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Metohija ( ; Serbian: , transliterated or, infrequently, ), is a large basin and the name of the region covering the southwestern part of Kosovomarker. It encompasses three of the seven districts of Kosovo, namely:



The area of the region is . The population in 2002 was 790,272, or 40 percent of the territorie's total of 1,956,194.

Names

The name Metohija derives from the Greek word μετόχια (metókhia), meaning "monastic estates" - a reference to the large number of villages and estates in the region that were owned by the Orthodox monasteries of Serbia and Mount Athos during the Middle Ages.

In Albanian the area is called Rrafshi i Dukagjinit and means the plateau of Duke Gjin , named after a famous Albanian medieval nobleman.

The full Serbian name "Kosovo i Metohija" was in official use until 1974, when the constitutional status of Kosovo underwent major changes in a newly established constitution for the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker. The 1974 constitution dropped the term "Metohija" and "Kosovo" became the official term for the province as a whole. The change was not accepted in Serbia, where the old name continued to be in use (for example in the Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1986). In 1989, the then Serbian President Slobodan Milošević promulgated a new constitution for Serbia that greatly reduced the province's autonomy and restored the old name, thus symbolically undoing the earlier reforms.

Geography

Metohija is wide at its broadest point and about long, at an average altitude of above sea level. Its principal river is the White Drinmarker. It is bordered by the mountain ranges Mokra Goramarker in the north and northwest, the Prokletije in the west, Paštrikmarker in the southwest, the Šar Mountainsmarker in the south and southeast, and Drenica, which distinguishes it from the rest of Kosovo in the east and northeast.

The geographic division between Metohija and Kosovo causes differences between the two areas' flora and fauna. Metohija has the characteristic influence of the Mediterraneanmarker, thus being the region with the highest number of Mediterranean species of flora and fauna in Serbiamarker, while Kosovo's ecology does not differ from that of the rest of Serbia.

Metohija consists of fertile arable land with many small rivers which provide water for irrigation and, in combination with the Mediterranean climate, give excellent fields except for cereals. This area is well known for its high quality vineyards, fruit orchards and for the growing of chestnut and almond trees.

Cities

The largest cities of Metohija are (with population figures for 2006):

History

The region of Metohija received waves of Slavic migrations in the 6th-7th centuries. In the 630s, it became a part of the newly formed Serbian Principality, Grand Principality since the middle of the 9th century) of Rascia under the Byzantine Empire, with Dostinik as its capital, ruled by the House of Vlastimirović.

At the dawn of the 10th century, Metohija was conquered by the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon. Although Serbian rule would be briefly restored in the early 10th, Byzantine rule was restored after its fall in 960.

Control over the region of Metohija was slowly restored by the House of Vojislavljević Princes and Grand Princes of Rascia throughout the 11th and 12th centuries. They were replaced by the new House of Nemanjić subsequently. The Kingdom of the Serbs was created in 1217, and an Empire in 1345.

Metohija was conquered by the Ottomans and incorporated into the Empire's Vilayet of Kosovo after the fall of Serbia in 1459. Metohija witnessed very intense migrations of Albanians, who would replace the Serbs as the dominant ethnic group of Metohija and Islam replace the previously dominant Orthodox Christianity.

The area was taken by the Kingdom of Montenegro in the 1912 First Balkan War. During the First World War, Montenegro was conquered by the Austro-Hungarian forces in 1915. The Central Powers were pushed out of Metohija by the Serbian Army in 1918. Montenegro subsequently joined the Kingdom of Serbiamarker, which was followed by the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker. The Kingdom was reformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker in 1929. The Kingdom suffered an Axis invasion during World War II in 1941, and the region of Metohija was incorporated into the Italian-controlled Albania. After Italy's treaty with the Allies in 1943, the Germans took direct control over the region. After numerous rebellions of Serbian Chetniks and Yugoslavmarker Partisans, Metohija was liberated after 1944 and became a part of Serbiamarker's Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija - inside the transitional Democratic Federal Yugoslaviamarker.

On 17 February 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. However, Serbia still considers it as a part of its sovereign territory as an autonomous province.

References

  1. Paulin Kola, The Search for Greater Albania, p. 47 fn 108. C. Hurst & Co, 2003. ISBN 1850656649
  2. "Metohija". Robert Elsie, Historical Dictionary Of Kosova
  3. Francis Trix, "Kosovar Albanians between a rock and a hard place", in Serbia Since 1989: Politics and Society Under Milosevic and After, p. 312. Sabrina P. Ramet, Vjeran Pavlaković (ed.). University of Washington Press, 2005. ISBN 0295985380
  4. Geographical Atlas of Yugoslavia, University Press "Liber", Zagreb, 1987. - made from military maps of Geographical Military Institute, Belgrade.
  5. http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/balkans/serbia14591660.html
  6. http://www.worldrover.com/history/serbia_and_montenegro_history.html


See also




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