Kosovo, a complex country
Kosovo is Europe’s youngest country. One of Europe’s poorest as well. The struggle for independence has left its marks everywhere spreading through the country. Kosovo is a partially recognized state (96 of a total of 193 United Nations members recognize its independence). To this day, An army of the UN is present in the country.
Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) since the end of the Kosovo War. In 2008, a new constitution came into force which gave Kosovo control over its own laws: from now on, the country may organise its own elections, for the first time it will have a minister of foreign affairs, a central bank and a new national anthem. The Kosovar president will regulate the laws instead of the UN. Although, police and justice remain in the hands of UNMIK for the time being.
Kosovo’s unclear status has far-reaching implications, and not only in economical aspects. The country has one of the least developed economies in Europe. Corruption is also a serious problem and therefore, it is not easy to attract foreign investment.
Kosovo, explore the new born
Yet, Kosovo has more than enough to offer. The Great Outdoors, in summer and winter, the excellent cuisine and a young and enterprising population. Surrounded by mountains, the country borders Albania, Serbia, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia. Kosovo has a surface area of 10,887 km² and has about 1.8 million inhabitants. The largest city is the capital Pristina, with about 200,000 inhabitants. The Kosovars usually speak Albanian, are Muslim and pay in Euros. The only exeption of this rule is in the north of the country. Here people speak Serbian, pay in dinar, and don’t drink Peja but Jelen beers.
It may be clear that Kosovo has a complex history. It is therefore not easy to give a brief and at the same time a critical view of it. Nevertheless, we try our very best.
Kosovo’s history in a nutshell
Kosovo’s early years
In the beginning (around 1000 BC) Kosovo was populated by Illyrian tribes, who inhabited the land between the Danube and the Adriatic coastline. They were known as dangerous pirates. Around the first century B.C. the Romans arrived (conquerors and not afraid of “barbarians”). The Romans brought both Christianity and the Latin alphabet to these regions. Of the Illyrians, only their language remained – the basis for present-day Albanian. A little later (fifth century) Slavic tribes crossed the Danube. These Southern Slaves settled in the region that would later be called Yugoslavia (joego is Russian for south). They brought with them the Cyrillic alphabet and the orthodox church. The tribes united (around the twelfth century) and formed the Serbian Empire. In the fourteenth century the Ottomans visited Kosovo. They achieved an important victory on June 28th 1389 (The Battle of Kosovo, for the quizzers among you). Exit Serbian, enter Ottoman Empire.
Division and Power
This early history is important because it shows that the division among the Balkan states goes back a long way. We don’t have enough time here to explain the complete history of Kosovo (we could go on for hours and hours), but don’t hesitate to ask us or our guides about it. With great pleasure we will explain all the details.
The next centuries are characterized by a constant struggle for power over the Serbian territories. Those who were heavily involved were the Turks (Ottomans), the Serbs, the Albanians, the Austro-Hungarians, and also the Russians (during the Russo-Turkish war the Russians brought defeat to the Turks, which originated the solidarity between Russia and Serbia). We have the Balkan wars at the beginning of the 20th century, the assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 which, according to some, unleashed the First World War. Then two world wars, Tito’s communist Yugoslavia, his death in 1980 and the subsequent disintegration of the SFRY folowed. After that, the armed conflicts for independence, the Kosovo war of 1996-1999, and finally the proclamation of the independent Republic of Kosovo in 2008 happened.
At least now you can tell your friends something about the country where you are going to ski or snowboard. We can’t wait to take you to Peja and Prizren, to go cat-skiing in the Bogë valley, to challenge ourselves with a via ferrata in the Rugova Canyon and to go skiing in Brezovica. What about you?