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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.). Despite legislative concessions, Albanian nationalism increased in the 1980s, which led to riots and calls for Kosovo's independence. The Serbs - many of whom viewed Kosovo as their cultural heartland - instituted a new constitution in 1989 revoking Kosovo's autonomous status. Kosovo's Albanian leaders responded in 1991 by organizing a referendum declaring Kosovo independent. Serbia undertook repressive measures against the Kosovar Albanians in the 1990s, provoking an Albanian insurgency.

Beginning in 1998, Serbia conducted a brutal counterinsurgency campaign that resulted in massacres and massive expulsions of ethnic Albanians (some 800,000 ethnic Albanians were forced from their homes in Kosovo). After international attempts to mediate the conflict failed, a three-month NATO military operation against Serbia beginning in March 1999 forced the Serbs to agree to withdraw their 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 numerous international organizations. 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. Kosovo seeks to consolidate its international status by increasing bilateral recognitions and joining international institutions, such as the UN, EU, and NATO, but nonrecognizers in these organizations, coupled with Kosovo’s limited administrative capacity and need for political, security, and economic reforms, significantly delay Kosovo’s prospects.



Southeast Europe, between Serbia and Macedonia

Geographic coordinates

42.35° N, 21.00° E

Area 169/257

total: 10,887 sq km

land: 10,887 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Delaware

Land boundaries

total: 714 km

border countries (4): Albania 112 km, Macedonia 160 km, Montenegro 76 km, Serbia 366 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


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


flat fluvial basin at an elevation of 400-700 m above sea level surrounded by several high mountain ranges with elevations of 2,000 to 2,500 m


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Drini i Bardhe/Beli Drim 297 m (located on the border with Albania)

highest point: Gjeravica/Deravica 2,656 m

Natural resources

nickel, lead, zinc, magnesium, lignite, kaolin, chrome, bauxite

Land use

agricultural land: 52.8%

arable land 27.4%; permanent crops 1.9%; permanent pasture 23.5%

forest: 41.7%

other: 5.5% (2001 est.)

Irrigated land


People and Society


noun: Kosovar (Albanian), Kosovac (Serbian)

adjective: Kosovar (Albanian), Kosovski (Serbian)

note: Kosovan, a neutral term, is sometimes also used as a noun or adjective

Ethnic groups

Albanians 92.9%, Bosniaks 1.6%, Serbs 1.5%, Turk 1.1%, Ashkali 0.9%, Egyptian 0.7%, Gorani 0.6%, Roma 0.5%, other/unspecified 0.2%

note: these estimates may under-represent Serb, Roma, and some other ethnic minorities because they are based on the 2011 Kosovo national census, which excluded northern Kosovo (a largely Serb-inhabited region) and was partially boycotted by Serb and Roma communities in southern Kosovo (2011 est.)


Albanian (official) 94.5%, Bosnian 1.7%, Serbian (official) 1.6%, Turkish 1.1%, other 0.9% (includes Romani), unspecified 0.1%

note: in municipalities where a community's mother tongue is not one of Kosovo's official languages, the language of that community may be given official status according to the 2006 Law on the Use of Languages (2011 est.)


Muslim 95.6%, Orthodox 1.5%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, other 0.07%, none 0.07%, unspecified 0.6% (2011 est.)

Population 151/238

1,870,981 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.82% (male 250,907/female 232,112)

15-24 years: 17.74% (male 174,208/female 157,791)

25-54 years: 42.01% (male 414,684/female 371,339)

55-64 years: 7.4% (male 69,030/female 69,338)

65 years and over: 7.03% (male 55,107/female 76,465) (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 28.2 years

male: 27.9 years

female: 28.6 years (2015 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PRISTINA (capital) 207,062 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.12 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female

total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 2/134

total: 55.3%

male: 52%

female: 63.8% (2012 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Kosovo

conventional short form: Kosovo

local long form: Republika e Kosoves (Republika Kosovo)

local short form: Kosova (Kosovo)

etymology: name derives from the Serbian "kos" meaning "blackbird, "an ellipsis for "kosove polje" or "field of the blackbirds"

Government type



name: Pristina (Prishtine, Prishtina)

geographic coordinates: 42.40° N, 21.10° E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions

38 municipalities (komunat, singular - komuna (Albanian); opstine, singular - opstina (Serbian)); Decan (Decani), Dragash (Dragas), Ferizaj (Urosevac), Fushe Kosove (Kosovo Polje), Gjakove (Dakovica), Gjilan (Gnjilane), Gllogovc (Glogovac), Gracanice (Gracanica), Hani i Elezit (Deneral Jankovic), Istog (Istok), Junik, Kacanik, Kamenice (Kamenica), Kline (Klina), Kllokot (Klokot), Leposaviq (Leposavic), Lipjan (Lipljan), Malisheve (Malisevo), Mamushe (Mamusa), Mitrovice e Jug (Juzna Mitrovica) [South Mitrovica], Mitrovice e Veriut (Severna Mitrovica) [North Mitrovica], Novoberde (Novo Brdo), Obiliq (Obilic), Partesh (Partes), Peje (Pec), Podujeve (Podujevo), Prishtine (Pristina), Prizren, Rahovec (Orahovac), Ranillug (Ranilug), Shterpce (Strpce), Shtime (Stimlje), Skenderaj (Srbica), Suhareke (Suva Reka), Viti (Vitina), Vushtrri (Vucitrn), Zubin Potok, Zvecan


17 February 2008 (from Serbia)

National holiday

Independence Day, 17 February (2008)


previous 1974, 1990; latest (postindependence) draft finalized 2 April 2008, signed 7 April 2008, ratified 8 April 2008, entered into force 15 June 2008; amended 2012, 2013 (2015)

Legal system

civil law system; note- the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) retains limited executive powers related to the investigation of such issues as war crimes

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Kosovo

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Atifete JAHJAGA (since 7 April 2011);

head of government: Prime Minister Isa MUSTAFA (since 9 December 2014)

cabinet: Cabinet elected by the Assembly

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly for a 5-year term; if a candidate does not receive a two-third majority in the first two ballots, the candidate receiving a simple majority of votes in the third ballot is elected (eligible for a second term); election last held on 7 April 2011 (next to be held in 2016); prime minister indirectly elected by the Assembly

election results: Atifete JAHJAGA elected president; Assembly vote - Atifete JAHJAGA (independent) 80, Suzana NOVOBERDALIU (AKR) 10; Isa MUSTAFA (LDK) selected prime minister by the President in consultation with the LDK/PDK/PD/LB/PSHDK/PK coalition

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi i Kosoves/Skupstina Kosova (120 seats; 100 members directly elected by proportional representation vote with 20 seats reserved for ethnic minorities - 10 for Serbs and 10 for other ethnic minorities; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 8 June 2014 (next expected to be held in June 2018)

election results: percent of vote by party/coalition - PDK/PD/LB/PSHDK/PK 30.4%, LDK 25.2%, VV 13.6%, AAK 9.5%, Serb List 5.2%, NISMA 5.2%, KDTP 1.0%, other 9.9%; seats by party/coalition - PDK/PD/LB/PSHDK/PK 37, LDK 30, VV 16, AAK 11, Serb List 9, NISMA 6, KDTP 2, VAKAT 2, other 7

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the court president and at least 15 percent of judges to reflect Kosovo's territorial ethnic composition); Constitutional Court (consists of the court president, vice president, and 7 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges nominated by the Kosovo Judicial Council, an independent body staffed by judges and lay members, and also responsible for overall administration of Kosovo's judicial system; judges appointed by the president of the Republic of Kosovo; judges appointed until mandatory retirement age; Constitutional Court judges nominated by the Kosovo Assembly and appointed by the president of the republic to serve single, 9-year terms

subordinate courts: Court of Appeals (organized into 4 departments: General, Serious Crime, Commercial Matters), and Administrative Matters; Basic Court (located in 7 municipalities, each with several branches)

note: Kosovo initiated a new judicial system in January 2013

Political parties and leaders

Albanian Christian Democratic Party of Kosovo or PSHDK [Uke BERISHA]

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo or AAK [Ramush HARADINAJ]

Civic Initiative for Kosovo or NISMA [Fatmir LIMAJ]

Conservative Party of Kosovo or PK [Munir BASHA]

Democratic League of Kosovo or LDK [Isa MUSTAFA]

Democratic Party of Kosovo or PDK [Hashim THACI]

Justice Party of Kosovo or PD [Ferid AGANI]

Movement for Self-Determination (Vetevendosje) or VV [Visar YMERI]

Movement for Unification or LB [Avni KLINAKU]

Serb List [Slavko SIMIC]

Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo or KDTP [Mahir YAGCILAR]

Vakat Coalition or VAKAT [Rasim DEMIRI]

Political pressure groups and leaders

CiviKos Platform [Valdete IDRIZI]

Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedom (human rights)

Group for Political and Legal Studies [Fisnik KORENICA]

KLA Veterans [Xhevdet QERIQI]

Kosova Women's Network [Igballe RUGOVA]

Kosovar Civil Society Foundation [Venera HAJRULLAHU]

Kosovo Democratic Institute [Ismet KRYEZIU]

Organization for Democracy, Anti-Corruption and Dignity Rise! [Avni ZOGIANI]

Serb National Council (SNV)

Speak Up [Ramadan ILAZI, executive director]

International organization participation

IBRD, IDA, IFC, IMF, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, OIF (observer)

Flag description

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

National symbol(s)

six, five-pointed, white stars; national colors: blue, gold, white

National anthem

name: "Europe"

lyrics/music: no lyrics/Mendi MENGJIQI

note: adopted 2008; Kosovo chose to exclude lyrics in its anthem so as not to offend the country's minority ethnic groups


Economy - overview

Kosovo's economy has shown 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 15% of GDP and international donor assistance accounts for approximately 10% of GDP. With international assistance, Kosovo has been able to privatize a majority of its state-owned enterprises.

Kosovo's citizens are the poorest in Europe with a per capita GDP (PPP) of $8,000 in 2014. An unemployment rate of 31%, and a youth unemployment rate near 60%, in a country where the average age is 26, encourages emigration and fuels a significant informal, unreported economy. 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 a lack of technical expertise. Kosovo enjoys lower labor costs than the rest of the region. However, high levels of corruption, little contract enforcement, and unreliable electricity supply have discouraged potential investors.

Minerals and metals production - including lignite, lead, zinc, nickel, chrome, aluminum, magnesium, and a wide variety of construction materials - once the backbone of industry, has declined because of ageing equipment and insufficient investment. A limited and unreliable electricity supply is a major impediment to economic development, but Kosovo has received technical assistance to help improve the sector’s performance. In 2012, Kosovo privatized its electricity supply and distribution network. The US Government is cooperating with the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and the World Bank to conclude a commercial tender for the construction of a new power plant, Kosovo C. MED also has plans for the rehabilitation of an older coal power plant, Kosovo B, and the development of a coal mine that could supply both plants.

In June 2009, Kosovo joined the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and 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. Kosovo joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 2012 and the Council of Europe Development Bank in 2013. In 2014, Kosovo concluded the Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations (SAA) with the EU, focused on trade liberalization, and signed it into law in 2015. In 2015, Kosovo negotiated a $185 million Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF following the conclusion of its previous SBA in 2014. The official currency of Kosovo is the euro, but the Serbian dinar is also used illegally in Serb majority communities. Kosovo's tie to the euro has helped keep core inflation low.

Kosovo experienced its first federal budget deficit in 2012, when government expenditures climbed sharply. In May 2014, the government introduced a 25% salary increase for public sector employees and an equal increase in certain social benefits. Central revenues could not sustain these increases, and the Government was forced to reduce its planned capital investments. The government, led by Prime Minister MUSTAFA - a trained economist - recently made several changes to its fiscal policy, expanding the list of duty-free imports, decreasing the Value Added Tax (VAT) for basic food items and public utilities, and increasing the VAT for all other goods. In August 2015, as part of its EU-facilitated normalization process with Serbia, Kosovo signed agreements on telecommunications and energy distribution, but disagreements over who owns economic assets within Kosovo continue.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 150/230

$17.63 billion (2015 est.)

$17.09 billion (2014 est.)

$16.63 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$6.309 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 96/225

3.2% (2015 est.)

2.7% (2014 est.)

3.4% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 229/230

$0 (2015 est.)

$0 (2014 est.)

$0 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 136/179

12.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

12.7% of GDP (2013 est.)

12.5% of GDP (2012 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 90.5%

government consumption: 16%

investment in fixed capital: 28.2%

investment in inventories: 3%

exports of goods and services: 5.8%

imports of goods and services: -43.5%

(2012 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 12.9%

industry: 22.6%

services: 64.5% (2009 est.)

Agriculture - products

wheat, corn, berries, potatoes, peppers, fruit; dairy, livestock; fish


mineral mining, construction materials, base metals, leather, machinery, appliances, foodstuffs and beverages, textiles

Labor force 157/233


note: includes those estimated to be employed in the grey economy (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 5.9%

industry: 16.8%

services: 77.3% (2013)

Unemployment rate 193/207

35.3% (2013 est.)

30.9% (2012 est.)

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 122/144

30 (FY05/06)


revenues: $1.396 billion

expenditures: $1.61 billion (2014 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 142/219

22.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 128/220

-3.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

Public debt 164/176

10.6% of GDP (2014 est.)

9.1% of GDP (2013)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 19/226

-0.5% (2015 est.)

0.4% (2014 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 58/184

12.8% (30 June 2013 est.)

13.7% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money 147/193

$2.511 billion (2014 est.)

$2.773 billion (2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 138/191

$2.02 billion (2014 est.)

$2.505 billion (2013)

Current account balance 97/197

-$505 million (2015 est.)

-$586 million (2014 est.)

Exports 181/224

$349 million (2014 est.)

$408 million (2013 est.)

Exports - commodities

mining and processed metal products, scrap metals, leather products, machinery, appliances, prepared foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco, vegetable products, textiles and apparel

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 149/223

$2.687 billion (2014 est.)

$3.398 billion (2013 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.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt - external 183/206

$411.6 million (2014 est.)

$448.2 million (2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 76/120

$21.2 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$29.41 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

0.89 (2015 est.)

0.75 (2014 est.)

0.76 (2013 est.)

0.78 (2012 est.)

0.72 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 119/220

5.324 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption 135/219

2.887 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports 67/218

474.8 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports 66/219

875 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 115/214

1.589 million kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 59/214

97.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 123/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 132/214

2.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 190/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

NA bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 148/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 211/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

NA bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 198/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

NA bbl/day (2011 est.)

Natural gas - production 208/216

0 cu m (2007)

Natural gas - consumption 161/215

0 cu m (2007)

Natural gas - proved reserves

NA cu m

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 113/212

7.576 million Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 143/219

total: 110,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (2006)

Telephones - mobile cellular 168/217

total: 562,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 31 (2007)


Airports 172/236

6 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 3

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 3

under 914 m: 3 (2013)


2 (2013)

Railways 115/136

total: 333 km

standard gauge: 333 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 147/223

total: 2,003 km

paved: 1,883 km (includes 38 km of expressways)

unpaved: 120 km (2014)

Military and Security

Military branches

Kosovo does not have a military force; the Kosovo Security Force was established in 2009 and maintains a non-military mandate in four core competencies: search-and-rescue, firefighting, demining, and hazardous material response (2015)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Serbia with several other states protest the US and other states' recognition of Kosovo's declaration of its status 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 Kosovo Force peacekeepers under United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo 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

Refugees and internally displaced persons

IDPs: 17,100 (primarily ethnic Serbs displaced during the 1998-1999 war fearing reprisals from the majority ethnic-Albanian population; a smaller number of ethnic Serbs, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians fled their homes in 2004 as a result of violence) (2015)