Kosovo is a partially-recognized state in Southeastern Europe, subject to a territorial dispute with the Republic of Serbia.
Defined in an area of 10,887 square kilometres (4,203 sq mi), Kosovo is landlocked in the center of the Balkans and bordered by the uncontested territory of Serbia to the north and east, North Macedonia to the southeast, Albania to the southwest and Montenegro to the west. It possesses varied and diverse landscapes for its size by climate along with geology and hydrology. Most of central Kosovo is dominated by the vast plains and fields of Metohija and Kosovo. The Albanian Alps and Šar Mountains rise in the southwest and southeast respectively.
The earliest known human settlements in what is now Kosovo were the Paleolithic Vinča and Starčevo cultures. During the Classical period, it was inhabited by the Illyrian-Dardanian and Celtic people. In 168 BC, the area was annexed by the Romans. In the Middle Ages, it was conquered by the Byzantine, Bulgarian, and Serbian Empires. The Battle of Kosovo of 1389 is considered to be one of the defining moments in Serbian medieval history. The region was the core of the Serbian medieval state, which has also been the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church from the 14th century, when its status was upgraded to a patriarchate. Kosovo was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 15th to the early 20th century. In the late 19th century, it became the centre of the Albanian National Awakening. Following their defeat in the Balkan Wars, the Ottomans ceded Kosovo to Serbia and Montenegro. Both countries joined Yugoslavia after World War I, and following a period of Yugoslav unitarianism in the Kingdom, the post-World War II Yugoslav constitution established the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within the Yugoslav constituent republic of Serbia. Tensions between Kosovo’s Albanian and Serb communities simmered through the 20th century and occasionally erupted into major violence, culminating in the Kosovo War of 1998 and 1999, which resulted in the withdrawal of the Yugoslav army and the establishment of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo. On 17 February 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia. It has since gained diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state by 98 United Nations member states. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state, although with the Brussels Agreement of 2013, it has accepted its institutions. While Serbia recognizes administration of the territory by Kosovo’s elected government, it continues to claim it as the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija.
Kosovo has a lower-middle-income economy and has experienced solid economic growth over the last decade by international financial institutions, and has experienced growth every year since the onset of the financial crisis of 2007–2008. Kosovo is a member of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Regional Cooperation Council, and has applied for membership of Interpol and for observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.