Photos of The People of Kosovo

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The People of Kosovo

Kosovo has a mixed population of about two million, the result of the turbulent history of the country. As a result of the many centuries as part of the Ottoman Empire the overwhelming majority of the population is ethnic Shqiptar or Albanian, speaking the northern Gheg dialect and are of the Muslim faith. Especially around Prizren are Turkish speaking people, left over from Ottoman days.

Women of Prizren
Shqiptar men
Two brothers
Roma girl
Kosovar family
Sisters and brother
Pumping water
Albanian man
Family photo
Man of Prishtina
Walking home
Roma kids
Father and son
Family portrait
Roma women
After playing football
Children of Gjakova
Shqiptar women
Women of Tabakhane
Prizreni family
Men from Prizren
Drinking from fountain
Boy of Prizren
Turkish singer
Making cheese
Looking after sheep
Herd boys
Playing the flute
Young flute player
Boy on the bridge
Small boy of Prishtina
Father and son
At the bus station
Reading the paper
Children near school
Boys of Prizren
Happy boy
Lively Prizren boys
Friendly boy
Selling sheep cheese
Girl in museum
Young people, Reçani
Grandmother of Rečane
Women of Rečane
Children dancing
Roma mother
In a Gjakova café
Drinking wine

The Roma or Romani people are an ethnic group of Europe tracing their origins to medieval India. They have their own language, with different dialects in different regions. Linguistic and genetic evidence indicates the Roma originated from the Indian subcontinent, emigrating from India towards Europe from the 11th century. They are generally believed to have originated in central India, possibly in the modern Indian state of Rajasthan, migrating to northwest India (the Punjab region) around 250 BCE. Traditionally nomadic but now mainly settled, they have endured discrimination and prejudice over the centuries. Yet they have contributed immensely to the culture of the Balkans; without them Balkan music would never have been the same. They are often referred to as "Gypsies", a term originating from the Greek word Αιγύπτοι (Aigyptoi), in the erroneous belief that they originated in Egypt, and were exiled as punishment for allegedly harbouring the infant Jesus.

The Ashkali are an Albanian speaking ethnic minority of Kosovo and Albania, usually considered Albanized Roma, but some people call themselves "Egyptians" (Albanian: Egjiptian) claiming they came from Egypt, supposedly via immigration through Palestine. This seems unlikely and may derive from the same mistaken belief that "Gypsies" came from Egypt. In Kosovo, the Ashkali appeared to be aligned with Albanians before the Kosovo War. However, there are reports of mass expulsion of Ashkali along with Roma from Kosovo after the war. Many Ashkali refugees have now settled in Central Serbia and Vojvodina. In Serbia and Montenegro, they are known by other names like Black Montenegrins and Romano-Palestinians.

There are also villages with Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims, speaking Serbo-Croat) and Goran (Macedonian). The remaining Serbs are, since the war of 1999, concentrated in enclaves across Kosovo, North Kosovo being the largest one; Gračanica, only 5 kilometres south of Prishtina, has become the national and political centre of the remaining Kosovo Serbs who live south of Mitrovica. There are still some 120,000 ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, with 40,000 in the north on the border with Serbia and the remainder in enclaves around the country.