Kosovo is landlocked in the central Balkan Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pristina. The Republic of Macedonia and Albania borders it to the south, Montenegro to the west and the uncontested territory of Serbia to the north and east. In antiquity, the Dardanian Kingdom and later the Roman province of Dardania were located in the region. It was part of Serbia in the Middle Ages, and many consider the Battle of Kosovo of 1389 to be one of the defining moments in Serbian medieval history.

After being part of the Ottoman Empire from the 15th to the early 20th century, in the late 19th century Kosovo became the centre of the Albanian independence movement with the League of Prizren.

As a result of the defeat in the First Balkan War (1912–13), the Ottoman Empire ceded the Vilayet of Kosovo to the Balkan League; the Kingdom of Serbia took its larger part, while the Kingdom of Montenegro annexed the western part before both countries became a part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after World War I. After a period of Yugoslav unitarianism in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the post-World War II Yugoslav constitution established the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within the Yugoslav constituent republic of Serbia.

Long-term severe ethnic tensions between Kosovo’s Albanian and Serb populations left Kosovo ethnically divided, resulting in inter-ethnic violence, including the Kosovo War of 1998–9.

In 2009, there were still remaining religious/ethnic tensions and the country was still seen as a fragile state. Rule of law was a big issue, as were residual landmines and other unexploded ordnance.


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