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Montenegro is one of the successor states of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the turbulent history of the Balkans Montenegro has changed its status several times. From being an independent state in the late 19th century, in 1918 it became a part of what would later be called Yugoslavia. Although an equal member of the Yugoslav Federation, Montenegro only regained full independence in a referendum in 2006 when it became an independent state. The 2007 Constitution defined it as a civic and ecological state based on the sovereignty of the citizen. Presently, it is a member of NATO and a moderately prepared candidate country for membership of the European Union. According to the last census of 2011, Montenegro has a population of 622 781 and an area of 13 812 square kilometres. The country is comprised of 23 municipalities with different demographic, economic and cultural characteristics. Although there is no formal division, three characteristic regions are the Northern, Central and Southern parts of Montenegro. Most of the country’s inhabitants live in the central area which, together with the capital, Podgorica, is the most important administrative and industrial region. Montenegro is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state in which no nation has a numerical majority. The 2007 Constitution of Montenegro in its Preamble refers to free and equal citizens, belonging to nations and national minorities living in Montenegro: Montenegrins, Serbs, Bosnians, Albanians, Muslims, Croats and others. The Montenegrins are the most numerous ethnic group, while the Serbs are the second largest group living in Montenegro. One peculiarity is that Bosnians and Muslims are listed as separate groups (although both of them adhere to the same religion, the status of the latter being a relic of the former Yugoslav constitutional legacy). The Law on Minority Rights and Freedoms implicitly recognises Roma as an ethnic group on the basis of their linguistic characteristics. The same Law defines ‘minority people and other minority national communities’ as ‘any group of Montenegrin citizens which is less numerous than the rest of the predominant population, with common ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics different from the rest of the population, being historically tied to Montenegro and motivated by a desire to express and preserve their national, ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity’ (Article 2). All these ethnic groups (including Roma) have institutionalised their activities by forming national councils as special forms of expression and protection of their ethnic interests.