Photos of The People of Kosovo, 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.

Albanians on the market in Peja
Traditional Gheg men Peja
Selling chickens, Peja
Roma or Gypsy women
Tired old man
Roma and Shqiptar women
Woman at the market, Peja
Women selling carpets
Three Geg (Gheg) Albanian men
Selling empty bottles
Women in traditional dress
Men taking it easy
Two brothers
Bajram Miljaim's daughter
Bajram Miljaim's family
Sisters and brother
Pumping water
Albanian man
Family photo
Old Shqiptar (Albanian) man
Woman walking home
Roma couple
Roma children
Friendly Roma children
Roma father and son
Bajram Miljaims' wife and children
Roma women
Two Shqiptar (Albanian) women
Albanian man at the market in Peja
Zyrafa Spahiu Qarkaxhija
After playing football
Ragip Qarkaxhija with wife and boys
Children come running
Children posing, Gjakova
Shqiptar women
Albanian men, Prizren
Drinking from fountain
Boy of Prizren
Women of Tabakhane
Prizren family
Playing music
Turkish singer
Making cheese
Looking after sheep
Herd boys
Playing the flute
Young flute player
Boy on the bridge
Father and son
Prishtina bus station
Reading the paper
School children, Prizren
Boys of Prizren
Happy boy, Prizren
Lively Prizren boys
Friendly boy, Prizren
Selling sheep cheese
Prizren market
Market women, Prizren
Women of Rečane
Children dancing
Roma mother, Prizren
In a Gjakova café
Drinking wine
Roadside café, Peja
Three little boys, Peja
Selling balloons, Prizren
Playing a flute, Prizren
Three young men, Prizren
Two musicians, Prizren
Horse cart, Gjakova
Cathedral and mosque, Ferizaj

The Roma or Romani people are an ethnic group of Europe tracing their origins to medieval India. Linguistic and genetic evidence indicates the Roma originated from the Indian subcontinent, emigrating from India towards Europe from the 11th Century. Traditionally nomadic but now mainly settled, they have endured discrimination and prejudice over the centuries. But 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). This was 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: 40,000 in the north on the border with Serbia and the remainder in enclaves around the country.