Kosovo Albanians

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Kosovar Albanians
Shqiptarët e Kosovës
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Total population
Over 3 million
Regions with significant populations
 Kosovo[a] 1,616,869 (2011)[1]
 Germany 300,000[2]
  Switzerland 200,000[2][3][4]
 Italy 43,751[5]
 Austria 21,371[2]
 Sweden 19,576[2]
 United States 13,452[2]
 France 12,359[2]
 England 10,643[2]
 Belgium 7,891[2]
 Slovenia 6,783[2]
 Turkey over 600,000[6]
Rest of the World 39,535–100,000[2]
(Gheg dialect)
Majority Sunni Muslim
Roman Catholic, Bektashi, Protestant and Atheist minorities.
Related ethnic groups
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Kosovo Albanians
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Kosovo culture
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Montenegro · Romania
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Varieties of Albanian
Gheg · Tosk · Arvanitika
Arbëresh · Cham
Islam in Kosovo
Christianity in Kosovo
Roman Catholicism
Kosovo Protestant Evangelical Church
Origins · History
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Albanian culture
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Albanians are the largest ethnic group in Kosovo,[a] commonly called Kosovar Albanians, Kosovan Albanians, and Kosovo Albanians. According to the 1991 Yugoslav census, boycotted by Albanians, there were 1,596,072 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo or 81.6% of population. By the estimation in year 2000, there were between 1,584,000 and 1,733,600 Albanians in Kosovo or 88% of population; as of today their population is 92,93%. Albanians of Kosovo are Ghegs.[7] They speak Gheg Albanian, more specifically the Northern and Northeastern Gheg variants.

Kosovar Albanians are ethnic Albanians with ancestry or descent in the region, regardless of whether they live in Kosovo. A large Kosovar Albanian diaspora has formed since the Kosovo War, mostly in Germany and Switzerland. An estimated 500,000 Kosovar Albanians live in either Switzerland or Germany (about 300,000 in Germany and 200,000 in Switzerland), accounting for roughly one fifth of the total number of Kosovar Albanians.


Further information: History of Kosovo
Albanians in Kosovo in 1991.
Albanians in Kosovo in 2005 according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Ethnographic map of the Balkans in the end of the 19th century
Ethnic composition of the Balkans according to the Atlas Général Vidal-Lablache, Librairie Armand Colin, Paris, 1898.
Ethnic composition map of the Balkans by the pro-Greek[8] A. Synvet of 1877, a French professor of the Ottoman Lyceum of Constantinople.
Ethnographic map of the Balkans and west Asia Minor in 1922, C.S. Hammond & Co.
Distribution of Races in the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor in 1923, William R. Shepherd Atlas

Before World War I[edit]

Further information: Demographic history of Kosovo

The Albanian presence in Kosovo and in the adjacent Toplica and Morava regions is recorded since the medieval period.[9][10] As the Serbs expelled a large number of Albanians from the wider Toplica and Morava regions in southern Serbia, which the Congress of Berlin of 1878 had given to the Belgrade Principality, a large number of them settled in Kosovo.[11] In Kosovo they and their descendants are known as muhaxher (meaning the exiled, from the Arabic muhajir)[11] and some bear the surname Muhaxheri or most others the village name of origin.[12] During the late Ottoman period, ethno-national Albanian identity as expressed in contemporary times did not exist amongst the wider Kosovo Albanian-speaking population.[13] Instead collective identities were based upon either socio-professional, socio-economic, regional, or religious identities and sometimes relations between Muslim and Christian Albanians were tense.[13]

As a reaction against the Congress of Berlin, which had given some Albanian-populated territories to Serbia and Montenegro, Albanians, mostly from Kosovo, formed the League of Prizren in Prizren in June 1878. Hundreds of Albanian leaders gathered in Prizren and opposed the Serbian and Montenegrin jurisdiction. Serbia complained to the Western Powers that the promised territories were not being held because the Ottomans were hesitating to do that. Western Powers put pressure to the Ottomans and in 1881, the Ottoman Army started the fighting against Albanians. The Prizren League created a Provisional Government with a President, Prime Minister (Ymer Prizreni) and Ministries of War (Sylejman Vokshi) and Foreign Ministry (Abdyl Frashëri). After three years of war, the Albanians were defeated. Many of the leaders were executed and imprisoned. In 1910, an Albanian uprising spread from Pristina and lasted until the Ottoman Sultan's visit to Kosovo in June 1911. The aim of the League of Prizren was to unite the four Albanian-inhabited Vilayets by merging the majority of Albanian inhabitants within the Ottoman Empire into one Albanian vilayet. However at that time Serbs consisted about 25%[14] of the whole Vilayet of Kosovo's overall population and were opposing the Albanian aims along with Turks and other Slavs in Kosovo, which prevented the Albanian movements from establishing their rule over Kosovo.

World Wars era[edit]

In 1912 during the Balkan Wars, most of Eastern Kosovo was taken by the Kingdom of Serbia, while the Kingdom of Montenegro took Western Kosovo, which a majority of its inhabitants call "The Plateau of Dukagjin" (Rrafsh i Dukagjinit) and the Serbs call Metohija (Метохија), a Greek word meant for the landed dependencies of a monastery. Colonist Serb families moved into Kosovo, while the Albanian population was decreased. As a result, the proportion of Albanians in Kosovo declined from 75 percent[14][15] at the time of the invasion to slightly more than 65%[15] percent by 1941.

The 1918–1929 period under the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was a time of persecution of the Kosovar Albanians. Kosovo was split into four counties—three being a part of official Serbia: Zvečan, Kosovo and southern Metohija; and one in Montenegro: northern Metohija. However, the new administration system since 26 April 1922 split Kosovo among three Regions in the Kingdom: Kosovo, Rascia and Zeta.

In 1929 the Kingdom was transformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The territories of Kosovo were split among the Banate of Zeta, the Banate of Morava and the Banate of Vardar. The Kingdom lasted until the World War II Axis invasion of April 1941.

After the Axis invasion, the greater part of Kosovo became a part of Italian-controlled Fascist Albania, and a smaller, Eastern part by the Nazi-Fascist Tsardom of Bulgaria and Nazi German-occupied Kingdom of Serbia. Since the Albanian Fascist political leadership had decided in the Conference of Bujan that Kosovo would remain a part of Albania they started expelling the Serbian and Montenegrin settlers "who had arrived in the 1920s and 1930s".[16] Prior to the surrender of Fascist Italy in 1943, the German forces took over direct control of the region. After numerous Serbian and Yugoslav Partisans uprisings, Kosovo was liberated after 1944 with the help of the Albanian partisans of the Comintern, and became a province of Serbia within the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia.

Within Yugoslavia[edit]

The Province of Kosovo and Metohija was formed in 1946 as an autonomous region to placate its regional Albanian population within the People's Republic of Serbia as a member of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia under the leadership of the former Partisan leader, Josip Broz Tito, but with no factual autonomy. This was the first time Kosovo came to exist with its present boundaries. After the Yugoslavia's name changed to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia's to the Socialist Republic of Serbia in 1953, the Autonomous Region of Kosovo and gained inner autonomy in the 1960s.

In the 1974 constitution, the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo's government received higher powers, including the highest governmental titles—President and Premier and a seat in the Federal Presidency, which made it a de facto Socialist Republic within the Federation, but remaining as a Socialist Autonomous Region within the Socialist Republic of Serbia. Serbo-Croat and Albanian were defined official on the provincial level marking the two largest linguistic Kosovan groups: Serbs and Albanians. The word Metohija was also removed from the title in 1974 leaving the simple short form, Kosovo.

In the 1970s, an Albanian nationalist movement pursued full recognition of the Province of Kosovo as another Republic within the Federation, while the most extreme elements aimed for full-scale independence. Tito's government dealt with the situation swiftly, but only giving it a temporary solution.

In 1981 the Kosovar Albanian students organised protests seeking that Kosovo become a republic within Yugoslavia. Those protests were harshly contained by the centralist Yugoslav government. In 1986, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) was working on a document, which later would be known as the SANU Memorandum. An unfinished edition was filtered to the press. In the essay, SANU portrayed the Serbian people as a victim and called for the revival of Serb nationalism, using both true and exaggerated facts for propaganda. During this time, Slobodan Milošević rose to power in the League of the Socialists of Serbia.

Soon afterwards, as approved by the Assembly in 1990, the autonomy of Kosovo was revoked, and the pre-1974 status reinstated. Milošević, however, did not remove Kosovo's seat from the Federal Presidency, but he installed his own supporters in that seat, so he could gain power in the Federal government. After Slovenia's secession from Yugoslavia in 1991, Milošević used the seat to obtain dominance over the Federal government, outvoting his opponents.

Many Albanians organized a peaceful active resistance movement, following the job losses suffered by some of them, while other, more radical and nationalistic oriented Albanians, started violent purges of the non-Albanian residents of Kosovo.

On July 2, 1990, an unconstitutional[citation needed] Albanian parliament declared Kosovo an independent country, although this was not recognized by the Government since the Albanians refused to register themselves as legal citizens of Yugoslavia. In September of that year, the Albanian parliament, meeting in secrecy in the town of Kačanik, adopted the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo. Two years later, in 1992, the Parliament organized a referendum, which was observed by international organisations, but was not recognized internationally because of a lot of irregularities[clarification needed]. With an 80% turnout, 98% voted for Kosovo to be independent. The non-Albanian population refused to vote since they considered the referendum to be illegal. In the early nineties, Albanians organised a parallel state system and a parallel system of education and healthcare, among other things, Albanians organized and trained, with the help of some European countries, the army of the self-declared Kosovo republic called the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). With the events in Bosnia and Croatia coming to an end, the Yugoslav government started relocating Serbian refugees from Croatia and Bosnia to Kosovo. The OVK managed to re-relocate Serbian refugees back to Serbia.[citation needed].

Kosovo War[edit]

Further information: Kosovo Status Process

After the Dayton Agreement in 1995, a guerilla force calling itself the Kosovo Liberation Army, started to operate in Kosovo, although there are speculations that they may have started as early as 1992. Serbian paramilitary forces committed war crimes in Kosovo, although the Serbian government claims that the army was only going after suspected Albanian terrorists. This triggered a 78-day NATO campaign in 1999. The Albanian Kosovar KLA played a major role not only in reconnaissance missions for the NATO, but in sabotaging of the Serbian Army as well.

International negotiations began in 2006 to determine the final status of Kosovo, as envisaged under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which ended the Kosovo conflict of 1999. While Serbia's continued sovereignty over Kosovo is recognised by much of the international community, a clear majority of Kosovo's population prefers independence. The UN-backed talks, led by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, began in February 2006. While progress was made on technical matters, both parties remained diametrically opposed on the question of status itself.[17] In February 2007, Ahtisaari delivered a draft status settlement proposal to leaders in Belgrade and Pristina, the basis for a draft UN Security Council Resolution that proposes 'supervised independence' for the province. As of early July 2007 the draft resolution, which is backed by the United States, United Kingdom and other European members of the United Nations Security Council, had been rewritten four times to try to accommodate Russian concerns that such a resolution would undermine the principle of state sovereignty.[18] Russia, which holds a veto in the Security Council as one of five permanent members, has stated that it will not support any resolution that is not acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina.[19]


Kosovo Albanian ethnic costume and dance.

The most widespread religion among Albanians in Kosovo is Islam (mostly Sunni. The other religion Kosovar Albanians practice is Roman Catholicism). Culturally, Albanians in Kosovo are very closely related to Albanians in Albania. Traditions and customs differ even from town to town in Kosovo itself. The spoken dialect is Gheg, typical of northern Albanians. The language of state institutions, education, books, media and newspapers is the standard dialect of Albanian, which is closer to the Tosk dialect.

Education is provided for all levels, primary, secondary, and university degrees. University of Pristina is the public university of Kosovo, with several faculties and majors. The National Library (Alb: Bibloteka Kombëtare) is the main and the largest library in Kosovo, located in the centre of Pristina. There are many other private universities, among them American University in Kosovo (AUK), etc., and many secondary schools and colleges such as Mehmet Akif College.

Kosovafilmi is the film industry, which releases movies in Albanian, created by Kosovar Albanian movie-makers.

The National Theatre of Kosovo (Alb: Teatri Kombëtar i Kosovës) is the main theatre where plays are shown regularly by Albanian and international artists.


Further information: List of Albanians § Musicians

Music has always been part of Albanian culture. Although in Kosovo music is diverse (as it was mixed with the cultures of different regimes dominating Kosovo), authentic Albanian music does still exist. It is characterized by use of çiftelia (an authentic Albanian instrument), mandolina, mandola and percussion.

Folk music is very popular in Kosovo. There are many folk singers and ensembles.

Modern music in Kosovo has its origin from western countries. The main modern genres include Pop, Hip Hop/Rap, Rock, and Jazz. The most notable rock bands are: Gjurmët, Troja, Votra, Diadema, Humus, Asgjë sikur Dielli, Kthjellu, Gillespie, Cute Babulja, Babilon etc. Ilir Bajri is a notable jazz and electronic musician.

There are some notable music festivals in Kosovo:

  • Rock për Rock includes rock and metal music
  • Polifest includes all kinds of genres (usually hip hop, commercial pop, and never rock or metal)
  • Showfest includes all kinds of genres (usually hip hop, commercial pop, unusually rock and never metal)
  • Videofest includes all kinds of genres

Kosovo Radiotelevisions like RTK, 21 and KTV have their musical charts.

Prominent people[edit]

Before 1950[edit]


See also[edit]


a. ^ 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 been recognised as an independent state by 108 out of 193 United Nations member states.


  1. ^ "Minority Communities in the 2011 Kosovo Census Results: Analysis and Recommendations" (PDF). European Centre for Minority Issues Kosovo. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Emigration in Kosovo (International Emigation) - Page 32-38". Kosovo Agency of Statistics, KAS. 
  3. ^ "Die kosovarische Bevölkerung in der Schweiz" (PDF). 
  4. ^ "Donner une autre image de la diaspora kosovare". 
  5. ^ "Kosovari in Italia". 
  6. ^ Elsie,R.Historical Dictionary of Kosovo (2010) .pg.276
  7. ^ Simon Broughton; Mark Ellingham; Richard Trillo (1999). World music: the rough guide. Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Rough Guides. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-85828-635-8. Retrieved 13 July 2013. Most of the ethnic Albanians that live outside the country are Ghegs, although there is a small Tosk population clustered around the shores of lakes Presp and Ohrid in the south of Macedonia. 
  8. ^ Robert Shannan Peckham, Map mania: nationalism and the politics of place in Greece, 1870–1922, Political Geography, 2000, p.4: [1] "Other maps by among others the Frenchman F. Bianconi [1877], who was the chief architect and engineer of the Ottoman railways, A. Synvet [1877] and Karl Sax [1878], a former Austrian consul in Andrianople, were similarly favourable to the Greek cause."
  9. ^ Anscombe, Frederic F, (2006). "The Ottoman Empire in Recent International Politics - II: The Case of Kosovo". The International History Review. 28.(4): 767-774, 785-788. "While the ethnic roots of some settlements can be determined from the Ottoman records, Serbian and Albanian historians have at times read too much into them in their running dispute over the ethnic history of early Ottoman Kosovo. Their attempts to use early ottoman provincial surveys (tahrir defterleri) to gauge the ethnic make—up of the population in the fifteenth century have proved little. Leaving aside questions arising from the dialects and pronunciation of the census scribes, interpreters, and even priests who baptized those recorded, no natural law binds ethnicity to name. Imitation, in which the customs, tastes, and even names of those in the public eye are copied by the less exalted, is a time—tested tradition and one followed in the Ottoman Empire. Some Christian sipahis in early Ottoman Albania took such Turkic names as Timurtaş, for example, in a kind of cultural conformity completed later by conversion to Islam. Such cultural mimicry makes onomastics an inappropriate tool for anyone wishing to use Ottoman records to prove claims so modern as to have been irrelevant to the pre—modern state. The seventeenth—century Ottoman notable arid author Evliya Çelebi, who wrote a massive account of his travels around the empire and abroad, included in it details of local society that normally would not appear in official correspondence; for this reason his account of a visit to several towns in Kosovo in 1660 is extremely valuable. Evliya confirms that western and at least parts of central Kosovo were ‘Arnavud’. He notes that the town of Vučitrn had few speakers of ‘Boşnakca’; its inhabitants spoke Albanian or Turkish. He terms the highlands around Tetovo (in Macedonia), Peć, and Prizren the ‘mountains of Arnavudluk’. Elsewhere, he states that ‘the mountains of Peć’ lay in Arnavudluk, from which issued one of the rivers converging at Mitrovica, just north-west of which he sites Kosovo’s border with Bosna. This river, the Ibar, flows from a source in the mountains of Montenegro north—north—west of Peć, in the region of Rozaje to which the Këlmendi would later be moved. He names the other river running by Mitrovica as the Kılab and says that it, too, had its source in Aravudluk; by this he apparently meant the Lab, which today is the name of the river descending from mountains north—east of Mitrovica to join the Sitnica north of Priština. As Evliya travelled south, he appears to have named the entire stretch of river he was following the Kılab, not noting the change of name when he took the right fork at the confluence of the Lab and Sitnica. Thus, Evliya states that the tomb of Murad I, killed in the battle of Kosovo Polje, stood beside the Kılab, although it stands near the Sitnica outside Priština. Despite the confusion of names, Evliya included in Arnavudluk not only the western fringe of Kosovo, but also the central mountains from which the Sitnica (‘Kılab’) and its first tributaries descend. Given that a large Albanian population lived in Kosovo, especially in the west and centre, both before and after the Habsburg invasion of 1689-90, it remains possible, in theory, that at that time in the Ottoman Empire, one people emigrated en masse and another immigrated to take its place.
  10. ^ Uka, Sabit (2004). Jeta dhe veprimtaria e sqiptarëve të Sanxhakut të Nishit deri më 1912 [Life and activity of Albanians in the Sanjak of Nish up to 1912]. Verana. pp. 244-245. "Eshtë, po ashtu, me peshë historike një shënim i M. Gj Miliçeviqit, i cili bën fjalë përkitazi me Ivan Begun. Ivan Begu, sipas tij ishte pjesëmarrës në Luftën e Kosovës 1389. Në mbështetje të vendbanimit të tij, Ivan Kullës, fshati emërtohet Ivan Kulla (Kulla e Ivanit), që gjendet në mes të Kurshumlisë dhe Prokuplës. M. Gj. Miliçeviqi thotë: “Shqiptarët e ruajten fshatin Ivan Kullë (1877-1878) dhe nuk lejuan që të shkatërrohet ajo”. Ata, shqiptaret e Ivan Kullës (1877-1878) i thanë M. Gj. Miliçeviqit se janë aty që nga para Luftës se Kosovës (1389). [12] Dhe treguan që trupat e arrave, që ndodhen aty, ata i pat mbjellë Ivan beu. Atypari, në malin Gjakë, nodhet kështjella që i shërbeu Ivanit (Gjonit) dhe shqiptarëve për t’u mbrojtur. Aty ka pasur gjurma jo vetëm nga shekulli XIII dhe XIV, por edhe të shekullit XV ku vërehen gjurmat mjaft të shumta toponimike si fshati Arbanashka, lumi Arbanashka, mali Arbanashka, fshati Gjakë, mali Gjakë e tjerë. [13] Në shekullin XVI përmendet lagja shqiptare Pllanë jo larg Prokuplës. [14] Ne këtë shekull përmenden edhe shqiptarët katolike në qytetin Prokuplë, në Nish, në Prishtinë dhe në Bulgari.[15].... [12] M. Đj. Miličević. Kralevina Srbije, Novi Krajevi. Beograd, 1884: 354. "Kur flet mbi fshatin Ivankullë cekë se banorët shqiptarë ndodheshin aty prej Betejës së Kosovës 1389. Banorët e Ivankullës në krye me Ivan Begun jetojnë aty prej shek. XIV dhe janë me origjinë shqiptare. Shqiptarët u takojnë të tri konfesioneve, por shumica e tyre i takojnë atij musliman, mandej ortodoks dhe një pakicë i përket konfesionit katolik." [13] Oblast Brankovića, Opširni katastarski popis iz 1455 godine, përgatitur nga M. Handžic, H. Hadžibegić i E. Kovačević, Sarajevo, 1972: 216. [14] Skënder Rizaj, T,K “Perparimi” i vitit XIX, Prishtinë 1973: 57. [15] Jovan M. Tomić, O Arnautima u Srbiji, Beograd, 1913: 13.
  11. ^ a b Jagodić, Miloš (1998). The Emigration of Muslims from the New Serbian Regions 1877/1878. Balkanologie. 
  12. ^ Uka, Sabit (2004). E drejta mbi vatrat dhe pasuritë reale dhe autoktone nuk vjetërohet: të dhëna në formë rezimeje [The rights of homes and assets, real and autochthonous that does not disappear with time: Data given in the form of estate portions regarding inheritance]. Shoqata e Muhaxhirëvë të Kosovës. pp. 52-54.
  13. ^ a b Frantz, Eva Anne (2011). “Catholic Albanian warriors for the Sultan in late Ottoman Kosovo: The Fandi as a socio-professional group and their identity patterns”. In Grandits, Hannes, Nathalie Clayer, & Robert Pichler (eds). Conflicting Loyalties in the Balkans: The Great Powers, the Ottoman Empire and Nation-building. IB Tauris. p. 183. "It also demonstrates that while an ethno-national Albanian identity covering the whole Albanian-speaking population hardly existed in late-Ottoman Kosovo, collective identities were primarily formed from layers of religious, socio-professional/socio-economic and regional elements, as well as extended kinship and patriarchal structures.”; p. 195. “The case of the Fandi illustrates the heterogeneous and multilayered nature of the Albanian-speaking population groups in late-Ottoman Kosovo. These divisions also become evident when looking at the previously-mentioned high level of violence within the Albanian-speaking groups. Whereas we tend to think of violence in Kosovo today largely in terms of ethnic conflict or even “ancient ethnic hatreds”, the various forms of violence the consuls described in their reports in late-Ottoman Kosovo appear to have occurred primarily along religious and socio-economic fault lines, reflecting pre-national identity patterns. In addition to the usual violence prompted by shortages of pastureland or robbery for private gain, the sources often report on religiously motivated violence between Muslims and Christians, with a high level of violence not only between Albanian Muslims and Serbian Christians, but also between Albanian Muslims and Albanian Catholics.”
  14. ^ a b Malcolm, Noel (2008-02-26). "Is Kosovo Serbia? We ask a historian". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-23. 
  15. ^ a b http://www.seep.ceu.hu/archives/issue61/herbert.pdf
  16. ^ The Emerging Strategic Environment: Challenges of the Twenty-First Century - Google Boeken
  17. ^ "UN frustrated by Kosovo deadlock", BBC News, October 9, 2006.
  18. ^ Russia reportedly rejects fourth draft resolution on Kosovo status (SETimes.com)
  19. ^ UN Security Council remains divided on Kosovo (SETimes.com)

External links[edit]