outside, over 270,000 citizens of Serbia have Montenegrin citizenship. Around 69,000 of them are Montenegrins, while others are moslty Serbs.
In the constitution of Montenegro adopted in 1992, the official language of the republic was changed from Serbo-Croat to the Serbian of the Ijekavian standard. As of 2003, 63.5% of the population declare Serbian their mother tongue, while almost 22% declare Montenegrin language. The dialects used are the same, very similar to those used by Serbs, Croats and Muslims in Bosnia and Croatia, with slight nuances.
Over 74% of Montenegrins are Eastern Orthodox Christians, adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church, although there is also the Montenegrin Orthodox Church. 110,000 Muslims make up 17.74% of Montenegro's population. They are divided into three main groups: ethnic Albanians and Slavic Muslims split among Bosniaks that speak Bosnian and Montenegrin Muslims that prefer Serbian. Albanians are a separate group, speaking their Albanian (5.26%) and living mostly in the south-east, especially in Ulcinj, where they form the majority of the population. Bosniaks are Slavic Muslims speaking the Bosnian language living mostly in the north. Finally, there are a few Croats and other Catholic inhabitants, who live mostly in the coastal areas, particularly Boka Kotorska.
In 1996, Milo Đukanović's government severed de facto ties between Montenegro and Serbia (back then still under Milošević). Montenegro formed its own economic policy and switched to using the Deutsche Mark as its currency as proposed by foreign economic advisors at the time. It currently uses the euro, though it is not formally part of the Eurozone. The Serbian Dinar is not legal tender in Montenegro and is only accepted at a few tourist resorts.
The current and previous government of Montenegro are carrying out pro-independence policies. Political tensions with Serbia still simmer regardless of the recent political changes in Belgrade.
In 2002, Serbia and Montenegro came to a new agreement regarding continued cooperation. In 2003, the Yugoslav federation was replaced in favour of a looser state union named Serbia and Montenegro and the possible referendum for Montenegro's independence was postponed for a minimum of three years.
The status of the union between Serbia and Montenegro will be decided by a referendum on Montenegrin independence which will be held on May 21, 2006.
The national day of 13 July marks the date in 1878 when the Congress of Berlin recognised Montenegro as the 27th independent state in the world and the start of the first popular uprising in Europe against the Axis Powers on 13 July 1941 in Montenegro.
In 2004, the Montenegrin legislature selected a popular Montenegrin folk song, "Oh the Bright Dawn of May", as the national anthem. Montenegro's official anthem during the reign of King Nicholas was Ubavoj nam Crnoj Gori (To our beautiful Montenegro). The music was composed by the King's son Knjaz Mirko.
Voting for Independence
The Hague Tribunal
Prosecuting the most serious crimes
War crimes trials in the dock
Lord Paddy Ashdown - hard act to follow
Mladic fate a mystery as Serbia faces EU axe