The official language is the Montenegro variant of Serbian, increasingly called Montenegrin, which has a lot in common with Bosnian and Croatian.
Following is a profile of Montenegro, the small Adriatic republic that voted by a narrow margin on Sunday to end its union with Serbia and complete the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, according to projected referendum results.
The area of present-day Montenegro was populated by Slavs in the 6th century, evolving into a feudal state that went in and out of Byzantine and later Ottoman control.
It developed a unique system of administration, combining the rule of
prince-bishops and national and clan councils. It became de facto independent in the late 18th century and proclaimed a kingdom in 1910, but was incorporated into Serbia after World War I. It was reinstated as one of six equal republics in the
former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
It stuck by Serbia when Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia and Bosnia declared independence in the early 1990s in the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia. The rump Yugoslavia was renamed State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2003.
Of Montenegro's 620,000 people, 43.2 percent say they are Montenegrin, 32 percent Serb, 7.7 percent Bosnian, 5 percent Albanian and 4 percent Muslim. The rest mark themselves 'other'.
The official language is the Montenegro variant of Serbian, increasingly called Montenegrin, which has a lot in common with Bosnian and Croatian. Albanian is the second official language in areas where Albanians make up the majority of the population.
The Orthodox Church is predominant, with Islam as the second religion. Roman Catholics and smaller Christian sects are represented as well as Judaism.
At 13,812 sq. km, Montenegro borders Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo and Albania. Montenegro means "Black Mountain" and thick forest covers almost 55 percent of the land. Its varied topography makes for four different climate zones, with sunny beaches on the Adriatic coastline, rainy limestone hills overlooking fjords, fertile lowlands along river valleys and high mountain ranges. The Tara River canyon is the deepest and longest in Europe.
Podgorica, formerly Titograd, is the administrative capital and biggest city. The official capital is Cetinje, the royal seat of the medieval state.
Politics And Government
Montenegro is a republic, with the president as head of state and the prime minister as head of the executive. The main parties in the 75-seat parliament are the ruling,
pro-independence Democratic Party of Socialists and Social Democrats and the pro-union Socialist People's Party and Serb People's Party.
The mainstays of the former socialist economy were heavy industry, agriculture and maritime services, all of which were hit by the sanctions and wars of the 1990s. The government is trying hard to erase the image of mafia-ridden lawlessness the country acquired in that time and to attract investors, especially in tourism along the Adriatic coast, which it sees as the main growth sector.