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Kosovo physical map
Kosovo physical map
and largest city
Pristina (Prishtina or Priština)
42°40′N 21°10′E
Ethnic groups (2009) 88% Albanians
  7% Serbs
  5% others
Government disputed
 -  UNSG Special Representative Lamberto Zannier (UN)
 -  Serb assembly president Radovan Nicic
 -  Republic of Kosovo president Jakup Krasniqi (acting)
Governing authority disputed
 -  UN administration 10 June 1999 
 -  Serb community February 2003 
 -  Republic of Kosovo 17 February 2008 
 -  Total 10,908 km2 
4,212 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) n/a
 -  2007 estimate 1,804,838
 -  1991 census 1,956,1961
 -  Density 220/km2
500/sq mi
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $5.352 billion
 -  Per capita $2,965
Currency Euro ( €); Serbian Dinar ( EUR; RSD)
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
 -  Summer ( DST) CEST ( UTC+2)
Drives on the right
Calling code +3812
1. The census is a reconstruction; most of the ethnic Albanian majority boycotted.
2. Officially +381; some mobile phone providers use +377 (Monaco) or +386 (Slovenia) instead.
Republic of Kosovo
  • Republika e Kosovës  ( Albanian)
  • Република Косово ( Serbian)
  • (Republika Kosovo)
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem:  Europe 
Location and extent of Kosovo in Europe.
Location and extent of Kosovo in Europe.
and largest city
Pristina (Prishtina, Priština)
42°40′N 21°10′E
Official languages
  • Albanian
  • Serbian
Recognised regional languages
  • Turkish
  • Gorani
  • Romani
  • Bosnian
  • Kosovar / Kosovan
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  President Atifete Jahjaga
 -  Chairman of the Assembly Jakup Krasniqi
 -  Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi
Legislature Assembly of Kosovo
Independencea from Serbia / UNMIK
 -  UN Security Council
Resolution 1244
10 June 1999 
 -  Proposal for Status Settlement 26 March 2007 
 -  European Union
Rule of Law Mission
(EULEX) begins
16 February 2008 
 -  Independence declared 17 February 2008 
 -  ISG supervision ends 10 September 2012 
 -  Total 10,908 km2 
4,212 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) n/a
 -  2011 estimate 1,733,842b
 -  1991 census 1,956,196c
 -  Density 220/km2
500/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $12.859 billion
 -  Per capita $7,043
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $6.452 billion
 -  Per capita $3,534
Gini 30.0
HDI (2012) Increase 0.714
Currency Euro ( €)d ( EUR)
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
 -  Summer ( DST) CEST ( UTC+2)
Drives on the right
Calling code +381e
ISO 3166 code XK
a. Only partially recognised internationally.
b. Preliminary results of 2011 census, which excluded four northern Serb-majority municipalities where it could not be carried out.
c. This census is a reconstruction, as it was mostly boycotted by the ethnic Albanian majority.
d. Adopted unilaterally; Kosovo is not a formal member of the eurozone.
e. +381 for fixed lines; Kosovo-licenced mobile-phone providers use +377 (Monaco) or +386 (Slovenia) instead.
f. XK is a temporary ISO 3166 code used by European Commission, Switzerland, the Deutsche Bundesbank and other organisations.
Kosovo, UN administration
Kosovo as defined by Resolution 1244Serbia (yellow), neighboring states (brown)
Kosovo as defined by Resolution 1244
Serbia (yellow), neighboring states (brown)
Capital Pristina
 -  UNSG Special Representative Lamberto Zannier (UN)
 -  KFOR commander Erhard Bühler (NATO)
 -  PISG president vacant
 -  EULEX head Xavier Bout de Marnhac (EU)
 -  Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Goran Bogdanović (Serbia)
UN protectorate over APKiM  UNMIK
 -  UNSCR 1244 10 June 1999 
 -  PISG framework May 2001 
 -  EULEX 16 February 2008 

Kosovo ( Albanian: Kosovë, Kosova; Serbian: Косово or Косово и Метохија, Kosovo or Kosovo i Metohija) is a disputed territory following the collapse of Yugoslavia. The partially recognised Republic of Kosovo (Albanian: Republika e Kosovës; Serbian: Република Косово, Republika Kosovo), a self-declared independent state, has de facto control over most of the territory, with North Kosovo being the largest Kosovo Serb enclave. Serbia does not recognise the unilateral secession of Kosovo and considers it a United Nations-governed entity within its sovereign territory, the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (Serbian: Аутономна Покрајина Косово и Метохија, Autonomna Pokrajina Kosovo i Metohija), according to the 2006 Constitution of Serbia.

Kosovo is landlocked and borders Central Serbia north and eastward, the Republic of Macedonia to the south, Albania to the west and Montenegro to the northwest (the latter three recognise it as independent). The largest city and the capital of Kosovo is Pristina (alternatively spelled Prishtina or Priština), while other cities include Peć (Albanian: Peja), Prizren, Đakovica (Gjakova), and Kosovska Mitrovica (Mitrovica).

During classical antiquity, the territory roughly corresponding to present-day Kosovo was inhabited by the Dardani. Subsequently, Dardani were conquered by the Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarian and Serbian empires. As a region within the Serbian medieval state, Serbs came to consider Kosovo as the cradle of Serbian culture, religion and national identity; despite the fact that medieval Serbia did not evolve from Kosovo itself. Following the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, it became part of the Ottoman Empire; this brought the region into close contact with the Middle East and subsequently introduced Islam to the population. During the late 19th century, Kosovo was the centre of the Albanian national awakening. In 1912, the Ottoman province was divided between Montenegro and Serbia, both of which became part of Yugoslavia in 1918. During World War II, the majority of Kosovo was part of Italian-occupied Albania, followed by a Nazi German Occupation before becoming an autonomous province of the SR Serbia under the Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

After the Kosovo War and the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the territory came under the interim administration of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo ( UNMIK), most of whose roles were assumed by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo ( EULEX) in December 2008. In February 2008, the Assembly of Kosovo declared Kosovo's independence as the Republic of Kosovo. Its independence is recognised by and the Republic of China (Taiwan). On 8 October 2008, upon request of Serbia, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution asking the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the issue of Kosovo's declaration of independence. On 22 July 2010, the ICJ ruled that Kosovo's declaration of independence did not violate international law, which its president said contains no "prohibitions on declarations of independence".


Kosovo ( Serbian: Косово, pronounced  [ˈkɔsɔvɔ]) is the Serbian neuter possessive adjective of kos (кос) "blackbird", an ellipsis for Kosovo Polje "field of the blackbirds", the site of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo Field. The name of the field was applied to an Ottoman province created in 1864.

The region currently known as "Kosovo" became an administrative region in 1946, as the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. In 1974, the compositional "Kosovo and Metohija" was reduced to simple "Kosovo" in the name of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo, but in 1990 was renamed back to Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija.

The entire region is commonly referred to in English simply as Kosovo and in Albanian as Kosova ( definite form, [kɔˈsɔ:va]) or Kosovë ( "indefinite" form, [kɔˈsɔːv]). In Serbian, a distinction is made between the eastern and western areas; the term Kosovo (Косово) is used for the eastern part, while the western part is called Metohija (Метохија).


Kosovo's current status is the result of the turmoil of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, particularly the Kosovo War of 1998 to 1999, but it is suffused with issues dating back to the rise of nationalism in the Balkans during the last part of Ottoman rule in the 19th century, Albanian nationalism (centred around the claim that Kosovo was historically theirs due to alleged connections with the Illyrians) vs. Serbian nationalism (notably surrounding the Battle of Kosovo eponymous with the Kosovo region) in particular.

Early history

Kosovo was part of the region of the Dardani (Latin: Dardani; Ancient Greek: Δαρδάνιοι). Located at the Thraco-Illyrian contact zone, their identification as either Illyrian or Thracian tribe is uncertain.

The area was then conquered by Rome in the 160s BC, and incorporated into the Roman province of Illyricum in 59 BC. Subsequently, it became part of Moesia Superior in AD 87. The Slavic migrations reached the Balkans in the 6th to 7th century, whereby autochthonous peoples merged with the northern newcomers.

Kosovo was absorbed into the Bulgarian Empire in the 850s, where Christianity and a Byzantine-Slavic culture was cemented in the region. It was re-taken by the Byzantines after 1018, and became part of the newly established Theme of Bulgaria. As the centre of Slavic resistance to Constantinople in the region, the region often switched between Serbian and Bulgarian rule on one hand and Byzantine on the other until the Serb principality of Rascia conquered it definitively by the end of the 12th century.

Such takeovers had little impact on the local populace, since it merely represented a changing of one Balkan Christian dynasty by another. The zenith of Serbian power was reached in 1346, with the formation of the Serbian Empire. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Kosovo became a political and spiritual centre of the Serbian Kingdom. In the late 13th century, the seat of the Serbian Archbishopric was moved to Pec, and rulers centred themselves between Prizren and Skopje. When the Serbian Empire fragmented into a conglomeration of principalities in 1371, Kosovo became the hereditary land of the House of Branković.

In the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, Ottoman forces defeated a coalition of Serbs, Albanians, and Bosnians led by the Tsar Lazar Hrebeljanović. Soon after, parts of Serbia accepted Turkish vassalage and Lazar's daughter was married to the Sultan to seal the peace. By 1455, it was finally and fully conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

Ottoman Kosovo (1455–1912)

Kosovo was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1455 to 1912, at first as part of the eyalet of Rumelia, and from 1864 as a separate province ( vilayet). During this time, Islam was introduced to the population. The Vilayet of Kosovo was an area much larger than today's Kosovo; it included all today's Kosovo territory, sections of the Sandžak region cutting into present-day Central Serbia and Montenegro along with the Kukës municipality, the surrounding region in present-day northern Albania and also parts of north-western Macedonia with the city of Skopje (then Üsküp), as its capital. Between 1881 and 1912 (its final phase), it was internally expanded to include other regions of present-day Republic of Macedonia, including larger urban settlements such as Štip (İştip), Kumanovo (Kumanova) and Kratovo (Kratova).

Vilayet of Kosovo

There are different records casting light on Ottoman rule over Kosovo. Records mainly come from Habsburg, Venetian and Ottoman archives. This period of Kosovo's history has shown to be very important to modern Serbia’s national identity. Though the main claims made by Serbian nationalist awakening movement and backed by most Serbian scholars today seem to have little ground to be backed by reliable evidence.

Serbian authors such as Sima Cirkovic back the idea that Ottoman occupation left a lasting demographic effect on Kosovo — with full-scale dislocation of Christian groups (especially Serbs and Orthodox Vlachs). Most Serbian authors do not mention Albanians as being part of the exodus, though historians like Malcolm and Anscombe clearly show the opposite. Banac, focused on the difference between Bosniacs and Serbians under Ottoman Empire, shows the atmosphere of non-conforming groups, "Ottoman raids, plunder, slaving forays, as well as the general devastation caused by constant wars uprooted large numbers of Serbs even before the 'Great Serb Migration'".

Kosovo, like Serbia, was occupied by Austrian forces during the Great War of 1683–1699, but the Ottomans re-established their rule of the region. Such acts of assistance by the Austrian Empire (then arch-rivals of the Ottoman Empire), or Russia, were always abortive or temporary at best. In 1690, the Serbian Patriarch of Peć Arsenije III apparently led a group of around 30,000 to 40,000 people out of Kosovo and Montenegro and other areas into Austria.

According to Serb historians more migrations of Orthodox Christians from the Kosovo area preceded and followed throughout the 18th century during the Great Serb Migrations. But, the claims that the exodus was exclusively made of Serbs and that the territory was mainly populated by Serb ethnicity seems to be in contradiction with Ottoman records. Records show that the demography of Kosovo was very much mixed and that both Serbian and Albanian ethnic groups dominated. Moreover, they seem to indicate more cases of Albanians rebelling than any other ethnicity in the region.

In 1766, the Ottomans abolished the Patriarchate of Peć and the position of Christians in Kosovo further deteriorated, including full imposition of jizya (taxation of non-Muslims).

Although initially stout opponents of the advancing Turks, Albanian chiefs ultimately came to accept the Ottomans as sovereigns. The resulting alliance facilitated the mass conversion of Albanians to Islam. Given that the Ottoman Empire's subjects were divided along religious (rather than ethnic) lines, Islamicisation greatly elevated the status of Albanian chiefs. Prior to this, they were organised along simple tribal lines, living in the mountainous areas of modern Albania (from Kruje to the Sar range). Soon, they expanded into a depopulated Kosovo, as well as northwestern Macedonia, although some might have been autochthonous to the region. However, Banac favors the idea that the main settlers of the time were Vlachs.

Many Albanians gained prominent positions in the Ottoman government, no fewer than 42 Grand Viziers of the Empire were Albanian in origin, including Mehmet Akif Ersoy (1873–1936) an Albanian from Peć who composed the Turkish National Anthem in 1921, "İstiklâl Marşı" (The Independence March). As Hupchik states, "Albanians had little cause of unrest" and "if anything, grew important in Ottoman internal affairs", and sometimes persecuted Christians harshly on behalf of their Turkish masters.

In the 19th century, there was an awakening of ethnic nationalism throughout the Balkans. This systematised the underlying ethnic tensions into a broader struggle of Christian Serbs against Muslim Albanians. The ethnic Albanian nationalism movement was centred in Kosovo. In 1878 the League of Prizren ( Albanian: Lidhja e Prizrenit) was formed. This was a political organisation which aimed to unify all the Albanians of the Ottoman Empire in a common struggle for autonomy and greater cultural rights, although they generally desired the continuation of the Ottoman Empire. The League was dis-established in 1881 but nevertheless enabled the awakening of a national identity amongst Albanians. It would be clear that Albanian ambitions were at odds with Serbian aims. The Kingdom of Serbia wished to incorporate this land formerly within its empire.

20th century

Balkan Wars

The Young Turk movement took control of the Ottoman Empire after a coup in 1912 which disposed of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The movement supported a centralised form of government and opposed any sort of autonomy desired by the various nationalities of the Ottoman Empire. An allegiance to Ottomanism was promoted instead. An Albanian uprising in 1912 exposed the Empires Northern territories in Kosovo and Novi Pazar which led to an invasion by the Kingdom of Montenegro. The Ottomans suffered a serious defeat at the hands of Albanians in 1912, culminating in the Ottoman loss of most of its Albanian inhabited lands. The Albanians threatened to march all the way to Salonika and reimpose Abdul Hamid.

A wave of Albanians in the Ottoman army ranks also deserted during this period, refusing to fight their own kin. Two months later in September of the same year, a joint Balkan force made up of Serbian, Montenegrin, Bulgarian and Greek forces drove the Ottomans out of most of their European possessions. The British MP Audrey Hebert sums up the impact of the Albanian revolt in bringing an end to Ottoman rule in Europe; ‘In the end, like Samson in the Temple of Gaza, they pulled down the columns of the Ottoman Empire upon their own head. It was the Albanians and not the Serbs or Bulgarians or Greeks who defeated the Turks’.

The rise of Nationalism unfortunately hampered relations between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo, due to influence from Russians, Austrians and Ottomans. Kosovo's status within Serbia was finalised the following year at the Treaty of London. Soon, there were concerted Serbian colonisation efforts in Kosovo during various periods between Serbia's 1912 takeover of the province and WWII. So the population of Serbs in Kosovo fell after World War II, but it had increased considerably before then.

An exodus of the local Albanian population occurred. Serbian authorities promoted creating new Serb settlements in Kosovo as well as the dissimilation of Albanians into Serbian society. Numerous colonist Serb families moved into Kosovo, equalising the demographic balance between Albanians and Serbs.

First World War and birth of Kingdom of Yugoslavia

In the winter of 1915–16, during World War I, Kosovo saw the retreat of the Serbian army as Kosovo was occupied by Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary. In 1918, the Serbian Army pushed the Central Powers out of Kosovo. After World War I ended, the Monarchy was then transformed into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians on 1 December 1918.

Kosovo was split into four counties, three being a part of Serbia (Zvečan, Kosovo and southern Metohija) and one of Montenegro (northern Metohija). However, the new administration system since 26 April 1922 split Kosovo among three Areas of the Kingdom: Kosovo, Rascia and Zeta. In 1929, the Kingdom was transformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the territories of Kosovo were reorganised among the Banate of Zeta, the Banate of Morava and the Banate of Vardar.

In order to change the ethnic composition of Kosovo, between 1912 and 1941 a large-scale Serbian re-colonisation of Kosovo was undertaken by the Belgrade government. Meanwhile, Kosovar Albanians' right to receive education in their own language was denied alongside other non-Slavic or unrecognised Slavic nations of Yugoslavia, as the kingdom only recognised the Slavic Croat, Serb, and Slovene nations as constituent nations of Yugoslavia, while other Slavs had to identify as one of the three official Slavic nations while non-Slav nations were only deemed as minorities.

Albanians and other Muslims were forced to emigrate, mainly with the land reform which struck Albanian landowners in 1919, but also with direct violent measures. In 1935 and 1938 two agreements between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Turkey were signed on the expatriation of 240,000 Albanians to Turkey, which was not completed because of the outbreak of World War II.

Second World War

In 1941, Kosovo and Yugoslavia became involved in World War II after the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia in 1941. Large parts of Kosovo became a part of Italian-controlled Albania, other parts went to Bulgaria and German-occupied Military Administration of Serbia. The Italian Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini with its expansionist and irredentist aims on both Albania and Yugoslavia exploited the nationalist sentiment amongst Albanians to gain favour of the Albanian population for the Italian-run protectorate which ruled Albania, and thus encouraged the establishment of a Greater Albania which included large portions of Kosovo which was achieved in the Second World War.

At the 1944 wartime Bujan conference the Kosovar communist resistance leaders passed a resolution on the postwar assignment of Kosovo to Albania, but their opinion was later disregarded. After numerous uprisings of Partisans led by Fadil Hoxha, Kosovo was liberated after 1944 with the help of the Albanian partisans of the Comintern and became a province of Serbia within the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia.

Kosovo in Communist Yugoslavia

The province as in its outline today first took shape in 1945 as the Autonomous Kosovo-Metohian Area. Until World War II, the only entity bearing the name of Kosovo had been a political unit carved from the former vilayet which bore no special significance to its internal population. In the Ottoman Empire (which previously controlled the territory), it had been a vilayet with its borders having been revised on several occasions. When the Ottoman province had last existed, it included areas which were by now either ceded to Albania, or found themselves within the newly created Yugoslav republics of Montenegro, or Macedonia (including its previous capital, Skopje) with another part in the Sandžak region of Central Serbia.

Tensions between ethnic Albanians and the Yugoslav government were significant, not only due to national tensions but also due to political ideological concerns, especially regarding relations with neighbouring Albania. Harsh repressive measures were imposed on Kosovo Albanians due to suspicions that they there were Kosovo Albanian sympathisers of the Stalinist regime of Enver Hoxha of Albania. In 1956, a show trial in Pristina was held in which multiple Albanian Communists of Kosovo were convicted of being infiltrators from Albania and were given long prison sentences. High-ranking Serbian communist official Aleksandar Ranković sought to secure the position of the Serbs in Kosovo and gave them dominance in Kosovo's nomenklatura.

Islam in Kosovo at this time was repressed and both Albanians and Muslim Slavs were encouraged to declare themselves to be Turkish and emigrate to Turkey. At the same time Serbs and Montenegrins dominated the government, security forces, and industrial employment in Kosovo. Albanians resented these conditions and protested against them in the late 1960s, accusing the actions taken by authorities in Kosovo as being colonialist, as well as demanding that Kosovo be made a republic, or declaring support for Albania.

After the ouster of Ranković in 1966, the agenda of pro-decentralisation reformers in Yugoslavia, especially from Slovenia and Croatia succeeded in the late 1960s in attaining substantial decentralisation of powers, creating substantial autonomy in Kosovo and Vojvodina, and recognising a Muslim Yugoslav nationality. As a result of these reforms, there was a massive overhaul of Kosovo's nomenklatura and police, that shifted from being Serb-dominated to ethnic Albanian-dominated through firing Serbs in large scale. Further concessions were made to the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo in response to unrest, including the creation of the University of Pristina as an Albanian language institution. These changes created widespread fear amongst Serbs that they were being made second-class citizens in Yugoslavia by these changes. In the 1974 Constitution of Yugoslavia, Kosovo was granted major autonomy, allowing it to have its own administration, assembly, and judiciary; as well as having a membership in the collective presidency and the Yugoslav parliament, in which it held veto power.

In the aftermath of the 1974 constitution, concerns over the rise of Albanian nationalism in Kosovo rose with the widespread celebrations in 1978 of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the League of Prizren. Albanians felt that their status as a "minority" in Yugoslavia had made them second-class citizens in comparison with the "nations" of Yugoslavia and demanded that Kosovo be a constituent republic, alongside the other republics of Yugoslavia. Protests by Albanians in 1981 over the status of Kosovo resulted in Yugoslav territorial defence units being brought into Kosovo and a state of emergency being declared resulting in violence and the protests being crushed. In the aftermath of the 1981 protests, purges took place in the Communist Party, and rights that had been recently granted to Albanians were rescinded - including ending the provision of Albanian professors and Albanian language textbooks in the education system.

Due to very high birth rates, the number of Albanians increased from 75% to over 90%. In contrast, the number of Serbs barely increased, and in fact dropped from 15% to 8% of the total population, since many Serbs departed from Kosovo as a response to the tight economic climate and increased incidents of alleged harassment from their Albanian neighbours. While there was tension, charges of "genocide" and planned harassments have been debunked as an excuse to revoke Kosovo's autonomy. For example in 1986 the Serbian Orthodox Church published an official claim that Kosovo Serbs were being subjected to an Albanian program of 'Genocide'.

Even though they were disproved by police statistics, they received wide play in the Serbian press and that led to further ethnic problems and eventual removal of Kosovo's status. Beginning in March 1981, Kosovar Albanian students of the University of Pristina organised protests seeking that Kosovo become a republic within Yugoslavia along with human rights. The protests were brutally suppressed by the police and army, with many protesters arrested. During the 1980s, ethnic tensions continued with frequent violent outbreaks against Yugoslav state authorities resulting in a further increase in emigration of Kosovo Serbs and other ethnic groups. The Yugoslav leadership tried to suppress protests of Kosovo Serbs seeking protection from ethnic discrimination and violence.

Disintegration of Yugoslavia

Bridge over the Ibar, connecting the Serbian and Albanian parts of the city of Kosovska Mitrovica.

Inter-ethnic tensions continued to worsen in Kosovo throughout the 1980s. The 1986 Memorandum of the Serbian Academy warned that Yugoslavia was suffering from ethnic strife and the disintegration of the Yugoslav economy into separate economic sectors and territories, which was transforming the federal state into a loose confederation.

On June 28, 1989, Slobodan Milošević delivered the Gazimestan speech in front of a large number of Serb citizens at the main celebration marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. Many think that this speech helped Milošević consolidate his authority in Serbia. In 1989, Milošević, employing a mix of intimidation and political manoeuvring, drastically reduced Kosovo's special autonomous status within Serbia and started cultural oppression of the ethnic Albanian population. Kosovo Albanians responded with a non-violent separatist movement, employing widespread civil disobedience and creation of parallel structures in education, medical care, and taxation, with the ultimate goal of achieving the independence of Kosovo.

On July 2, 1990, the self declared Kosovo parliament declared Kosovo an independent country, the Republic of Kosova. In May 1992, Ibrahim Rugova was elected president. During its lifetime, the Republic of Kosova was only recognised by Albania; it was formally disbanded in 2000, after the Kosovo War, when its institutions were replaced by the Joint Interim Administrative Structure established by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Kosovo War

In 1995 the Dayton Agreement ended the Bosnian War, drawing considerable international attention. However, despite the hopes of Kosovar Albanians, the situation in Kosovo remained largely unaddressed by the international community, and by 1996 the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an ethnic Albanian guerilla group, had prevailed over the non-violent resistance movement and had started offering armed resistance to Serbian and Yugoslav security forces, resulting in early stages of the Kosovo War.

By 1998, as the violence had worsened and displaced scores of Albanians, Western interest had increased. The Serbian authorities were compelled to sign a ceasefire and partial retreat, monitored by OSCE observers according to an agreement negotiated by Richard Holbrooke. However, the ceasefire did not hold and fighting resumed in December 1998. The Račak massacre in January 1999 in particular brought new international attention to the conflict. Within weeks, a multilateral international conference was convened and by March had prepared a draft agreement known as the Rambouillet Accords, calling for restoration of Kosovo's autonomy and deployment of NATO peacekeeping forces. The Serbian party found the terms unacceptable and refused to sign the draft.

Between March 24 and June 10, 1999, NATO intervened by bombing Yugoslavia aimed to force Milošević to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. This military action was not authorised by the Security Council of the United Nations and was therefore contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Charter. Combined with continued skirmishes between Albanian guerrillas and Yugoslav forces the conflict resulted in a further massive displacement of population in Kosovo.

During the conflict, roughly a million ethnic Albanians fled or were forcefully driven from Kosovo. Altogether, more than 11,000 deaths have been reported to Carla Del Ponte by her prosecutors. Some 3,000 people are still missing, of which 2,500 are Albanian, 400 Serbs and 100 Roma. Ultimately by June, Milošević had agreed to a foreign military presence within Kosovo and withdrawal of his troops.

Since May 1999, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has prosecuted crimes committed during the Kosovo War. Nine Serbian and Yugoslavian commanders have been indicted so far for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war in Kosovo in 1999: Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milošević, Serbian President Milan Milutinović, Yugoslavian Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Šainović, Yugoslavian Chief of the General Staff Gen. Dragoljub Ojdanić, Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljković, Gen. Nebojša Pavković, Gen. Vladimir Lazarević, Deputy Interior Minister of Serbia Vlastimir Đorđević and Chief of the Interior for Kosovo Sreten Lukić. Stojiljković killed himself while at large in 2002 and Milošević died in custody during the trial in 2006. No final judgement concerning the other defendants has been produced so far. The indictment against the nine has alleged that they directed, encouraged or supported a campaign of terror and violence directed at Kosovo Albanian civilians and aimed at the expulsion of a substantial portion of them from Kosovo. It has been alleged that about 800,000 Albanians were expelled as a result. In particular, in the last indictment as of June 2006, the accused were charged with murder of 919 identified Kosovo Albanian civilians aged from one to 93, both male and female.

Six KLA commanders were indicted in two cases: Fatmir Limaj, Isak Musliu and Haradin Bala, as well as Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj. They were charged with crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war in Kosovo in 1998, consisting in persecutions, cruel treatment, torture, murders and rape of several dozens of the local Serbs, Albanians and other civilians perceived unloyal to the KLA. In particular, Limaj, Musliu and Bala were accused of murder of 22 identified detainees at or near the Llapushnik Prison Camp. In 2005 Limaj and Musliu were found not guilty on all charges, Bala was found guilty of persecutions, cruel treatment, murders and rape and sentenced to 13 years. The appeal chamber affirmed the judgements in 2007. In 2008 Ramush Haradinaj and Idriz Balaj were acquitted, whereas Lahi Brahimaj was found guilty of cruel treatment and torture and sentenced to six years. Notices of appeal are currently being considered.

UN administration period

The White Drin river.
National Public Library in Pristina.

On June 10, 1999, the UN Security Council passed UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which placed Kosovo under transitional UN administration ( UNMIK) and authorised KFOR, a NATO-led peacekeeping force. Resolution 1244 provided that Kosovo would have autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and affirmed the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, which has been legally succeeded by the Republic of Serbia.

Some 200,000-280,000, representing the majority of the Serb population, left when the Serbian forces left. There was also some looting of Serb properties and even violence against some of those Serbs and Roma who remained. The current number of internally displaced persons is disputed, with estimates ranging from 65,000 to 250,000. Many displaced Serbs are afraid to return to their homes, even with UNMIK protection. Around 120,000-150,000 Serbs remain in Kosovo, but are subject to ongoing harassment and discrimination due to physical threats for their safety.

International negotiations began in 2006 to determine the final status of Kosovo, as envisaged under UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The UN-backed talks, led by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, began in February 2006. Whilst progress was made on technical matters, both parties remained diametrically opposed on the question of status itself.

In February 2007, Ahtisaari delivered a draft status settlement proposal to leaders in Belgrade and Pristina, the basis for a draft UN Security Council Resolution which proposes 'supervised independence' for the province. A draft resolution, backed by the United States, the United Kingdom and other European members of the Security Council, was presented and rewritten four times to try to accommodate Russian concerns that such a resolution would undermine the principle of state sovereignty.

Russia, which holds a veto in the Security Council as one of five permanent members, had stated that it would not support any resolution which was not acceptable to both Belgrade and Kosovo Albanians. Whilst most observers had, at the beginning of the talks, anticipated independence as the most likely outcome, others have suggested that a rapid resolution might not be preferable.

After many weeks of discussions at the UN, the United States, United Kingdom and other European members of the Security Council formally 'discarded' a draft resolution backing Ahtisaari's proposal on 20 July 2007, having failed to secure Russian backing. Beginning in August, a " Troika" consisting of negotiators from the European Union ( Wolfgang Ischinger), the United States ( Frank Wisner) and Russia (Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko) launched a new effort to reach a status outcome acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina. Despite Russian disapproval, the U.S., the United Kingdom, and France appeared likely to recognise Kosovar independence. A declaration of independence by Kosovar Albanian leaders was postponed until the end of the Serbian presidential elections (4 February 2008). Most EU members and the US had feared that a premature declaration could boost support in Serbia for the ultra-nationalist candidate, Tomislav Nikolić.

UN administration 1999–present

On June 10, 1999, the UN Security Council passed UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which placed Kosovo under transitional UN administration ( UNMIK) and authorised KFOR, a NATO-led peacekeeping force. Resolution 1244 provided that Kosovo would have autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and affirmed the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, which has been legally succeeded by the Republic of Serbia.

According to the Constitutional Framework, Kosovo shall have a 120-member Kosovo Assembly. The Assembly includes twenty reserved seats: ten for Kosovo Serbs and ten for non-Serb minorities (Bosniaks, Roma, etc.). The Kosovo Assembly is responsible for electing a President and Prime Minister of Kosovo.

Provisional Institutions of Self-Government

In November 2001, the OSCE supervised the first elections for the Kosovo Assembly. After that election, Kosovo's political parties formed an all-party unity coalition and elected Ibrahim Rugova as President and Bajram Rexhepi (PDK) as Prime Minister. After Kosovo-wide elections in October 2004, the LDK and AAK formed a new governing coalition that did not include PDK and Ora. This coalition agreement resulted in Ramush Haradinaj (AAK) becoming Prime Minister, while Ibrahim Rugova retained the position of President. PDK and Ora were critical of the coalition agreement and have since frequently accused the current government of corruption.

Parliamentary elections were held on 17 November 2007. After early results, Hashim Thaçi who was on course to gain 35 per cent of the vote, claimed victory for PDK, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, and stated his intention to declare independence. Thaçi formed a coalition with current President Fatmir Sejdiu's Democratic League which was in second place with 22 percent of the vote. The turnout at the election was particularly low. Most members of the Serb minority refused to vote.

However, since 1999, the Serb-inhabited areas of Kosovo, such as North Kosovo have remained de facto independent from the Albanian-dominated government in Pristina. Local politics in the Serb areas are dominated by the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija. The Serbian List is led by Oliver Ivanović, an engineer from Mitrovica. Within Serbia, Kosovo is the concern of the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, currently led by minister Goran Bogdanović.

Declaration of independence

The "NEWBORN" monument unveiled at the celebration of the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence proclaimed earlier that day, 17 February 2008, Pristina.
States (green) that recognise Kosovo as an independent country.
Kosovo visa

Kosovo declared independence on 17 February 2008 and over the following days, a number of states (the United States, Turkey, Albania, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Australia, Poland and others) announced their recognition, despite protests by Russia and others in the UN. Currently, recognise the independence of Kosovo and it has become a member country of the IMF and World Bank as the Republic of Kosovo.

The UN Security Council remains divided on the question (as of 4 July 2008 (2008-07-04)). Of the five members with veto power, USA, UK, and France recognised the declaration of independence, and the People's Republic of China has expressed concern, while Russia considers it illegal. As of May 2010, no member-country of CIS, CSTO or SCO has recognised Kosovo as independent. Kosovo has not made a formal application for UN membership yet in view of a possible veto from Russia and China.

The European Union has no official position towards Kosovo's status, but has decided to deploy the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo to ensure a continuation of international civil presence in Kosovo. As of April 2008, most of the member-countries of NATO, EU, WEU and OECD have recognised Kosovo as independent.

As of 9 October 2008 (2008-10-09), all of Kosovo's immediate neighbour states except Serbia have recognised the declaration of independence. Montenegro and Macedonia announced their recognition of Kosovo on 9 October 2008. Albania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Hungary have also recognised the independence of Kosovo.

The Serb minority of Kosovo, which largely opposes the declaration of independence, has formed the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija in response. The creation of the assembly was condemned by Kosovo's president Fatmir Sejdiu, while UNMIK has said the assembly is not a serious issue because it will not have an operative role.

On 8 October 2008, the UN General Assembly resolved to request the International Court of Justice to render an advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia. The advisory opinion, which is legally non-binding but had been expected to carry "moral" weight, was rendered on 22 July 2010, holding that Kosovo's declaration of independence was not in violation of international law.

Government and politics


Skyline of Pristina

The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) is the largest civilian mission ever launched under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The central aim is to assist and support the Kosovo authorities in the rule of law area, specifically in the police, judiciary and customs areas. The mission is not in Kosovo to govern or rule. It is a technical mission which will monitor, mentor and advise whilst retaining a number of limited executive powers. EULEX works under the general framework of United Nations Security Resolution 1244 and has a unified chain of command to Brussels. It has around 3,000 staff, (1,900 international, 1,100 local) and a budget of 205 million Euros for the first 16 months. The head of the mission is Yves de Kermabon.

Local politics in the Serb areas are dominated by the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija. The Serbian List is led by Oliver Ivanović, an engineer from Kosovska Mitrovica.

In February 2007 the Union of Serbian Districts and District Units of Kosovo and Metohija transformed into the Serbian Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija, presided by Marko Jakšić, a hardline nationalist residing in the northern part of the divided city of Mitrovica. It has demanded unity of the Serb people in Kosovo, boycotted EULEX, and announced massive protests in support of Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo. On 18 February 2008, day after Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, the Assembly declared it "null and void".

The Eulex mission intends to remain in Kosovo until at least June 2012.

Constitutional status and the Republic of Kosovo

A new constitution for the Republic of Kosovo was approved by the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo, coming to force on June 15, 2008. Kosovo is under de facto governance of the Republic of Kosovo except for North Kosovo, which remains under de facto governance of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo is governed by legislative, executive and judicial institutions that derive from, and are set-up in, accordance with the Constitution of Kosovo. In November 2001, the OSCE supervised the first elections for the Kosovo Assembly. The last parliamentary elections were held in 2007. Last local elections were held in November 2009, the first elections since Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008. United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo has undergone a significant reconfiguration, and no longer possesses the capacity, having handed over its few responsibilities to EULEX, to govern in any meaningful fashion. It will, its head claims, function as a facilitator of contact between Kosovo and those states or organisations which do not recognise it yet.


Kosovo Government Building in Prishtina

The Republic of Kosovo is a parliamentary representative democracy. The executive power is exercised by the Government of Kosovo led by the Prime Minister of Kosovo. Two or three of the ministers, depending on the size of the government, are required to be from the minorities. The President of the Republic of Kosovo is the head of state. The judiciary is independent. The legislative power is exercised by the single-chamber Assembly of Kosovo consisting of 120 members, 100 of them directly elected by the people for a four-year term and twenty seats reserved for representatives of the ethnic minorities only. The assembly elects the president for five years and approves the government.

The Government of the Republic of Kosovo is responsible for implementation of laws and state policies and is subject to parliamentarian control.

The Government consists of the Prime Minister, deputy prime minister(s) and ministers. The Government of Kosovo exercises the executive power in compliance with the Constitution and the law. The Government implements laws and other acts adopted by the Assembly of Kosovo and exercises other activities within the scope of responsibilities set forth by the Constitution and the law.The Government makes decisions in accordance with this Constitution and the laws, proposes draft laws, proposes amendments to existing laws or other acts and may give its opinion on draft laws that are not proposed by it.

The Supreme Court of Kosovo is the highest judicial authority foreseen by the constitution of the Republic of Kosovo. A Kosovo Police force was established in 1999 and remains subordinated to the UNMIK Police.

The Government has the following competencies: Proposes and implements the internal and foreign policies of the country, makes decisions and issues legal acts or regulations necessary for the implementation of laws, promotes the economic development of the country, proposes draft laws and other acts to the Assembly, proposes the budget of the Republic of Kosovo, guides and oversees the work of administration bodies, guides the activities and the development of public services, proposes to the President of the Republic of Kosovo the appointment and dismissal of the heads of diplomatic missions of the Republic of Kosovo, etc.


The largest political parties in Kosovo are the centre-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which has its origins in the 1990s non-violent resistance movement to Miloševic's rule and was led by Ibrahim Rugova until his death in 2006, and two parties having their roots in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA): the centre-left Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) led by former KLA leader Hashim Thaçi and the centre-right Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) led by former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj. Kosovo publisher Veton Surroi in 2004 formed the centre-left Reformist Party ORA. Kosovo Serbs formed the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija (SLKM) in 2004 and won several seats, but have boycotted Kosovo's institutions and never taken their seats in the Kosovo Assembly. In 2006 Swiss-Kosovar businessman Behgjet Pacolli, reputed to be the richest living Albanian, founded the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR), which came third in the 2007 elections.

Foreign relations

Currently 18 countries maintain embassies to the Republic of Kosovo. As of March 2013, countries recognise Kosovo as independent. Skënder Hyseni is Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kosovo.


A 2,500-strong Kosovo Security Force (KSF) was trained by NATO instructors and became operational on September 2009. The KSF did not replace the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) which was disbanded several months later. Fehmi Mujota is Minister for the Kosovo Security Force of the Republic of Kosovo.


Kosovo represents an important link between central and southern Europe and the Adriatic and Black Seas. Kosovo has an area of 10,908 square km.

The climate is continental, with warm summers and cold and snowy winters. Most of Kosovo's terrain in mountainous, the highest peak is Đeravica (2,656 m/8,714 ft). There are two main plain regions, the Metohija basin is located in the western part of the Kosovo, and the Plain of Kosovo occupies the eastern part. The main rivers of the region are the White Drin, running towards the Adriatic Sea, with the Erenik among its tributaries), the Sitnica, the South Morava in the Goljak area, and Ibar in the north. The biggest lakes are Gazivoda, Radonjić, Batlava and Badovac. 39.1% of Kosovo is forested, about 52% is classified as agricultural land, 31% of which is covered by pastures and 69% is arable. Phytogeographically, Kosovo belongs to the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF and Digital Map of European Ecological Regions by the European Environment Agency, the territory of Kosovo belongs to the ecoregion of Balkan mixed forests.Currently, the 39,000 ha Šar Mountains National Park, established in 1986 in the Šar Mountains along the border with the Republic of Macedonia, is the only national park in Kosovo, although the Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in the Prokletije along the border with Montenegro has been proposed as another one.

The largest cities are Pristina, the capital, with an estimated 500,000 inhabitants. The old city of Prizren is towards the south west, with a population of 110,000. Peć in the west has 70,000 inhabitants with Mitrovica in the north at around 70,000.

In October 2009, Kosovo signed an agreement to re-adjust its border with the Republic of Macedonia by exchanging some lands

North or Northern Kosovo is a region in the northern part of Kosovo with an ethnic Serb majority that functions largely autonomously from the remainder of Kosovo. Ibarian Kolashin, a toponym that pre-dates the political partition, is also used to refer to the area. North Kosovo is by far the largest of the Serb-dominated areas within Kosovo, and unlike the others, directly borders Central Serbia. This has facilitated its ability to govern itself almost completely independently of the Kosovo institutions in a de facto state of partition. Although the Kosovo status process had repeatedly ruled out formalizing this partition as a permanent solution, it has been increasingly mooted amidst continued deadlock.


Kosovo lignite reserves compared to the world
Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina.
Bill Clinton mural, Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina.

The economic policy of the Republic of Kosovo aims toward a free trade system. In this context, it has drafted a legal framework that ensures the fulfillment of European standards of competitiveness.

Kosovo has Europe's second largest coal reserves

Kosovo is classified a developing country by US intelligence, with a per capita income estimated at 2,100 (2008). Kosovo had the largest exporting company (Trepča) in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yet Kosovo was the poorest province of Yugoslavia and received substantial development subsidies from all Yugoslav republics. Additionally, over the course of the 1990s a blend of poor economic policies, international sanctions, poor external commerce and ethnic conflict severely damaged the economy.

After a jump in 2000 and 2001, growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was negative in 2002 and 2003 and was expected to be around 3 percent in 2004–2005, with domestic sources of growth unable to compensate for the declining foreign assistance. Inflation is low, while the budget posted a deficit for the first time in 2004. Kosovo has high external deficits. In 2004, the deficit of the balance of goods and services was close to 70 percent of GDP. Remittances from Kosovars living abroad accounts for an estimated 13 percent of GDP, and foreign assistance for around 34 percent of GDP.

Most economic development since 1999 has taken place in the trade, retail and the construction sectors. The private sector that has emerged since 1999 is mainly small-scale. The industrial sector remains weak and the electric power supply remains unreliable, acting as a key constraint. Unemployment remains pervasive, at around 40–50% of the labour force.

UNMIK introduced an external trade regime and customs administration on September 3, 1999 when it set customs border controls in Kosovo. All goods imported in Kosovo face a flat 10% customs duty fee. These taxes are collected from all Tax Collection Points installed at the borders of Kosovo, including those between Kosovo and Serbia. UNMIK and Kosovo institutions have signed Free Trade Agreements with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Macedonia.

The Euro is the official currency of Kosovo and is used by UNMIK and the government bodies. Initially, Kosovo adopted the German mark in 1999 to replace the Yugoslav dinar, and consequently switched to the Euro when the German mark was replaced by it. However, the Serbian dinar is still used in Serbian-populated areas.

The chief means of entry, apart from the main highway leading to the south to Skopje, Macedonia, is Pristina International Airport.

Trade and investment

Free trade: Customs-free access to the EU market based on the EU Autonomous Trade Preference (ATP) Regime, Central European Free Trade Area–CEFTA

Kosovo has a liberal trade regime

Kosovo currently enjoys a free trade within Central European Free Trade Agreement–CEFTA, enabling its producers to access the regional market comprising of 28 million consumers, free of any customs duties.

Taking into consideration the favourable business climate, stable macroeconomic environment and the excellent opportunities across different business sectors, Kosovo is increasingly becoming a very attractive place for doing business. As result, the interest of foreign investors has been increasing steadily during the past years and together with it also the inflow of FDI. According to the Business Registry data for 2007, there are 2,012 companies of foreign and mixed ownership that have already used the opportunity to invest in Kosovo.

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency MIGA (a member of the World Bank Group) guarantees investments in Kosovo in the value of 20 million Euro.

The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) also provides political risk insurance for foreign investors in Kosovo.

The economy is hindered by Kosovo's still-unresolved international status, which has made it difficult to attract investment and loans. The province's economic weakness has produced a thriving black economy in which smuggled petrol, cigarettes and cement are major commodities. The prevalence of official corruption and the pervasive influence of organised crime gangs has caused serious concern internationally. The United Nations has made the fight against corruption and organised crime a high priority, pledging a "zero tolerance" approach.

Kosovo has a reported foreign debt of 1,264 billion USD that is currently serviced by Serbia.

According to ECIKS from 2001 to 2004 Kosovo received $3,2 billion of foreign aid. International donor conference is to be held in Switzerland in June or July 2008. Until now EU pledged €2 billion, $350 mil by USA. Serbia also pledged €120 million to Serb's enclaves in Kosovo.

Kosovo joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on 26 June 2009 as the 186th country to join the two institutions. 95% of Kosovars had previously voted in favour of the move.

The accession follows a 50% tax reduction implemented in 2008 which has helped double investment in the country, setting the economy for an expected growth of "around 4.0 percent to 5.0 percent" in 2010, according to IMF projections.

Administrative regions

Kosovo, for administrative reasons, is considered as consisting of seven districts. North Kosovo maintains its own government, infrastructure and institutions by its dominant ethnic Serb population in the District of Kosovska Mitrovica, viz. in the Leposavić, Zvečan and Zubin Potok municipalities and the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica.


Municipalities and cities

Kosovo is subdivided into 30 municipalities:


Multi ethnic map of Kosovo.
Girls celebrate Children's Day.

According to the Kosovo in Figures 2005 Survey of the Statistical Office of Kosovo, Kosovo's total population is estimated between 1.9 and 2.2 million with the following ethnic composition: Albanians 92%, Serbs 4%, Bosniaks and Gorans 2%, Turks 1%, Roma 1%. CIA World Factbook estimates the following ratio: 88% Albanians, 8% Kosovo Serbs and 4% other ethnic groups. According to latest CIA The World Factbook estimated data, as of July 2009, Kosovo's population stands at 1,804,838 persons. It stated that ethnic composition is "Albanians 88%, Serbs 7%, other 5% (Bosniak, Gorani, Roma, Turk, Ashkali, Egyptian, Janjevci - Croats)"

Albanians, steadily increasing in number, have constituted a majority in Kosovo since the 19th century, the earlier ethnic composition being disputed. Kosovo's political boundaries do not coincide with the ethnic boundary by which Albanians compose an absolute majority in every municipality; for example, Serbs form a local majority in North Kosovo and two other municipalities, while there are large areas with an Albanian majority outside of Kosovo, namely in the neighbouring regions of former Yugoslavia: the north-west of Macedonia, and in the Preševo Valley in Central Serbia.

At 1.3% per year, ethnic Albanians in Kosovo have the fastest rate of growth in population in Europe. Over an 82-year period (1921–2003) the population of Kosovo grew to 460% of its original size. If growth continues at such a pace, the population will reach 4.5 million by 2050. However, this is unlikely to happen; until about 1990, Kosovo Albanians had very high birth rates of about 4 children per woman, similar to many poor developing countries, but this has fallen down to about two since then and will likely sink below replacement eventually, as it has in Albania itself. In addition, Kosovo has a high emigration rate now which it did not have before 1990.

By contrast, from 1948 to 1991, the Serb population of Kosovo increased by mere 12% (one third the growth of the population in Central Serbia). In addition, in the same period, hundreds of thousands have left to settle in more prosperous Central Serbia or Western Europe. 60% of Kosovo's pre-1999 Serbian population resides in Serbia proper following the ethnic cleansing campaign in 1999. The population of Albanians in Kosovo increased by 300% in the same period– a rate of growth twenty-five times that of the Serbs in Kosovo. Serbs, similar to most other Eastern European Christian ethnic groups, since about 1990 have had very low birth rates (about 1.5 children per woman) and more deaths than births. This ensures a continued dwindling of the Serb minority as a percentage of the population, even with the dropping births among the Albanians.


The native dialect of the Kosovar Albanian population is Gheg Albanian, although Standard Albanian is now widely used as an official language. According to the draft Constitution of Kosovo, Serbian is another official language.


Gračanica monastery.

The two main religions of Kosovo are Islam and Christianity. Muslims make up 90% of Kosovo's population, and followers are mostly Sunni, with a Bektashi Islam minority. Islam was brought into the region with the Ottoman conquest in the 15th century and now nominally professed by most of the ethnic Albanians, by the Bosniak, Gorani, and Turkish communities, and by some of the Roma/ Ashkali-" Egyptian" community. Islam, however, hasn't saturated the Kosovar society, which remains largely secular. About three percent of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo remain Roman Catholic despite centuries of the Ottoman rule. There are an estimated 65,000 Catholics in Kosovo and another 60,000 Kosovar born Catholics outside of Kosovo. The Serb population, estimated at 100,000 to 120,000 persons, is largely Serbian Orthodox. Kosovo is densely covered by numerous Serb Orthodox churches and monasteries. Some 140 churches are reported to have been destroyed and partly looted for the black market in the 1999 to 2004 period, of these 30 in a single outburst of violence in March 2004.

There is also a small number of evangelical Protestants, whose tradition dates back to the Methodist missionaries' work centered in Bitola in the late 1800s. They are represented by the Kosovo Protestant Evangelical Church (KPEC).

According to the governments of the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia, there is no official or state religion of Kosovo.


Ski Resort in the Šar Mountains.

Relations between Albanian and Serb communities

The relations between Kosovo's ethnic Albanian and Serb populations have been hostile since the rise of nationalism in the Balkans during the 19th century, rivalry which became strong after Serbia gained Kosovo from the Ottoman Empire in 1913 and after Albania became independent in the same year. During the Ottoman period however, Serbs and Albanians within Kosovo enjoyed good-neighborly relations, working together to oppose foreign meddling in the territory on many occasions During the Tito-era of communist rule in Yugoslavia, the ethnic Albanian and Serb populations of Kosovo were strongly irreconcilable with sociological studies during the Tito-era indicating that ethnic Albanian and Serb peoples in Kosovo rarely accepted each other as neighbours or friends and few held interethnic marriages. Ethnic prejudices, stereotypes and mutual distrust between ethnic Albanians and Serbs have remained common for decades. The level of intolerance and separation between the ethnic Albanian and Serb communities during the Tito-period was reported by sociologists to be worse than that of Croat and Serb communities in Yugoslavia which also had tensions but held some closer relations between each other.

The Roma and other minorities

Despite of their planned integration into the Kosovar society, and their recognition in the Kosovar constitution, many difficulties of segregation and discrimination continue to face Romani and other minorities (i.e. Ashkali and Egyptian communities), on the levels of housing, education, health, employment and social welfare. Many camps around Kosovo continue to house thousands of Internally Displaced People, all of which are from minority groups and communities. Because many of the Roma are believed to have sided with the Serbs during the conflict, taking part in the widespread looting and destruction of Albanian property, Minority Rights Group International report that Romani people encounter hostility by Albanians outside their local areas. The report adds:

In Kosovo, the critical issue for most minorities has been that of day-to-day security. Organized violence, harassment and attacks on property began at the start of the international administration and have continued ever since. Minorities do not feel adequately protected by the authorities in Kosovo. As described above, organized systematic ethnic cleansing took place in 1999 and 2004, but at all times ongoing insecurity has been chronic. What is critical is not only the actual insecurity but also the perception of minorities as to whether they can be adequately protected.
Clive Baldwin, Minority Rights in Kosovo under International Rule, 2006, p. 16.


Several sports federations have been formed in Kosovo within the framework of Law No. 2003/24 "Law on Sport" passed by the Assembly of Kosovo in 2003. The law formally established a national Olympic Committee, regulated the establishment of sports federations and established guidelines for sports clubs. At present only some of the sports federations established have gained international recognition.

Rule of law

Following the Kosovo War, due to the many weapons in the hands of civilians, law enforcement inefficiencies, and widespread devastation, both revenge killings and ethnic violence surged tremendously. The number of reported murders rose 80% from 136 in 2000 to 245 in 2001. The number of reported arsons rose 140% from 218 to 523 over the same period. UNMIK pointed out that the rise in reported incidents might simply correspond to an increased confidence in the police force (i.e., more reports) rather than more actual crime. According to the UNODC, by 2008, murder rates in Kosovo had dropped by 75% in five years.

Although the number of noted serious crimes increased between 1999 and 2000, since then it has been "starting to resemble the same patterns of other European cities". According to Amnesty International, the aftermath of the war resulted in an increase in the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. According to the IOM data, in 2000–2004, Kosovo was consistently ranked fourth or fifth among the countries of Southeastern Europe by number of human trafficking victims, after Albania, Moldova, Romania and sometimes Bulgaria.

Residual landmines and other unexploded ordnance remain in Kosovo, although all roads and tracks have been cleared. Caution when travelling in remote areas is advisable.

Kosovo is extremely vulnerable to organised crime and thus to money laundering. In 2000, international agencies estimated that Kosovo was supplying up to 40% of the heroin sold in Europe and North America. Due to the 1997 unrest in Albania and the Kosovo War in 1998–1999 ethnic Albanian traffickers enjoyed a competitive advantage, which has been eroding as the region stabilises. However, according to a 2008 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, overall, ethnic Albanians, not only from Kosovo, supply 10 to 20% of the heroin in Western Europe, and the traffic has been declining.

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