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Distribution of ethnic-Albanians in the Balkans.

The Albanian diaspora encompasses Albanians outside of Albania and Kosovo. The greatest concentrations are found in Turkey, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece and Italy. There are also smaller communities in Austria, Canada, France, Romania, Belgium, Russia, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Ukraine, UK, USA and Turkey.

The Albanian exodus due to the collapse of the communist regime in 1991 and the ensuing economic crisis has been the largest emigration movement in Europe since the population movements after World War II. Between 1989 and 2001, roughly 800,000 people have migrated out of Albania, about 440,000 of them settling in Greece, where Albanians make up 60% of immigrants.[1] 350,000 Albanians have migrated to Italy over the 1990s to 2000s.[2] The situation in Kosovo is similar. More than 600,000 Albanians have left Kosovo since the late 1980s permanently, not counting those fleeing the Kosovo War who have subsequently returned.[3] An important destination for emigrating Kosovar Albanians has been Switzerland.[4]

The preference for Italy, Greece and Western European countries during the first waves of emigration during 1991-1995 due to stricter immigration laws has given way in favour of Canada and the United States in the period after 1995. The rate of emigration has decreased during the later 2000s.

The mass emigration of the 1990s to early 2000s has resulted in massive brain drain to Albania. In the period 1990-2003, an estimated 45% of Albania's academics emigrated, as did more than 65% of the scholars who received PhDs in the West in the period 1980-1990.[5]




In 1636, the Mandritsa, a typical village in Bulgaria, was found by Eastern Orthodox Albanian dairymen who supplied the Ottoman Army. They were allowed to pick a tract of land and were freed from taxes. The bulk of the local Albanians arrived in the 18th century from around Korçë and in the 19th century from the region of Souli in Epirus. The locals preserved their Souliot national dress until the 19th century, when the fustanella was substituted by Thracian breeches. However, the female dress was preserved until the mass emigration to Greece in 1913. In the 2001 census of Bulgaria, it was estimated that 10,141 Albanians live in the country.

Republic of Macedonia

The Albanian population in the Republic of Macedonia has grown constantly since 1948. According to the official census data (held every 10 years), Albanians made up 19% of the total population in 1953. The population fell to 13% in 1961. It grew again in 1971 to 17%. They made up 19.7% in 1981 and 21% in 1991. At the last census in 2002, the Albanian population was at 25.2%. Ethnologue in 2002 estimated some 800,000 people speaking the Albanian language in Republic of Macedonia. In the decade since the Republic declared independence from Yugoslavia, some Albanians have claimed to account for 38% of the population and demanded an appropriate share of power. On the other side, Ethnic Macedonians said Albanians were barely 20%. However, the widely accepted number of Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia is according to the internationally monitored 2002 census. The census data estimated that Albanians account for about a quarter of the total population. In the 2008 Macedonian parliamentary elections, Albanian political parties received 22.61% of the total vote, receiving 29 of 120 seats.


Albanians in Greece form the country's largest population group after the ethnic Greek majority. Due to different waves of migration, they are divided into distinct groups. The Cham Albanians identify with the modern Albanian nation, but were mostly expelled from the region of Epirus during World War II due to their collaboration with the Axis activities. Albanian immigrants, who have entered Greece in large numbers since the fall of the Socialist People's Republic of Albania, form the largest single expatriate group in the country today. After the fall of communism throughout Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of economic refugees and immigrants from Greece's neighboring countries, Albania, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania, as well as from more distant countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, arrived in Greece, mostly as illegal immigrants, to seek employment. The vast majority of the Albanians in Greece is estimated to be between 65-70% of the total number of immigrants in the country. According to the 2001 census, there are 443,550 holders of Albanian citizenship in Greece. There are also 100,000 cham albanians and 150,000 arvanite albanians. There are also thousands of albanian illegal immigrants in Greece. It is claimed that albanians make up 10% of the whole Greece population. It means there are more than a million albanians in Greece.


There is an Albanian community in southern Italy, known as Arbëreshë, who had settled in the country in the 15th and the 16th century, displaced by the changes brought about by the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Some managed to escape and were offered refuge from the repression by the Kingdom of Naples and Kingdom of Sicily (both under Aragonese rule), where the Arbëreshë were given their own villages and protected. The Arbëreshë were estimated as numbering at a quarter million in the 1970s. Now it is estimated that there are 350,000 people of arbëreshë descent.

After the breakdown of the communist regime in Albania in 1990, Italy had been the main immigration target for Albanians leaving their country. This was because Italy had been a symbol of the West for many Albanians during the communist period, because of its geographic proximity. Italy reacted to the migration pressure by introducing the "Martelli" law, stipulating that any immigrant who could prove that he or she had come into the country before the end of 1989 be granted a two year residency permit. From March 1997, Italy instituted a strict patrol of the Adriatic in an attempt to curb Albanian immigration. As a result, many Albanian immigrants in Italy do not have a legal status. Out of an estimated 450,000 Albanian immigrants in Italy in 1998, only some 82,000 were registered with authorities.[6]

The Italian Government has housed significant numbers of Albanians from Kosovo in the Arbëresh settlements, most notably in Piana degli Albanesi in Sicily.


Many Albanians fled to Turkey during the Ottoman Empire. Many started to colonize in the European part and Asia minor. Later on, Turkey had a wave of 260,259 Kosovo war refugees, which also included Kosovar Albanians. Today it is estimated that 2,500,000 Albanians live there. But most of these albanians are assimilated and they even can't speak albanian. Out of an estimated 1,300,000 albanians speak albanian.

Western Europe


There are more than 550 000 ethnic Albanians living in Germany. They mostly migrated to Germany during the 1990s.


Ethnic Albanians in Switzerland numbered at about 340,000 as of 2006.[7] Albanians have migrated to Switzerland since 1960s,[8] Many of theme migrated from Kosovo. 45 000 albanians migrated to Switzerland from Macedonia.[9] but as in other host countries, the bulk of immigrants arrived during the 1990s.

Albanians account for more than 6% of Swiss population, the largest Albanian minority outside of the Albanian homeland after Greece (10% Albanian population). The Albanian language is the second largest immigrant language spoken in Switzerland, following Serbo-Croatian.



It was estimated that 22,395 Albanians live in Canada. The first Albanians arrived in Canada at the beginning of the century, following internal pre-war revolutionary upheavals. Few immigrated to Canada after WWII. Most of the post-war Albanian immigrants settled in either Montréal or Toronto. Some found jobs in Calgary and a few in small communities in Ontario (eg, Peterborough). After the inter-ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia between ethnic Albanians and Serbian military and police forces, many Albanians left Kosovo as refugees. Some have come to Canada, and in 1999 the Canadian government created a program to offer safe haven to 7000 Kosovar Albanian refugees. However, they continue to appreciate their ethnic heritage and their Albanian national history, even though their ancestors may have left Albania several centuries ago. Those Albanians from Albania proper are active in their business and social organizations. They are frequently found in the food service industry.

United States

Albanians began to settle in the USA in the early 1920s from Greece, Southern Italy and Kosovo, and in the 1990s from Albania, Montenegro, the Republic of Macedonia, and refugees of war. Another Albanian American (Kosovar Albanian) community in the Riverside/San Bernardino area of California includes Kosovars who entered the United States at the March Joint Air Reserve Base in Riverside. The Albanian-American population is currently 113,661, 0.04% of the US population. The correct number isn't known because of that albanians migrated from Greece and Italy to the USA. In Total there are approximately 1,500,000 albanians in the USA.

Table of diaspora populations

Country Albanian population Year Source(s)
 Albania 4,500,000 (2008) [10]
 Kosovo 2,500,000 (2007) [11]
 Turkey 3,500,000 (2007) [12]
 Macedonia 900,083 (28002) <ref8>Republic of Macedonia 2002 census -</ref>
 Montenegro 50,600 (2007) [13]
 Greece 800,000 [citation needed]
 Italy 700,000 [citation needed]
 USA 2,000,000 (2001) [14]
 Serbia 261,647
 Canada 350,935 (2001) [15]
 Sweden 35,000
 United Kingdom 350,000 [citation needed]
 France 300,000
 Switzerland 1,000,000 (2000) [16]
 Germany 750,000 [citation needed]
 Netherlands 105,706 [citation needed]
 Belgium 60,352 [17]
 Slovenia 26,186 (2002) [18]
 Croatia 24,621 (2001) [18]
 Romania 10,000
 Norway 37,000
 Austria 28,212 (2001) [16][19]
 South Africa 2,000
 Egypt 18,000
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 25,000
 Denmark 38,000
 Luxembourg 4,802
 Ukraine 13,308 (2001) [15]
 Finland 23,293 (2000) [16]
 Spain 25,427 [20]
 Russia 53,220 [21]
 Czech Republic 10,221 [22]
 Slovakia 5,851 (2001) [23][24][25]
 Australia 21,315 [26]
 Kazakhstan 46 (1999) [15]
 Moldova 1,204 (1989) [15]
 New Zealand 15,531 (2001) [16]
 Cyprus 997 (2001) [23]
 Philippines 1,495 (2000) [23]
 Bulgaria 10,141 (2001) [23]
 Ireland 1,301 (2002) [23]
 Luxembourg 4,976 (2001) [23]
 Poland 3,037 (2006) [23]
 Bolivia 5 (2002) [23]


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