Montenegro country profile
- 16 March 2016
- From the section Europe
Montenegro emerged as a sovereign state after just over 55% of the population opted for independence in a May 2006 referendum.
The vote heralded the end of the former Union of Serbia and Montenegro - itself created only three years earlier out of the remnant of the former Yugoslavia.
The EU-brokered deal forming it was intended to stabilise the region by settling Montenegrin demands for independence from Serbia and preventing further changes to Balkan borders.
The same deal also contained the seeds of the union's dissolution. It stipulated that after three years the two republics could hold referendums on whether to keep or scrap it. Montenegro opted for the latter.
Montenegro, which means "Black Mountain", borders Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Serbia's breakaway province 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.
Republic of Montenegro
Administrative capital: Podgorica
Area 13,812 sq km (5,333 sq miles)
Major languages Serbian, Montenegrin
Major religions Christianity, Islam
Life expectancy 73 years (men), 77 years (women)
President: Filip Vujanovic
Filip Vujanovic, an ally of veteran Montenegrin politician Milo Djukanovic, has been president since May 2003. He was re-elected in April 2008 and April 2013.
The president's post is largely symbolic and ceremonial.
Prime minister: Milo Djukanovic
Milo Djukanovic began his seventh term in office as Montenegro's prime minister in December 2012, seven weeks after his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) emerged as the main party in parliamentary elections but failed to gain an outright majority for the first time in 11 years.
Mr Djukanovic formed a coalition government with the Social Democrats and representatives of Montenegro's ethnic minorities, and on being inaugurated as prime minister pledged to focus his efforts on fighting organised crime and corruption.
Milo Djukanovic has dominated Montenegrin politics ever since 1991, when he first became prime minister. He was the country's president in 1998-2002, and took further short breaks from the premiership in 2006-8 and 2010-12.
He led Montenegro through the turmoil of the 1990s Balkan wars and spearheaded the post-war quest for independence from Serbia, which was finalized in a referendum in 2006.
He insisted that his 2010 resignation was not related to international pressure over his alleged involvement in cigarette smuggling. Accusations of crime and corruption have dogged Montenegro's ruling elite since the collapse of Yugoslavia.
Five national daily newspapers, a public broadcaster and four national privately-owned TVs operate in a crowded media market. Many commercial outlets struggle to turn a profit.
Montenegro is sometimes described as a media colony - outlets from neighbouring Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia operate in the country.
Internet penetration has grown steeply and stands at around 64%. Facebook is the most popular social network.
Some key dates in Montenegro's history:
1918 - Following First World War, Montenegro becomes part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which is later known as Yugoslavia.
1991 - Montenegro supports union with Serbia as Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia and Bosnia break away.
1992 - Montenegro joins Serbia in Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
2002 - Yugoslav, Montenegrin and Serbian leaders sign EU mediated accord to set up new state, to be called Serbia and Montenegro, in place of Yugoslavia.
2006 - Montenegro holds an independence referendum. Just over the required 55% of voters say yes.
2013 January - The European Parliament says that Montenegro is on track to achieve EU membership, but calls on it to do more to protect media freedom, women's rights and gender equality.