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Northern Montenegro

Hay cart near Žabljak - Copyright © by Alan Grant
Hay cart

Eleven out of 21 municipalities are considered to belong to the "Northern region" of Montenegro. With slightly less than 200,000 residents, the region accounts for about a third of Montenegro's total population.

Except for the towns of Bijelo Polje, Pljevlja and Berane, the area is largely rural. The remote mountainous terrain makes access difficult. The slow, winding road from Bijelo Polje towards Podgorica is beautiful, but leaves the region economically on the periphery. A railway connects the towns of Bijelo Polje and Mojkovac to Podgorica and Belgrade, but other areas like Pluzine and Pljevlja in the East or Rozaje and Plav in the West remain cut off from the main transport routes.

The harsh terrain and difficult winters render agriculture difficult. During socialist times, many of the small towns saw some minor industrial development, but these 'political factories' collapsed quickly after the break up of Yugoslavia.

The 31.5 percent of Montenegrins living in the North contribute only 18 percent of national output, down from 25.5 percent in 1990 (UN Human Development Report 2005). With 14.9 percent of the population living below the poverty line, poverty is more than double the rate in the central and southern regions. Addressing this disparity is a key political challenge for the coming years.

The North is ethnically mixed, with no group making up an absolute majority. Serbs account for 41 percent of the population, Bosniaks and Muslims 31 percent, Montenegrins 22 percent and ethnic Albanians, concentrated in Plav, 2 percent.

Municipality

Total population

Serbs

Montenegrins

Bosniaks/

Muslims

Albanians

Rozaje

22,693

3.98

1.94

88.74

4.44

Andrijevica

5,785

69.61

25.13

0.14

0.00

Pluzine

4,272

60.51

32.61

0.02

0.00

Pljevlja

35,806

60.11

21.52

13.34

0.02

Plav

13,805

18.93

5.54

55.03

19.70

Mojkovac

10,066

41.12

54.77

0.23

0.02

Kolasin

9,949

44.77

50.65

0.33

0.01

Zabljak

4,204

50.26

43.03

0.02

0.00

Savnik

2,947

47.44

46.83

0.17

0.00

Berane

35,068

46.51

25.52

22.71

0.10

Bijelo Polje

50,284

40.32

17.77

38.41

0.06

Total

194,879

41.23

22.26

30.72

1.95

Inter-ethnic relations went through a rocky period after the referendum on independence, with most Bosniaks/Muslims and Albanians voting in favour, in the face of strong opposition from the majority of Serbs. Serbs began to boycott Bosniak-owned cafés and shops, and some announced that they would sell their property and move to Serbia. However, these tensions were quickly overcome.

February 2007

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