|Conventional Long Name:||Kosovo|
|Ethnic Groups:||92% Albanians|
|Ethnic Groups Year:||2007|
|Area Magnitude:||1 E10|
|Area Sq Mi:||4,212|
|Population Estimate Year:||2007|
|Population Census Year:||1991|
|Population Density Km2:||220|
|Population Density Sq Mi:||500|
|Gdp Ppp Year:||2007|
|Gdp Ppp:||$4 billion|
|Gdp Ppp Rank:||n/a|
|Gdp Ppp Per Capita:||$1,800|
|Gdp Ppp Per Capita Rank:||151st|
|Gdp Nominal Year:||2007|
|Gdp Nominal:||€3.343 billion|
|Gdp Nominal Rank:||n/a|
|Gdp Nominal Per Capita:||€1,573|
|Gdp Nominal Per Capita Rank:||n/a|
|Time Zone Dst:||CEST|
|Utc Offset Dst:||+2|
|Footnote1:||The census is a reconstruction; most of the ethnic Albanian majority boycotted.|
|Footnote2:||Officially +381; some mobile phone providers use +377 (Monaco) or +386 (Slovenia) instead.|
|Conventional Long Name:||Kosovo, UN administration|
|Sovereignty Type:||UN administration|
|Sovereignty Note:||UN administration of Kosovo|
|Leader Title1:||Special Representative|
|Leader Name1:||Lamberto Zannier (UN)|
|Leader Name2:||Fatmir Sejdiu (LDK)|
|Leader Title3:||Prime Minister|
|Leader Name3:||Hashim Thaçi (PDK)|
|Established Event1:||UNSCR 1244|
|Established Date1:||10 June 1999|
|Established Date2:||16 February 2008|
Kosovo (Albanian: Kosova, Kosovë; Serbian: Косово or Косово и Метохија, ''Kosovo'' or ''Kosovo i Metohija'') is a disputed region in the Balkans. Its majority is governed by the partially-recognised Republic of Kosovo (Albanian: Republika e Kosovës). Serbia does not recognise the 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'') that was re-created by Slobodan Milosevic Serbian SR constitutional reforms of late 1980s.
Kosovo is landlocked and is bordered by Central Serbia to the north and east, the Republic of Macedonia to the south, Albania to the west, and Montenegro to the northwest. The largest city and the capital of Kosovo is Pristina (alternatively spelled Prishtina or Priština), while other cities include Peć (Peja), Prizren, and Mitrovica (Kosovska Mitrovica).
Kosovo was a part of the lands of Thraco-Illyrian tribes, then of the Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Ottoman empires. In the 20th century it shared between Kingdom of Montenegro and Kingdom of Serbia, and their successor state, Kingdom of Yugoslavia. After the Kosovo War and 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia the territory came under the interim administration of the United Nations (UNMIK). In February 2008, the Assembly of Kosovo declared Kosovo's independence as the Republic of Kosovo. As of 09 March 2009, its independence is recognised and the Republic of China (Taiwan). On October 8, 2008, the majority of the UN states backed a Serbian judicial initiative on Kosovo aimed at determining whether the secession was legal. Kosovo's two major ethnic groups, Albanians and Serbs have historically held and continue to hold strong hostility toward each other over the two groups' territory claims on Kosovo.
See main article: Names of Kosovo. One theory about the name Kosovo, states that Kosovo (Косово, ) 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 Albanian: Kosova (definite form, ) or Albanian: Kosovë ("indefinite" form, ). In Serbian, a distinction is made between the eastern and western areas; the term Serbian: Kosovo (Serbian: Косово) is used for the eastern part, while the western part is called "Metohija" (Serbian: Метохија).
Since Kosovo declared independence, it is now also referred to as "The Republic of Kosovo" in English, though "Kosovo" is still the most common name used.
The formation of the Republic of Kosovo is a result of the turmoils of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, particularly the Kosovo War of 1996 to 1999, but it is suffused with issues dating back to the rise of nationalism in the Balkans under Ottoman rule in the 19th century, Albanian vs. Serbian nationalisms in particular, the latter notably surrounding the Battle of Kosovo eponymous with the Kosovo region.
During the Neolithic period, the region of Kosovo lay within the extent of the Vinča-Turdaş culture. In the 4th to 1st centuries BC, the Dardani inhabited the region which roughly corresponds to modern Kosovo. The area was then conquered by Rome in the 160s BC, and incoporated 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. As the center of Slavic resistance to Constantinople in the region, it often switched between Serbian and Bulgarian rule on one hand and Byzantine on the other until the Serb principality of Rascia conquered it by the end of the 11th century. Such takeovers had little impact on the local populace, since it mereley represented a changing of one Balkan Christian dynasty by another. Fully absorbed into the Serbian Kingdom until the end of the 12th, it became the secular and spiritual centre of the Serbian medieval state of the Nemanjić dynasty in the 13th century, with the Patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Peć, while Prizren was the secular center. The zenith was reached with the formation of a Serbian Empire in 1346, which after 1371 transformed from a centralised absolutist medieval monarchy to a feudal realm. Kosovo became the hereditary land of the House of Branković and Vučitrn and Pristina flourished.
In the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, Ottoman forces defeated a coalition of Serbs, Albanians, and Bosnianshttp://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=4173 led by the Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović. Soon after parts of Serbia accepted Turkish vassalage and Lazar's daughter was married to the Sultan to seal peace. In 1402, a Serbian Despotate was raised and Kosovo became its richest territory, famous for mines.The local House of Branković came to prominence as the local lords of Kosovo, under Vuk Branković, with the temporary fall of the Serbian Despotate in 1439. By 1455, it was finally and fully conquered by the Ottoman Empire.
See main article: History of Ottoman Kosovo.
Kosovo, like Serbia, was occupied by the Austrian forces during the Great War of 1683–1699.
Following the invitation from Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1690, the Serbian Patriarch of Peć Arsenije III claimed that he led 37,000 predominantly Serbian families out of Kosovo and other areas into Austria . More migrations of Orthodox Christians from the Kosovo area preceded and followed throughout the 18th century during the Great Serb Migrations , in addition to the forcible removal of Christian subjects by the Turks as slaves and war booty . In 1766, the Ottomans abolished the Patriarchate of Peć and the position of Christians in Kosovo deteriorated, including full imposition of jizya (taxation of non-Muslims). In contrast, many Albanian chiefs converted to Islam and gained prominent positions in the Turkish regimen. On the whole, "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 mastershttp://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=4173. The final result of four and a half centuries of Muslim rule was a marked decline in the previously dominant Slavic Christian demographic element in Kosovo. The cause of this demographic shift was manifold. The outward movement of Christians was accompanied by an inward migration of Albanians and other Islamic peoples such as Circassians (with notable anti-Christian sentiments), who often served as auxiliary troops for the Turks.http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=4173. In addition, during Ottoman rule, the distinction between Serb and Albanian was not always clear cut. As Islam became the dominant religion, some Serbs converted to Islam and lost their Serbian identity, and were rather referred to as "Turks" or "Albanians". In the 19th century, there was a "awakening" of ethnic nationalism throughout the Balkans. The ethnic Albanian nationalism movement was centered in Kosovo. This, unfortunately, systemetised the underlying ethnic tensions into a broader struggle of Christian Serbs against Muslim Albanians. http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=4173
In 1871, a Serbian meeting was held in Prizren at which the possible retaking and reintegration of Kosovo and the rest of "Old Serbia" was discussed, as the Principality of Serbia itself had already made plans for expansions towards Ottoman territory. In 1878, a Peace Accord was drawn that left the cities of Pristina and Kosovska Mitrovica under civil Serbian control, and outside Ottoman jurisdiction, while the rest of Kosovo remained under Ottoman control. In the same year ethnic Albanians formed the League of Prizren, pursuing political aspirations of unifying the Albanian people and seeking autonomy within the Ottoman Empire, although certain Albanian factions wished for a continuance of the Ottoman Empire . The League of Prizren ruled Kosovo until 1881, when it was quashed by Ottoman troops.
See main article: 20th century history of Kosovo.
The Young Turk movement supported a centralist rule and opposed any sort of autonomy desired by Kosovars, and particularly the Albanians. In 1910, an Albanian uprising spread from Pristina and lasted until the Ottoman Sultan's visit to Kosovo in June 1911.In 1912, during the Balkan Wars, most of Kosovo was captured by the Kingdom of Serbia, while the region of Metohija (Albanian: Dukagjini Valley) was taken by the Kingdom of Montenegro. An exodus of the local Albanian population occurred. Serbian authorities promoted creating new Serb settlements in Kosovo as well as the assimilation of Albanians into Serbian society. Numerous colonist Serb families moved into Kosovo, equalising the demographic balance between Albanians and Serbs.
In the winter of 1915-1916, 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 unrecognized Slavic nations of Yugoslavia, as the kingdom only recognized 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.
In 1941, Kosovo and Yugoslavia became involved in World War II after the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia 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. Tens of thousands of Serbs were driven out of Kosovo during 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.
See main article: Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (1946-1974) and Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo.
The province first took shape with its present borders in 1945 as the Autonomous Kosovo-Metohian Area. Prior to world War II, no entity by the name of Kosovo had existed where-as 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.
The violent oppression and forced expatriation of Albanians resumed, particularly after 1953, when Josip Broz Tito reached an agreement with Turkish Foreign Minister Mehmet Fuat Köprülü to push Yugoslavian Albanians to declare themselves Turks and leave for Turkey.
The harsh repressions and expatriations came to an end when the 4th Plenum of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia held at Brijuni (the Brioni Plenum) in July 1966 ousted Yugoslavian Interior Minister and Vice President Aleksandar Ranković, who was instrumental in the brutal treatment of Kosovar Albanians. In the late 1960s Kosovo gained limited internal autonomy. In February 1970 the University of Pristina was opened, providing higher education in Albanian. In the 1974 constitution, the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo's government received more powers, including the highest governmental titles – President and Prime Minister and a seat in the Federal Presidency which made it a de facto Republic within the Federation, but remaining a Socialist Autonomous Province within the Socialist Republic of Serbia (similar rights were extended to Vojvodina). In Kosovo Serbo-Croatian, Albanian and Turkish were defined as official languages on the provincial level. 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 neighbors. 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, though false, claim that Kosovo Serbs were being subjected to an Albanian program of 'Genocide'". Even though they were disprovenhttp://books.google.com/books?id=ap8wa_YmT2QC&pg=PA215&dq=genocide+false+kosovo&sig=kmSTVjt9oW2TpXi7kUVw81mjN7o 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.
See main article: Kosovo War, Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (1990-1999) and Republic of Kosova (1990–2000).
See also: Disintegration of Yugoslavia. 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 maneuvering, 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, an unconstitutional 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 when its institutions were replaced by the Joint Interim Administrative Structure established by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
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 guerrilla 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.
NATO intervention between March 24 and June 10, 1999, aimed to force Milošević to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, combined with continued skirmishes between Albanian guerrillas and Yugoslav forces 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.  
See main article: Kosovo (UNMIK) and Kosovo status process. 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.
Kosovo's political borders don't coincide with ethnic boundaries, and in 2001 an ethnic insurgency surfaced in the neighbouring areas with ethnic Albanian majority, Preševo Valley in Central Serbia and the Polog Valley in the Republic of Macedonia, but eased within several months.
In 2001, UNMIK promulgated a Constitutional Framework for Kosovo that established the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG), including an elected Kosovo Assembly, Presidency and office of Prime Minister. Kosovo held its first free, Kosovo-wide elections in late 2001 (municipal elections had been held the previous year).
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.
See main article: 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence, International recognition of Kosovo and 2008 Post declaration of independence unrest in Kosovo. The Assembly of Kosovo approved a declaration of independence on 17 February 2008. Over the following days, several states (the United States, Turkey, Albania, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Republic of China (Taiwan), Australia and others) announced their recognition, despite protests by Russia and others in the UN. Currently, recognise independence of Kosovo.
The UN Security Council remains divided on the question (). 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. , 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. , most of member-countries of NATO, EU, WEU and OECD have recognised Kosovo as independent.
, all of Kosovo's immediate neighbour states except Serbia have recognised the declaration of independence. Montenegro and the Republic of 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 October 8, 2008, the UN has agreed to ask the International Court of Justice for a non-binding advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo's declaration of Independence from Serbia, by a vote of 77-6-74 (77 in favor, 6 opposed and 74 abstentions).
See main article: Geography of Kosovo.
Kosovo has an area of 10,908 square kilometers and a population of about 2.2 million. The largest cities are Pristina, the capital, with an estimated 500,000 inhabitants, Prizren in the south west with a population of 110,000, Peć in the west with 70,000, and Mitrovica in the north with 70,000. The climate is continental, with warm summers and cold and snowy winters. Most of Kosovo's terrain in mountainous, the highest peak is Đeravica (2656 m). 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.
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.
39.1% of Kosovo is forested, about 52% is classified as agricultural land, 31% of which is covered by pastures and 69% is arable.
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.
See main article: Political status of Kosovo and Kosovo status process. Kosovo is under de facto governance of the Republic of Kosovoexcept 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. The last parliamentary and local elections were held in in 2007. 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. 
See main article: United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and Provisional Institutions of Self-Government. In 1999, UN Security Council Resolution 1244 placed Kosovo under transitional UN administration pending a determination of Kosovo's future status. This Resolution entrusted the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) with sweeping powers to govern Kosovo, but also directed UNMIK to establish interim institutions of self-governance. Resolution 1244 permits Serbia no official role in governing Kosovo and since 1999 Serbian laws and institutions have not been valid in Kosovo. NATO has a separate mandate to provide for a safe and secure environment.
In May 2001, UNMIK promulgated the Constitutional Framework, which established Kosovo's Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG). The PISG replaced the Joint Interim Administrative Structure (JIAS) established a year earlier. Since 2001, UNMIK has been gradually transferring increased governing competencies to the PISG, while reserving some powers that are normally carried out by sovereign states, such as foreign affairs. Kosovo has also established municipal government and an internationally supervised Kosovo Police Service.
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.
However, since 1999, the Serb-inhabited areas of Kosovo, such as North Kosovo have remained de facto independent from the Albanian-dominated government in Priština. They continue to uses Serbian national symbols and participate in Serbian national elections, which are boycotted in the rest of Kosovo. Serb-inhabited regions also boycott Kosovo elections. The municipalities of Leposavić, Zvečan and Zubin Potok are run by local Serbs, while the Kosovska Mitrovica municipality had rival Serb and Albanian governments until a compromise was agreed in November 2002.
In February 2003, the Serb areas united to form the Union of Serbian Districts and District Units of Kosovo and Metohija in a meeting in Kosovska Mitrovica, which has since served as the de facto "capital." The Union's President is Dragan Velić. There is also a central governing body, the Serbian National Council for Kosovo and Metohija (SNV). The President of SNV in North Kosovo is Dr Milan Ivanović, while the head of its Executive Council is Rada Trajković.
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.  The Assembly has strongly criticised what it calls "the secessionist movements of the Albanian-dominated PISG Assembly of Kosovo". 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".
Within Serbia, Kosovo is the concern of the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, currently led by Slobodan Samardzic.
On the 26 July 2008, Lamberto Zannier the current head of UNMIK told the UN during a UNSC meeting regarding the situation of Kosovo that "As a consequence of this stark divergence of paths taken by Kosovo, Serbian and Albanian communities, the spacing which UNMIK can operate has changed" and that "Since the entering into force of the Kosovo constitution, exercising my legal powers has become increasingly difficult in practice."
See main article: Politics of Kosovo.
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.
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.
Ramush Haradinaj resigned the post of Prime Minister after he was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in March 2005. Haradinaj was acquitted in April 2008. He was replaced by Bajram Kosumi (AAK). But in a political shake-up after the death of President Rugova in January 2006, Kosumi himself was replaced by former Kosovo Protection Corps commander Agim Çeku. Çeku has won recognition for his outreach to minorities, but Serbia has been critical of his wartime past as military leader of the KLA and claims he is still not doing enough for Kosovo Serbs. The Kosovo Assembly elected Fatmir Sejdiu, a former LDK parliamentarian, president after Rugova's death. Slaviša Petkovic, Minister for Communities and Returns, was previously the only ethnic Serb in the government, but resigned in November 2006 amid allegations that he misused ministry funds.  Currently the Minister of Community and Return and the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare are ethnic Serbs, while the Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning is from Kosovo’s small Turkish minority.
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.
See also: Constitution of Kosovo. 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.
See main article: Foreign relations of Kosovo. Currently 14 countries maintain embassies to the Republic of Kosovo. As of , countries recognise Kosovo as independent. Skënder Hyseni is Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kosovo.
See main article: Military of Kosovo. The military of Kosovo is still in the process of being organised following the partially recognised declaration of independence of February 17, 2008. Following the Kosovo War in 1999, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 placed Kosovo under the authority of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), with security provided by the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR).
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.  The landmines laid by both the Serbs and KLA during the Kosovo War, as well as unexploded NATO ordnance, remain a problem.
Kosovo is extremely vulnerable to organized 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.
See main article: Economy of Kosovo. Kosovo has one of the most under-developed economies in Europe, with a per capita income estimated at €1,565 (2004). 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.
Kosovo's economy remains weak. After a jump in 2000 and 2001, growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was negative in 2002 and 2003 and is expected to be around 3 percent 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 Republic of Macedonia.
The euro is the official currency of Kosovo and used by UNMIK and the government bodies. Initially, Kosovo adopted the German mark in 1999 to replace the Serbian dinar, and consequently switched to the euro when the German mark was replaced by it. Although, the Serbian dinar is still used in the Serbian-populated parts.
Kosovo's 2006 trade balance was total exports(FOB) $154mil and total imports(CIF) $1,612mil.
The Republic of Macedonia is Kosovo's largest import and export market (averaging €220 million and €9 million, respectively or 20% of whole Kosovo's trade), followed by Serbia (€111 million and €5 million app 12%), Germany (app 10% of total trade), China (app from 5-9% depending on season) and Turkey (app 6% of total imports). In total EU's 27 countries are Kosovo's biggest trade partner, 35% of all Kosovo's imports are coming from EU and app 50-60% of Kosovo's $150 million exports are going in EU27.
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.
At 14,700 Mt, Kosovo has the world’s fifth-largest proven reserves of lignite, a type of coal. The lignite is distributed across the Kosovo, Dukagjin and Drenica basins, although mining has so far been restricted to the Kosovo basin. Coal reserves are found in two main basins and are currently being mined in the coal mines of Bardh open-cast coal mine and Mirash open-cast coal mine.
Energy sector presents a major potential for development of Kosovo's economy. There are two large coal-fired electrical power plants named "Kosovo A" and "Kosovo B" and the project to build a larger 2100-MW coal-fired power plant is underway with expected completion in 2012.
Kosovo has lead-zinc-silver mines of Artana (Novo Brdo), Belo Brdo, Stan Terg and Hajvalia mines, and the Crnac mine. During the lead-zinc-silver exploitation at Farbani Potok (Artana-Novo Brdo), about 3 Mt of high-grade halloysite was discovered. Halloysite is an aluminosilicate clay mineral used as a raw material for porcelain and bone china. This is only one of five known exploitable deposits of this very high-value (US$140-450/t) clay, the other four being in New Zealand, Turkey, China and Utah, US. Current world production is estimated at 150,000 t/y. There is also nickel to be found in Kosovo and the largest working mine is in Çikatova (Dushkaja and Suke) and Gllavica (District of Uroševac). There are significant deposits of chromium, bauxite and magnesite, but mining has been stalled since 1999.
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.
See main article: Municipalities of Kosovo. Kosovo is subdivided into 30 municipalities:
See main article: Demographics of Kosovo.
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.
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 ethnic boundaries; Serbs form a local majority in North Kosovo and several smaller enclaves, while there are large areas with Albanian majority outside Kosovo in the neighbouring regions of former Yugoslavia, namely in the northwest of the Republic of Macedonia and in Presevo of 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 grew to 460% of its original size. If growth continues at such a pace, the population will reach 4.5 million by 2050.
By contrast, from 1948 to 1991, the Serb population of Kosovo increased by but twelve percent (one third the growth of the population in Central Serbia). The population of Albanians in Kosovo increased by three hundred percent in the same period a rate of growth twenty-five times that of the Serbs in Kosovo.
Since Kosovo's declaration of independence, Serbs have increasingly fled the region, causing anxiety for Kosovoan leaders and encouraging the claims of Serbian politicians.
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.
Islam (mostly Sunni, with a Bektashi minority ) is the predominant religion in Kosovo, 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. 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.  
The relations between Kosovo's ethnic Albanian and Serb populations have been historically hostile due to nationalist 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 Tito-era of communist rule in Yugoslavia, the ethnic Albanian and Serb populations of Kosovo were strongly irreconciliable 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.
See main article: Music of Kosovo. Although in Kosovo the music is diverse, authentic Albanian music (see World Music) and Serbian music do still exist. Albanian music is characterised by the use of the çiftelia (an authentic Albanian instrument), mandolin, mandola and percussion. Classical music is also well-known in Kosovo and has been taught at several music schools and universities (at the University of Prishtina Faculty of Arts in Pristina and the University of Priština Faculty of Arts at Kosovska Mitrovica).
See main article: Olympic Committee of Kosovo, Football Federation of Kosovo, Basketball Federation of Kosovo, Handball Federation of Kosovo and Table Tennis Federation of Kosovo. 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.
. Robert Elsie. Historical Dictionary of Kosova. Scarecrow Press. 2004. 0810853094.