Official name: Republic of Kosovo

Area: 10,905 km²

Residents: 1.80 million (2017)

Growth of population: 0.82% (2017)

Seat of government: Prishtina / Pristina (population: approx. 212,000, 2017)

Official languages: Albanian, Serbian

Regional languages: Turkish, Bosnian, Romani

Natural space

According to COMMIT4FITNESS, Kosovo covers a total area of 10,905 km² and is therefore almost four times the size of Saarland or about half the size of Hesse. The country comprises two basin landscapes over 400m high, separated by the Carraleva / Crnoljeva low mountain range: the western Dukagjin plain or Metohija and the eastern Kosovo along the river Sitnicë / Sitnica, in which the capital Prishtinë / Pristina is located. The transition area of Drenicë / Drenica extends between the two. The basin landscapes are almost completely surrounded by mountains up to 3,000 meters high, which form a kind of natural border with Kosovo’s neighboring states. In the north-east, on the border with Montenegro and Albania, extend the northern Albanian Alps (Bjeshkët e Namuna / Prokletije), which are also known as the haunted mountains. In the Kosovar part of this mountain range protected as a national park (Bjeshkët e Namuna e Kosovës) is the highest mountain in Kosovo at 2,656 meters, the Gjeravica / Đeravica. The mountains of the Malet e Sharrit / Šar Planina National Park in the south on the border with Macedonia reach a height of over 2,000 meters and are home to Kosovo’s largest ski area: Brezovicë / Brezovica. The Black Mountains (Mali i Zi Shkupit / Skopska Crna Gora or Turkish: Karadag) extend to the south-east, also on the border with Macedonia. The KopaonikMountains that reach just over 2,000 meters are located in the north of Kosovo and to a greater extent in the south of Serbia, where it is the most important ski area in the country. The most important rivers in Kosovo, the White Drin (length in Kosovo: 122 km), the Sitnica (90 km), the Lepanac (53 km) and the Ibar (42 km) flow from Kosovo in three directions, towards the Adriatic, Aegean and Black Sea. The most important inland waters are the Gazivoda lake (area: 9.1 km²) in the north-west, which is partly on Serbian territory and at the same time feeds from springs in Montenegro, the Radoniq / Radonjić lake (5.96 km²) in the west and the Batlavasee(3.27 km²) in the northeast. The latter is a popular local recreation area among the residents of Prishtina.

Kosovo Mirusha waterfalls

Fauna and Flora

Approx. 44% of the land area of Kosovo is forested (the most widespread tree species are beech, oak, elm and birch, but also conifers such as pine, spruce and fir). Not least because of its mountain structure (a total of 6% of the total area), Kosovo has an extensive and unique biodiversity, similar to the neighboring countries. The number of native plants is estimated between 1,800 and 2,500. Some of the plants are considered endemic. Mammals such as brown bears, wolves, lynxes, wild cats, wild goats, wild boars, ibexes and otters can be found in the mountain regions. The diversity of bird species is also impressive: eagles, pheasants, pelicans, buzzards, vultures and falcons are native to Kosovo. Widespread animal species are z. B. snakes, salamanders, but also fish, especially trout. However, the populations of many animal species are threatened due to dwindling habitats. In the so-called Red Book of Threatened Plants, first compiled in 2013, the Ministry of the Environment registered 86 species as threatened and 61 species as directly threatened.

Further information on fauna and flora in Kosovo is available from the EU’s European Environment Agency.

Natural resources

Kosovo is very rich in natural resources, especially lignite. The mining tradition in Kosovo goes back to pre-Roman times. The lignite deposits are estimated at around 14.7 billion tons, which is the fifth largest reserves in the world. In addition to lignite, Kosovo has extensive lead, nickel, chromium, bauxite, silver, magnesite and zinc deposits as well as a corresponding mining industry with processing companies. The Trepça / Trepča complex, founded in 1927, plays a central role one that comprises 40 mines and employed up to 20,000 people in the heyday of socialist Yugoslavia at the end of the 1980’s. Since the end of the war and the ethnic division of the company, production has fallen to a fraction of the pre-war level, while large parts of the complex lie fallow as industrial ruins.

More Information

The CIA World Factbook, the Foreign Office and the European Forum for Stability and Solidarity provide basic information about Kosovo. The annual reports of the European Commission provide in-depth information on the development of the state, politics and economy, and the World Bank provides comprehensive economic data. The state statistical office in Kosovo provides comprehensive statistical data.

Current news and in-depth analyzes in English are provided by Radio Free Europe, the news portal of the Serbian radio station B92 and above all the English-language news portal Balkan Insight of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN). The alternative news portal Kosovo 2.0 also offers background analysis in Kosovo, which mainly deals with youth and subculture topics as well as social taboos. The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) offers a daily press review.