Bosniaks of Montenegro

Bosniaks are an ethnic group in Montenegro, first introduced in the 2003 census. According to the last census from 2011, the total number of Bosniaks in Montenegro was 53,605 and they comprised 8.65% of population. Bosniaks are the third largest ethnic group in the country, after Montenegrins and Serbs.

Bosniaks of Montenegro
Bosniak National Flag in Sandzak.svg
Flag of Bosniak minority in Montenegro
Total population
53,605 Bosniaks[1]
20,537 ethnic Muslims
Regions with significant populations
Rožaje Municipality (83.91%)
Petnjica Municipality (83.02%)
Plav Municipality (56%)
Gusinje Municipality(42.64%)
Bijelo Polje Municipality (31.7%)
Berane Municipality (17.72%)
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Bosniaks, ethnic Muslims and other South Slavs


Share of Bosniaks in Montenegro by settlements 2003.
Bosniaks of Serbia and Montenegro within the divided Sandžak region (dashed red line).

Bosniaks primarily live in northern Montenegro, in the area called Sandžak and they form the majority of the population in four municipalities: Rožaje (83.91%), Petnjica (83.02%), Plav (56%) and Gusinje (42.64%).


Two thirds of Sandžak Bosniaks trace their ancestry to the regions of Montenegro proper, which they started departing first in 1687, after Ottoman Empire lost Boka Kotorska. The trend continued in Old Montenegro after 1711 with the extermination of converts to Islam ("istraga poturica"). Another contributing factor that spurred migration to Sandžak from the Old Montenegro was the fact that the old Orthodox population of Sandžak moved towards Serbia and Habsburg Monarchy (Vojvodina) in two waves, first after 1687, and then, after 1740, basically leaving Sandžak depopulated. The advance of increasingly stronger ethnic Montenegrins caused additional resettlements out of Montenegro proper in 1858 and 1878, when, upon the Treaty of Berlin, Montenegro was recognized as an independent state. While only 20 Bosniak families remained in Nikšić after 1878, the towns like Kolašin, Spuž, Grahovo, and others, completely lost their Bosniak population. The clan-organized Montenegrin army forcibly converted about 12,000 Bosniaks and Albanians to Christianity from the areas of Southern Sandžak, and Metohija, in 1912, upon capturing those lands from the Turks in the Balkan Wars. Practically all of the converts, less a couple of families, converted back to Islam in 1913, when, under international pressure, the public announcement was made giving them freedom to profess the faith of their choosing. The last major interethnic incident occurred in 1924 during Šahovići massacre in villages Šahovići and Pavino Polje (present-day municipality of Bijelo Polje in Sandžak), when Montenegrin peasants massacred hundreds of Bosniaks, under the pretext that Bosniak outlaws murdered a local Montenegrin hero, presumably under false pretense.

The last segment of Sandžak Bosniaks arrived from several other places. There was a continuous intermingling with the members of the local Turkish administration and military. Some of Bosniaks came from Slavonia after 1687, when Turkey lost all the lands north of Sava in the Austro-Turkish war. Many more came from Herzegovina in the post-1876 period, after the Herzegovina Rebellion staged by the Serbs against Austro-Hungary and their Muslim subjects. Another wave followed immediately thereafter from both Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the Treaty of Berlin placed the Vilayet of Bosnia under the effective control of Austria-Hungary in 1878. The last wave from Bosnia followed in 1908, when Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia, thereby cutting off all direct ties of Bosnian Muslims to the Sublime Porte, their effective protector. Today, Bosniaks are a large minority in Montenegro, with over 50,000 Bosniaks living in Montenegro.


Most Bosniaks of Montenegro were in favor of Montenegrin independence when the independence referendum was held in 2006.


Today, the majority of Bosniaks are predominantly Sunni Muslim and adhere to the Hanafi school of thought, or law, the largest and oldest school of Islamic law in jurisprudence within Sunni Islam.

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


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