Demographic history of Montenegro

Demographic history of Montenegro
Coat of arms of Montenegro.svg

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This article presents the demographic history of Montenegro through census results and official documents which mention demographic composition. See Demographics of Montenegro for a more detailed overview of the current demographics of Montenegro.



Duklja, today's southern half of Montenegro, under Stefan Vojislav, was inhabited by Serbs.[1]

Various documents listed that the inhabitants of Medieval Doclea or Zeta were Serbs,, but also minor populations of Latins, Albanians and Vlachs. The language in usage was primarily the Serbian dialect of Old Slavonic, while in the early stages Latin also had importance and Greek to an extent among the high-class members of the society.

Between the 15th and 17th century, Montenegro had little history on paper, however it is said that the Montenegrin population never exceeded 10 000.[citation needed] During these years, hundreds of families of Bosnian- and Rascian Serbs sought refuge in the highlands of Montenegro.[citation needed] Medieval documents state that the citizens of Montenegro were Serbs.[citation needed]


Mariano Bolizza of Kotor was a public servant of the Republic of Venice. The main objective of his 1614 report and description of the Sanjak of Shkodra was to provide information on the land routes which could best be utilized by local couriers conveying official correspondence from Venice to Constantinople and back, and to survey the military potential of the territory. He provided a very detailed overview of towns and villages in Montenegro and northern Albania in the early 17th century. The report concluded an ethnic Serb majority, while an Albanian minority was present in the Shkodra region.[2]

18th century

The ethnic composition in the 18th century was clear among the Slavs;

  • In a letter to Justinian Bert in 1756, Montenegrin chieftains said: "We are of the Orthodox Christian faith and law of the Eastern Church, of the honorable and glorious Slav-Serb kin".
  • Jovan Stefanov Balevic, of the Bratonozic clan, who later became a major in the Russian army, wrote "A brief and objective description of the present state of Montenegro"[3] in St. Petersburg in 1757, where it said: "All inhabitants of Montenegro are ethnically Serbs and confessionally Orthodox. As they are incompetent in some skills, because of their lack of school, they are naturally capable, especially with weapons."[3];
    • "The number of Montenegrin warriors who live free on the peaks of Montenegro, called by Turks disobedient, does not exceed 5000."[3]
    • "There are no artisans and schools in Montenegro except at the Cetinje monastery, within the archbishop's residence, where priests learn reading and writing in the Slav-Serb language, which is financed by the archbishop."
    • "Montenegrins count among themselves neighbouring Slav-Serbs of different provenience: Kuci, Bratonozici, Donji and Gornji Vasojevici, Piperi, Rovcani, Moracani, Bjelopavlici, who are Serb Orthodox but Ottoman citizens. They, also, count Roman Catholics: Hoti, Klimenti, Grudi, Tuzi, Skrivali, Huzi, Maltezi, Kastrati and others who outnumber Montenegrins." [3]
  • In June 1789, Montenegrin Chieftains, wrote to Russian Empress Katarina II, in the name of the entire Serb Montenegrin community: "We Serbs Montenegrins hope that we shall not be left without help" and "If we could have organization and munition, we would liberate our glorious Serb lands entirely from the Barbarian yoke (Ottoman Empire), together with our armed Serb brothers who aim to attack this enemy from all sides.

19th century

  • According to letters to Russia from Bishop Petar I Petrović Njegoš from March 5, 1826, "the people of Montenegro are Serb of the Orthodox Christian faith".
  • According to "paragraph 92" in the code of Prince Danilo, established 1855: "Although there is no other nationality in this land except Serb nationality and no other religion except Eastern Orthodoxy..." and about Serbdom: "...of our homogenous Serb nation. the Montenegrin prince has, in his heart, carved sense of love and devotion not only towards his people, but towards entire Serbdom and everything named and called - Serb."[4]
  • Schwartz estimated in 1882 that the Princedom of Montenegro had 160,000 inhabitants. Although, a more usual estimate is that it was around 230,000 inhabitants.
  • In 1895, the inhabitants of Montenegro was said to be "pure Serbs" because who speak Serbian language and followers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. There was a Catholic and Muhammedan minority.[citation needed]


In 1900, according to international sources, the Principality of Montenegro had 311,564 inhabitants. By religion:

  • 293,527 Serbian Orthodox (94,21%)
  • 12,493 Muslims (4,01%)
  • 5,544 Roman Catholic (1,78%)

By literacy:

  • 77% illiterate
  • 71,528 (23%) literate

The Princedom had around 5,000 Albanians and a colony of 800 Romas.


This year there were 6,674 emigrants, mostly to the United States.


This year there were 4,346 emigrants, mostly to the United States.


It has been estimated that there were around 282,000 inhabitants in Montenegro this year.


Map from 1910
Dark - Serbs; Light - Albanians

The 1909 official census was undertaken by the authorities of the Principality of Montenegro. Ethnicity was decided according to the mother tongue and religion, the official language being the Serbian language:

Total: 317,856 inhabitants. By language:

By religion:


  • Serbs speaking the Serbian language (Orthodox Christians): ~95%
  • Others (Muslims; Albanians): ~5%


In 1911, the population of Montenegro had risen to 211,909.[5]

In a geographic textbook for Montenegrin 3rd graders of elementary school, it was written that:

"In Montenegro live only true and pure Serbs who speak Serbian language... Besides Montenegro there are more Serb lands in which our Serb brothers are living... Some of them are free as we are and some subjugated to foreigners[...] Each Serb in Montenegro is obligated to love his entire Fatherland, all Serb lands - in which our free and unfree Serb brothers are living."[6]

[citation needed]


Code of Law 1914.

The Cetinje government stated in the Code of Law in 1914 that there are around 500,000 citizens of Montenegro. It was declared that the term Montenegrin people can only refer to all citizens of the Kingdom of Montenegro, since a Montenegrin ethnicity doesn't exist and Montenegrins are ethnic Serbs.


In 1918 Montenegro entered the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1921 it organised a census which recorded the mother tongue and religion. A category called Serbian or Croatian was to include all respondents who termed their mother tongue as Serbian.[citation needed] In the counties Andrijevica, Bar, Kolasin, Niksic, Podgorica and Cetinje, which are categorized in official statistics as Montenegro, there were:

Total: 199,227 inhabitants

The counties Berane and Bijelo Polje, which are today in Montenegro, were considered counties of Old Serbia:

Summed results:

Total: 249,238 inhabitants

  • Serbs or Croats: 231,686 (92.96%)
  • others, mostly Albanians

Total population for the area of modern-day Montenegro in precise was 311,341.


The 1931 census was also taken by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia but was later processed in Communist Yugoslavia. Results within today's borders of Montenegro were:

Total: 360,044 inhabitants
:Serbian Orthodox: 272,702 (80.88%)
:Roman Catholics: 26,070 (7.24%)
:Muslims 61,038 (16.96%)
:Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian languages: 339,955 (90.13%)
:Albanian language: 18,098 (5.03%)


In 1945, after the World War II, Communist Yugoslavia was formed, and Montenegro was proclaimed as one of its constituent republics. The 1948 and following censa were taken by the Republic of Montenegro.

Total: 377,189 inhabitants
:Montenegrins: 342,009 (90.67%)
:Albanians: 19,425 or (5.15%)
:Croats: 6,808 or (1.8%)
:Serbs: 6,707 or (1.78%)
:Undecided Muslims: 387 (0.1%)
:Others: 1860 or (0.52%)
::Slovenes: 484
::Germans: 375
::Russians: 277
::Italians: 162
::Roma: 162
::Macedonians: 133
::Czechs: 93
::Hungarians: 62


The 1953 census results:

Total: 419,873 inhabitants
:Montenegrins: 363,686 (86.61%)
:Albanians: 23,460 (5.58%)
:Serbs: 13,864 (3.3%)
:Croats: 9,814 (2.33%)
:Yugoslavs: 6,424 (1.52%)
:Others: 2,625 (0.66%)

This census witnesses the forming of the Yugoslav nation.


The 1961 census results:

Total: 471,894 inhabitants
:Montenegrins: 383,988 (81.37%)
:Muslims: 30,665 (6.5%)
:Albanians: 25,803 (5.47%)
:Serbs: 14,087 (2.99%)
:Croats: 10,664 (2.26%)
:Yugoslavs: 1,559 (0.33%)

In 1968 the Communist Yugoslav government introduced a new category, Muslims by nationality.


The 1971 census results:

Total 529,604 inhabitants
:Montenegrins: 355,632 (67.15%)
:Muslims: 70,236 (13.26%)
:Serbs: 39,512 or (7.46%)
:Albanians: 35,671 (6.74%)
:Yugoslavs: 10,943 (2.07%)
:Croats: 9,192 (1.74%)


The 1981 census results:

Total: 584,310 inhabitants
:Montenegrins: 400,488 (68.54%)
:Muslims: 78,080 (13.36%)
:Albanians: 37,735 (6.46%)
:Yugoslavs: 31,243 (5.35%)
:Serbs: 19,407 (3.32%)
:Croats: 6,904 (1.81%)
:Roma: 1,471 (0.25%)
:Macedonian: 875 (0.15%)
:Slovenes: 564 (0.1%)
:Hungarians: 238 (0.04%)
:Germans: 107 (0.02%)
:Russians: 96 (0.02%)
:Italians: 45 (0.01%)
:Other: 816 (0.14%)
:No response: 301 (0.05%)
:Regional affiliation: 1,602 (0.27%)
:Unknown: 4,338 (0.74%)


The 1991 census results:

Total: 615,035 inhabitants

Ethnic structure

:Montenegrins: 380,467 (61.86%)
:Muslims: 89,614 (14.57%)
:Serbs: 57,453 (9.34%)
:Albanians: 40,415 (6.57%)
:Yugoslavs: 26,159 (4.25%)
:Croats: 6,244 (1.02%)
:Roma: 3,282 (0.53%)
:Macedonian: 1,072 (0.17%)
:Slovenes: 369 (0.06%)
:Hungarians: 205 (0.03%)
:Germans: 124 (0.02%)
:Russians: 118 (0.02%)
:Italians: 58 (0.01%)
:Other: 437 (0.07%)
:No response: 1,944 (0.32%)
:Regional affiliation: 998 (0.16%)
:Unknown: 6,076 (0.99%)

Linguistic structure

Religious structure


The 2003 census was undertaken by authorities in Montenegro, which at this time, together with Serbia, constituted Serbia and Montenegro.

Total: 620,145

Ethnic structure

This census witnessed the forming of the Bosniak nation, but some people still thought of themselves Muslims by nationality, however. Also, there are very few people left who consider themselves Yugoslavs. But the biggest difference compared to the 1991 census is the dramatic increase in self-identification of many inhabitants as Serbs, which was not the case in Socialist Yugoslavia.

Linguistic structure

  • Serbian - 393.740 (63,49%)
  • Montenegrin: 136.208 (21,96%)
  • Albanian - 32.603 (5,26%)
  • Bosniak - 19.906 (3,21%)
  • Bosnian - 14.172 (2,29%)
  • Croatian - 2.791 (0,45%)
  • Roma - 2.602 (0,42%)
  • undeclared: 13.902 (2,24%)

Religious structure


Total: 620,029

Ethnic structure

Linguistic structure

  • Serbian: 265,895 (42.88%)
  • Montenegrin: 229,251 (36.97%)
  • Bosnian: 33,077 (5.33%)
  • Albanian: 32,671 (5.27%)
  • Rhoma: 5,169 (0.83%)
  • Bosniak: 3,662 (0.59%)
  • Croatian: 2,791 (0.45%)
  • Others: 47,513 (7.68%)

Religious structure



  1. ^ The Early Medieval Balkans by John Van Antwerp Fine, 1983
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d Short historic-geographical description of Montenegro- Jovan Stefanov Balevic
  4. ^ Montenegrin Chieftains - Serbian Patriots
  5. ^ Palairet, Michael (1997). The Balkan Economies C.1800-1914: Evolution Without Development. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052158051X. 
  6. ^ Education in Montenegro

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