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Stari Bar - Copyright © by Alan Grant
Stari Bar

While Bar's history goes back to Roman times, the port town lacks the charm of the small Adriatic towns of Kotor or Budva. After being destroyed by a disastrous earthquake in 1979, Bar was completely rebuilt in the socialist style. Particularly striking is the 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. Its industrial terminals still dominate the town.

Only the ruins of "old Bar", abandoned during the 19th century, a few kilometres up on the hill, bear witness to the city's rich history. But contemporary Bar holds another kind of charm. It is Montenegro's most ethnically mixed area. All of the major ethnic groups and all three faiths live together comfortably in one place.

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.

Nationality

%

 

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

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. He points out that there are no cafes separated according to nationality or religion, like in many other places in the Balkans.

September 2007

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