|Area||10,887 sq km|
|Population||1,836,529 (est 2012)|
|Languages||Albanian. Serbian. Bosnian. Turkish. Roma.|
|Religions||Islam. Serbian Orthodox. Roman Catholicism.|
|Life expectancy||68.8 years (est 2006)|
Sometimes described as a mountain-ringed ‘island’, Kosovo’s unearthly beauty stands in stark contrast to the hatred, division and prejudice that threatens to overshadow this this newly independent territory.
In 1910 an Albanian insurrection broke out in the Kosovo province leading to international recognition in 1913 of the region as part of Serbia. Five years later Serbia became part of the kingdom of Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav government tried to remove the Albanian population causing widespread anger amongst the Albanians.
During World War II the kingdom of Yugoslavia was dissolved and divided between Germany and Italy. Most of Kosovo was given to Italian-occupied Greater Albania, while a smaller section was handed over to German-occupied Serbia and Bulgaria. Armed Albanians in Kosovo expelled an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 Kosovan Serbs during the occupation. Many Kosovan Serbs lost their lives.
In March 1999 war broke out after negotiations between Serbian and Albanian representatives failed. Between March 1998 and April 1999 nearly 640,000 Albanians were either forced to flee Kosovo or expelled. Thousands of refugees lived in temporary camps and shelters.
Further unrest broke out between Serbians and Albanians in March 2004. On 17 February 2008 independence from Serbia was declared. On 15 June 2008 a new constitution was officially brought into being in the Albanian parts of Kosovo only. The Serbs have rejected ‘independence’, stating that Kosovo is still a part of Serbia.
Approximately 45 per cent of the population live in poverty (below €1.42 per day) and 15 per cent in extreme poverty (€0.93 per day).
Kosovo has become a major centre for drugs and the trafficking of women.
BMS involvement in Kosovo
Joining force with Baptists from other parts of Europe and beyond, BMS formed a local non-governmental organisation and spent ten years supporting church planting ministry. In 2010 there was a change of direction whereby BMS, still in partnership with other Baptists, began to bring much-needed help to one of Kosovo’s ethnic minorities.
Kosovo has some of the most fertile land in the Balkans as well as areas of rugged mountain terrain. It is an area of small farms and grains; fruits and vegetables are all grown. Tobacco is grown as a commercial crop in some areas.
Kosovo is predominantly Muslim (70 per cent) with minority religions of Eastern Orthodox (15 per cent), Roman Catholicism (four per cent), Protestantism (less than one per cent) and other religions (10 per cent). There has been a rapid growth in evangelical groups and the need to build up those young in the Christian faith is pressing.