Being part of many travelers and bloggers Facebook groups gives me the chance to meet plenty of them while they visit Kosovo. Some of them, somehow embarrassingly, accept that Kosovo is not (as bad as) what they were expecting. Whenever I ask them to explain what they mean by “not what I was expecting”, their common answer is that “it’s modern”, “people are well-dressed and Western-like”, “the bars and restaurants are great” and so on. In addition, from my traveling experience, I’ve had many people ask me many questions about Kosovo, from simple ones about location and population to complex ones about politics and the future. However, the most difficult question I have to answer is the one about religion.

According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS), the total resident population in Kosovo in December 2016 was 1.783.531. In 2011, when the last census was carried out, the total population was 1,739,825. From this number, 91% were Albanian, 3.4% were Serbs, and 5.6% were others. Furthermore, the numbers concerning religion, according to KAS is as you can see in the table below:

Kosovo population by religion

As you can see, about 48% of people declared themselves to belong to the Islamic religion (actually, I don’t remember myself being asked about it or even being there when the census people visited my family), 1.10% Catholic, and 0.74% Orthodox. A smaller percentage didn’t answer, chose Other, or no religion.

That is why I was really surprised when, accidentally, I came to read an article in CBSNEWS about the most heavily Muslim countries on Earth where Kosovo was ranked the 22nd with 95.6% Muslim population. As a  Kosovo citizen, I must say I disagree with this ranking for a couple of reasons:

  1. Kosovo population, although they might declare themselves Muslim out of habit, actually do not practice religion. Someone has started referring to this kind of Muslims as Muslim “lite”, or nominal/cultural Muslims (although this is being opposed by religious people). For instance, I have stopped saying I’m a Muslim; especially, after having been asked that question several times over a glass of beer. I remember once when I was asked this question while having beers with a new friend and I responded: “Of course I’m a Muslim. Cheers!”. There are many people like me who have stopped “being” a Muslim; however, on the other hand, there are still people who keep “being” Muslims only during Ramadan and then at the end of it go to clubs and bars and celebrate the end of it by drinking or others who claim to be Muslims and keep doing everything Muslims shouldn’t be doing.
  2. At any given time (day or night, summer or winter), you can see Kosovo citizens consuming alcohol in the bars and restaurants. Moreover, Kosovo produces alcohol as well (Peja, Prishtina, Sabaja; wine is produced mainly in Rahovec and Suhareka). If only 4.4% are non-Muslims then why Kosovo imported 14.068 alcoholic beverages in 2016 (statistics by KAS) and what happens with all the production of alcoholic beverages when only 7.120 gets exported?
  3. There are a couple of beer or/and wine festivals organized in Kosovo and they are among the most famous and attended festivals in the country. About 40.000 people attended this year’s Beer and Wine Fest, while Hardh Fest had over 50.000 visitors.

    Another yearly event organized in Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, is Verë n’dimën which attracts people of all ages and offers food and both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks for the customers. It actually is a kind of Christmas market, what you can see in almost all European cities and elsewhere in the world.

  4. Out of 747,228 voters in the 2017 general elections in Kosovo, the political party Fjala, which is known for its Islamic orientation and ideas, managed to get only 1.10% of votes, or 7,992 (a little bit more than the number of alcoholic beverages exported from Kosovo). In a country with 95.6% Muslims, this political party should have been governing the country now, right?

Dear unknown CSBNEWS journalist, before you put up an article as such do your research (if you’re unable to visit the country yourself or pay a journalist in the country) and get the facts straight.

Dear tourists, Kosovo is as Western as any other Western country. Come and see it with your own eyes.


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7 thoughts on “Kosovo, this Muslim majority country

  1. Thanks for information.i really like your blog and information keep it up and i m also waiting for your next blog.

  2. That’s you’re beliefs though not everybody else’s!
    According to CIA world fact book as well as the US state department they all state Kosovo 95% Muslim!
    Thanks for replying back all the best wishes!

  3. Hi, I find the stat and table you used to show kosovars religious affiliation quiet dubious and false. All other religious Cenus I have seen as well as on Wikipedia it states that over 95% of Kosovars are Muslim.

    I myself as an Albanian from Macedonia also have this assumption I visited Kosovo twice in my life. The majority of Kosovars may not practise Islam strictly but they still believe in Islam and will identify as Muslim.

    No offence who are you to say who is Muslim and not are you a Islamic Scholar? Kosovars may do a lot of things that are not allowed in Islam but that does not make them a non-Muslim it just makes them a sinner? Kosovo is a Muslim majority country with a secular constitution!

    1. Hi, Arben. The table is from Kosovo Statistic Office, not from me. Wikipedia is not the best source to rely on and I’m not aware of any religious census carried out in Kosovo.

      I have lived my whole life until now in Kosovo (minus two years when I lived in the US) and I’m not talking about a country that I have visited twice (as you are). I am not an Islamic Scholar but I’m a Kosovo citizen who lives here and see and experience things.

      There are certain things required by each religion and my belief is that you can’t claim to belong to one if you don’t obey.
      Peace ✌

  4. Hi, I find your blog very interesting and great pictures! Keep writing about your adventures!! I was looking at the stat in the table above. Can you explain how 1,663,412 divided by 1,739,825 multiplied by 100 isn’t about 95%? You’ll notice in the table the TOTAL number is 50 which is NOT 100, and gives a skewed stat that Kosovo (according to their KAS’s stats) is only 47% Muslim. Again, if 47 is divided by 50, you’ll get something close to 95%. Maybe I’m missing something? Could you clarify? Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Jax. I double checked the stats and get your point.
      However, I still believe that in order to call a country “heavily” this or that you have to get all the facts and background information.
      There is nothing wrong with being Muslim or any other religion; however, saying and being religious are two different things. In Kosovo, people say they are Muslim but in fact, the majority of them don’t follow it.

      Thank you again for bringing attention to the numbers.I appreciate it!

      1. I absolutely agree with you! And its even more significant that what you say comes from YOU — a Kosovar living in this country. I think what I’ve gleaned from this is that reading stats given by K’s government is dubious and adds to founded frustrations of citizens in this country that their government cannnot produce accurate and reliable information for them. Thanks for your reply and blessings!

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