In the 9th century, three Serbian principalities were located on the territory of Montenegro: Duklja, roughly corresponding to the southern half; Travunia, the west; and Rascia, the north. In 1042, archon Stefan Vojislav led a revolt that resulted in the independence of Duklja from the Byzantine Empire and the establishment of the Vojislavljević dynasty. After passing through the control of several regional powers and the Ottoman Empire in the ensuing centuries, it became a part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918, which was succeeded by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945.
After the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1992, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro together established a federation as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, although its status as the legal successor to Yugoslavia was opposed by other former republics and denied by the United Nations; in 2003, it renamed itself Serbia and Montenegro. On the basis of an independence referendum held on 21 May 2006, Montenegro declared independence on 3 June of that year. It was officially named Republic of Montenegro until 22 October 2007.
Classified by the World Bank as an upper middle-income country, Montenegro is a member of the UN, NATO, the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe, the Central European Free Trade Agreement and a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean.
The country's name in most Western European languages reflects an adaptation of the Venetian Montenegro (Latin mons "mountain" + niger "black"), roughly "Mount Black" or "black mountain". Many other languages, particularly nearby ones, use their own direct translation of the term "black mountain". Examples are the Albanian name for the country, Mali i Zi, the Greek name Μαυροβούνιο (Mavrovoúnio), the Chinese name "黑山" (Hēishān), the Turkish name Karadağ (along with many Turkic languages using a variation on that name), and the Arabic name الجبل الاسود (al-Jabbal al-Aswad), all meaning "Black Mountain". All Slavic languages use slight variations on the Montenegrin name Crna Gora; examples include the Czech Černá Hora, the Russian Черного́рия (Černogórija), the Bulgarian Черна гора (Černa gora), and the Polish Czarnogóra (from its literal form Czarna Góra). Other languages include Chechen and Ingush Ӏаьржаламанчоь (Järƶalamançö), Karbadian БгыфӀыцӀей (Bgyf’yc’ej), Meadow Mari Шемкурык Эл (Šemkuryk El), Latvian Melnkalne, and Lithuanian Juodkalnija. Mongolian calls the country either Черногори (Chernogori, a loanword from Russian) or Монтенегро (Montenegro).
The name Crna Gora came to denote the majority of contemporary Montenegro only in the 15th century. Originally, it had referred to only a small strip of land under the rule of the Paštrovići, but the name eventually came to be used for the wider mountainous region after the Crnojević noble family took power in Upper Zeta.
The aforementioned region became known as "Old Montenegro" (Stara Crna Gora) by the 19th century to distinguish the independent region from the neighbouring Ottoman-occupied Montenegrin territory of Brda ("the Highlands"). Montenegro further increased its size several times by the 20th century, as the result of wars against the Ottoman Empire, which saw the annexation of Old Herzegovina and parts of Metohija and southern Raška. Its borders have changed little since then, losing Metohija and gaining the Bay of Kotor.
The ISO Alpha-2 code for Montenegro is ME and the Alpha-3 Code is MNE.
Before the arrival of the Slavs in the Balkans in the 6th and 7th centuries ce, the area now known as Montenegro was inhabited principally by people known as Illyrians. Little is known of their origins or language, but they are claimed today as ancestors by the modern Albanians. Along the seaboard of the Adriatic, the movement of peoples that was typical of the ancient Mediterranean world ensured the settlement of a mixture of colonists, traders, and those in search of territorial conquest. Substantial Greek colonies were established on the coast during the 6th and 7th centuries bce, and Celts are known to have settled there in the 4th century bce.
The division of the Roman Empire between Roman and Byzantine Empire rule—and subsequently between the Latin and Greek churches—was marked by a line that ran northward from Skadar through modern Montenegro, symbolizing the status of this region as a perpetual marginal zone between the economic, cultural, and political worlds of the Mediterranean peoples and the Slavs.
These soon were supplanted by the Slavs, who became widely established in Dalmatia by the middle of the 7th century. Because the terrain was extremely rugged and lacked any major sources of wealth such as mineral riches, the area that is now Montenegro became a haven for residual groups of earlier settlers, including some tribes who had escaped Romanization.
In the 9th century, three Serbian principalities were located on the territory of Montenegro: Duklja, roughly corresponding to the southern half, Travunia, the west, and Rascia, the north. Duklja gained its independence from the Byzantine Roman Empire in 1042. Over the next few decades, it expanded its territory to neighbouring Rascia and Bosnia, and also became recognised as a kingdom. Its power started declining at the beginning of the 12th century. After King Bodin's death (in 1101 or 1108), several civil wars ensued. Duklja reached its zenith under Vojislav's son, Mihailo (1046–81), and his grandson Constantine Bodin (1081–1101). By the 13th century, Zeta had replaced Duklja when referring to the realm. In the late 14th century, southern Montenegro (Zeta) came under the rule of the Balšić noble family, then the Crnojević noble family, and by the 15th century, Zeta was more often referred to as Crna Gora (Venetian: monte negro).
As the nobility fought for the throne, the kingdom was weakened, and by 1186, it was conquered by Stefan Nemanja and incorporated into the Serbian realm as a province named Zeta. After the Serbian Empire collapsed in the second half of the 14th century, the most powerful Zetan family, the Balšićs, became sovereigns of Zeta.
In 1421, Zeta was annexed to the Serbian Despotate, but after 1455, another noble family from Zeta, the Crnojevićs, became sovereign rulers of the country, making it the last free monarchy of the Balkans before it fell to the Ottomans in 1496, and got annexed to the sanjak of Shkodër. During the reign of Crnojevićs, Zeta became known under its current name – Montenegro. For a short time, Montenegro existed as a separate autonomous sanjak in 1514–1528, another version of which existed again between 1597 and 1614. Also, Old Herzegovina region was part of Sanjak of Herzegovina.
Large portions fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire from 1496 to 1878. In the 16th century, Montenegro developed a unique form of autonomy within the Ottoman Empire permitting Montenegrin clans freedom from certain restrictions. Nevertheless, the Montenegrins were disgruntled with Ottoman rule, and in the 17th century, raised numerous rebellions, which culminated in the defeat of the Ottomans in the Great Turkish War at the end of that century.
Montenegrin military strategy was simple but effective: if the Ottomans came with 5,000 soldiers, the Montenegrins were able to withstand the force; if the Ottomans mustered more than the Montenegrins could withstand, the Montenegrins would burn everything, retreat deeper into the mountains, and let the enemy starve.
Montenegro consisted of territories controlled by warlike clans. Most clans had a chieftain (knez), who was not permitted to assume the title unless he proved to be as worthy a leader as his predecessor. The great assembly of Montenegrin clans (Zbor) was held every year on 12 July in Cetinje, and any adult clansman could take part.
Parts of the territory were controlled by Republic of Venice and the First French Empire and Austria-Hungary, its successors. In 1515, Montenegro became a theocracy led by the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, which flourished after the Petrović-Njegoš of Cetinje became the traditional prince-bishops (whose title was "Vladika of Montenegro"). However, the Venetian Republic introduced governors who meddled in Montenegrin politics. The republic was succeeded by the Austrian Empire in 1797, and the governors were abolished by Prince-Bishop Petar II in 1832. His predecessor Petar I contributed to the unification of Montenegro with the Highlands.
Under Nicholas I, the principality was enlarged several times in the Montenegro-Turkish Wars and was recognised as independent in 1878. Under the rule of Nicholas I, diplomatic relations were established with the Ottoman Empire. Minor border skirmishes excepted, diplomacy ushered in about 30 years of peace between the two states until the deposition of Abdul Hamid II.
The political skills of Abdul Hamid and Nicholas I played a major role in the mutually amicable relations. Modernization of the state followed, culminating with the draft of a Constitution in 1905. However, political rifts emerged between the reigning People's Party, who supported the process of democratization and union with Serbia, and those of the True People's Party, who were monarchist.
During this period, one of the major Montenegrin victories over the Ottomans occurred at the Battle of Grahovac. Grand Duke Mirko Petrović, elder brother of Knjaz Danilo, led an army of 7,500 and defeated the numerically superior Ottomans who had 15,000 troops at Grahovac on 1 May 1858. The glory of Montenegrin victory was soon immortalized in the songs and literature of all the South Slavs, in particular the Montenegrins in Vojvodina, then part of Austria-Hungary. This forced the Great Powers to officially demarcate the borders between Montenegro and Ottoman Empire, de facto recognizing Montenegro's independence. Montenegro's independence was recognized by Ottoman Empire at Treaty of Berlin in 1878.
The first Montenegrin constitution was proclaimed in 1855; it was also known as the Danilo Code.
In 1910, Montenegro became a kingdom, and as a result of the Balkan wars in 1912 and 1913 (in which the Ottomans lost all Balkan land), a common border with Serbia was established, with Shkodër being awarded to a newly created Albania, though the current capital city of Montenegro, Podgorica, was the old border of Albania and Yugoslavia.
Montenegro was among the Allied Powers during World War I (1914–18). From 1916 to October 1918, Montenegro was occupied by Austria-Hungary. During the occupation, King Nicholas fled the country and a government-in-exile was set up in Bordeaux.
In 1922, Montenegro formally became the Oblast of Cetinje in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, with the addition of the coastal areas around Budva and Bay of Kotor. In a further restructuring in 1929, it became a part of a larger Zeta Banate of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia that reached the Neretva River.
Nicholas's grandson, the Serb King Alexander I, dominated the Yugoslav government. Zeta Banovina was one of nine banovinas which formed the kingdom; it consisted of the present-day Montenegro and parts of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia.
In April 1941, Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, and other Axis allies attacked and occupied the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Italian forces occupied Montenegro and established it as a puppet Kingdom of Montenegro.
In May, the Montenegrin branch of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia started preparations for an uprising planned for mid-July. The Communist Party and its Youth League organised 6,000 of its members into detachments prepared for guerrilla warfare. The first armed uprising in Nazi-occupied Europe happened on 13 July 1941 in Montenegro.
Unexpectedly, the uprising took hold, and by 20 July, 32,000 men and women had joined the fight. Except for the coast and major towns (Podgorica, Cetinje, Pljevlja, and Nikšić), which were besieged, Montenegro was mostly liberated. In a month of fighting, the Italian army suffered 5,000 dead, wounded, and captured. The uprising lasted until mid-August, when it was suppressed by a counter-offensive of 67,000 Italian troops brought in from Albania. Faced with new and overwhelming Italian forces, many of the fighters laid down their arms and returned home. Nevertheless, intense guerrilla fighting lasted until December.
Fighters who remained under arms fractured into two groups. Most of them went on to join the Yugoslav Partisans, consisting of communists and those inclined towards active resistance; these included Arso Jovanović, Sava Kovačević, Svetozar Vukmanović-Tempo, Milovan Đilas, Peko Dapčević, Vlado Dapčević, Veljko Vlahović, and Blažo Jovanović. Those loyal to the Karađorđević dynasty and opposing communism went on to become Chetniks, and turned to collaboration with Italians against the Partisans.
War broke out between Partisans and Chetniks during the first half of 1942. Pressured by Italians and Chetniks, the core of the Montenegrin Partisans went to Serbia and Bosnia, where they joined with other Yugoslav Partisans. Fighting between Partisans and Chetniks continued through the war. Chetniks with Italian backing controlled most of the country from mid-1942 to April 1943. Montenegrin Chetniks received the status of "anti-communist militia" and received weapons, ammunition, food rations, and money from Italy. Most of them were moved to Mostar, where they fought in the Battle of Neretva against the Partisans, but were dealt a heavy defeat.
During the German operation Schwartz against the Partisans in May and June 1943, Germans disarmed large number of Chetniks without fighting, as they feared they would turn against them in case of an Allied invasion of the Balkans. After the capitulation of Italy in September 1943, Partisans managed to take hold of most of Montenegro for a brief time, but Montenegro was soon occupied by German forces, and fierce fighting continued during late 1943 and entire 1944. Montenegro was liberated by the Partisans in December 1944.
Montenegro, like the rest of Yugoslavia, was liberated by the Yugoslav Partisans in 1944.
Montenegro became one of the six constituent republics of the communist Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Its capital became Podgorica, renamed Titograd in honour of President Josip Broz Tito. After the war, the infrastructure of Yugoslavia was rebuilt, industrialization began, and the University of Montenegro was established. Greater autonomy was established until the Socialist Republic of Montenegro ratified a new constitution in 1974.
After the dissolution of the SFRY in 1992, Montenegro remained part of a smaller Federal Republic of Yugoslavia along with Serbia.
In the referendum on remaining in Yugoslavia in 1992, the turnout was 66%, with 96% of the votes cast in favour of the federation with Serbia. The referendum was boycotted by the Muslim, Albanian, and Catholic minorities, as well as the pro-independence Montenegrins. The opponents claimed that the poll was organized under anti-democratic conditions with widespread propaganda from the state-controlled media in favour of a pro-federation vote. No impartial report on the fairness of the referendum was made, as it was unmonitored, unlike in 2006 when European Union observers were present.
During the 1991–1995 Bosnian War and Croatian War, Montenegrin police and military forces joined Serbian troops in the attacks on Dubrovnik, Croatia. These operations, aimed at acquiring more territory, were characterized by a consistent pattern of large-scale violations of human rights.
Montenegrin General Pavle Strugar was convicted for his part in the bombing of Dubrovnik. Bosnian refugees were arrested by Montenegrin police and transported to Serb camps in Foča, where they were subjected to systematic torture and executed.
In 1996, Milo Đukanović's government severed ties between Montenegro and its partner Serbia, which was led by Slobodan Milošević. Montenegro formed its own economic policy and adopted the German Deutsche Mark as its currency and subsequently adopted the euro, although not part of the Eurozone currency union. Subsequent governments pursued pro-independence policies, and political tensions with Serbia simmered despite the political changes in Belgrade. Targets in Montenegro were bombed by NATO forces during Operation Allied Force in 1999, although the extent of these attacks was very limited in both time and area affected.
In 2002, Serbia and Montenegro came to a new agreement for continued cooperation and entered into negotiations regarding the future status of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This resulted in Belgrade Agreement, which saw the country's transformation into a more decentralised state union named Serbia and Montenegro in 2003. The Belgrade Agreement also contained a provision delaying any future referendum on the independence of Montenegro for at least three years.
The status of the union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by a referendum on Montenegrin independence on 21 May 2006. A total of 419,240 votes were cast, representing 86.5% of the total electorate; 230,661 votes (55.5%) were for independence and 185,002 votes (44.5%) were against. This narrowly surpassed the 55% threshold needed to validate the referendum under the 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 all recognised Montenegro's independence.
The 2006 referendum was monitored by five international observer missions, headed by an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)/ODIHR team, and around 3,000 observers in total (including domestic observers from CDT (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 stated 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."
On 3 June 2006, the Montenegrin Parliament declared the independence of Montenegro, formally confirming the result of the referendum. Serbia did not object to the declaration.
On 12 July 2011, the Parliament of Montenegro passed the Law on the Status of the Descendants of the Petrović Njegoš Dynasty that rehabilitated the Royal House of Montenegro and recognized limited symbolic roles within the constitutional framework of the republic.
In 2015, the investigative journalists' network OCCRP has named Montenegro's long-time President and Prime Minister Milo Đukanović 'Person of the Year in Organized Crime'. The extent of Đukanović's corruption led to street demonstrations and calls for his removal.
In October 2016, a coup was attempted by 20 people, including some Serbian and Russian nationalists; the coup was thwarted.
The Serbian prime minister, Aleksandar Vučić, announced that Serbian police had made more arrests of people suspected of following Đukanović and planning unspecified crimes in Montenegro. Milo Đukanović confirmed that the coup had no connection with Serbia and that the plan for coup had its genesis in Moscow.
Since 5 June 2017 Montenegro is the 29th member state of NATO. Since 2012, it has been negotiating with the EU in the hope of acceding by 2022.
Internationally, Montenegro borders Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania. It lies between latitudes 41° and 44°N, and longitudes 18° and 21°E.
Montenegro ranges from high peaks along its borders with Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania, a segment of the Karst of the western Balkan Peninsula, to a narrow coastal plain that is only 1.5 to 6 kilometres (1 to 4 miles) wide. The plain stops abruptly in the north, where Mount Lovćen and Mount Orjen plunge into the inlet of the Bay of Kotor.
Montenegro's large Karst region lies generally at elevations of 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) above sea level; some parts, however, rise to 2,000 m (6,560 ft), such as Mount Orjen (1,894 m or 6,214 ft), the highest massif among the coastal limestone ranges. The Zeta River valley, at an elevation of 500 m (1,600 ft), is the lowest segment.
The mountains of Montenegro include some of the most rugged terrain in Europe, averaging more than 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) in elevation. One of the country's notable peaks is Bobotov Kuk in the Durmitor mountains, which reaches a height of 2,522 m (8,274 ft). Owing to the hyperhumid climate on their western sides, the Montenegrin mountain ranges were among the most ice-eroded parts of the Balkan Peninsula during the last glacial period.
Montenegro is a member of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, as more than 2,000 km2 (772 sq mi) of the country's territory lie within the Danube catchment area.
The diversity of the geological base, landscape, climate, and soil, and the position of Montenegro on the Balkan Peninsula and Adriatic Sea, created the conditions for high biological diversity, putting Montenegro among the "hot-spots" of European and world biodiversity. The number of species per area unit index in Montenegro is 0.837, which is the highest index recorded in any European country.
The Constitution of Montenegro describes the state as a "civic, democratic, ecological state of social justice, based on the reign of Law." Montenegro is an independent and sovereign republic that proclaimed its new constitution on 22 October 2007.
The President of Montenegro (Montenegrin: Predsjednik Crne Gore) is the head of state, elected for a period of five years through direct elections. The President represents the country abroad, promulgates laws by ordinance, calls elections for the Parliament, proposes candidates for Prime Minister, president and justices of the Constitutional Court to the Parliament. The President also proposes the calling of a referendum to Parliament, grants amnesty for criminal offences prescribed by the national law, confers decoration and awards and performs other constitutional duties and is a member of the Supreme Defence Council. The official residence of the President is in Cetinje.
The Government of Montenegro (Montenegrin: Vlada Crne Gore) is the executive branch of government authority of Montenegro. The government is headed by the Prime Minister, and consists of the deputy prime ministers as well as ministers.
The Parliament of Montenegro (Montenegrin: Skupština Crne Gore) is a unicameral legislative body. It passes laws, ratifies treaties, appoints the Prime Minister, ministers, and justices of all courts, adopts the budget and performs other duties as established by the Constitution. Parliament can pass a vote of no-confidence in the Government by a simple majority. One representative is elected per 6,000 voters. The present parliament contains 81 seats, with 39 seats held by the Coalition for a European Montenegro after the 2012 parliamentary election.
After the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence in the Parliament of the Republic of Montenegro on 3 June 2006, following the independence referendum held on 21 May, the Government of the Republic of Montenegro assumed the competences of defining and conducting the foreign policy of Montenegro as a subject of international law and a sovereign state. The implementation of this constitutional responsibility was vested in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was given the task of defining the foreign policy priorities and activities needed for their implementation. These activities are pursued in close cooperation with other state administration authorities, the President, the Speaker of the Parliament, and other relevant stakeholders.
Integration into the European Union is Montenegro's strategic goal. This process will remain in the focus of Montenegrin foreign policy in the short term. The second strategic and equally important goal, but one attainable in a shorter time span, was joining NATO, which would guarantee stability and security for pursuing other strategic goals. Montenegro believes NATO integration would speed up EU integration. In May 2017 NATO accepted Montenegro as a NATO member starting June 5, 2017.
Although it only borders Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Italy and Serbia, Montenegro also counts former Yugoslav republics Macedonia and Slovenia as its neighbouring countries, for historical and regional reasons, as well as the neighbours of former Yugoslavia: Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece.
An official flag of Montenegro, based on the royal standard of King Nikola I, was adopted on 12 July 2004 by the Montenegrin legislature. This royal flag was red with a silver border, a silver coat of arms, and the initials НІ, partly in Cyrillic script (corresponding to NI in Latin script) representing King Nikola I. On the current flag, the border and arms are in gold and the royal cipher in the centre of the arms has been replaced with a golden lion.
The national day of 13 July marks the date in 1878 when the Congress of Berlin recognized Montenegro as the 27th independent state in the world and the start of one of the first popular uprisings in Europe against the Axis Powers on 13 July 1941 in Montenegro.
In 2004, the Montenegrin legislature selected a popular Montenegrin traditional song, Oh, Bright Dawn of May, as the national anthem. Montenegro's official anthem during the reign of King Nikola was Ubavoj nam Crnoj Gori ("To our beautiful Montenegro").
The military of Montenegro is a fully professional standing army under the Ministry of Defence and is composed of the Montenegrin Ground Army, the Montenegrin Navy, and the Montenegrin Air Force, along with special forces. Conscription was abolished in 2006.
The military currently maintains a force of 1,920 active duty members. The bulk of its equipment and forces were inherited from the armed forces of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro; as Montenegro contained the entire coastline of the former union, it retained practically the entire naval force.
Montenegro was a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program and then became an official candidate for full membership in the alliance. Montenegro applied for a Membership Action Plan on 5 November 2008, which was granted in December 2009. Montenegro is also a member of Adriatic Charter.
Montenegro was invited to join NATO on 2 December 2015 and on 19 May 2016, NATO and Montenegro conducted a signing ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels for Montenegro's membership invitation. Montenegro became NATO's 29th member on 5 June 2017, despite Russia's objections.
The government plans to have the army participate in peacekeeping missions through the UN and NATO such as the International Security Assistance Force.
Montenegro is divided into twenty-three municipalities (opština), and two urban municipalities, with two subdivisions of Podgorica municipality, listed below. Each municipality can contain multiple cities and towns. Historically, the territory of the country was divided into "nahije".