Montenegro -- Geography --
Capital City: Podgorica
Official Currency: Euro
Religions: Orthodox, Muslim, Catholic, others.
Land Area: 14,026 sq km
Landforms: 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 large Karst region lies generally at elevations of 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) above sea level — however some parts rise to 2,000 metres (6,560 ft) like Mount Orjen (1,894 m / 6,214 ft), the highest massif among the coastal limestone ranges. Zeta River valley is the lowest segment at an elevation of 500 metres (1,640 ft).
The rough mountains of Montenegro include some of the most rugged terrain in Europe. They average more than 2,000 metres (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 metres (8,274 ft). The Montenegrin mountain ranges were among the most ice-eroded parts of the Balkan Peninsula during the last glacial period.
Land Divisions: Montenegro is divided into 21 municipalities:
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Montenegro -- History --
The Slav tribes, mixed with Illyrians, Avars and Romans, formed the 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 Vojislavljevic dynasty founded by nobleman Stefan Vojislav) as rex Docleae (King of Duklja). The kingdom, however, paid tribute to the Byzantine Empire; later to the Bulgarian Empire; it gave birth to the later medieval kingdom of the Serbian Grand Prince (Serbian: 'zupan') Stefan Nemanja, who originated from Duklja.
The Principality of Zeta (which more closely corresponds to the early modern state of Montenegro) asserted itself towards 1360. The House of Balsic (1360s–1421) and the House of Crnojevic (1421–1499) 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 Durad Crnojevic abdicated in favour of the Archbishop Vavil, who then made Montenegro into a theocratic state under the rule of the prince-bishop (vladika) of Cetinje, a position held from 1697 by the Petrovic-Njegos family of the Ridani clan. Petar Petrovic Njegos, perhaps the most influential vladika, reigned in the first half of the 19th century. In 1851 Danilo II Petrovic Njegos became vladika, but in 1852 he married, left the priesthood, assumed the title of knjaz (Prince), and transformed his land into a secular principality.
In 1910, Prince Nikola I became King of Montenegro. Two years later, in October, 1912, King Nikola declared war on the Ottoman Empire, precipitating the two Balkan Wars. The Montenegrin army attacked the Ottoman fortress city of Skutari, and forced the empire to gather a large army in neighboring Macedonia. This Ottoman army was then attacked by the forces of Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria which entered the war by pre-arrangement. The result was a military disaster for the Ottomans, who were thrown back to an area north of Constantinople.
Montenegro emerged from the Balkan Wars doubled in size, receiving half of the former Ottoman territory known as the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, but without Skutari, the country's major prize in the war. The London Conference awarded Skutari to an independent Albania.
An allied power during World War I, Montenegro was occupied by Austro-Hungarian troops. Feldmarschalleutnant Viktor Weber von Webenau became Military Governor of Montenegro on February 26, 1916. In 1918, the Podgorica Assembly voted for uniting Montenegro with the Kingdom of Serbia. However, pro-independence Montenegrins revolted on Christmas Day 1919 against Serbia. The revolt was finally supressed in 1924.
From 1919 to 1941, Montenegro was a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which renamed itself the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. During World War II, Montenegro was occupied by Italian troops and later German Axis troops (1941–1944). From 1945 to 1992, Montenegro separated from Serbia and became a constituent republic in its own right of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It was during this time that the present capital Podgorica was renamed Titograd, after Josip Broz Tito, leader of Yugoslavia. Over the next half century, Montenegro remained one of six constituent republics of Yugoslavia.
After the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992, Montenegro agreed on a federation with Serbia, first as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, then as a looser State Union of Serbia and Montenegro that broke up as soon as a deadline for holding an independence referendum expired.
In the referendum on remaining in Yugoslavia in 1992, 95.96% of the votes were cast for remaining in the federation with Serbia, although the turnout was at 66% because of a boycott by the Muslim, Albanian and Catholic minorities as well as of pro-independence Montenegrins. The opposition claimed that poll was organized under undemocratic conditions, during war time in the former Yugoslavia, with widespread propaganda from the state-controlled media in favour of a pro-federation vote. There is no impartial report on the fairness of the referendum, as the 1992 referendum was totally unmonitored, unlike the 2006 vote, which was monitored by the European Union.
In 1996, Milo Dukanovic's government de facto severed ties between Montenegro and Serbia, which was then still under Milosevic. Montenegro formed its own economic policy and adopted the Deutsche Mark as its currency. It has since adopted the euro, though it is not formally part of the Eurozone. Subsequent governments of Montenegro carried out pro-independence policies, and political tensions with Serbia simmered despite 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 a possible referendum on Montenegrin independence was postponed for a minimum of three years.
The status of the union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by a referendum on Montenegrin independence on May 21, 2006. A total of 419,240 votes were cast, representing 86.5% of the total electorate. 230,661 votes or 55.5% were for independence and 185,002 votes or 44.5% were against. The 45,659 difference narrowly surpassed the 55% threshold needed to validate the referendum under rules set by the European Union. According to the electoral commission, the 55% threshold was passed by only 2,300 votes. Serbia, the member-states of the European Union, and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have all recognized Montenegro's independence; doing so removed all remaining obstacles from Montenegro's path towards becoming the world's newest sovereign state. However, the pro-Union bloc in Montenegro refused to acknowledge the result of the referendum.
The 2006 referendum was monitored by 5 international observer missions, headed by an OSCE/ODIHR monitoring team, and around 3,000 observers in total (including domestic observers from CEMI and other organizations). The OSCE/ODIHR ROM joined efforts with the observers of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRAE) and the European Parliament (EP) to form an International Referendum Observation Mission (IROM). The IROM—in its preliminary report—"assessed compliance of the referendum process with OSCE commitments, Council of Europe commitments, other international standards for democratic electoral processes, and domestic legislation". Furthermore, the report assessed that the competitive pre-referendum environment was marked by an active and generally peaceful campaign and that "there were no reports of restrictions on fundamental civil and political rights".
The 2006 referendum commission, with an equal number of members from both blocs, was headed by a European Union designated official Frantisek Lipka (a Slovak diplomat) who held the "golden vote".
On June 3, 2006, the Parliament of Montenegro declared the independence of Montenegro, formally confirming the result of the referendum on independence. Serbia did not obstruct the ruling, confirming its own independence and declaring the Union of Serbia and Montenegro dead shortly thereafter.
Montenegro began the process of seeking international recognition as well as a seat at international organizations, and on June 28, 2006, it became the 192nd member state of the United Nations.
With the change in the national flag to match that of the pre-1918 royal standard, there is speculation that the exiled king of Montenegro, Prince Nikola II Petrovic-Njegos, could return to the country as a constitutional monarch. Nikola II is currently living in Paris. Nikola II has never renounced his throne and has always championed Montenegrin independence, and has several times during 2006 expressed that he is at the disposal of the Montenegrin people to serve as king, if it's a general consensus in the population.
The first state to recognise Montenegro was Iceland, on June 8, 2006, followed by Switzerland and Estonia on June 9, and Russia on June 11. Recognition by Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia soon followed. The European Union and the United States recognised Montenegro on June 12, as have various member states of the EU and other European countries (including Bulgaria). The United Kingdom formally extended recognition on June 13, as did the People's Republic of China and France on June 14, meaning that all five permanent United Nations Security Council members recognise the government of Montenegro. Serbia, the other former component of the State Union, recognised Montenegro on June 15. The OSCE decided to accept Montenegro as the 56th member of the organization on June 21 and the country took its seat at the Permanent Council on June 22. The United Nations, in a vote of the Security Council, decided to offer full membership to the organisation to the newly independent Republic of Montenegro on June 22, 2006. Montenegro was confirmed as a member on June 28.
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Serbia and Montenegro -- Economy --
During the era of communism Montenegro experienced a rapid period of urbanization and industrialization. An industrial sector based on electricity generation, steel, aluminum, coal mining, forestry and wood processing, textiles and tobacco manufacture was built up, with trade, overseas shipping, and particularly tourism, increasingly important by the late 1980s.
The loss of previously guaranteed markets and suppliers after the break up of Yugoslavia left the Montenegrin industrial sector reeling as production was suspended and the privatization program, begun in 1989, was interrupted. The disintegration of the Yugoslav market, and the imposition of the UN sanctions in May 1992 were the causes of the greatest economic and financial crisis since World War 2. During 1993, two thirds of the Montenegrin population lived below the poverty line, while frequent interruptions in relief supplies caused the health and environmental protection to drop below the minimum of international standards. The financial losses under the adverse effects of the UN sanctions on the overall economy of Montenegro are estimated to be approximately $6.39 billion. This period was coloured in gray by the second highest hyperinflation in the history of humankind (3 million percent in January 1994).
Due to its favourable geographical location (it had access to the Adriatic Sea and a water-link to Albania across Lake Skadar) Montenegro became a hub for smuggling activity. The entire Montenegrin industrial production had stopped, and the republic's main economic activity became the smuggling of user goods - especially those in short supply like petrol and cigarettes, both of which skyrocketed in price. It became a de facto legalized practice and it went on for years.
In 1997, Milo Dukanovic took control over the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) and began severing ties with Serbia. He blamed policies of Slobodan Milosevic for overall decline of the Montenegrin economy. Montenegro introduced the German mark as response to again-growing inflation, and insisted on taking more control over its economic fate. This eventually resulted in creation of Serbia and Montenegro, a loose union in which Montenegro mostly took responsibilty for its economic policies.
This was followed by implementation of faster and more efficient privatization, passing of reform laws, introduction of VAT and usage of euro as Montenegro's legal tender. The government established a medium-term plan of economic reforms, popularly called "The Agenda".
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Serbia and Montenegro -- Culture --
Because of the country's location, the culture of Montenegro has been shaped by a variety of influences throughout history. The influence of Orthodox South Slavic, Central European, and seafaring Adriatic cultures have been the most imporant in recent centuries.
Montenegro has many significant cultural and historical sites, including heritage sites from the pre-Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque periods. The Montenegrin coastal region is especially well known for its religious monuments, including the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, the basilica of St. Luke (over 800 years), Our Lady of the Rock (Skrpjela), the Savina Monastery and others. The Byzantine influence in architecture and in religious artwork is especially apparent in the country's interior. Montenegro's medieval monasteries contain thousands of square meters of frescos on their walls.
The traditional dance of the Montenegrins is the Oro, a circle dance that involves dancers standing on each other's shoulders in a circle while one or two dancers are dancing in the middle while the gusle and drums are playing.
The first literary works written in the region are ten centuries old, and the first Montenegrin book was printed five hundreds years ago. The first state-owned printing press was located in Cetinje in 1494, where the first South Slavic book was printed the same year (Oktoih). Ancient manuscripts, dating from the 13th century, are kept in the Montenegrin monasteries.
Montenegro's capital Podgorica and the former royal capital of Cetinje are the two most importantant centers of culture and the arts in the country.
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Serbia and Montenegro -- Life style --
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%);
Slavic Muslims: 24,625 (3.97%);
Croats: 6,811 (1.1%);
Roma , Egyptians & Ashkalis: 2,826 (0.46%).
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-Herzegovina 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, who speak Bosnian and Montenegrin Muslims, who prefer Serbian. Albanians are a separate group, speaking their own language, 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 and living mostly in the north. Finally, there are a small groups of autochthonous Croats and other Catholic inhabitants, who live mostly in the coastal areas, particularly the Bay of Kotor
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Serbia and Montenegro -- Political system, law and government --
By its current constitution, Montenegro is defined as a "democratic, welfare, and ecological state".
The current Government of the Republic of Montenegro (Vlada Republike Crne Gore) comprises the prime minister, the deputy prime ministers as well as ministers. Milo Dukanovic is the Prime Minister of Montenegro and head of the Government. The ruling party in Montenegro is the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) (Demokratska Partija Socijalista Crna Gore).
The president is Filip Vujanovic.
The President of Montenegro is elected for a period of five years through direct and secret ballots. The President will:
represent the republic in the country and abroad;
promulgate laws by ordinance;
call elections for the Assembly;
propose to the Assembly candidates for the Prime Minister, president and justices of the Constitutional Court;
propose to the Assembly calling of a referendum.
grant amnesty for criminal offences prescribed by the republican law;
confer decoration and awards;
perform all other duties in accordance with the Constitution.
The President shall be a member of the Supreme Defence Council.
The Montenegrin Parliament (Skupstina Republike Crne Gore) passes all laws in Montenegro, ratifies international treaties, appoints the Prime Minister, ministers, and justices of all courts, adopts the budget and performs other duties as established by the Constitution. The Parliament can pass a vote of no-confidence on the Government by a majority of the members. One deputy is elected per 6,000 voters, which in turn results in a reduction of total number of deputies in the Assembly of Montenegro (the present assembly convening comprises 78 deputies instead of previous number of 71). The current president of the Parliament is Ranko Krivokapic.
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