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History & Background

The Republic of Montenegro (Crna Gora or "Black Mountain") is located on the Adriatic Sea in southeastern Europe. Bordered by Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, the autonomous province of Kosovo to the east, Albania to the southeast, and the Adriatic to the southwest, Montenegro in early 2001 belonged to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), along with Serbia. A referendum was anticipated for the second half of 2001 or early 2002 to decide Montenegro's future status as either an independent republic or a republic within the FRY. Montenegro's roughly diamond-shaped territory measures 13,938 square kilometers, which is slightly less than the U.S. state of Connecticut, and constitutes about 13.5 percent of the FRY's total territory.

Montenegro was settled by Slavic tribes and belonged to the Serbian kingdom as part of the Zeta province during the Middle Ages. With the incursion of the Ottoman Turks into southeastern Europe and Albanian families settling in the Kosovo region that separates Montenegro from Serbia, Montenegro became more separate from Serbia and developed a distinct variation of Orthodox Christian practice and a somewhat different version of the Serbian language, although the Cyrillic alphabet continued to be used. The Montenegrin version of Serbo-Croatian is more similar to Croatian than it is to Serbian. Fighting the Ottoman Turks from the mountains, Montenegro maintained its independence until 1516 when a Greek Catholic Bishop named Vladika assumed civil authority of the territory. Rule of Montenegro was transferred to other prince-bishops for three and a half centuries, until Nicholas I gave Montenegro its first constitution in 1868. During the World War I, Austria occupied Montenegro in 1916. When Austria-Hungary lost the war, Montenegro joined the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and the Slovenes in 1918, which was renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. With the advent of World War II and the invasion of the Balkans in 1941 by the Axis powers, Montenegro was declared independent and became a protectorate of Italy. In 1945, following the war, Montenegro became one of the republics of socialist Yugoslavia.

The population of Montenegro in the year 2000 was estimated to be 680,158 people, including 46,631 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Due to extensive population movements in the Balkan peninsula during the 1990s resulting from ethnic violence and warfare and the very difficult economic circumstances and living conditions of this politically troubled region, population measures during the 1990s were either not taken or relatively unreliable for the most part. In the year 2000, about 230,000 displaced persons from Kosovo were living in other parts of the FRY (such as Montenegro), as were 500,000 refugees from Bosnia and Croatia. Population statistics and education-related counts for the 1990s and the early-2000 decade thus should be interpreted with care. A new census scheduled for March 2001 in the FRY should yield updated statistics toward the end of 2001.

In 1991 the ethnic composition of Montenegro was 61.9 percent Montenegrin, 14.6 percent Bosniac, 9.3 percent Serb, 6.6 percent Albanian, 0.5 percent Roma, and 7.1 percent other. In terms of religious affiliation, approximately 65 percent of the combined population of Serbia and Montenegro was Orthodox, 19 percent was Muslim, 4 percent was Roman Catholic, 1 percent was Protestant, and 11 percent was other. About 95 percent of this same population spoke Serbian, though the Montenegrin version of the language differs slightly from the language principally spoken in Serbia and 5 percent spoke Albanian. Approximately 70 percent of Montenegrins lived in urban areas in 1991. With a population density of 47 persons per square kilometer, Montenegro is rather sparsely populated, especially in the north, although greater concentrations of Montenegrins live along the coast and inland around the capital, Podgorica, near northwestern Albania. In 1911 just 18,907 Montenegrins (8.9 percent of the country's total population) had lived in towns of 2,000 inhabitants or more. In 2000 a significant proportion of Montenegrins still resided in villages.

In 2000 the total fertility rate in Montenegro was about two children per woman. An estimated 22 percent of the country's population was 14 years old or younger while nearly two-thirds of the population was between 15 and 64 and about 12 percent were 65 years of age or older. (Again, this assumes an age balance in 2000 equivalent to that in 1991, when the last census was taken. Due to population shifts, this may not be the case.) In 2000 Montenegro had an infant-mortality rate of 11 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy at birth in the year 2000 was 75.5 years (71.5 for men and 79.8 for women—a significant gender difference).

The Montenegrin workforce in 1999 was composed as follows: 30.5 percent of the labor force was employed in industry and mining, and just 4.3 percent was employed in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry; 65.2 percent was employed in service jobs. In 1999 the FRY had an annual economic growth rate of -20 percent of the GDP. Economic outputs were declining substantially, and the area stood in great need of international economic assistance, although international aid, especially to Serbia, was limited because of Serbia and Montenegro's lack of favor in the world's eye due to the FRY's reluctance to cooperate with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia before late June 2001. In 1999 Montenegro's real GDP was only 58 percent of the 1990 real GDP. However, significant black-market activity and gray-market activity also existed in the FRY, making it difficult to state with much accuracy the actual economic output of the FRY in the 1990s. GDP per capita in Montenegro in 1998 was estimated at US$1709. Unemployment in Montenegro in July 2000 ranged from 0.2 to nearly 32 percent, depending on the skill level and educational attainment of the worker. Unskilled laborers, persons with intermediate specialist training, and skilled workers had the highest unemployment rates (31.0 percent, 29.4 percent, and 26.9 percent, respectively). Earlier, as part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Montenegro had been one of the poorest of the six republics, with its economy, based mainly on industry and large state-owned enterprises, reaching only 75 to 80 percent of the average level of development for the socialist federation. During the late 1990s, Montenegro increased its revenues from tourism and the marine trade, profiting from its favorable location on the Adriatic in contrast to landlocked Serbia.

Montenegro required substantial international development assistance during the 1990s and early twenty-first century to recover from the economic disruptions caused by a decade of war in the Balkans, sanctions imposed by the international community on the FRY in 1993, and sanctions Serbia itself imposed on Montenegro in 1999 for Montenegro's attempts to politically distance itself from Serbia. Until the international donors conference met on June 29, 2001, to discuss assistance to the FRY, Montenegro's aid packages from abroad were somewhat limited. At the June 2001 conference representatives from about 40 countries, UN agencies, and the World Bank met in Brussels, Belgium, and pledged about US$1.2 billion to assist the FRY primarily with rebuilding infrastructure and paying the salaries of teachers and doctors.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceMontenegro - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education