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Sandzak

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This page is about a region in Serbia and Montenegro; for districts of the Ottoman Empire, see Sanjak.


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Coat of Arms of Sanjak
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Map of Sanjak

Sandžak, also Novopazarski Sandžak, is a region of Serbia and Montenegro. It derives its name from the former Sanjak of Novibazar, a former Ottoman administrative district that existed until the Balkan Wars of 1912. It stretches from the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina to Kosovo on an area of 8,686 square kilometers. Six municipalities belong to Serbia (Novi Pazar, Sjenica, Prijepolje, Nova Varos, and Priboj), and five to Montenegro (Pljevlja, Bijelo Polje, Berane, Rozaje, and Plav). Of Sanjak's total estimated population of 393,223 in 2003, based on adjusted Censuses of Serbia and Montenegro from 2002 and 2003, Bosniaks comprise 207,595, or 52.8%, with Serbs and Montenegrins taking the remaining 47.2%.

Bosniak participation in respective municipalities is as follows: 95.4% in Tutin (28,665 of 30,054); 89.9% in Rozaje (20,400 of 22,693); 78.7% in Novi Pazar (67,690 of 85,996); 76% in Sjenica (21,270 of 27,970); 63.6% in Plav (8,810 of 13,805); 41.3% in Prijepolje (17,035 of 41,188); 40.2% in Bijelo Polje (20,235 of 50,284); 25.9% in Berane (9,095 of 35,068); 23.2% in Priboj (7,045 of 30,377); 16.2% in Pljevlja (5,800 of 35,806); 7.8% in Nova Varos (1,550 of 19,982).

70% of the Bosniaks of Sandzak derive ancestry from the areas of Montenegro and east Herzegovina, with 20% of Albanian Malesor origin, and 10% from elsewhere (Bosnia, Turkey, Slavonia, etc).

Until the First Balkan War of 1912, the Sandžak was a part of the Ottoman Empire. During the centuries of Turkish rule the Sanjak of Novi Pazar was a part of the Vilayet of Bosnia before coming under the Vilayet of Kosovo. In October 1912, the Sandžak was conquered by Serbian and Montenegrin troops. From 1914 to 1918, the Sandzak of Novibazar was under Austro-Hungary. In 1918, Serbia and Montenegro united before creating the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Between 1929 and 1941, Sandzak was part of the newly created Zetska banovina, headquartered in Cetinje, present-day Montenegro.

Most of Sandzak was under Italian occupation in World War II. At the end of the war, in the attempt to break up the cohesion of Bosniaks in Sandzak of Novibazar, the Communist administration divides Sandzak between Serbia and Montenegro, according to the initial division agreement between the two Orthodox Slavic states from 1912.

Many Bosniak inhabitants of the Sandžak emigrated to Turkey and the Middle East as muhajirs, as a direct result of oppression by the new Serbo-Montenegrin lords. The emigration wave lasted from 1912 to 1970. Over a million of modern Turks have Sandžak origins or ancestry. There are numerous colonies of Sandzak Bosniaks in Turkey, in and around Edirne, Istanbul, Adapazari, Bursa, Samsun, etc.

The Yugoslav wars of the 1990s left the Sandžak largely unscathed, although the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo led to ethnic tensions and (in the latter case) bombing by NATO forces. According to Sandžak Bosniak political parties, some 60,000-80,000 Bosniaks emigrated from the region during this period. Census data shows a general exodus of all nationalities from this underdevelopped region.

The Bosniak National Council of Serbia-Montenegro represented the region at the UNPO since 1993. This political pressure group organized a referendum in October 1991 where 98% of the voters opted in favour of autonomy. The Council claims a 69% turnout, although this has not been verified by an independent body.bs:Sanděak de:Sandschak (Serbien und Montenegro) nl:Sandjak (ServiŽ en Montenegro)

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