Turks in Kosovo

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Turks in Kosovo
Kosovo ethnic 2005.png
Total population
18,738 (2011 census)[1]
(1.1% of Kosovo's population)
other estimates: 30,000[2] to 50,000[3]
(about 1-2% of Kosovo's population[4])
Regions with significant populations
Sunni Islam

The Turks in Kosovo, also known as Kosovo Turks, Kosovar Turks (Turkish: Kosova Türkleri) are the ethnic Turks who constitute a minority group in Kosovo.


Turkish settlement into Kosovo began in the early fourteenth century after the medieval Serbian state lost the Battle of Kosovo and the territory came under Ottoman rule. Substantial waves of Turkish colonisers began from 1389-1455 when, during the Ottoman conquest, soldiers, officials, and merchants began to make their appearance in the major towns of Kosovo.[5] However, the Ottoman Turks lost control over Kosovo in 1912, and Kosovo joined the Kingdom of Serbia. From this point, Kosovo as a political entity was discontinued as the region was divided among new administrative units within Serbia's framework. Following the Austrian and Bulgarian occupation during World War I, Serbia became part of the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918. When the Axis powers occupied Yugoslavia in 1941, the former territory of Kosovo became part of Albania, which was itself controlled by Italy. With the defeat of the Axis powers, Yugoslavia, then ruled by Communists led by Josip Broz Tito, regained control over the region. In 1946, Kosovo returned to maps when a region bearing the name Kosovo and Metohija was granted autonomous status within FPR Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, Turks officially became a recognised minority by Yugoslavia; as a result, the number of registered Turks in Kosovo jumped from a mere 1,313 (or 0.2% of the population) in 1948 to 34,343 (4.3% of Kosovo's population) in the 1953 census. However, many Turkish inhabitants began to emigrate to Turkey until 1958 on the basis of a bilingual contract between Yugoslavia and Turkey.[6]

Turks in Kosovo according to official censuses[7]
Year of census Turks  % of total population
1921 27,920 6.3%
1931 23,698 4.3%
1939 24,946 3.8%
1948 1,315 0.2%
1953 34,583 4.3%
1961 25,784 2.7%
1971 12,224 1.0%
1981 12,513 0.8%
2011 18,738 1.1%



In 1993, the Human Rights Watch stated that there was approximately 20,000 Kosovan Turks, constituting about 1% of Kosovo's population.[8] More recent estimates suggest that there are now about 30,000 to 50,000 Turks living in Kosovo, forming between 1-2% of Kosovo's total population.[4][3] According to the 2011 census 18,738 citizens declared themselves as Turks, constituting 1.1% of Kosovo's total population. The European Centre for minority Issues Kosovo has stated that:

The total census number for Turks (18,738) is somewhat lower than that of previous estimates. To give an example, in Lipjan/Lipljan, the figure of Turks decreases from 400-500 to 128. However, in the 2010 general elections, the Turkish political parties KDTP and KTB received together a total of 207 votes. Although members from other communities sometimes vote for Turkish parties and other issues need to be taken into account, this figure suggests that for this municipality the census figure may not be representative and that further analysis is needed.[9]

Areas of settlement[edit]

The Turkish minority mainly live in Prizren and in the neighbouring villages,[10] some of which are purely Turkish, such as Mamuša. They constitute roughly 4% of Prizren's population, and the town remains the historical, cultural and political centre of the Kosovan Turkish community.[2] In the Gnjilane municipality, the Turkish community resides mostly in the town of Gnjilane and in the villages of Livoç i Epërm/Gornji Livoč and Dobërçan/Dobrčane, constituting between 0.9-1.1% of the total population of the municipality.[2] Kosovan Turks living in Kosovska Mitrovica amount to roughly 1.5% of its total population; in the southern part of the town, Kosovan Turks live scattered in the city, while those who live in northern region reside in the "Bosniak Mahalla" neighbourhood.[2] In Vučitrn Turks constitute about 0.9% of the total population, and live scattered throughout the urban areas. In the Pristina region, they are concentrated in the urban areas of the city, and constitute roughly 0.4% of the total municipal population, and in the rural settlements of Janjevo and Banullë/Bandulić in the Lipljan municipality, where they amount to 0.5% of the population.[2]


There are three Turkish political parties in Kosovo:

  • Turkish Public Front- under the leadership of Sezai Saipi
  • Turkish Democratic Union- under the leadership of Erhan Köroğlu, centred in Pristina
  • Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo (KTDP)- under the leadership of Mahir Yağcılar, centred in Prizren (the only registered Turkish party of Kosovo)

Notable Kosovo Turks[edit]

Ottoman architecture[edit]

See also the Mosque of Muderis Ali Efendi

See also[edit]