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whose local name is Crna Gora, is translated to mean "black mountain."
This name was first used in the 1400s, but only in more recent years has it been
used to refer to the entire region of the modern country. The English name of Montenegro
has the same meaning, but comes from the Italian words: monte, which means
"mountain" and the more historic word negro, which means "black."
Crna Gora / Црна Гора
Montenegro is a mountainous country (as the name would imply) that has created many
cultural variations. The mountains have divided the people as various groups of
people have settled various valleys. Today many of the people in these mountain
valleys are closely related ethnically, but culturally are very different, from
speaking different languages to following different religions.
The people that settled the mountain valleys of Montenegro were primarily ethnic
Slavs, although the Albanians and Roma (Gypsies) also made their ways here to some
degree. The people generally lived simple lives off the lands; in many ways sharing
a lifestyle. However, over time these people grew significantly different in terms
of culture. Most of the people in the northwest were Catholic, while the Albanians
and Bosniaks are Muslims, and the majority are Eastern Orthodox Christian. These
religious differences were inspired by outside influences, which also introduced
differing foods, dress, beliefs, and cultures among the people.
Over time each of these groups of people developed their own cultures and lifestyles.
Although still based on the lands, the lifestyles changed due to religion, diet,
and more. Culturally, the people grew further and further apart, but being somewhat
isolated in the mountains, there was little conflict due to these differences.
As political conflicts ebbed and flowed over time so too did alliances. Often times
the Serbs and Montenegrins united due to their many similarities, but at other times
unity cast a wider net and included nearly everyone. What has been fairly consistent
though is the people's ability to maintain peace, particularly in comparison
to the region as a whole. When battles and wars were magnified, the Montenegrins
tended to wait.
Today the Montenegrins remain diverse culturally, yet united politically. The people
all have differing cultures and lifestyles as they have taken few moves to define
themselves or exclude others. This has also led to a lack of identity and a failure
to define or understand who they are. Many of the ethnic Albanians, Serbs, and Bosniaks
identify as such, but the ethnic Montenegrins are only now beginning to understand
who they are as they seem to be in a slow process to define themselves, their culture,
their lifestyle, and their identity.
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