Will Kosovo Ever Be Fully Recognized as Independent?

Prizren, the historical capital of Kosovo

Kosovo flagKosovo is a disputed territory in Southeastern Europe. The population is about 1.8 million, its capital is Pristina, and the region's major languages are Albanian and Serbian. This 4,203 sq mi landlocked area in the Balkans, with Serbia to the north and east, has a fascinating history.

Kosovo was a disputed border area even in the 6th century when Slavs first settled in the region. Beginning in the 12th century, Serbia controlled Kosovo and it became a critical hub of the Serbian empire. Regional strife continued into the modern age, and after decades of strained relations between its Serb and the predominantly Albanian inhabitants of the region, in 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia.

Pristina, the capital of Kosovo

However, the world does not recognize Kosovo as an independent nation. By "the world," in this instance, we mean the United Nations. There are 193 UN Member nations and two UN Observer States, totaling 195 official countries recognized by the UN. Kosovo is not on the list.

The United Nations doesn't completely ignore Kosovo, however. If at least one UN member officially acknowledges a state as being independent, it's given the status of Partial Recognition. That status is assigned to Kosovo, which has been recognized by 98 UN member states. There are five other Partially recognized states: Taiwan, Western Sahara, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Northern Cyprus. The common denominator is that all six Partially Recognized states are claimed as parts of other countries, but those countries do not exercise any significant control over them.

One perk of UN Partial Recognition is you may be approved to send athletes to the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee does not require participating states to be independent countries. Some partially self-governed or dependent territories and certain partially recognized states have been approved, including Kosovo, which is expected to compete at the currently postponed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Seterra handles regions like Kosovo in much the same way as the UN—partial recognition. We have maps quizzes that exclude Kosovo, like 193 United Nations Member States . There are two versions of the Europe map quiz, one with Kosovo and one without; the map that excludes Kosovo is in languages like Spanish, Serbian, and Greek since the governments of those countries do not recognize Kosovo. Then there's 220+ Countries and Territories, which includes the UN's 195 countries plus partially recognized states, de facto sovereign states, uninhabited territories, etc.

As for Kosovo's status, time will pass and geopolitical forces will advance, while Seterra observes, ready to update all affected map quizzes when the status of any region changes.