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In its early history, Kosovo was inhabited by various ethnic tribes, though it became part of the Roman Empire around 160 BC, becoming part of the province of Illyricum in 59 BC, and later the province of Moesia in 87 AD. Beginning around the 6th century AD, the region saw Slavic migration, leading up to the Slavic takeover of many cities. Kosovo and its surrounding Balkan states became part of the Bulgarian Empire around 850, and were later overtaken by the Byzantines in 1018. Kosovo was conquered by Serbia in the 12th century, becoming part of the Serbian Empire when it was created in 1346. Kosovo was an important center of the kingdom until the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, when the Ottomans took control, fully conquering the region by 1455.
In the beginning of Kosovo’s history as part of the Ottoman Empire, it existed as part of Rumelia, until it became its own province in 1864. Kosovo’s territory was expanded to include parts of Albania, and Islam spread among its people. The Austrian Empire controlled Kosovo during the Great War in 1683 until the Ottoman Empire regained its power in 1699. Tensions between the Christian Serbs and Muslim Albanians began to cause conflict in Kosovo. Albanian nationalism led to the formation of the League of Prizren in 1878.
After a coup in 1912, the Ottoman Empire was taken over by the Young Turk Movement, causing uprisings and the loss of Albanian territories. After World War I, Serbia became the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians in 1918. In 1929, that kingdom transformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The following decades were marked by Serbian recolonization of Kosovo, and the Muslims were pushed out. In 1941, the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia. After World War II, Kosovo became an autonomous province within Serbia. The tensions between Albanians and Serbs led to violence, and the 1999 Kosovo War. Yugoslavia came under UN administration. The Republic of Kosovo declared independence in 2008, which has been widely recognized internationally.
Kosovo shares borders with the Republic of Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro.
- Pristina (capital)
- Peja (Pec)
Kosovo is located in the Balkan Peninsula, and its landscape features the Sar Mountains and Kopaonik Mountains, and the Metohija basin and Plain of Kosovo. The highest point in Kosovo is Deravica Peak, which stands 2,656 meters (8,714 feet) above sea level. Rugova Canyon is one of Kosovo’s notable features, formed by the Pecka Bistrica. Another notable feature is the Gadime Cave. The Balkan forests cover much of the terrain.
The main rivers in Kosovo include the White Drin, Sitnica, Ibar, and the South Morava, while the major lakes include Gazivoda, Radonjic, Batlava and Badovac. The White Drin River creates the Drin Waterfall, while the Mirusa Waterfalls are on the Mirusa tributary of the Drin.
Points of Interest
In Pristina, there are many historical sites and archaeological sites, including some dating back to the Ottoman Empire. The city also holds the National Museum, a university and library, and the Jashar Pasha Mosque, among other religious sites. The recently reconstructed Gjakova Old Bazaar originated in the 17th century as an eclectic market, centered around a mosque.
One UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kosovo is the Decani Monastery, which is connected to the Serbian Orthodox Church, and is known for its unique architecture that blends eastern and western styles. Another site is the Gracanica Monastery, which is also significant for its architecture, but also features frescoes. More historical sites can be found in Prizren, which features architecture influenced by Islamic styles. The town of Novo Brdo was once a major city, and features a medieval castle.
Some natural sites in Kosovo include the Drin Waterfall and the Rugova Gorge outside of Peja, and the Mirusha Waterfalls.
The major airport in the country is located in Kosovo’s capital, called Pristina International Airport, which has service to many major European cities. Kosovo is accessible by bus and car across the borders at many points, though the major roads are paved, others are not well maintained. Distance buses are a good way to get from Albania, Serbia, and Montenegro, and the system is well connected with cities across Eastern and Central Europe. Within major cities, there is public transportation, including a bus system, as well as plenty of taxis. Trains are also available form Serbia and Macedonia, which can take a long time. The railway system within Kosovo is fairly well connected to certain Serbian enclaves in the north, and there are trains between Fushe Kosove and Leshak and Hani i Elezit, among other routes.