A small country of long traditions, a confluence of different cultural and religious influences, on the crossroads of the East and West, today Montenegro is a multiconfessional and multiethnic environment known for the tolerance and the harmonious relationships of its people.
Traces of human presence in the area of today’s Montenegro date back to from the Palaeolithic era, testified by the evidence found at the archaeological site of Crvena Stijena (Red Rock). The first known ethnic groups, numerous Illyrian tribes lived here between the fifth and second century BCE. After this period, the area became part of Imperial Rome and the Praevalitana province. Evidence of this period are found in the numerous urban-type settlements formed around the previous Illyrian settlements – Dioclea (Duklja), Municipium S (Pljevlja), Medeon (Medun), Butua (Budva), Olcinium (Ulcinj), Risinium (Risan) and others.
After the fall of the great Roman Empire, the region of the Praevalitana province became part of Byzantium, whose borders were occupied by the Slavs by the middle of the sixth century. Several centuries passed before the Christianised Slavs assimilated the indigenous Romanised population. During the ninth century, the first state organisation was initiated, whose core strengthened under the Archon Petar, while from the end of the tenth century, under Knez (Prince) Vladimir, it became known as Slavic Dioclea, which from the eleventh century carries the title of Zeta. The principality of Zeta became a kingdom during the Vojislavljević Dynasty (XI-XII century), with its own church structure – the Archdiocese of Bar. By the end of the twelfth century, the territory of Zeta was under the rule of the Serbian dynasts Nemanjić. Under their influence, orthodoxy strengthened in the formerly catholic Zeta, but the archdiocese brought about by the Vojislavljević dynasty has survived to the present.
In the second half of the fourteenth and during the fifteenth century, Dioclea-Zeta restored its state sovereignty and the supremacy of Zeta was taken by feudal families. From the fifteenth century, Montenegro was ruled by the Balšić and Crnojević ruling families. New political and historical circumstances were created with the emergnece of the mighty Ottoman conquerors, who at that time inexorably penetrated and conquered the southeast of Europe. Battles against them will be lead for centuries, stregthening to full force at the moment when by the power of the cross and the sword, the Petrović family took the helm of the Montenegrin tribes. In 1878, at the Berlin congress, Montenegro became an internationally recognised country.
After the First World War and the fall of the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty, Montenegro became a part of the newly formed South Slavic states – the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and subsequently the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. After restoring part of its state sovereignty after the Second World War, Montenegro had the status of a republic, and was a federal member of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
With a majority decision by its citizens, Montenegro restored its independence on 21 May 2006 and became an internationally recognised country.