Kosovo was formerly a province of Serbia but declared independence in 2008. Independence is contested, but 116 countries (including Norway) now recognize Kosovo as an independent state (2018). At UN.no, Kosovo is therefore treated as a country with its own profile.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Pristina
- Ethnic groups: Albanians 93%, Bosnians 2%, Serbs 2%, other/unspecified (including Turks, Ashkali, Egyptians, Gorani, Romani) 3% (2011)
- Language: Albanian (official) 95%, Bosnian 2%, Serbian (official) 2%, other/unspecified (including Turkish and Romani) 2% (2011)
- Religion: Muslims 96%, Catholics 2%, Orthodox Christians 2% (2011)
- Population: 1 895 250 (2017)
- Control Form: Republic
- Area: 10 887 km²
- Currency: euro
- National Day: February 17th
Kosovo has a population of 1,907,592 (2018). The population density is on average 175 people per square kilometer. The population increased by 0.8 percent in 2018.
94.5 percent of the population is Albanian. Minority languages include Serbian, Turkish, Romani and Gorani, a form of Serbian.
More than half the population lives in rural areas, mainly in small villages on the plains and at the foot of the mountains. The largest city is the capital Pristina with 204 725 residents, of which 97.8 percent are Albanians. Prizren in the south has 85 119 residents, while Peć in the west and Mitrovica in the north have 48 962 and 46 230 residents respectively.
During and after the war in 1998–1999 there were major changes in the settlement pattern. Many Albanian homes had been destroyed by Serbian forces, and the civilian population was being displaced. Since 1999, many Albanians have returned, while large parts of the Serbian population have been displaced.
The largest ethnic group in Kosovo is Albanians. This group makes up 92.9 percent of the population. The three largest minority groups are Bosnians with 1.6 percent, Serbs with 1.5 percent and Turks with 1.1 percent. The rest of the population consists mainly of Ashkali (0.9 percent), Balkan Egyptians (0.7 percent), Gorani (0.6 percent) and Romans (0.5 percent), as well as Montenegrins and Croats.
Albanians and Serbs
The percentages between Serbs and Albanians have varied greatly since the Middle Ages, when there was a Serbian majority. When Kosovo was part of the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia (1945-1992), the Albanian share of the population rose significantly, while the Serbian population has fallen significantly. The main reason was different birth rates. From the 20th century there has been an Albanian majority. Following the dissolution of Socialist Yugoslavia in 1992, Kosovo became part of the new state of Yugoslavia, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro.
During the 1998–1999 Kosovo war, the Yugoslav government waged a campaign that could be described as ethnic cleansing against Albanians in the province. After the war ended in 1999, the Serbian population has fallen sharply because many Serbs were displaced or fled.
When Serbia and Montenegro were divided into two independent states in 2006, Kosovo continued to be part of Serbia. In 2008, Kosovo broke out and became an independent state.
Towards the Serbian border in the north, there is a concentrated Serbian population, especially in northern Mitrovica. Most Serbs live in enclaves further south in the country, especially in Gračanica (Albanian Graçanicë) and in villages around Pristina, Štrpce (Albanian Shtërpcë), in Goraždevac (Albanian Gorazhdevc) and in mixed villages around Gjilan/Gnjilane.
The stars of the Kosovo flag represent the most important ethnic groups in the country: Albanians, Serbs, Turks, Gorani, Romans and Bosniaks. Gorani is concentrated south of Prizren and speaks a form of Serbian. Most Turkish-speaking people live around Prizren. In Yugoslavia, Turkish was recognized as Kosovo’s third language.
After 1999, many rooms, which the group of Albanians call maggup, were also displaced by the Albanians. Rooms are a complex group, with different languages, religion, identity and designations. There are also smaller Slavic speaking groups.
Kosovo is a secular state. 95.6 percent of the population are Muslims, 2.2 percent are Roman Catholic and 1.5 percent are Orthodox Christians. Religious boundaries largely follow the ethnic. The majority of Albanians define themselves as Muslims, and a small minority as Catholics. The ethnic Serbian population is Serbian Orthodox. The Romans are Muslims and Christians.
Both the Serbian and Albanian traditional communities in Kosovo are very patriarchal. The big family often lives together, and the family supports each other. Family members abroad send substantial funds home to Kosovo, and family relationships also play an important role in business.