General Information about Kosovo

Geographical Position

The landlocked country of Kosovo occupies an area of 10,908 sq km/6777 sq miles in Southeast Europe with Geographic Coordinates:   42 35 N, 21 00 E. It shares its borders with Albania, FYR of Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro, and is less than a 4-hour drive from Greece. Kosovo is ringed among the Sharr Mountains located in the southeast border close to Macedonia. The north is surrounded by the Kopaonik Mountains and the southwest borders neighboring Kosovo and Montenegro are also rocky and mountainous with the highest mountain, Gjeravica peaking at 2,656m high.
The region that is most mountainous and filled with valleys which include the chief basins of Kosovo is the Dukagjini region located in the west, which is also drained by the Southern Morava River. Additional focal rivers comprise Erenik, Iber, Drin, and Sitnica. As far as the central region of Kosovo, it is chiefly hilly and also possesses two extensive plains which spread over the east and west sides of Kosovo.

Kosovo Climate

In general, the climate is continental, with cold, relatively dry winters and warm, humid summers. Summer temperatures in the mountainous areas are notably cooler, averaging about (18° C) with up to 120 days of annual snow cover in the mountains. In mountainous areas, trees cover 40% or more of the region, mostly oak and beech. Deer, bear and wild pigs abound in these areas. May and September are usually the best times to visit climate-wise.

Kosovo Terrain

Flat fluvial basin with an elevation of 400-700 m above sea level surrounded by several high mountain ranges with elevations of 2,000 to 2,500 m
Elevation extremes:    Lowest point: Drini i Bardhë, 297 m (located on the border with Albania.)
Highest point: Gjeravica, 2656 m
Natural resources:    Nickel, lead, zinc, magnesium, lignite, kaolin, chrome, bauxite

Kosovo Population

Exact statistics regarding the population of Kosovo do not currently exist, however, it is estimated to range between 1.8-2.2 million.  At present, Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe with the population density being close to 200 per square kilometer which is considered one of the highest in Europe as well.
Kosovo’s population consists of: Albanians 88%, Serbs 6%, Bosnians and Gorani 3%, Roma 2%, Ashkali, Egyptians, Turks 1%

Kosovo Capital City

Pristina (since 1947)

Main Cities of Kosovo

The main city of Kosovo is Pristina which is the capital the administrative center of the country, as well. Other main cities include: Prizren, Peja, Gjakova, Mitrovica, Gjilani and Ferizaj.

Official Language - Albanian

With approximately more than 90% of the population of Kosovo being ethnic Albanians, the Albanian language is recognized as an official language along with Serbian. Other languages including Turkish, Romani, and Bosnian are also spoken.
Albanian is an Indo-European language thought to be derived from Illyrian language is very distinct from most Indo-European languages and it remains independent of its sub-group. It is spoken by numerous inhabitants of the Albanian culture especially those bordering Albania and Kosovo.
The second official language of Kosovo is Serbian. Serbian is the only language of Europe that uses both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets making it an active digraphia. It is spoken in many countries like Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and partially in Kosovo.
English is widely spoken, especially by youth. English is also taught at schools starting from primary education. 

Kosovo Political System

Kosovo is a Parliamentary Republic.

Flag description kosovo-flag

Centered on a dark blue field is the geographical shape of Kosovo in a gold color surmounted by six white, five-pointed stars arrayed in a slight arc; each star represents one of the major ethnic groups of Kosovo: Albanians, Serbs, Turks, Gorani, Roma, and Bosniaks

Historical Background

The central Balkans was part of the Roman and Byzantine Empires before ethnic Serbs migrated to the territories of modern Kosovo in the 7th century. During the medieval period, Kosovo became the center of a Serbian Empire and saw the construction of many important Serb religious sites, including many architecturally significant Serbian Orthodox monasteries. The defeat of Serbian forces at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 led to five centuries of Ottoman rule during which large numbers of Turks and Albanians moved to Kosovo. By the end of the 19th century, Albanians replaced the Serbs as the dominant ethnic group in Kosovo. Serbia reacquired control over Kosovo from the Ottoman Empire during the First Balkan War of 1912. After World War II, Kosovo became an autonomous province of Serbia in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (S.F.R.Y.) with status almost equivalent to that of a republic under the 1974 S.F.R.Y. constitution. Despite legislative concessions, Albanian nationalism increased in the 1980s, which led to riots and calls for Kosovo's independence. At the same time, Serb nationalist leaders, such as Slobodan MILOSEVIC, exploited Kosovo Serb claims of maltreatment to secure votes from supporters, many of whom viewed Kosovo as their cultural heartland. Under MILOSEVIC's leadership, Serbia instituted a new constitution in 1989 that revoked Kosovo's status as an autonomous province of Serbia. Kosovo's Albanian leaders responded in 1991 by organizing a referendum that declared Kosovo independent. Under MILOSEVIC, Serbia carried out repressive measures against the Kosovar Albanians in the early 1990s as the unofficial Kosovo government, led by Ibrahim RUGOVA, used passive resistance in an attempt to try to gain international assistance and recognition of an independent Kosovo. Albanians dissatisfied with RUGOVA's passive strategy in the 1990s created the Kosovo Liberation Army and launched an insurgency. Starting in 1998, Serbian military, police, and paramilitary forces under MILOSEVIC conducted a brutal counterinsurgency campaign that resulted in massacres and massive expulsions of ethnic Albanians. Approximately 800,000 ethnic Albanians were forced from their homes in Kosovo during this time. International attempts to mediate the conflict failed, and MILOSEVIC's rejection of a proposed settlement led to a three-month NATO military operation against Serbia beginning in March 1999 that forced Serbia to agree to withdraw its military and police forces from Kosovo. UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) placed Kosovo under a transitional administration, the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), pending a determination of Kosovo's future status. A UN-led process began in late 2005 to determine Kosovo's final status. The negotiations ran in stages between 2006 and 2007, but ended without agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. On 17 February 2008, the Kosovo Assembly declared Kosovo independent. Since then, over 100 countries have recognized Kosovo, and it has joined the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Council of Europe Development Bank, and signed a framework agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB). In October 2008, Serbia sought an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality under international law of Kosovo's declaration of independence. The ICJ released the advisory opinion in July 2010 affirming that Kosovo's declaration of independence did not violate general principles of international law, UN Security Council Resolution 1244, or the Constitutive Framework. The opinion was closely tailored to Kosovo's unique history and circumstances. Serbia continues to reject Kosovo's independence, but the two countries reached an agreement to normalize their relations in April 2013 through EU-facilitated talks and are currently engaged in the implementation process.
Source: 2014 CIA World Factbook

Kosovo Economy

Kosovo's economy has shown significant progress in transitioning to a market-based system and maintaining macroeconomic stability, but it is still highly dependent on the international community and the diaspora for financial and technical assistance. Kosovo's citizens are the poorest in Europe with a per capita GDP (PPP) of $7,600 in 2013. An unemployment rate of 45% encourages emigration and fuels a significant informal, unreported economy. Remittances from the diaspora - located mainly in Germany, Switzerland, and the Nordic countries - are estimated to account for about 15% of GDP, and donor-financed activities and aid for approximately 10%. Most of Kosovo's population lives in rural towns outside of the capital, Pristina. With international assistance, Kosovo has been able to privatize a majority of its state-owned-enterprises. Minerals and metals - including lignite, lead, zinc, nickel, chrome, aluminum, magnesium, and a wide variety of construction materials - once formed the backbone of industry, but output has declined because of ageing equipment and insufficient investment. In June 2009, Kosovo joined the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and Kosovo began servicing its share of the former Yugoslavia's debt. In order to help integrate Kosovo into regional economic structures, UNMIK signed (on behalf of Kosovo) its accession to the Central Europe Free Trade Area (CEFTA) in 2006. Serbia and Bosnia previously had refused to recognize Kosovo's customs stamp or extend reduced tariff privileges for Kosovo products under CEFTA, but both countries resumed trade with Kosovo in 2011. The official currency of Kosovo is the euro, but the Serbian dinar is also used illegally in Serb enclaves. Kosovo's tie to the euro has helped keep core inflation low. Kosovo maintained a budget surplus until 2011, when government expenditures climbed sharply. In 2013 Kosovo signed a Free Trade Agreement with Turkey and is negotiating liberalization of trade with EU as part of a Stabilization and Association Agreement.
GDP:  $7.15 billion (2013 est.),
GDP - real growth rate: 2.5% (2013 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $7,600 (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
Industries: mineral mining, construction materials, base metals, leather, machinery, appliances, foodstuffs and beverages, textiles
Labor force: 800,000
Note: includes those estimated to be employed in the grey economy (2011 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 23.6%,industry: NA%,services: NA% (2010)
Unemployment rate: 30.9% (2013 est.),45% (1) note: Kosovo has a large informal sector that may not be reflected in these data
Population below poverty line: 30% (2013 est.) Distribution of family income - Gini index:30 (FY05/06)
Budget: revenues: $1.916 billion expenditures: $2.048 billion (2013 est.)
Exports: $408 million (2013 est.),$382.8 million (2012 est.)
Exports - commodities: mining and processed metal products, scrap metals, leather products, machinery, appliances, prepared foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco, vegetable products, textile and textile articles
Exports - partners: Italy 25.8%, Albania 14.6%, Macedonia 9.6%, China 5.5%, Germany 5.4%, Switzerland 5.4%, Turkey 4.1% (2012 est.)
Imports:  $3.398 billion (2013 est.) ,$3.477 billion (2012 est.)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, livestock, wood, petroleum, chemicals, machinery, minerals, textiles, stone, ceramic and glass products, electrical equipment
Imports - partners:  Germany 11.9%, Macedonia 11.5%, Serbia 11.1%, Italy 8.5%, Turkey 9%, China 6.4%, Albania 4.4% (2012 est.)
Debt - external:  $448.2 million (2013 est.),$466 million (2012 est.),
Currency: Euro
Source: 2014 CIA World Factbook