Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, after years of strained relations between its Serb and mainly Albanian inhabitants.
It has been recognised by the United States and major European Union countries, but Serbia, backed by its powerful ally Russia, refuses to do so, as do most ethnic Serbs inside Kosovo.
After the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia responded to separatist pressure from Kosovo by launching a brutal crackdown on the territory’s Albanian population, which was only brought to an end by Nato military intervention in 1999.
Until 2008 the province was administered by the UN. Reconciliation between the majority Albanians, most of whom support independence, and the Serb minority remains elusive.
- Capital: Pristina
- Population 1.8 million-2.4 million
- Area 10,887 sq km (4,212 sq miles)
- Major languages Albanian, Serbian
- Major religions Islam, Christianity