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Bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, Montenegro is one of the newest European States. After voting for independence from Serbia in 2006, Montenegro has established itself as a democratic republic, with a presidential head of state and a prime minister as head of government. Human rights concerns include discrimination against minorities, particularly people from Roma backgrounds, and problems with the justice and penal systems.
Montenegro, which means "Black Mountain", borders Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, (the disputed State of) Kosovo and Albania. About half of it is covered in thick forest. The tiny republic encompasses an Adriatic coastline, lowlands and high mountain ranges. The Tara River canyon is the deepest and longest in Europe. Its capital city is Podgorica.
Population and language
Montenegro has a population of 670,000. It comprises Montenegrin 43 per cent, Serbian 32 per cent, Bosniak 8 per cent, Albanian 5 per cent, other (Muslims, Croats, Roma (Gypsy) 12 per cent (2003 census).
The main languages are Serbian and Montenegrin.
Politics and economy
Montenegro, an upper middle income country, is a mixed parliamentary and presidential republic. It emerged as a sovereign state after just over 55 per cent of the population opted for independence from Serbia in a May 2006 referendum. Filip Vujanovic, a pro-independence candidate and an ally of the prime minister, has been president since May 2003. He was re-elected in April 2008. The Prime Minister is Igor Luksic, who was appointed to the post in December 2010, replacing Milo Djukanovic, who had led Montenegro for almost 20 years. The country officially applied to join the EU on 15 December 2008.
Montenegro has natural resources, primarily bauxite, adequate water supplies, and a climate conducive to agriculture. There has been a rapid growth in tourism and tourism investments, particularly along the Adriatic coast, in the years since independence.
The legal system is based on a civil law system.
Media and civil society
Reporters Without Borders’ said that the economic and legal environment in Montenegro does not give media outlets the chance to fulfil their role of independent observers. It is also concerned that, in addition to the violence and threats that journalists sometimes face, laws are used to intimidate the media, and a number of lawsuits have been filed against certain media outlets in recent years.
Some media watchdogs have pointed to ongoing political influence over editorial policies. In 2004 the killing of Dusko Jovanovic, the editor of the opposition daily Dan, sparked an outcry. Demonstrators accused the authorities of complicity.
Overseas donors have encouraged the growth of independent media. But commercial operators compete for a small pool of advertising revenue. The market - with dozens of private radio and TV stations - is said to be saturated.
Human rights and children's rights
Principal human rights problems include proper functioning of the judiciary, for example poor detention and prison conditions and police abuse of power, the fight against organised crime, corruption and discrimination against minorities.Montenegro ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 23 October 2006, the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict on 2 May 2007, and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography on 23 October 2006.
- BBC Montenegro Country Profile
- Balkan Insight, "Situation of Media in Montenegro 'Very Difficult'", 25 May 2011
- Civil Rights Defenders Human Rights in Montenegro, September 2010
- US State Department, Background Note: Montenegro, 18 February 2011
- World Bank: Montenegro Country Profile
- Population: 625,000.5 (UNDP)
- Population under 18: N/A
- Number of internet users: 294,000 (44.1 per cent of population)(Internet World Stats)
- Human Development Index ranking: 49 (UNDP)
- Happy Planet Index ranking: N/A