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Gjilan or Gjilani  (Albanian)
Гњилане/Gnjilane  (Serbian)
City and municipality
Gjilan at night
Gjilan at night
Flag of Gjilan
Official seal of Gjilan
Location of the city of Gjilan within Kosovo
Location of the city of Gjilan within Kosovo
Coordinates: 42°28′N 21°28′E / 42.47°N 21.47°E / 42.47; 21.47Coordinates: 42°28′N 21°28′E / 42.47°N 21.47°E / 42.47; 21.47
Country  Kosovo
District District of Gjilan
 • Type Town Assembly
 • Mayor Lutfi Haziri (LDK)
 • Legislature Gjilan Assembly
 • Municipal 392 km2 (151 sq mi)
Elevation 508 m (1,667 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Urban 54,239
 • Municipal 90,178
 • Municipal density 230/km2 (600/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 60000
Area code(s) +383 280
Car plates 06
Date of Liberation 15 June 1999[1]
Website kk.rks-gov.net/gjilan

Gjilan (Albanian: Gjilani) or Gnjilane (Serbian Cyrillic: Гњилане), is a city and municipality located in the Gjilan District in eastern Kosovo[a]. According to the 2011 census, the city of Gjilan has 54,239 inhabitants, while the municipality has 90,178 inhabitants.


Gjilan is located in the southern Binačka Morava river basin (Binačko Pomoravlje, "Pomoravlje of Binač"). And this position gives the city touristic prominence. The city of Gjilan is positioned in south-eastern of Kosovo and has a lot of rivers like: River Morava, River Stanishori, etc. Gjilan is positioned in very strategic posite that helps in world of plants and animals .


Ottoman chronicler Evliya Çelebi mentions Morava as a settlement of the Sanjak of Vučitrn. Çelebi writes that: "The seventeen day journey from Constantinople (Istanbul) to pass through Vranje, Novo Brdo, Krivareka (Egridere) and Morava (Gjilan). The etymology of Gjilan is disputed. Albanian sources claim that the town (initially a village) obtained its name from Bahti Beg Gjinolli of Gjinaj clan that ruled the region of Vučitrn (Llapi and Drenica), and populated this area in the 18th century (around 1750). However, there is no definite evidence to support that claim, and in fact no one can confirm as to who the first true inhabitants were, or when they first settled there. On the other hand, Serbian sources claim that the origin of the town name is in the Serbian word gnjio (putrid, rotten).[2][better source needed]


Middle Ages and Ottoman period[edit]

In 1342, a place called Morava was visited by Serbian King Stefan Dušan (later Emperor, r. 1331-1355).[3] A fort was built nearby in the 14th century. Gornja Morava was known as simply Morava under Ottoman rule, and it extended west of the Upper Žegra-Budriga-Cernica line, thus Gjilan stayed in the oblast (province) of Topolnica, which provincial seat was Novo Brdo.[4] In the 1455 defter (Ottoman tax registry), Gjilan was inhabited by Serbs, and the priest Božidar served the town.[5] There were 41 households. Haji Kalfa (first half of the 17th century) mentions Morava being 17 days from Constantinople.[3] Gornja Morava and Izmornik were organized into the Sanjak of Vučitrn up until the 18th century.[6] Gjilan became a kadiluk around 1780, and 20–25 years later a large village.[7]

Modern history[edit]

In 1915, in and around the city, the Serbian army made a futile stand against the 1st Army of Bulgaria, during the World War I Battle of Kosovo. That battle resulted in the defeat of the Serbian military, and the occupation by the forces allied with the then German Empire, though the territory was finally liberated by the Serbs in 1918.

In World War II there was a significant amount of activity in and around Gjilan by the Partisans fighting against Nazi Germany and her allies. Monuments to these actions can still be found today, one of which is located in the middle of the village of Koretište.[8]

In 1999, Camp Monteith was established outside the city as a base of operations for KFOR during Operation Joint Guardian, on the site of a destroyed Serbian military base which is handed over to Kosovo Protection Corps in 2007 after U.S. Military downsized their troops. Gjilan has also served as the regional headquarters of the UNMIK International Police task force from 1999.

In between 23 and 27 November 1999, during the Gnjilane massacre, Gnjilane was the scene of the killing of 104 Serb civilians by the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) paramilitary troops and Albanian extremists in November 1999, during the Kosovo War.[9]


Communist-era apartment complex in Gjilan.
Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1953 48,748 —    
1961 52,415 +0.91%
1971 67,893 +2.62%
1981 84,085 +2.16%
1991 103,675 +2.12%
2011 90,178 −0.69%
80,525 −2.24%
Source: Division of Kosovo

According to the last official census done in 2011, the city of Gjilan has 90,178 inhabitants.

Ethnic groups[edit]

The vast majority of the population is Albanian, followed by Serbs, and a small number of minorities. There are among others, 978 Turks or 1% of the municipal population. The number of Serbs has decreased due to partial boycott[10] and the creation of the Serb-majority municipality of Parteš.

The ethnic composition of the municipality:

Ethnic composition
Year/Population Albanians  % Serbs  % Roma  % Others  % Total
1953 24,797 50.87 19,196 39.32 48,748
1961 29,942 57.12 18,297 34.91 735 1.50 52,415
1971 43,754 64.45 20,237 29.81 1,824 2.69 67,893
1981 59,764 71.08 19,212 22.85 3,347 3.98 1,762 2.1 84,085
1991 79,357 76.54 19,370 18.68 3,477 3.4 1,471 1.4 103,675
1998 94,218 79.4 19,481 16.4 3,568 3 1,387 1.2 118,654
2011 87,814 97,45 624 0,7 361 0,4 1,379 1,52 90,178
Source: Yugoslav Population Censuses for data through 1991,and Kosovo 2011 census.


Albanian, Serbian and Turkish languages are official languages in the municipality.[11]


Education in Gjilan includes primary, secondary education, and a public university. Currently there are 23,608 Albanian students and 881 minority students enrolled in educational institutions around Gjilan.


There are 3,700 registered private businesses in the municipality employing 7,900 people. Before 1999, Gjilan was an important industrial centre in Kosovo. Still in operation are the radiator factory and tobacco factory, which has been recently privatized. The new city business incubator, supported by the European Agency for Reconstruction, was inaugurated in summer 2007.


An Albanian dance during "Flame's Pentagram"

Flaka e Janarit[edit]

Flaka e Janarit is a cultural event that starts on January 11 in Gjilan, Kosovo with symbolic opening of the flame, to keep up with various cultural activities to 31 January of each year. It gathers thousands of artists and art lovers from all the Albanian territories, who for three consecutive weeks transform the city into a cultural metropolis. The nation's martyrs are honored through values of art by this event, which began before the 10th anniversary of the assassination of writer, activist and patriot Jusuf Gërvalla, along with Kadri Zeka and Bardhosh Gërvalla. It was exactly the 10th anniversary without these three martyrs of freedom and from coincidence of these murders in a same date on 11 January, this event got this name "Flaka e Janarit". Moreover, this month has "eaten" lots of devout patriots.[12]


Gjilan is now the administrative center of the District of Gjilan of Kosovo. Since February 15, 2003, it is the headquarters of the Local Democracy Agency in Kosovo of the Council of Europe.


Gjilan is home to the basketball club Drita Gjilan, the football clubs KF Gjilani and KF Drita and volleyball club KV Drita, male and female- the most successful club in Gjilan's history. Also has the football club which is in the 2nd league Kf.Bashkimi.


Notable people[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Gjilan is twinned with:


  1. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gjilan's Liberation Day to be marked today". Kosovapress. Retrieved 16 March 2018. 
  2. ^ http://kk.rks-gov.net/gjilan/City-guide/History.aspx
  3. ^ a b Kostić 1922, p. 126

    ГЊИЛАНЕ. ИЛИ. ГИЉАНЕ. У 14. веку помиње се неко место Морава, где се 1342. год бакио краљ Душан. Хаџи Калфа (прва половина 17. века) помиње неко место Мораву, на 17 дана од Цариграда. Јањева, Новог Брда и Кача- ...

  4. ^ Urošević/Macura 1987, p. 10

    Горња Морава се под турском управом звала само Мора- ва, а протезала се западно од линије с. Жегра — Будрига — Церница, тако да је Гњилане остајало у области Топонице, чије је обласно средиште било Ново Брдо.

  5. ^ Kalezić 2002, p. 448

    Из турског дефтера (1455) види се да је насељено Србима и да је у њему служио свештеник Божидар. Старо Гњилане налазило се у Петиковиди (Петковици) предграђу данашњег насеља које је подиг- нуто на месту

  6. ^ Urošević/Macura 1987, p. 11
  7. ^ Cvijić 1930, p. 38

    Гњилане је дакле могло постати тек после овог кадије, око 1780 године, тако да је после 20 — 25 година, на крају 18 века, могло бити велико село — варошица. При доласку Џинића у новобрдски

  8. ^ Monument in Koretište (picture) facebook.com
  9. ^ "Ex-KLAs sent to prison for 101 years". B92. 11 January 2011. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  10. ^ "ECMI: Minority figures in Kosovo census to be used with reservations". ECMI. 
  11. ^ OSCE Implementation of the Law on the Use of Languages by Kosovo Municipalities
  12. ^ Rrustemi, Sabit (2001). Cultural literary magazine "Agmia". 5: Pg.85–86.  Missing or empty |title= (help)


  • А. Урошевић: Гњилане — Гласник Географског друштва, св. ХУП. Београд, 1931
  • А. Урошевић: Горња Морава и Изморник., Насеља и порекло становништва, књ. 28, Београд 1935

External links[edit]