Kosovo gains independence

On February 17th, Kosovo declared itself to be a new country. It was a part of Serbia before this, which in turn used to be a part of Yugoslavia. Since 1991, Yugoslavia has split into seven countries – Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (that’s just one country, not two!), Montenegro, Serbia, and now Kosovo.

So why did Kosovo break away from Serbia? The biggest reason was the differences in the people living in Kosovo and in the rest of Serbia. While most people living in Serbia are Serbs, Kosovo was mainly inhabited by Albanians (Kosovo is a neighbor of the country Albania). In the late 1990s, there was a lot of conflict between these two groups of people. In 1999, NATO and the UN, two international organizations, stepped in to end the fighting. Kosovo had been under UN administration until its recent declaration of independence. Kosovo’s capital will be a city named Pristina. A few countries such as Serbia, Russia and China have not yet accepted Kosovo as a new country.

The Albanians have a beautiful string instrument, the ciftelia, that is very popular in Kosovo. It has a pear-shaped sound bowl made out of a single piece of wood. The ciftelia usually has just two strings.