Europe

Kosovo profile

  • 7 April 2016
  • From the section Europe
Map of Kosovo

Kosovo, an impoverished land with a mainly Albanian population, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, after years of strained relations between its Serb and Albanian inhabitants.

It has been recognised by the United States and major European Union countries, but Serbia, backed by its powerful ally Russia, refuses to do so, as do most ethnic Serbs inside Kosovo.

After the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia responded to separatist pressure from Kosovo by launching a brutal crackdown on the territory's Albanian population, which was only brought to an end by Nato military intervention in 1999.

Until 2008 the province was administered by the UN. Reconciliation between the majority Albanians, most of whom support independence, and the Serb minority remains elusive.

FACTS

Kosovo

Broke away from Serbia in 2008. UN-administered

  • Capital Pristina

  • Population 1.8 million-2.4 million

  • Area 10,887 sq km (4,212 sq miles)

  • Major languages Albanian, Serbian

  • Major religions Islam, Christianity

Getty Images

LEADERS

Image copyright Getty Images

President: Hashim Thaci

Hashim Thaci was elected by parliament to the largely ceremonial role in February 2016, at the end of a day marked by violent protests by the opposition which did not want him to be president.

Mr Thaci was a guerrilla leader during a conflict that led to Kosovo's independence. He has played an important role in Kosovo's politics for nearly two decades, most recently as foreign minister from 2014 until his election as president. He served two terms as prime minister, from 2008 until 2010 and from 2011 until December 2014.

He also served as prime minister of the provisional government of Kosovo between 1999 and 2001 and oversaw Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008. He has been the chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo since May 2000.

Mr Thaci fell out with many opposition groups after helping to negotiate with Serbia a deal that gave more autonomy to Kosovo's minority Serbs.

Prime minister: Isa Mustafa

Parliament elected veteran politician Isa Mustafa to head a broad coalition government in November 2014, ending the six-month political deadlock that gripped Kosovo since snap elections earlier in the year.

He replaced Hashim Thaci, who had served as premier since independence was declared in 2008.

Mr Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) won the most votes in the June 2014 poll, with Mr Mustafa's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) following close behind.

Neither party was able to form a government without the other and finally agreed to team up.

MEDIA

Television is the most popular medium. Most households have cable, meaning that domestic stations face strong competition from popular channels based in Albania.

Public broadcaster RTK was set up as an editorially independent service.

Some 84% of the population was online by 2015.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in Kosovo's history:

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, a Serb nationalist, stripped Kosovo of autonomy. Serbs regard Kosovo as the birthplace of their nation

12th century - Kosovo lies at the heart of the Serbian empire. The period sees the building of many Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries.

1389 - Epic Battle of Kosovo heralds 500 years of Turkish Ottoman rule. Over the centuries the religious and ethnic balance tips in favour of Muslims and Albanians.

1912 - Balkan Wars: Serbia regains control of Kosovo from the Turks.

1946 - Kosovo is absorbed into the Yugoslav federation.

1974 - Yugoslav constitution recognises the autonomous status of Kosovo, giving the province de facto self-government.

1990 - Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic strips Kosovo of its autonomy and imposes Serbian administration on the territory, prompting Albanian protests.

1991 - Start of the violent break-up of Yugoslavia. Kosovar Albanians launch a passive resistance movement but fail to secure independence.

1996 - The rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) steps up attacks on Serbian authorities in Kosovo. Their campaign grows along with a Serbian crackdown.

1999 - After international efforts fail to stop the Kosovo conflict, Nato begins aerial bombardment of Serb targets. Yugoslav and Serbian forces respond with a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Kosovar Albanians, prompting an exodus.

Following a peace agreement, Yugoslav and Serbian forces withdraw from Kosovo and a UN sponsored administration takes over.

2008 - Kosovo declares independence unilaterally.

2012 - Group of countries overseeing Kosovo since 2008 ends its supervisory role. Nato-led peacekeepers and EU rule-of-law monitors remain.

2013 - Kosovo and Serbia reach a landmark agreement on normalising relations that grants a high degree of autonomy to Serb-majority areas in northern, while both sides agree not to block each other's efforts to seek EU membership.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kosovar Albanians fled to neighbouring countries to escape ethnic cleansing by Serbs

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites