The World's 192nd Country

By Liz Goldner

Montenegro’s native name, Crna Gora, translates as "black mountain" or "black forest," referring to the dark forests that once covered the slopes of the country’s Dinaric Alps.

Montenegro, in Southeastern Europe, is bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the south, Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the southeast. Its capital and largest city is called Podgorica. It was in Podgorica, in an area called “Behind the Rainbow,” that Dr. Judith Jones collected soil for Common Ground 191 on January 26, 2007. Dr. Jones explains, “Behind the Rainbow, the address of my house, is in the capital of the world’s newest country. Rainbow is a small American affiliated manufacturer. My house is behind it so, without a street name of number, ‘Behind the Rainbow’ is my address, and Montenegro has all of the potential and promise of a rainbow.”

The mountains of Montenegro include some of the most rugged terrain on the planet, including Bobotov Kuk in the Durmitor Mountains, averaging more than 2,000 meters in elevation. The country’s large Karst region is at elevations of 1,000 meters to 2,000 meters. The Zeta River valley is at 500 meters.

Montenegro features the very blue Adriatic Sea, beautiful beaches, rivers with canyons and clear lakes, such as Skadar Lake, the biggest lake in the Balkans. In the south, the Bojana River and the Adriatic Sea have created one of the most beautiful beaches on the Montenegrin coast, the Big Beach, 13 kilometers long.

National park in the north
(Both photos taken by the soil collector)

First visit from a U S Ship after Montenegro's independence


Over the last several centuries, the Orthodox South Slavic, Central European, and seafaring Adriatic cultures such as the Republic of Venice have greatly influenced the country.

Montenegro has many significant cultural and historical sites including those from pre-Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque periods. The Montenegrin coastal region is well known for its religious monuments, including the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, the Basilica of St. Luke, Our Lady of the Rocks and the Savina Monastery, all decorated with numerous medieval frescos.

The traditional folk dance of the Montenegrins is the Oro, a circle dance that involves dancers standing on each other's shoulders. The country is also traditionally home to many artists, including Milo Milunovic, Petar Lubarda and Dado Djuric, and to numerous galleries, theatres, festivals and other cultural events.

The printed word in Montenegro goes way back in history. In 1493, the first printing shop in the Balkans started its operations there. One year later, its first book was printed. The country is known for Andrija Zmajevic, the baroque poet and theologist and for Petrovic Njegos, one of the best known Montenegrin philosophers.


Serbia and Montenegro were represented by one football team in the 2006 FIFA World Cup tournament. In March 2007, the Montenegrin National Team came from behind to win against Hungary. In July 2007, the International Olympic Committee granted recognition and membership to the newly formed Montenegrin National Olympic Committee in Guatemala City.


Overview: Montenegro’s independence from the Ottoman Empire was formally recognized in 1878. From 1918 to the present, the country was a part of Yugoslavia and of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. Montenegro, declaring independence on June 3, 2006, became the newest fully recognized country in the world. On June 28, 2006, it became the 192nd member state of the United Nations, and on May 11, 2007.the 47th member state of the Council of Europe.

In 9 AD, the Romans conquered present-day Montenegro. Slavs colonized the area in the fifth and sixth centuries, forming a semi-independent principality, Doclea, that had ties with minor Rascia and major Byzantium.

By the end of the 12th century, the country was fully incorporated into a unified Serbian realm. After the Serbian Empire collapsed in the 14th century, the country was run by free monarchies, finally falling to the Ottomans in 1499.

In the 16th century, Montenegro developed unique autonomy, with local Serb clans achieving a state of freedom. In the 17th century, the Montenegrins raised numerous rebellions, culminating in the Ottoman defeat in the Great Turkish War at the end of that century.

Under Prince Nicholas, the Princedom of Montenegro succeeded in the Serbo-Turkish Wars and finally achieved recognition of independence in 1878. Modernization of the state followed, culminating with the draft of a Constitution in 1905. Then, political rifts emerged between the reigning People’s Party and the minor pro-monarch True People’s Party. In 1910, Montenegro became a Kingdom. It initiated the Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913 in which the Ottomans lost all lands in the Balkans. In World War I, Montenegro sided with Serbia against the Central Powers, then suffered a full-scale defeat to Austria-Hungary in early 1916. In 1918, the Serbian Army liberated Montenegro, which united with the Kingdom of Serbia.

In 1922, Montenegro formally became the Zeta Area of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929 it became a part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In World War II, Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Forces. Montenegro became a constituent republic of the Communist Yugoslavia.

During the recent Bosnian and Croatian Wars (1991-1995), Montenegro, along with Serbian troops, participated in the attacks on Dubrovnik and Bosnian towns. It conducted persecutions against Bosniak refugees who were arrested by Montenegrin police and transported to Serb camps where they were executed.

In 1996, the government severed ties between Montenegro and Serbia. Then Montenegro formed its own economic policy, adopting the Deutsche Mark as its currency. It has since adopted the Euro. Despite its pro-independence leanings, NATO repeatedly bombed targets in Montenegro in 1999.

In 2002, Serbia and Montenegro entered into negotiations regarding the future status of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 2003, the Yugoslav federation was replaced in favor of a looser state union named Serbia and Montenegro; a possible referendum on Montenegrin independence was postponed for a minimum of three years.

The union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by referendum in May 2006. Serbia, the member-states of the European Union, and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have all recognized Montenegro's independence, and removed all remaining obstacles from the country’s path towards becoming the world's newest sovereign state.

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.

With its new independence, there is a growing political movement in the country toward using Montenegrin, with the Latin alphabet, as its official language. The Croatian/Serbian word for “peace” is “Mir.”


During the twentieth century, 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 tourism becoming increasingly important by the late 1980s.

The disintegration of the Yugoslav market, and the imposition of UN sanctions in May 1992 caused great economic and financial distress. Serbia and Montenegro was a confederated union, which existed between 2003 and 2006. The two republics initially formed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992. The economy there entered a prolonged decline in 1989 and did not begin to show signs of recovery until 1995. Then, the NATO bombing in 1999 of the basic infrastructure of the country and many factories, as well as a renewed embargo caused a further huge drop in GDP. Economic recovery began in 2001. As of January 2005 GDP has recovered to 55-60 percent of its 1990 level.




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