KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
This province of Serbia occupies the area of 10,849 square kilometers of the territory in the South-West of the Republic. Pristina is its administrative, economic and cultural seat.
Kosovo and Metohija consists of 29 municipalities and 5 districts. The seats of the districts are Pristina, Pec, Prizren, Kosovska Mitrovica and Gnjilane.
Kosovo and Metohija is separated from neighboring Albania by the mountain massif of Prokletije and is separated from Macedonia by Sar Planina mountain with two highest mountain peaks in Serbia: Deravica and Crni vrh. The province is made up of two regions which differ from each other in the soil content and climate and are divided by Cicavica and Crnoljevo mountains. The characteristic of the province is rapid economic and cultural development, high population density and demographic variety with a pronounced domination of Albanian population.
This Southern Serbian province has a varied relief: it is edged with mountainous wreaths which are intersected by canyons and very wide valleys of the rivers Binacka Morava, Lab and Beli Drim.
Kosovo is placed in the South-Eastern and Eastern part of the province, near the Morava-Vardar valley. It is primarily hilly land so that wealth in ores is the main natural potential of this region. On the other hand, Metohija is placed in the West and North-West of the province and consists of fertile arable land.
The geographic division between Metohija and Kosovo caused the difference of their flora and fauna. Metohija has the characteristic influence of the Mediterranean thus being the region with the highest number of Mediterranean species of flora and fauna in the whole Serbia, while Kosovo does not differ from the rest of Serbia.
Kosovo and Metohija is the watershed of rivers which belong to Black Sea, Adriatic or Aegean basins that make this province an important traffic route. Its Eastern edge touches the Morava-Vardar direction where one branch of the highway goes, while another important Serbian traffic route, the Ibar highway, passes through the North-Western part of the province. There is a plan for the construction of a new highway which would take the western route from Nis through Kosovo, Metohija and Montenegro to the Adriatic coast.
According to the census from 1991, Kosovo and Metohija have 1,956,196 inhabitants which is slightly less than 20% of the total population of Serbia. There are many nationalities with pronounced domination of Albanians - 1,596,072 or 82.2% of the population of the province, or 17% of the total population of Serbia. Then come the Serbs - 194,190, Muslims - 66,189, Romanies - 45,745, Montenegrins - 20,356, Turks - 10,446, Croats - 8,062 and other smaller national and ethnic groups, 24 in all.
The Statute of Kosovo and Metohija which is the basic legal act of the province, permits, besides the Serbian language, the official use of the Albanian language. Except for the language, the population differs in religion so that Serbs and Montenegrins are Orthodox, Croats Catholics, while Albanians are mostly Muslims as are the Turks and most of Romanies.
The educational system in Kosovo and Metohija consists of the following:
- 1.Pre-school institutions;
- 2.Primary schools (983), where lectures are also held in the languages of the minorities;
- 3.Secondary schools (57), where lectures are also held in the languages of the minorities;
- 4.Pristina University consisting of 14 faculties where lectures are held in the languages of the minorities as well.
Science and culture
The development of science and culture in Kosovo and Metohija received a powerful push forward only after they were attached to Yugoslavia in 1918 which excelerated during the last few decades. Pristina University, University Library, Kosovo and Metohija Museum, Institute of Cultural Monuments Protection, National Theatre in Pristina and other cultural institutions were founded. Thus began elimination of adverse consequences the Turkish empire had left on this territory during the past few centuries.
The economy of the province relies on local resources. Metohija is characterized by fertile arable land with many small rivers which provide water for irrigation and, in combination with the Mediterranean climate, give excellent yields. Except for cereals, this area is well known for its qualitative vineyards, all sorts of fruit, chestnut and almond.
Kosovo is also known for the above mentioned crops, but cattle breeding is also very developed at the edges of Kosovo and Metohija valley.
However, Kosovo region abounds with extraordinary ore and power potentials. As early as in the Middle Ages, the area around Novo Brdo was known for its money mint and rich deposits of silver. Silver lodes are exploited in Trepca even today, although the main production of the ore-smelting works is based on lead-zinc ore. This provides the basis for the development of other industrial branches in Kosovo. Large lignite deposits represent special wealth which is the basis of the thermal energy of this region and it supplies the electricity to a large portion of Serbia.
The province is also rich with thermal waters with many spas surrounded by medical centres. Finally, tourist industry is specially enriched with numerous monuments from Serbian history particularly with medieval monasteries and fortresses. It is worth mentioning that the very term Metohija derives from the medieval name for the monastery land given to Orthodox monasteries by the Serbian rulers.