Montenegrins - Orientation

Identification. Montenegrins live predominantly in the Region currently constituting the Socialist Republic of Montenegro, the smallest republic within modern-day Yugoslavia. Montenegrins speak the Štokavian dialect of Serbo-Croatian and call their republic "Crna Gora," meaning "Black Mountain." Culturally, they are closely related to the Serbs; some authors consider them to be of the same ethnic group. Montenegrins closely identify with the Serbs through Common history and culture. Nonetheless, there are some Important cultural, economic, and historical differences that distinguish the two groups. This entry focuses on aspects of Montenegrin life, history, and geography that differentiate them from Serbs. In general, however, there is little published research on contemporary Montenegrin culture. The reader should consult the entry under Serbs for additional information.

Location. Montenegro is located between approximately 42 and 43.5° N and 18.5 and 20.5° E. It is bounded on the northeast and east by Serbia and the autonomous region of Kosovo, on the west and northwest by Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on the south by Albania and the Adriatic Sea. Terrain and climate are highly varied. Mountains rise from the seacoast, reaching inland heights of 2,400 meters in some parts of the republic. Rainfall varies from lows of only a few centimeters per year along the coast to highs of 200 centimeters in some mountainous areas. The growing season in the limited arable areas can last from April to October. Much of the republic is otherwise covered by barren limestone known as the karst. Even in areas with abundant rainfall, this geography limits the availability of surface water.

Demography. The population of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro in 1981 was 584,000. People identifying themselves as ethnically Montenegrin constituted approximately two-thirds of the total population. Serbs make up about 11 percent of the republic's population, and there is a small but significant Muslim minority.

Linguistic Affiliation. Montenegrins speak a dialect of Serbo-Croatian known as Štokavian (subdialect: Ijekavian), which is a South Slavic language from the Slavic Branch of Indo-European. Nearest related languages are Slovene, Macedonian (both spoken in other Yugoslav republics), and Bulgarian. Like other Orthodox Serbo-Croatian speakers, they traditionally employed the Cyrillic alphabet, although the Latin alphabet is now also widely seen.

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