Land, Economy, and People
Kosovo is largely mountainous, with the North Albanian Alps in the west, the Sar Mts. in the south, and the Kopaonik range in the west. Surrounded by the mountains are the fertile valleys of Kosovo and Metohija; the land is drained by the Drin, Ibar, and Južna Morava rivers. Agriculture, stock raising, forestry, and mining are the major occupations. There are rich deposits of lignite (brown coal), lead, nickel, zinc, and other minerals. Unemployment is very high, because of the disruptions caused by the end of Communist rule and the struggle for independence, and the economy is dependent on foreign aid.
Kosovo's population before 1999 was about 80% Albanian; ethnic Albanians now make up about 90% of the inhabitants. Serbs are the largest minority, concentrated especially in the north between the north bank of the Ibar River and Serbia, and this section of the country is under effective Serbian, not Kosovan, control. The Albanian, Serbian, Bosniak, Turkish, and other languages are spoken. The main religions are Islam (largely Albanians), the Serbian Orthodox church (largely Serbs), and the Roman Catholic church.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.