In the international media, Mitrovica is repeatedly portrayed as the hottest flashpoint in Kosovo. The riots of March 2004 that subsequently spread all over Kosovo erupted in this town. But the story of Mitrovica is not only one of partition, with the river Ibar dividing the town into a predominantly Serb North and a nearly exclusively Albanian South. Mitrovica was once Kosovo's most "Yugoslav" city, with Albanians and Serbs working side by side for decades in the Trepca mining and metallurgy giant, one of the biggest companies of socialist Yugoslavia. In no other urban area in Kosovo did so many Serbs speak Albanian.
Trepca has since ceased operating and today Kosovo's former industrial centre is a town without production. Mitrovica is a dying town, where one of the most radical industrial collapses of Eastern Europe forms the background to the more visible story of ethnic partition.