Kosovo

Kosovo is located in the Southeast of Europe surrounded by Serbia to the Northeast, Montenegro to the Northwest, Albania to the Southwest and Macedonia to the Southeast. It is the smallest territory of the Balkans.The Republic of Kosovo is a province self-declared independent from Serbia since 2008. 105 countries including the United States and most of the European Union members recognized the independence declaration.

Capital: Pristina
Surface area: 10 887 Km²
Climate: Continental
Population: 1.8 million (2011)
Government: Republic of Kosovo
Currency: Euro (self-choice despite not being part of the eurozone or the European Union)

Kosovo is marked by past incidents. Kosovo conflict opposed ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs. Muslim Albanians were the ethnic majority in Kosovo. The president of Serbia refused to recognise the rights of the majority because Kosovo was an area sacred to the Serbs. Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo formed a militant group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to fight against the Serbian police and politicians and were engaged in an all-out revolt in 1998.
Serbian and Yugoslav forces tried to fight growing KLA support through oppressive strategy and violence. The government destroyed villages and forced people to leave their homes. They massacred entire villages. Many people fled their homes. Diplomatic negotiations between Kosovan and Serbian delegations began in 1999, but Serbs refused to cooperate. Despite a peace accord signed to end the Kosovo War between NATO and Yugoslav government, nowadays tensions persist between Albanians and Serbs.

 

Tourism in Kosovo is characterised by a nature tourism thanks to the mountains and virgin natural heritage (where trails are organised), caves as an archaeological site (Radacit cave), the fauna and flora protected. Also cultural aspects including Oriental and Slav influences, architectural heritage where you can find orthodox monasteries classified at the UNESCO World Heritage as the Patriarchate of Peje/Pec, Decani monastery and Gracanica monastery, and Our Laffy of Ljevis in the Prizren’s Church.

Kosovo is surrounded by impressive mountains whose the highest is Gjeravica (2 656 m) on the west of Kosovo. There is also the Rugova Valley, a mountain range with water, waterfalls and rocks, where you can practice adventure activities.
The national park Sara is the main protected zone of the country. The fauna is relatively diverse, brown bears, Eurasian lynx, wildcats, gray wolves, foxes, roe deer and red deer blend into the landscape.

Unfortunately, as Albania, air pollution is a major environmental issue in the bigger cities of Kosovo because of the war past. People are not raised awareness of nature consideration.

The lifestyle in Kosovo is very close to Albanian and Serb culture. Most of the local people are Muslim (95%) due to the main ethnic group which is Albanian (92.9 %), then Serbs (5.6 %) and Roms and neighbouring nationalities (1.5 %). People are welcoming and friendly, you can be invited easily and don’t forget to remove your shoes before going into the house. Otherwise, it can be an impolite and disrespect act. To say hello, people from Kosovo shake hands or 2 kisses on the cheeks are common when people are close friends.

Food is influenced by the Balkans cuisine. The most popular are the Boza, a fermented beverage made from flour and sugar, Ajvar a sort of Balkan’s eggplant caviar mixed with herbs and spices, and Flia (Flija) sort of savoury tart made from cheese, cream and yogurt.

Albanian and Serbian are the official languages of Kosovo but Albanian is the most widespread one.

Useful phrases :

Good morning: Mirëmëngjes
Good afternoon: Mirëdita
Thank you: Falemenderit
Please : Ju lutem
Your welcome : S’ka përse
Do you speak English: A flisni anglisht
Yes : Po
No : Jo
Have a nice day : Ditën e mirë

For LGBT community traveller, it is good to know that Kosovo is still a very traditional country, LGBT society is considered inappropriate, but tolerated.