When is a country not a country?
Like the states of Croatia, Bosnia, North Macedonia and Slovenia, Kosovo tried to break away from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and declared its independence. Unlike the others, it didn't stick and was only recognized by Albania.
Part of the problem was that Kosovo is ethnically mostly Albanian, but historically it is very much part of the Serbian national identity - the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, despite being a defeat for the Serbs against the invading Ottoman Turks, is still a matter of great national pride and Serbs got their land back by fighting (with Albanians, Greeks, Bulgarians etc.) to liberate Balkans from Ottoman rule. Also, it's worth mentioning that although the Albanians have lived in Kosovo since antiquitynote and have been inhabiting it in significantly large numbers in the Middle Ages, they became the overwhelming majority only after the other groups of the region, Serbsnote , in that region migrated en masse to Belgradenote because of the Ottoman Empire, later, during the World War II when Albania became an Italian protectorate and expanded to Albanian-populated areas outside of the country, including Kosovo.
At any rate, a campaign during the 1990s of Albanian protests turned nasty after the Dayton Agreement (sorting out the war in the rest of Yugoslavia) didn't address Kosovo. Realizing that the West just wasn't interested, the organization of "KLA" started a rather more... active campaign. Slobodan Miloević's Yugoslavian army responded in kind (and that meant ethnic cleansing), and the result was the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.
Kosovo went into the United Nations administration for the best part of a decade, with any attempt by the West to conclude independence being stymied by Russia in its traditional role as "Big Bro" to the Serbs. As a result, it legally remained a part of Yugoslavia (later Serbia and Montenegro, and then just Serbia).
Eventually, in February 2008, Kosovo declared independence as the Republic of Kosovo (Albanian: Republika e Kosovës, Serbian: Република Косово Republika Kosovo) - however to date only a limited number of countries have recognized it. All of NATO has (except Spain, Romania, Greece and Slovakia, because all of them apart from Greecenote have independence movements back home: Basques and Catalans in Spain, Hungarians in Slovakia, Székely/Hungarians in Romania), Russia has declared the independence to be "illegal" and China is passively supporting the Serbian side. Kosovo has wisely not applied for UN membership. Most Serbs living in Kosovo were predictably angered, with four Serb-majority municipalities in the north of the country going so far as to shut off any attempt by the Kosovar government to reach out to them (since they are still part of the Kosovo region/province/what-have-you, they are obliged to allow visitations by the United Nations).
On 22 July 2010, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion after Serbia requested it that the declaration of independence was legal, which the International Court confirmed it was because there is no law that prohibits the declaration of independence.
Kosovo got back in international focus once again when the Republic of Crimea declared independence from pro-NATO Ukraine and became a part of Russia, which is now described as unlawful by the same countries that supported the independence of Kosovo. As many have pointed out, there was no genocide on the Crimean people to cause the people to rise against the Ukrainian government, making the cases quite different.
By the way, the overwhelming majority of the population (around 95%) are followers of Sunni Islam, which may count as a Reality Is Unrealistic and an Aluminum Christmas Trees to people who couldn't believe that there is a Muslim-majority country in Europe. They're not Turks (though such term is a well-established offensive slur to refer to Muslims in the Balkans, hence "kebabs"); 500+ years of Ottoman rule must had left some kind of impact in the local culturenote and faith, which includes the mass conversion of local Albanians, being one of the few European ethnic groups under Ottoman rule who did so.
Famous Kosovar people:
- Mother Teresa of Calcutta, born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. A Kosovar Albanian by ethnicity, though she was born in Skopje in what is now North Macedonia.
- Rita Ora, born Rita Sahatçiu, singer-songwriter. Born in the capital Pristina, moved to the UK. Became honorary ambassador of the country in 2015.
- Majlinda Kelmendi, judoka and Kosovo's first Olympic gold medalist in 2016 (which also happens to be their debut year).
- Dua Lipa was born in the UK to Kosovar Albanian parents. Her family returned to Kosovo when she was 11. Four years later, Lipa moved back to the UK on her own to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.
Media set in or pertaining to Kosovo:
- The Day of the Pelican
- Soldier of Fortune has three missions in Gracanica.
- The song "Kosovo" by Seattle radio comedian Bob Rivers is a parody of "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys, keeping the cheerful tropical rhythm intact but referencing the bloodshed of The Yugoslav Wars to mock US foreign policy. This led to a minor scandal in 2005 when some Norwegian peacekeepers stationed in Kosovo made a video of themselves lip-syncing and dancing to the song.
- The third season premier of SEAL Team has Bravo Team raiding an apartment in Kosovo in search of a bombmaker, which unfortunately ends in failure when he kills himself with a suicide vest.
The Kosovar Flag