The central Balkans were 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 Albanian leaders responded in 1991 by organizing a referendum that declared Kosovo independent. Under MILOSEVIC, Serbia carried out repressive measures against the 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 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 70 countries have recognized Kosovo, and it has joined the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Serbia continues to reject Kosovo's independence and in October 2008, it 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.
influenced by continental air masses resulting in relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall and hot, dry summers and autumns; Mediterranean and alpine influences create regional variation; maximum rainfall between October and December
evolving legal system; mixture of applicable Kosovo law, UNMIK laws and regulations, and applicable laws of the Former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia that were in effect in Kosovo as of 22 March 1989
note:the Law on Courts, which went into effect on 1 January 2011, provided for a reorganization of the court system; the Kosovo Constitution dictates that the Supreme Court of Kosovo is the highest judicial authority, and provides for a Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC) that proposes to the president candidates for appointment or reappointment as judges and prosecutors; the KJC is also responsible for decisions on the promotion and transfer of judges and disciplinary proceedings against judges; at least 15 percent of Supreme Court and district court judges shall be from non-majority communities
Albanian Christian Democratic Party of Kosovo or PShDK [Marjan DEMAJ]; Alliance for a New Kosovo or AKR [Behgjet PACOLLI]; Alliance for the Future of Kosovo or AAK [Ramush HARADINAJ]; Alliance of Independent Social Democrats of Kosovo and Metohija or SDSKIM [Ljubisa ZIVIC]; Bosniak Vakat Coalition or DSV [Sadik IDRIZI]; Citizens' Initiative of Gora or GIG [Murselj HALJILJI]; Democratic Action Party or SDA [Numan BALIC]; Democratic League of Dardania or LDD [Nexhat DACI]; Democratic League of Kosovo or LDK [Isa MUSTAFA]; Democratic Party of Ashkali of Kosovo or PDAK [Berat QERIMI]; Democratic Party of Bosniaks [Dzezair MURATI]; Democratic Party of Kosovo or PDK [Hashim THACI]; Independent Liberal Party or SLS [Slobadan PETROVIC]; Kosovo Democratic Turkish Party of KDTP [Mahir YAGCILAR]; Movement for Self-Determination (Vetevendosje) [Albin KURTI]; New Democratic Initiative of Kosovo or IRDK [Xhevdet NEZIRAJ]; New Democratic Party or ND [Predrag JOVIC]; New Spirit or FER [Shpend AHMETI]; Serb National Party or SNS [Mihailo SCEPANOVIC]; Serbian Democratic Party of Kosovo and Metohija or SDS KiM [Slavisa PETKOVIC]; Serbian Kosovo and Metohija Party or SKMS [Dragisa MIRIC]; Serbian National Council of Northern Kosovo and Metohija or SNV [Milan IVANOVIC]; Social Democratic Party of Kosovo or PSDK [Agim CEKU]; Socialist Party of Kosovo or PSK [Emrush XHEMAJLI]; United Roma Party of Kosovo or PREBK [Ilaz KADOLLI]
Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedom (human rights); Organization for Democracy, Anti-Corruption and Dignity Rise! [Avni ZOGIANI]; Serb National Council (SNV); The Speak Up Movement [Ramadan ILAZI]
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
Over the past few years 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. Remittances from the diaspora - located mainly in Germany, Switzerland, and the Nordic countries - are estimated to account for about 13-15% of GDP, and donor-financed activities and aid for another 7.5%. Kosovo's citizens are the poorest in Europe with an average annual per capita income of only $2,800. Unemployment, around 40% of the population, is a significant problem that encourages outward migration and black market activity. Most of Kosovo's population lives in rural towns outside of the capital, Pristina. Inefficient, near-subsistence farming is common - the result of small plots, limited mechanization, and lack of technical expertise. With international assistance, Kosovo has been able to privatize 50% of its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) by number, and over 90% of SOEs by value. 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. A limited and unreliable electricity supply due to technical and financial problems is a major impediment to economic development, but Kosovo has received technical assistance to help improve accounting and controls. The US Government is cooperating with the Ministry for Energy and Mines and the World Bank to prepare a commercial tender for a project to include construction of a new power plant and the development of a coal mine to supply the new power plant as well as two existing plants. Privatization of the distribution and supply divisions of Kosovo Energy Corporation is also planned. The official currency of Kosovo is the euro, but the Serbian dinar is also used in Serb enclaves. Kosovo's tie to the euro has helped keep core inflation low. Kosovo has one of the most open economies in the region, and continues to work with the international community on measures to improve the business environment and attract foreign investment. Kosovo has maintained a budget surplus as a result of efficient value added tax (VAT) collection at the borders and inefficient budget execution. 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. However, Serbia and Bosnia have refused to recognize Kosovo's customs stamp or extend reduced tariff privileges for Kosovo products under CEFTA. In July 2008, Kosovo received pledges of $1.9 billion from 37 countries in support of its reform priorities. In June 2009, Kosovo joined the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and Kosovo began servicing its share of the former Yugoslavia's debt.
Serbia with several other states protest the US and other states' recognition of Kosovo's declaring itself as a sovereign and independent state in February 2008; ethnic Serbian municipalities along Kosovo's northern border challenge final status of Kosovo-Serbia boundary; several thousand NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers under UNMIK authority continue to keep the peace within Kosovo between the ethnic Albanian majority and the Serb minority in Kosovo; Kosovo and Macedonia completed demarcation of their boundary in September 2008