Albanian people

This article is about Albanians as an ethnic group. For demographic information, see Demographics of Albania.
Albanians
Shqiptarët
Total population
approx. 6 - 8 million[1] [2]
Regions with significant populations
 Albania 2,312,356[3]
 Kosovo 1,616,869 [4]
 Turkey 500,000-1,300,0003[5]
 Macedonia 509,083[6]
 Greece 274,390-600,000[7][8]
 Montenegro 30,439[9]
 Croatia 17,513 (2011 census)[10]
 Romania 10,000[11]
 Serbia 5,8091 (boycotted),61,647 (2002 census)[12]
 Italy 482,6272 + 80,000[13] to 800,000 local Arbëreshë Albanians.[14],[15][unreliable source?]
 Germany 300,000[16]
  Switzerland 200,000[17][18]
 Netherlands 60,000
 Sweden 60,000
 United Kingdom 30,000[19]
 Austria 28,212[20]
 France 20,000
 Norway 10,000
 Denmark 8,000[21]
 Finland 7,804[22]
 Belgium 5,600–30,000[23][24]
 Ukraine 5,000[25]
 United States 193,813[26]
 Canada 28,270[27]
 Australia 11,315[28]
Languages
Albanian
Religion

Islam
Sunni · Bektashi
Christianity:
Roman Catholicism · Albanian Orthodox · Protestantism

Irreligion
Footnotes

1 Many boycotted the Census[29]
2 The number of Italy shows only the number of the citizens of Albania in the country. Does not include significant numbers of ethnic Albanian immigrants from Kosovo, from other Balkan countries, the illegal immigrants and the local Arbëreshë Albanians.

3 Albanians are not recognized as a minority in Turkey. However approximately 500,000 people are reported to profess an Albanian identity. With those that have only partial Albanian ancestry and the Turkified ones the number is about 1,300,000, most of whom do not speak Albanian.
Part of a series on
Albanians
Albania
Nation
Albania
Balkan countries with substantial Albanian population
Diaspora
Subgroups
Albanian culture
Varieties of Albanian

Gheg
Tosk

Religion

Islam
Orthodox
Roman Catholicism

History

Albanians (Albanian: Shqiptarët) are defined as an ethnic group native to Albania and neighboring countries or as citizens of the Republic of Albania regardless of ethnicity.[30] Ethnic Albanians speak the Albanian language and more than half of ethnic Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo. The Albanian diaspora also exists in a number of other countries.

Ethnonym

Further information: Albania (toponym) and Shqiptar

While the exonym Albania for the general region inhabited by the Albanians does hark back to Classical Antiquity, the Albanian language employs a different ethnonym, with modern Albanians referring to themselves as shqipëtarë and to their country as Shqipëria. Two etymologies have been conjectured for this ethnonym: one, associated with Maximilian Lambertz, derives the etymology from the Albanian for eagle (shqipe, var.,shqiponjë), perhaps denoting denizens of a mountainous region. In Albanian folk etymology, this word denotes a bird totem dating from the times of Skanderbeg, as displayed on the Albanian flag.[31] The other suggestion connects it to the verb 'to speak' (më shqiptue).[32][33] If the latter conjecture were correct, the Albanian endonym, like Slav and others, would originally have been a term for "those who speak [intelligibly, the same language]".

In History written in 1079–1080, the Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates referred to the Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the duke of Dyrrachium. It is disputed, however, whether that refers to Albanians in an ethnic sense.[34] However a later reference to Albanians from the same Attaliates, regarding the participation of Albanians in a rebellion around 1078, is undisputed.[35] The first reference to the Albanian language dates to the later 13th century (around 1285).[36]

The Albanians are and have been referred to by other terms as well. Some of them are:

  • Arbër, Arbën, Arbëreshë; the old native term denoting ancient and medieval Albanians and sharing the same root with the latter. At the time the country was called Arbër (Gheg: Arbën) and Arbëria (Gheg: Arbënia). This term is still used for the Albanians that migrated to Italy during the Middle Ages.
  • Arnauts (ارناود); old term used mainly from Turks and by extension by European authors during the Ottoman Empire. A derivate of the Turkish Arvanid (Arnavut) (اروانيد), which derives from the Greek Arvanites.
  • Skipetars; the historical rendering of the ethnonym Shqiptar (or Shqyptar by French, Austrian and German authors) in use from the 18th century (but probably earlier) to the present, the literal translation of which is subject of the eagle. The term Šiptari is a derivation used by Yugoslavs which the Albanians consider derogatory, preferring Albanci instead.

History

Further information: Origin of the Albanians, Principality of Arbër, Kingdom of Albania, Albanian Principalities, History of Albania and History of Kosovo


Studies in genetic anthropology show that the Albanians share the same ancestry as most other European peoples.[38]

Albanians in the Middle Ages

What is possibly the earliest written reference to the Albanians is that to be found in an old Bulgarian text compiled around the beginning of the 11th century.[39] It was discovered in a Serbian manuscript dated 1628 and was first published in 1934 by Radoslav Grujic. This fragment of a legend from the time of Tsar Samuel endeavours, in a catechismal 'question and answer' form, to explain the origins of peoples and languages. It divides the world into seventy-two languages and three religious categories: Orthodox, half-believers (i.e. non-Orthodox Christians) and non-believers. The Albanians find their place among the nations of half-believers. If the dating of Grujic is accepted, which is based primarily upon the contents of the text as a whole, this would be the earliest written document referring to the Albanians as a people or language group.[40]

It can be seen that there are various languages on earth. Of them, there are five Orthodox languages: Bulgarian, Greek, Syrian, Iberian (Georgian) and Russian. Three of these have Orthodox alphabets: Greek, Bulgarian and Iberian. There are twelve languages of half-believers: Alamanians, Franks, Magyars (Hungarians), Indians, Jacobites, Armenians, Saxons, Lechs (Poles), Arbanasi (Albanians), Croatians, Hizi, Germans.

The first undisputed mention of Albanians in the historical record is attested in Byzantine source for the first time in 1079–1080, in a work titled History by Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates, who referred to the Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the duke of Dyrrachium. It is disputed, however, whether the "Albanoi" of the events of 1043 refers to Albanians in an ethnic sense or whether "Albanoi" is a reference to Normans from Sicily under an archaic name (there was also tribe of Italy by the name of "Albanoi").[41] However a later reference to Albanians from the same Attaliates, regarding the participation of Albanians in a rebellion around 1078, is undisputed.[35] At this point, they are already fully Christianized, although Albanian mythology and folklore are part of the Paleo-Balkan pagan mythology,[42] in particular showing Greek influence.[43]

From late 11th century the Albanians were called Arbën/Arbër and their country as Arbanon,[44] a mountainous area to the west of Lake Ochrida and the upper valley of the river Shkumbin.[45] It was in 1190, when the rulers of Arbanon (local Albanian noble called Progon and his sons Dhimitër and Gjin) created their principality with its capital at Krujë.[46] After the fall of Progon Dynasty in 1216, the principality came under Grigor Kamona and Gulam of Albania. Finally the Principality was dissolved on 1255. Around 1230 the two main centers of Albanian settlements, one around Devoll river in what is now central Albania,[47] and the other around the region which was known with the name Arbanon.[46]

In 1271 Charles of Anjou after he captured Durrës from Despotate of Epirus, created the Kingdom of Albania. In the 14th century a number of Albanian principalities were created.

Albanians under the Ottoman Empire

The establishment of Ottoman supremacy in the Southeast Europe began with the Battle of Kosovo in 1389.[48] Albanians, along with the Bosniaks, were the main pillars of Ottoman policy in the Balkans. Muslim Albanians were a privileged class, enjoying military, administrative and social supremacy in the Balkans.[49] Albanians could also be found across the empire, in Egypt, Algeria, and across the Maghreb as vital military and administrative retainers.[50] The process of Islamization was a slow one commencing from the arrival of the Ottomans in the 14th century. Even to this day, a minority of Albanians are Catholic or Orthodox Christians, although the vast majority chose to become Muslim. Only after Ottomans captured Albania Albanians managed to fully ethnically possess its territory.[51]

By the 16th century, Ottoman rule over Southeast Europe was largely secure. The Ottomans proceeded in stages, first appointing a qadi along with governors and then military retainers in the cities. Timar holders, not necessarily converts to Islam, would occasionally rebel, the most famous case of which is Skanderbeg. His figure would be used later in the 19th century as a central component of Albanian national identity. Ottoman control over the Albanian territories was secured in 1571 when Ulcinj, presently in Montenegro, was captured. The most significant impact on the Albanians was the gradual Islamisation process of a large majority of the population- although such a process only became widespread in the 17th century.[49] Mainly Catholics converted in the 17th century, while the Orthodox Albanians became Muslim mainly in the following century. Initially confined to the main city centres of Elbasan and Shkoder, by this time the countryside was also embracing the new religion.[49] In Elbasan Muslims made up just over half the population in 1569–70 whereas in Shkoder this was almost 90% and in Berat closer to 60%. In the 17th century, however, Catholic conversion to Islam increased, even in the countryside. The motives for conversion according to scholars were diverse, depending on the context. The lack of source-material does not help when investigating such issues.[49]

Part of the Albanian national myths was the revival of a little-known figure in the 15th century, that of George Kastrioti, an Albanian warrior known as Skanderbeg, allied with some Albanian chiefs, formed the League of Lezhe and fought-off Turkish rule from 1443 to 1478 (although Kastrioti died in 1468). Kastrioti's strongholds included Kruja, Shkodra, Durrës, Lezha, Petrela, Koxhaxhik and Berat.

Upon the Ottomans' return, a large number of Albanians fled to Italy, Greece and Egypt and maintained their Arbëresh identity.

Albanian national awakening

Further information: Albanian national awakening


By the 1870s, the Sublime Porte's reforms aimed at checking the Ottoman Empire's disintegration had clearly failed. The image of the "Turkish yoke" had become fixed in the nationalist mythologies and psyches of the empire's Balkan peoples, and their march toward independence quickened. The Albanians, because of the higher degree of Islamic influence, their internal social divisions, and the fear that they would lose their Albanian-populated lands to the emerging Balkan states—Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece—were the last of the Balkan peoples to desire division from the Ottoman Empire.[52] The Albanian national awakening as a coherent political movement began after the Treaty of San Stefano, according to which Albanian-inhabited areas were to be ceded to other states of the Balkans, and focused on preventing that partition.[53][54] The Treaty of San Stefano was the impetus for the nation-building movement, which was based more on fear of partition than national identity.[54] Even after Albania became independent in 1912, Albanian national identity was fragmented and possible non-existent in much of the new country.[54] The state of disunity and fragmentation would remain until the communist period following World War 2, when the communist nation-building project would achieve greater success in nation-building and reach more people than any previous regime, thus creating Albanian national communist identity.[54]

Distribution

Balkans

Approximately 6 million Albanians are to be found within the Balkan peninsula with about half this number residing in Albania and the other divided between Kosovo, Montenegro, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece and to a much smaller extent Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

Albania

Albania has an estimated 3 million inhabitants, with ethnic Albanians comprising approximately 95% of the total.[55]

Former Yugoslavia

An estimated 2.2 million Albanians live in the territory of Former Yugoslavia, the greater part (close to two million) in Kosovo.

Rights to use the Albanian language in education and government were given and guaranteed by the 1974 Constitution of SFRY and were widely utilized in Macedonia and in Montenegro before the Dissolution of Yugoslavia.[56]

Greece

Main article: Albanians in Greece


An estimated 275,000–600,000 Albanians live in Greece, forming the largest immigrant community in the country.[7][8] They are economic migrants whose migration began in 1991, following the collapse of the Socialist People's Republic of Albania.

The Arvanites and Albanian-speakers of Western Thrace are a group descended from Tosk Albanians who migrated to southern and central Greece between the 13th and 16th centuries. They are Greek Orthodox Christians, and though they traditionally speak a dialect of Tosk Albanian known as Arvanitika, they have fully assimilated into the Greek nation and do not identify as Albanians. Arvanitika is in a state of attrition due to language shift towards Greek and large-scale internal migration to the cities and subsequent intermingling of the population during the 20th century.

The Cham Albanians were a group that formerly inhabited a region of Epirus known as Chameria, nowadays Thesprotia in northwestern Greece. Most Cham Albanians converted to Islam during the Ottoman era. Muslim Chams were expelled from Greece during World War II, by an anti-communist resistance group, as a result of their participation in a communist resistance group and the collaboration with the Axis occupation, while Orthodox Chams have largely assimilated into the Greek nation.

Diaspora

Main article: Albanian diaspora

Europe

Approximately 1 million are dispersed throughout the rest of Europe, most of these in Italy (438,000), Germany (320,000), Switzerland (200,000), Sweden (60,000), and the UK.

Italy has a historical Albanian minority known as the Arbëreshë (260,000) which are scattered across Southern Italy, but the majority of Albanians in Italy arrived in 1991 and have since surpassed the older populations of Arbëreshë.


Turkey

According to a 2008 report prepared for the National Security Council of Turkey by academics of three Turkish universities in eastern Anatolia, there were approximately 1,300,000 people of Albanian descent living in Turkey.[57] A part of these people have assimilated to the culture of Turkey, and consider themselves more Turkish than Albanian. Nonetheless, more than 500,000 Albanian descents still recognize their ancestry like their languages, culture and traditions.

Egypt

In Egypt there are 18,000 Albanians, mostly Tosk speakers. Many are descendants of the Janissary of Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Albanian who became Wāli, and self-declared Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. In addition to the dynasty that he established, a large part of the former Egyptian and Sudanese aristocracy was of Albanian origin.

Overseas

According to the 2010 American Community Survey, there are 193,813 Albanian Americans (American citizens of full or partial Albanian descent).[26]

In Australia and New Zealand there are a total of 22,000 Albanians. Albanians are also known to reside in China, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan and Singapore, but the numbers are generally small. Albanians have been present in Arab countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria for about five centuries as a legacy of Ottoman Turkish rule.

Language

Main article: Albanian language


The Albanian language forms a separate branch of Indo-European languages family tree. A traditional view, based mainly on the territory where the languages were spoken, links the origin of Albanian with Illyrian. Not enough Illyrian archaeological evidence is left behind however, to come a definite conclusion. Another theory links the Albanian as originating from the Thracian language: however this theory takes exception to the territory, since the Thracian language was spoken in an area far from Albania, and no significant population movements have been recorded in the period when the shift from one language to the other is supposed to have occurred.[58]


Albanian in a revised form of the Tosk dialect is the official language of Albania and Kosovo; and is official in the municipalities where there are more than 20% ethnic Albanian inhabitants in the Republic of Macedonia. It is also an official language of Montenegro where it is spoken in the municipalities with ethnic Albanian populations.

Religion


The Albanians first appear in the historical record in Byzantine sources of the late 11th century.[59] At this point, they were already fully Christianized. Christianity was later overtaken by Islam, which kept the scepter of the major religion during the period of Ottoman Turkish rule from the 15th century until 1912. Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism continued to be practiced with less frequency.

During the 20th century the monarchy and later the totalitarian state followed a systematic secularization of the nation and the national culture. This policy was chiefly applied within the borders of the current Albanian state. It produced a secular majority in the population. All forms of Christianity, Islam and other religious practices were prohibited except for old non-institutional pagan practices in the rural areas, which were seen as identifying with the national culture. The current Albanian state has revived some pagan festivals, such as the Spring festival (Albanian: Dita e Verës) held yearly on March 14 in the city of Elbasan. It is a national holiday.

According to 2011 census, 58.79% of Albania adheres to Islam, making it the largest religion in the country. The majority of Albanian Muslims are Secular Sunni with a significant Bektashi Shia minority. Christianity is practiced by 16.99% of the population, making it the second largest religion in the country. The remaining population is either irreligious or belongs to other religious groups.[60] Before World War II, there was given a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholics.[61] Today, Gallup Global Reports 2010 shows that religion plays a role in the lives of only 39% of Albanians, and ranks Albania the thirteenth least religious country in the world.[62]

The Communist regime that took control of Albania after World War II persecuted and suppressed religious observance and institutions and entirely banned religion to the point where Albania was officially declared to be the world's first atheist state. Religious freedom has returned to Albania since the regime's change in 1992. Albanian Muslim populations (mainly secular and of the Sunni branch) are found throughout the country whereas Albanian Orthodox Christians as well as Bektashis are concentrated in the south; Roman Catholics are found primarily in the north of the country.[63]

For part of its history, Albania has also had a Jewish community. Members of the Jewish community were saved by a group of Albanians during the Nazi occupation.[64] Many left for Israel c. 1990–1992 after borders were open due to fall of communist regime in Albania, while in modern times about 200 Albanian Jews still live in Albania.

Religion in Albania
Religion Population %
Islam
Sunni
Bektashi
1,646,236
1,587,608
58,628
58.79
56.70
2.09
Christians
Catholic
Orthodox
Evangelists
Other Christians
475,629
280,921
188,992
3,797
1,919
16.99
10.03
6.75
0.14
0.07
Atheist 69,995 2.50
Prefer not to answer 386,024 13.79
Believers without denomination 153,630 5.49
Not relevant/not stated 68,022 2.43

Culture

Albanian music displays a variety of influences. Albanian folk music traditions differ by region, with major stylistic differences between the traditional music of the Ghegs in the north and Tosks in the south. Modern popular music has developed around the centers of Korca, Shkodër and Tirana. Since the 1920s, some composers such as Fan S. Noli have also produced works of Albanian classical music.

Notable Albanians

Main article: List of Albanians

Gallery

See also

Notes

Footnotes

Citations

Further reading

  • The Burden of the Balkans (1905)

External links

  • Albanians in Turkey
  • Albanian Canadian League Information Service (ACLIS)
  • U.S. Institute of Peace Report, November 2001
  • Books about Albania and the Albanian people (scribd.com) Reference of books (and some journal articles) about Albania and the Albanian people; their history, language, origin, culture, literature, and so on Public domain books, fully accessible online.
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