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Stari Bar
Stari Bar. Photo: Alan Grant

While Bar's history goes back to Roman times, the port town, home to some 14,000 people, lacks the charm of the small Adriatic towns of Kotor or Budva. Destroyed in an earthquake in 1979, Bar was completely rebuilt in the socialist style. Particularly striking is a shopping mall in the centre of the town, resembling a vast space ship. In 1976, a new railroad connected Bar with Belgrade, giving a large boost to the port’s economy. Its industrial terminals still dominate the town.

In the 2003 census, close to half of the municipality's population declared itself Montenegrin, and slightly more than a quarter Serb. The remainder is made up of sizable groups of Muslims and Bosniaks (together close to 9 percent) and Albanians (8 percent). Croats are the smallest group, amounting to less than 1 percent. Sixty percent of the population belong to the Orthodox faith, while 27 percent are Muslim and 8 percent Catholics.

Ethnicity

%

 

Faith

%

Montenegrin

47.25

 

Orthodox

59.58

Serbs

27.68

 

Islam

27.56

Muslims/Bosniacs

8.73

 

Catholic

7.75

Albanians

7.61

 

Other, undeclared, no faith

5.11

Croats

0.65

 

Other

8.08

 

 

 

Total

100.00

 

Total

100.00

A few kilometres uphill, the ruins of Stari Bar ("old Bar"), abandoned during the 19th century, bear witness to the city's rich history. Contemporary Bar, however, has an altogether different kind of charm. Here, all of the region’s major ethnic groups, as well as its three main religious denominations, live together comfortably in one place. People like Suljo Mustafic, editor in chief of Radio Bar and head of the local Islamic community, are proud of the city's multi-ethnic tradition. As he points out, none of Bar’s cafés is designated according to ethnicity or religion – unlike in many other places in the Balkans.

April 2008

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27 April 2008, 00:00