27 interesting facts about Kosovo

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From Europe’s youngest country to one of just two nations with a map on its flag, these are the most interesting facts about Kosovo.

A view of Pristina's skyline with its library centred
Several interesting facts about Kosovo are related to its relative newness (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Kosovo
Population: 1.8 million
Area: 10,887 sq km
Capital city: Pristina
Major languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Serbian, Turkish
Major religions: Islam
Time zone: TC+1 (Central European Time)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about Kosovo

1. Kosovo is a landlocked country in southeastern Europe bordering Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

2. Kosovo was part of the former state of Yugoslavia
– Source: BBC News

3. Kosovo is the smallest country in the Balkans. The Balkans comprise Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.
– Source: Britannica

A map of Kosovo showing its bordering countries
Kosovo is a landlocked country (Shutterstock)

4. After gaining independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo is Europe’s newest and the world’s second-newest country (after South Sudan).
– Source: Washington Post

5. Kosovo is internationally recognised by over 100 countries including most of Europe and the USA. However, Serbia, Russia and China still refuse to recognise Kosovo meaning it is not a member of the UN.
– Source: The Guardian

6. Kosovo’s flag consists of a blue background with a yellow map of Kosovo in the centre and an arc of six white stars above. The design and colours are modelled on the EU’s flag while the stars reflect the six principal ethnic groups in the country: Albanians, Bosniaks, Gorani, Roma, Serbs and Turks.
– Source: Britannica

Kosovo's flag flying against a blue sky
Kosovo’s flag is modelled on the EU’s (Shutterstock)

7. Kosovo is one of only two countries in the world to incorporate a national map into its flag. The other is Cyprus.
– Source: Moira Butterfield (2019) The Flag Book. Lonely Planet Kids: London

8. The Kosovo War between Kosovo and Serbia from 1998 to 1999, left 13,000 dead and over 200,000 displaced. Serbia’s leader President Slobodan Milosevic launched an ethnic cleansing campaign against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians. The conflict culminated in NATO intervention leading to Milosevic’s subsequent surrender, arrest and trial for war crimes.
– Source: Reuters, The Guardian, History Channel

9. Thanks to the UK’s support at the time, there are Kosovan Albanians who named their sons “Tonibler” after Tony Blair, the UK’s Prime Minister at the time.
– Source: The Guardian

Kosovan soldiers walking along a muddy road with damaged buildings around them
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) soldiers on patrol in 1998 (Shutterstock)

10. In a similar vein, there is a statue of former US president Bill Clinton in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. Clinton was instrumental in launching the NATO air strikes. There is also a street name after him (Bill Clinton Boulevard) as well as one named after the previous US president George W Bush.
– Source: Reuters, Lonely Planet

11. The name Pristina comes from the Slavic word “pryshchina,” meaning “spring (of water)”.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

12. The Newborn Monument in Pristina was unveiled in 2008 to o celebrate Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia. It is repainted every year by volunteers.

The Newborn Monument in Pristina seen from behind so the text is reversed
Pristina is Europe’s newest capital city (Shutterstock)

13. Kosovo translates as “field of the blackbirds” in Serbian.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

14. In 2016, Kosovo participated in the Olympic Games for the first time. They also won their first Olympic medal when Majlinda Kemeldi took gold in the women’s judo.
– Source: International Olympic Committee

15. One of Pristina’s most prominent landmarks is the National Library. Built in 1982, the surreal building has been described as being similar to “gelatinous eggs wearing armour”.
– Source: Lonely Planet

A close up of Pristina's National Library
Pristina’s National Library (Shutterstock)

16. Even though Kosovo is not a member of the EU, the country uses the euro as its de facto currency.
– Source: European Commission

17. With a median age of just 30.5, Kosovo is Europe’s youngest country demographically. It is 120th overall.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

18. Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania are straddled by a mountain range known as the Accursed Mountains. The mountains were supposedly created by the devil in just a day and are synonymous with bandits, blood feuds, avalanches and misfortune.
– Source: Lonely Planet

A verdant valley framed by steep mountains
The Accursed Mountains (Shutterstock)

19. Kosovo is the poorest country in Europe when measured by GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP).
– Source: World Bank

20. Even though Kosovo is not a member of UNESCO, it does have a world heritage site, the Medieval Monuments in Kosovo. However, the collection of four Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries is listed as Serbian entries.
– Source: UNESCO

21. Probably the most famous of these buildings is Gračanica Monastery. Completed in 1321, the monastery is known for its vivid, lifelike murals, located in a small side chapel.
– Source: Lonely Planet

Gračanica Monastery in Kosovo
Gračanica Monastery (Shutterstock)

22. Kosovo’s national anthem is called Europe. Kosovo adopted a wordless national anthem to avoid indicating loyalty to any particular ethnic group.
– Source: BBC News

23. The Kosovan village of Letnica has a church where Mother Teresa supposedly received her revelation from God and as such, devoted herself to a life of service.
– Source: European Commission

24. Kosovo is famous for its limestone caves. Gadimë Cave – AKA the Marble Cave – is famed for its crystallised stalagmites and stalactites. The cave was found by a villager in 1969 who was working at his nearby house.
– Source: Bradt Guides

Inside the cave showing its stalagmites and stalactites
Gadimë Cave (Shutterstock)

25. During the 1st Century AD, Kosovo was part of the Roman Empire.
– Source: BBC News

26. After the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, Kosovo became part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years. Over the centuries, many Christian Serbs left the region meaning the ethnic-religious balance of Kosovo changed to majority Muslim and Albanian.
– Source: Britannica

27. In 1918, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Kosovo was incorporated into the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as a part of Serbia. The new Kingdom would later be renamed Yugoslavia.
– Source: Britannica

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Kosovo using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.