During the 1990s, the native population of Montenegro declined while hundreds of thousands of refugees came from neighboring areas; In 1999, there were 160,000 refugees in Montenegro. According to Countryaah, most of them have returned to their home countries, while some have been integrated into the new country. During the 1999 Kosovo War and the years that followed, refugees came from there. In 2011, it was estimated that there were 24,000 refugees in Montenegro, most of whom came from Kosovo during the 1990s.
In the 2011 census, Montenegro had 620,000 residents, almost exactly as many as in the previous census (2003). The relocations have meant that the country has in recent years had a larger relocation than immigration, but this has been offset by the fact that Montenegro has had a natural increase in population. The country thus differs from some other countries in southeastern Europe, where the number of deaths exceeds the number of births annually. For population statistics, see country facts.
The ethnic composition of the population has changed significantly since the mid-20th century. Around 1950, more than 90 percent were integrals, at the 2011 census only 45 percent. Their share decreased mainly in the 1970s and 1990s. The Montegrines live mainly in the southern and central parts of the country. In 1950, less than 2 percent of the residents were Serbs. Their share increased gradually and tripled during the 1990s. Now they are close to 29 percent. The Albanians’ share has remained unchanged throughout the period, about 5 percent. In recent years, Bosnians havecounted as a separate category. In 2011, they made up 9 percent of the population of Montenegro, and they live in the country’s easternmost parts. The Romans then made up 1 percent, an equal share of the Croats. Ethnic affiliation data was missing for 7.5 percent and among them there are likely to be many refugees, including Roma. The debate in connection with the 2011 census showed that the ethnic data is difficult to interpret. No less than 43 per cent of the population indicated that they spoke Serbian while only 37 percent spoke Montenegrin.
In 2019, 67 percent of the population lived in cities, and the proportion is increasing but very slowly. The largest among them is Podgorica with 195,700 residents (2017), followed by Nikšić (70,600) and Bijelo Polje (44,000).
In Montenegro, štokavian dialects are spoken by the South Slavic language, formerly called Serbo-Croatian or Croatian Serbian and today sometimes Central South Slavic. Serbo-Croatian has four main dialects: štokaviska, čakaviska, kaykaviska and torlakic.
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The official language is Montenegrin, which, like the Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian standard languages, is based on štokavian dialects. Languages recognized as regional or minority languages according to the Council of Europe’s language statute are Albanian and Romani. The Montenegrin language paragraph states that in addition to Montenegrin, Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian can also be used officially.