Kosovo is a self-declared independent European country in the Balkans with a capital city of Pristina and a population of almost 1,900,000 people.
The United States and the majority of European Union (EU) members recognized Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 but Serbia, Russia, and a few other countries, including several EU members, did not.
Because of the absence of international agreement, Kosovo was not immediately admitted to the United Nations (UN).
Despite Serbia’s objections, the International Court of Justice ruled in 2010 that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law.
Kosovo was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from the mid-15th to the early 20th century after serving as the capital of a medieval Serbian state, during which time Islam gained prominence and the region’s population of Albanian speakers grew.
Serbia annexed Kosovo in the early twentieth century (later part of Yugoslavia). By the second half of the twentieth century, Muslim ethnic Albanians outnumbered Eastern Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo, and interethnic conflicts were widespread.
In 1998, an ethnic Albanian-led separatist insurrection exploded into an international crisis (see Kosovo conflict), ending in 1999 with NATO air bombing of Yugoslavia (then a vestige of the old federal state, consisting solely of Serbia and Montenegro) (NATO).
Following the restoration of peace, Kosovo was controlled by the UN Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo. Serbia regarded Kosovo to be part of its territory throughout this period, during which Yugoslavia changed its name to Serbia and Montenegro (2003) and subsequently divided into two sovereign republics (2006).
Nonetheless, Kosovo laid the groundwork for an independent nation under UN supervision, and it declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Later that year, the UN presence was largely replaced by an EU mission tasked with managing police, judicial, and customs responsibilities. Pristina is the capital and largest city (Albanian: Prishtin; Serbian: Pritina).