Montenegro is not “tiny”

Last night, a man threw a grenade at the US Embassy in Podgorica. Nobody was injured because it was midnight and everybody was at home. Disappointed to discover this, the man used his second amendment grenade to blow himself up.

Podgorica embassy bombing

That is sad, particularly for the people who need to clean up the mess. I hope they get some extra pay.

Anyone who knows me knows how outraged I am about people making noise, whether by fireworks, church bells, music, terrorism or parties, particularly late at night. But in this case, I am almost more annoyed by the media reports about it, particularly in the US press.

They all explain that Montenegro is a country and where it is. As if nobody knew that! Anyone who has seen Casino Royale, conveniently released in 2006, just as the country became independent, knows Montenegro.

Nonetheless, I can still understand that. Better safe than sorry. Better explain it once again than have readers confuse Montenegro with Madagascar. Also, the articles need to be filled with something.

But what outrages me is that every report in the US press uses the word “tiny” to describe Montenegro.

For example USA Today and Fox News:

Montenegro borders the Adriatic Sea in southeastern Europe and its capital is Podgorica. […]

The U.S. established diplomatic ties with the tiny Balkan state in 2006 after it split from much larger Serbia.

Or the New York Times:

Montenegro, one of the world’s youngest nations, is a tiny country of 640,000 nestled between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. It was once part of Yugoslavia; later, it became half of the nation of Serbia and Montenegro before declaring independence in 2006.


Montenegro is located in southeastern Europe and was once part of Yugoslavia.

The U.S. established diplomatic ties with the tiny nation in 2006 after it split from much larger Serbia.

First of all, what’s the informational value of that adjective?

Second, it’s not true. Montenegro is NOT tiny! If you think it is, try to walk from Herceg Novi to Bijelo Polje! Microbes, atoms and prematurely born mice are tiny, but not Montenegro.

Granted, with 13,812 square kilometers, Montenegro is no Russia or China. But there are smaller countries or states that I never see referred to as “tiny” in every newspaper report: Qatar, Jamaica, Lebanon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Cyprus, Bahrain, Singapore, Delaware and of course the Vatican. Why do we not regularly read about “the tiny country of Lebanon” or the “tiny state of Delaware”?

If there is one adjective that should accompany Montenegro in every report, it’s “beautiful”.

By the way, if there will be a travel warning issued by the US State Department, you can safely ignore it. Montenegro is safe and friendly, definitely safer than the USA itself. And we all know that the State Department tends to overreact with their travel warnings (example 1, example 2).


About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Media, Montenegro, Terrorism, Travel, USA and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Montenegro is not “tiny”

  1. David says:

    1. So what’s your theory as to why they describe it as tiny?
    2. Rhode Island is definitely referred to as tiny. My impression is that it’s called tiny every time they’re mentioned in national media.

    • 1. My only explanation is that by doing so, writers intend to make readers, who have never heard of Montenegro before, feel less embarrassed: “Ohh, that’s why I didn’t know about it. It’s so tiny and hidden somewhere in the Balkans.”
      2. Then I feel sorry for Rhode Island, too. We can’t judge the whole world by the standard of fat countries/states like China or Texas.

    • Rhode Island is actually referred to as “Lil Rhody”. While the squared kilometers in RI (3139) are much less than Montenegro, the population is over a million. I think that’s why it’s not usually referred to as “tiny” in the media. I have lived in both places. Both are beautiful places to live by the water and in both places there are probably 2 degrees of separation between all residents!

  2. Kelly MacKay says:

    well written as always. but I puzzled why you wrote. “Granted, with 13,812 square kilometers, Montenegro is no Russia or China..” in stead of Russia or Canada? Being China is fourth largest country by land mass behind Russia, Canada,and United States
    Cheers Andreas

    • That was not meant as a ranking of the largest countries, I just picked two random ones.
      Maybe subconsciously, it was influenced by the fact that I meet more Russians and Chinese in Montenegro than Canadians. Maybe it was a subconscious Eurocentrism, with Canada being too far away, while China is at the other end of the Silk Road(s). Maybe it was anti-Canadianism influenced by the South Park movie. :P

    • Kelly MacKay says:

      LOL funny. I only brought it up because, I find Canada get over looked by so many people, be it traveling or world events. We just never seem to be on peoples lips.

    • I can assure you that Canada has been on my mind ever since I was a little boy, dreaming of the Yukon and towns like Yellowknife.
      The only reason I haven’t visited yet is that it’s a bit too expensive for me. :-(

    • Kelly MacKay says:

      since you said Eurocentrism, I assume you are in Europe. I know it is expensive for me to fly there too. I travel mostly now in my Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. which is like traveling in countries in Europe. I get it. I am saving to return to Africa but I also want to go to south America, both are huge airfares and require long visits to make it worth while. Canada is so big, must be difficult for people holidaying here to decide what part to see.

    • And I am thinking exactly like you: if the flight is expensive, I want to stay for a couple of months to make it worthwhile. In some countries of South America, at least it’s cheap once you are there (in Europe too, actually – many parts are as cheap as Bolivia). But in Canada, I would have depleted all my savings within one week. I guess I could only survive by hitchhiking, Couchsurfing or sleeping outside.

    • Kelly MacKay says:

      Air bnb are great options. we have hostels too. Lots of things are free, unless you need to do all the touristy stuff. camping is great if you come in the summer. transportation is costly unless you want get a motorcycle we have train passes but limited where you can go. flighs are terrible expensive. Driving cycling are best options. I would say ride sharing is an options lots of people make cross country trips and would be happy to have someone share gas money.

    • Anonymous says:


  3. I think, the problem is that the most of the journalists works in their offices and they had not travelled enough, they don’t really know cultures and nations just some stupid news and statistics from everything.

    • That’s why I travel so much. (Unfortunately, then I don’t have time to write enough, so the world still doesn’t learn of all my observations. :-( )

      And I think you are right, especially with the dependency on statistics. I have been to some countries that are statistically very poor, but living expenses are also quite low, so the standard of living is not as low as suggested by GDP numbers. Or a country looks rich on paper, but the income is unevenly distributed. Or unemployment is high because informal work in family businesses is not registered. And so on.

  4. Thanks Andreas :)
    You are right and you have your mind wide open…it is great thing! <3

  5. Thank you for these words.

  6. When I travelled to Bosnia last year, the State Department recommended not to wear a backpack because the locals don’t use them and it would make me stand out and be more susceptible to pickpockets.

  7. I enjoy your country on many visits but if Montenegro isn’t tiny then what is? Would ‘a bit bigger than Luxembourg’ sound better?

    • It’s really not necessary at all in an article about a suicide attack. I never read “there was a school shooting in the massively huge country of USA” or about “the financial crisis in the weirdly shaped country of Greece”.

    • Anonymous says:


    • Yes, because virtually everyone knows something about Greece and the U.S. What would anyone not living in the Balkans know about CG? If this happened in Slovenia they would reference Melania, if if happened in Serbia they would reference Milošević, if it happened in Croatia they would reference Game of Thrones. Just what the f*** should they reference for Montenegro? That it’s that country where Casino Royale took place (but wasn’t actually filmed)?

    • But did you know that “Casino Royale” was already being filmed before the independence referendum took place in 2006? It seems like James Bond knew something… This will be the subject of my next investigation!

  8. List of X says:

    “Tiny” is shorthand for “we tried to find it on the map and couldn’t so it must be really tiny”.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I hate you! At least Montenegro is „nestled“. As Karen Carpenter once sang, „Loneliness . . . Is such a sad affair . . . „

    • Anonymous says:

      The „I hate you“ autocomplete, above, is a prank from my son. He likes to sabotage my iPad. The word I tried to type was Hi.

    • Hahaha, I like your son’s sense of humor!

      Yes, it’s “nestled”, but they forgot the border with Croatia and of course the long coast on the Adriatic Sea.

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