Kosovo map, Map of Kosovo
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Kosovo is one of the world’s newest independent countries, but it has a history that goes back centuries. Kosovo’s population is overwhelmingly Albanian but Serbs consider the region to be an important part of their cultural heartland. As a part of communist Yugoslavia, Kosovo enjoyed a great deal of autonomy although legally it was a part of the Republic of Serbia. Nationalist sentiment increased in Yugoslavia at the of the Cold War and a new Serbian constitution in 1989 greatly reduced Kosovo autonomy. As Yugoslavia began to disintegrate in 1991 the government of Kosovo organized a referendum that declared Kosovo independent from Serbia. Serbia responded with repressive measures against the Albanian majority in Kosovo.
A peaceful but unsuccessful campaign for Albanian rights in Kosovo was replaced by a violent uprising by the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1995. Serbia responded with “a counterinsurgency campaign that resulted in massacres and massive expulsions of ethnic Albanians by Serbian military, police, and paramilitary forces.”* Western European nations were shocked by this brutality and NATO attacked Serbian forces in 1999, forcing them out of Kosovo. The UN Security Council placed Kosovo under the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Negotiations with Serbia to grant autonomy to Kosovo failed and on 17 February 2008 Kosovo declared independence. As of this writing 52 countries have recognized Kosovo as an independent nation. These include most of Western Europe, the U.S. , Canada and Australia.

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