Albanians

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This article is about the Albanians as an ethnic group. For information about the residents or nationals of Albania, see demographics of Albania.

Template:Ethnic group The Albanians are an ethnic group generally associated with Albania, Kosovo and the Albanian language. The majority of the Albanians nowadays live in the Republic of Albania, Kosovo and Republic of Macedonia although there are Albanian minorities or immigrant communities in a number of other countries.

Population

Due to the high rate of migration of various ethnic groups throughout the Balkans in the last two decades, exact figures are difficult to obtain. A tenuous breakdown of Albanians by location is as follows:

  • 3,129,000 in Albania according to the Institute of Statistics for 2002.
  • 1,770,000 in Serbia and Montenegro which can be broken up as follows:
  • 509,000 in the Republic of Macedonia (from the 2002 census).
  • more than 233,000 Albanians in Italy, the majority having arrived since 1991. See also Arbëreshë.
  • In Greece, there were more waves of immigration from Albania, from the 14th century to the 1990s. As such, they are divided into different groups:
    • Çam Muslim Albanians; an unknown number reside in the Greek region of Epirus (Çamëria in Albanian) - there were thought to be around 19,000 before the end of World War II, during which many fled to Albania to avoid the impending military court sentences, a consequence of their collaboration with the Italian/German occupying forces.
    • The Orthodox Christian Albanian minority, which is located in North-western Greece and has been there since the Middle Ages. Their number is estimated at about 30,000.
    • Albanian nationals, including many ethnic Greeks and Greek-identifying Aromanians or Arvanitovlachs in addition to ethnic Albanians, that arrived during the 1990s, mainly as illegal immigrants; as many as 500,000, according to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Albanians living permanently in Scandinavia:
  • In Turkey, Turkish demographers have continuously mentioned numbers up to five million. However, many Albanians, who were deported from their land to Turkey, have been assimilated due to the assimilation policy of Turkish government.
  • In Egypt: 18,000 Albanians. Mostly Tosk speakers. Many are descendants of the soldiers of Muhammad Ali. Much of the former nobility of Egypt was Albanian in origin.

Culture

Contribution to humanity

Albanians have played a prominent role in the development of the arts and sciences as well as in religion and sport. Prominent individuals have included the writer Ismail Kadare, the painter Ibrahim Kodra, the composer Simon Gjoni, the Nobel prize winner Ferid Murad, the Olympic athlete Klodiana Shala, the Roman Catholic missionary Mother Teresa and Pope Clement XI.Other well known individuals include the prime minister of the Ottoman Empire Ferhat Pasha and Mehemet Ali the viceroy of Egypt. John Belushi and his brother Jim Belushi were of Albanian parents who immigrated in the USA after WWII. The American actress Eliza Dushku is also born of Albanian father and Norwegian mother.

Language

Most Albanians speak the Albanian language, a member of the Indo-European language family. There are several variants of Albanian. The two main Albanian variants are Tosk and Gheg. Some members of the Albanian diaspora do not speak the language (mostly in the US, Canada and UK) but are still considered Albanian by ethnic origin or descent. Non-Albanians who studied the Albanian language include prominent individuals such as Franz Bopp and Norbert Jokl.

Religion

Since the occupation by the Ottomans, the majority of Albanians have been Muslim although significant proportions of Albanians are Albanian Orthodox and Roman Catholic. This rich blend of religions has never caused religious strife and fanaticism and people of different religions are intermarrying without it being much of an issue. 20% of total Muslim population are Bektashi. For most of its history, Albania has had a noticeable Jewish community. Most of this community was saved by the Albanian people during the Nazi occupation [1]. The majority of Albanian Jews have left to settle in Israel, but a small number still remains [2].

Symbolism

The flag of Albania depicts a double-headed eagle on a red backgound. The Albanians are called Shqiptarët in the Albanian language, which freely translates as "The Sons of Eagles".

History

The Albanians are descendents of ancient Balkan people, but the exact identification is still under debate, see Origin of Albanians. Most historians and linguists support either an Illyrian or Thracian origin. They were first mentioned in the Balkans in 1043 AD. Islam replaced Christianity as the majority religion during the period of Ottoman Turkish rule from the 15th century until 1912, though Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are also practiced. Among the poorest of Europe's nationalities, in the latter half of the 20th century Albanians experienced the highest rate of natural population growth of any of Europe's major indigenous ethnic groups, increasing their numbers from 1.5 million around 1900 and fewer than 2.5 million in 1950.

Ethnic Albanians

Albanian is also a term often given to what would otherwise be called an ethnic Albanian. This is usually someone who is considered by himself or others to be Albanian or of Albanian descent. Several distinguishing characteristics might be:

  • Cultural connection with Albanian culture
  • Speaking the Albanian language
  • Having ancestors who lived in Albania or an area out of which the current Albanian state was formed (i.e. the occupied lands that were part of the Ottoman Empire)

There are ethnic Albanian minorities in several European countries, as well as in the United States, Canada, Australia, Russia and Ukraine.

Albanian Nationalism

Both Kosovo (a Serbian province though governed since June 1999 by UNMIK, backed by KFOR, a NATO-led international force) and western Macedonia have in recent years seen armed movements (Kosovo Liberation Army, UCPMB, Macedonian NLA) aiming either for independence, greater autonomy, or increased human and political rights.

The fate of Kosovo remains uncertain owing to the reluctance of the Albanian majority to contemplate a restoration of Serbian sovereignty and of the United Nations and NATO to separate the territory definitively from Serbia in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from 1999. August of 2003 was marked by renewed terrorist attacks by the ANA (Albanian National Army) both against Serb border guards and Serb civilians.

The situation in Macedonia seems to have been resolved by giving the Albanian minority greater government representation and the right to use the Albanian language in education and government.

See also

External links

bg:Албанци de:Albaner et:Albaanlased ja:アルバニア人 nl:Albanezen pl:Albańczycy sl:Albanci sr:Албанци sv:Albaner