Metohija (Serbian Cyrillic: Метохија, pronounced [mɛtɔ̌xija], Metohija, or infrequently Metochia; Albanian: Rrafshi i Dukagjinit, Albanian pronunciation: [ˈrafʃi i dukaˈɟinit]), is a large basin and the name of the region covering the southwestern part of Kosovo.[a] The area of the region is 3,340 km2 (1,290 sq mi). The population in 2002 was 790,272, or 40 percent of the territory's total of 1,956,194.
It encompasses three of the seven districts of Kosovo, namely the historical :
- District of Peć (Albanian: Qarku i Pejës)
- District of Đakovica (Albanian: Qarku i Gjakovës)
- District of Prizren
It encompasses the following new Municipalities of Kosovo :
- Peć (Albanian: Peja) (115,190)
- Istok (Albanian: Istog)
- Klina (Albanian: Klina or Klinë)
- Đakovica (Albanian: Gjakova) (97,156)
- Dečani (Albanian: Deçan or Deçani)
- Orahovac (Albanian: Rahovec or Rahoveci)
- Prizren (165,229)
- Dragaš (Albanian: Dragash)
- Suva Reka (Albanian: Suhareka or Theranda)
- Mališevo (Albanian: Malishevë or Malisheva)
The name Metohija derives from the Greek word μετόχια (metókhia, metochion), meaning "monastic estates" – a reference to the large number of villages and estates in the region that were owned by the Serbian Orthodox monasteries and Mount Athos during the Middle Ages.
The term "Kosovo and Metohija" (Serbian Cyrillic: Косово и Метохија) was in official use of the province until 1974, when the constitutional status of Kosovo underwent major changes in a newly established constitution for the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The 1974 constitution dropped the term "Metohija" and "Kosovo" became the official term for the province as a whole. The change was not accepted in Serbia, where the old name continued to be in use (for example in the Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1986). In 1989, the then Serbian President Slobodan Milošević promulgated a new constitution for Serbia that greatly reduced the province's autonomy and restored the old name, thus symbolically undoing the earlier reforms.
Metohija is 23 km (14 mi) wide at its broadest point and about 60 km (37 mi) long, at an average altitude of 450 m (1,476 ft) above sea level. Its principal river is the White Drin. It is bordered by the mountain ranges Mokra Gora in the north and northwest, the Prokletije in the west, Paštrik (Albanian: Pashtrik) in the southwest, the Šar Mountains(Albanian: Malet e Sharrit) in the south and southeast, and Drenica, which distinguishes it from the rest of Kosovo in the east and northeast.
The geographic division between Metohija and Eastern Kosovo causes differences between the two areas' flora and fauna. Metohija has the characteristic influences of the Mediterranean, while Eastern Kosovo's ecology does not differ from Central Serbia's.
Metohija consists of fertile arable land with many small rivers which provide water for irrigation and, in combination with the Mediterranean climate, give excellent fields except for cereals. This area is well known for its high quality vineyards, fruit orchards and for the growing of chestnut and almond trees.
Slavs settled in the Balkans in the 6th century. In the first half of the 7th century, the region was part of the Serbian Principality under the Vlastimirović dynasty, with several towns in the region, including Destinikon, and Drsnik. At the dawn of the 10th century, Metohija was conquered by Bulgarian Tsar Simeon. Byzantine rule was restored after its fall in 960. Control over the region of Metohija was slowly regained by the Vojislavljević dynasty in the 11th century. They were subsequently replaced by the Nemanjić dynasty. The realm was elevated to a Serbian Kingdom in 1217, and an Empire in 1345.
The area was taken by the Kingdom of Montenegro in the 1912 First Balkan War. During the First World War, Montenegro was conquered by the Austro-Hungarian forces in 1915. The Central Powers were pushed out of Metohija by the Serbian Army in 1918. Montenegro subsequently joined the Kingdom of Serbia, which was followed by the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The Kingdom was reformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. The Kingdom suffered an Axis invasion during World War II in 1941, and the region of Metohija was incorporated into the Italian-controlled Albania. After Italy's treaty with the Allies in 1943, the Germans took direct control over the region, supported by the local Albanian collaborationism. After numerous rebellions of Serbian Chetniks and Yugoslav Partisans, Metohija was as the rest of Serbia liberated in 1944. In 1946, by the ruling communist regime it was proclaimed part of Serbia's Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija – within the transitional Democratic Federal Yugoslavia.
On 17 February 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. However, Serbia still considers Metohija as a region of the autonomous province of its sovereign territory.
- Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 99 out of 193 United Nations member states.
- Paulin Kola, The Search for Greater Albania, p. 47 fn 108. C. Hurst & Co, 2003. ISBN 978-1-85065-664-7
- Elsie, Robert (2004). Historical dictionary of Kosova. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-8108-5309-6.
- Ulqini, Kahreman (12-18 January 1968). "Prejardhja dhe zhvillimi i toponimit DUKAGJIN". Second Conference of Albanological Studies.
- Kosta Mihailović; Akademija nauka i umjetnosti Republike Srpske (2006). Kosovo and Metohija: past, present, future : papers presented at the International Scholarly Meeting held at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade, March 16-18, 2006. Serbian Academy of Science and Arts. p. 121. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- Geographical Atlas of Yugoslavia, University Press "Liber", Zagreb, 1987. – made from military maps of Geographical Military Institute, Belgrade.
- Relja Novakovic, Gde se nalazila Srbija od VII do X veka (Where Serbia was situated from the 7th to 10th centuries) [Serbia, Belgrade: Narodna knjiga, 1981], pp. 61–63.