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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Kosovo

Ethnicity

Today most of the people living in Kosovo are ethnic Albanians, although just a couple decades ago, in the late 1900s, the population was much more diverse. The Albanians are a unique ethnic group with few close relatives; they are one of the oldest ethnic groups in all of Europe and are considered quite distinct ethnically. The past diversity in the country can still be seen in much smaller numbers as most of the people living in Kosovo that aren't ethnic Albanian remain from this time. These small groups of people include Serbs, Montenegrins, and others.

Language

Both Albanian and Serbian are official languages in Kosovo. Serbian is commonly referred to in English as Serbo-Croatian, but the ethnic Serbs tend to call this Southern Slavic language Serbian, which is written in the Cyrillic script in Serbia and much of Kosovo. The Albanian language is one of the oldest in Europe and it constitutes its own branch of the Indo-European language family, meaning it has no close linguistic relatives.

English and other popular international languages are not widely spoken in Kosovo, although they are slowly gaining popularity. English is perhaps the most common of these foreign languages, but even with English there are few speakers.

Religion

There is no official religion in Kosovo, although the country is predominantly Muslim as the majority of Albanians are Muslim. Many of the ethnic Serbs are Orthodox

Islam (the name of the religion, whose followers are called Muslims) is a monotheistic religion, whose holy book is called the Qur'an. The Qur'an is believed to be the word of God spoken through the prophet Muhammad from 609-632 CE (Common Era is preferred over AD (Anno Domini or "year of the Lord") since the Islamic world doesn't believe Jesus was the messiah). Islam believes Muhammad was the last prophet sent to earth by God, the last in a long line of prophets, which includes Moses, Abraham, and Jesus among others.

Muslims follow five pillars of their faith: testimony, prayer, alms-giving, fasting, and pilgrimage. These pillars, and other tenants of their faith, can give great structure to their lives as some foods, like pork, are forbidden and every Muslim is expected to pray five times a day. However, the level of participation in each of these pillars and to what degree Islam influences an individual's life varies from person to person and community to community.

This page was last updated: May, 2014