The use of the name Montenegro began in the 15th century when the Crnojevic dynasty began to rule the Serbian principality of Zeta; over subsequent centuries Montenegro was able to maintain its independence from the Ottoman Empire. From the 16th to 19th centuries, Montenegro became a theocracy ruled by a series of bishop princes; in 1852, it was transformed into a secular principality. After World War I, Montenegro was absorbed by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929; at the conclusion of World War II, it became a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. When the latter dissolved in 1992, Montenegro federated with Serbia, first as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and, after 2003, in a looser union of Serbia and Montenegro. In May 2006, Montenegro invoked its right under the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro to hold a referendum on independence from the state union. The vote for severing ties with Serbia exceeded 55% – the threshold set by the EU – allowing Montenegro to formally declare its independence on 3 June 2006.
Capital City: Podgorica (administrative centre) and Cetinje (historic/cultural capital)
Area: 13,812 sq km
Population: 661,807 (July 2011 estimate – CIA World Factbook).
Major Languages: Montenegrin, Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian, and Croatian.
Major Religions and Denominations: Christianity (Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism), Islam.
Geography: Montenegro shares external borders with Bosnia to the north-west, Serbia to the north-east, Kosovo to the east, Albania to the south, and has a 14km border with Croatia to the west. To the south west Montenegro has 293.5 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, including 52km of beaches.
The landscape of Montenegro (meaning “black mountain”) is varied. The Adriatic coastline enjoys a Mediterranean climate and is made up of beaches, bays and coves. The inland landscape ranges from fertile lowlands alongside lakes and river valleys to high mountains with dense forest and deep canyons.
GDP: € 2.807 billion (2010)
GDP real growth rate: 1.1% (2010 est.)
GDP per capita: € 4720 (2009)
Population below poverty line: 7% (2007 est)
Unemployment rate: 10.90% (2009)
Inflation: 9.2% (2008)
Major industries: Tourism, aluminium production, steel production, agricultural processing.
Major trading partners: Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Serbia.