Montenegro declared its independence on June 3, 2006. The country got its name (literally, “black mountain”) from the dark, mountain forests that cover the land. Some 60 percent of the country is more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) high, with the tallest peak reaching to 2,522 meters (8,274 feet). The mountains were a natural fortress that helped Montenegro maintain its independence until it suffered devastating losses in World War I. It became part of Serbia in 1918 and Yugoslavia in 1929.

The people of Montenegro gained greater autonomy when the name Yugoslavia was discarded in 2003 in favor of a democratic and federal country named Serbia and Montenegro. On May 21, 2006, 55.5 percent of Montenegrins voted to secede from Serbia and become independent. Despite being a small country, Montenegro shows significant economic potential, especially in tourism. It boasts 117 beaches along the Adriatic coast, mountain ski resorts, the medieval city of Kotor, and other cultural sites.