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Gorani

The Gorani are an ethnographic group living in a region called Gora just south of Prizren in Metohia (part of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo-Metohia).

The Gorani are Slavic by blood and Muslim by faith. They were originally Orthodox Serbs who converted to Islam in the late 18th century because of mounting pressures from Turks and Albanians. They are well-versed in both Serbian and Albanian and have attempted to maintain good relations with both neighbouring populations. However, relations with the Albanians, whose names and culture they most mimic (willingly or not), have deteriorated particularly in the last 30 years with the advent of calls for a Greater Albania. Thus, the 1980's saw the advent of a Gorani national revival, they officially broke away from the name of 'Muslims by nationality' (as dictated by the Slavic Muslims in Bosnia) in favor of the Gorani or even Serbian name outright and they began Slavicizing their Albanized surnames (i.e. Ahmeti became Ahmetovic). Because they resided in the southernmost tip of Serbia (and Kosovo) they prided themselves as being the sole guarantors of Serbia's southern flank (i.e. border).

The Gora is covered with rough terrain, it's name even means 'The mountain' and the name of its people 'The mountaineers'. The Gora is an underdeveloped region and for almost two centuries, its male inhabitants would go off to more distant lands regions in order to find work. Due to this, a true Gorani diaspora has come to life with many living in parts of inner Serbia (particularly the Eastern parts).

The Gorani numbered some 16,000-strong, in the Gora[?] administrative division, according to the 1991 census. This figure grew to over 20,000 by the start of the Kosovo War in 1999. However, due to their unwillingness to assimilate into the Albanian culture, they have been the targets of Albanian terrorists of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army now transformed into the "Kosovo Protection Force". As a result, it is further estimated that fewer than 10,000 are left in Gora. Furthermore, UNMIK, the UN administration in Kosovo, has thwarted efforts by the Gorani to maintain their culture by joining their administrative community with the neighbouring Albanian-majority region of Opolje[?] into a new subdivision which now has an Albanian majority and leaves little room for Gorani self-rule.



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