Total population
c. 8 to 10–12 million[1][2][3][4]
Regions with significant populations
 Albania 2,525,263 (2018)[5]
 Kosovo 1,772,152 (2018)[6]
Other regions
Northern Europe
 United Kingdom30,000[8]
Eastern Europe
 Czech Republic1,512[17]
Southern Europe
 Italy800,000 a[22][23][24]
 Turkey500,000–5,000,000 b[25][26][27][28][29][30]
 North Macedonia509,083[31][32]
Western Europe
 United States194,028[51]
 New Zealand243[58]
 United Arab Emirates200–300[60]
 South Africa268[61]
Islam (majority)
Sunnism · Bektashism
Christianity (minority)
Catholicism (Albanian Greek Catholic · Italian Albanian Catholic) · Eastern Orthodoxy (Albanian Orthodox) · Protestantism

a 502,546 Albanian citizens, an additional 43,751 Kosovo Albanians and 260,000 Arbëreshë people[22][23][62]
b Albanians are not recognized as a minority in Turkey. However approximately 500,000 people are reported to profess an Albanian identity. Of those with full or partial Albanian ancestry and others who have adopted Turkish language, culture and identity their number is estimated at 1,300,000–5,000,000 many whom do not speak Albanian.[26][29]
c The estimation contains Kosovo Albanians.

The Albanians (z/; Albanian: Shqiptarët, pronounced [ʃcipˈta:ɾət]) are an ethnic group native to the Balkan Peninsula and are identified by a common Albanian ancestry, culture, history and language.[63] They primarily live in Albania, Kosovo[a], North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia as well as in Croatia, Greece and Italy. They also constitute a diaspora with several communities established in the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

The history of the Albanian diaspora is centuries old and has its roots in migration from the Middle Ages, initially established in Southern Europe and subsequently on across other parts of the world. Between the 13th and 18th centuries, sizeable numbers of Albanians migrated to escape either various social, economic or political difficulties.[64][65][66][67]

One population who became the Arvanites settled Southern Greece between the 13th and 16th centuries assimilating into and now self-identifying as Greeks.[67][68][69][70][71][72] Another population who emerged as the Arbëreshës settled Sicily and Southern Italy constituting the oldest continuous Albanian diaspora.[65] Smaller populations such as the Arbanasis whose migration dates back to the 18th century are located in Southern Croatia and scattered across Southern Ukraine.[73][74]

Albanians are primarily composed of two sub-ethnic groups known as the Ghegs and Tosks. In the 13th century, the Ghegs converted to Roman Catholicism from Eastern Orthodoxy as a means to resist the Slavic Serbs.[75][76][77] In the 15th century, Skanderbeg led the medieval Albanian resistance to the Ottoman conquest. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Albanians in large numbers converted to Islam, in part due to the privileged legal and social position of Muslims in the empire[78][79][80] and coercion by Ottoman authorities in times of war.[81][82][83]

Albanians attained important political and military positions within the Ottoman Empire and culturally contributed to the wider Muslim world.[84] Following the Albanian National Awakening, during the Balkan Wars, in 1912, Albanians were partitioned between the newly-formed Independent Albania and Serbia, Greece and Montenegro.[85] From 1945 to 1992, Albania was ruled by a communist government. Albanians in neighbouring Yugoslavia underwent periods of discrimination that concluded with the breakup of that state in the early 1990s and eventually the independence of Kosovo in 2008.


The Albanians (Albanian: Shqiptarët) and their country Albania (Albanian: Shqipëria) have been identified by many ethnonyms. The most common native ethnonym is "Shqiptar", plural "Shqiptarë"; the name "Albanians" (Byzantine Greek: Albanoi/Arbanitai/Arbanites; Latin: Albanenses/Arbanenses) was used in medieval documents, that gradually entered European languages from which other similar derivative names emerged.[86]

From these ethnonyms, names for Albanians were also derived in other languages, that were or still are in use.[87][88][89] In English "Albanians"; Italian "Albanesi"; German "Albaner"; Greek "Arvanites", "Alvanitis" (Αλβανίτης) plural: "Alvanites" (Αλβανίτες), "Alvanos" (Αλβανός) plural: "Alvanoi" (Αλβανοί); Turkish "Arnaut", "Arnavut"; South Slavic languages "Arbanasi" (Арбанаси), "Albanci" (Албанци); Aromanian "Arbineş" and so on.[70][87][88][89][90][91]

The term "Albanoi" (Αλβανοί) is first encountered twice in the works of Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates, and the term "Arvanitai" (Αρβανίται) is used once by the same author. He referred to the "Albanoi" as having taken part in a revolt against the Byzantine Empire in 1043, and to the "Arbanitai" as subjects of the Duke of Dyrrachium (modern Durrës).[92] These references have been disputed as to whether they refer to the people of Albania.[92][93] Historian E. Vranoussi believes that these "Albanoi" were Normans from Sicily. She also notes that the same term (as "Albani") in medieval Latin meant "foreigners".[94]

The reference to "Arvanitai" from Attaliates regarding the participation of Albanians in a rebellion around 1078 is undisputed.[95] In later Byzantine usage, the terms "Arbanitai" and "Albanoi" with a range of variants were used interchangeably, while sometimes the same groups were also called by the classicising name Illyrians.[96][97][98] The first reference to the Albanian language dates to the latter 13th century (around 1285).[99]

The ethnonym Albanian has been hypothesized to be connected to and stem from the Albanoi,[100][101][102] an Illyrian tribe mentioned by Ptolemy with their centre at the city of Albanopolis.[87][103] Linguists believe that the alb part in the root word originates from an Indo-European term for a type of mountainous topography, from which other words such as alps are derived.[104] Through the root word alban and its rhotacized equivalents arban, albar, and arbar, the term in Albanian became rendered as Arbëneshë/Arbëreshë for the people and Arbënia/Arbëria for the country.[86][87] The Albanian language was referred to as Arbnisht and Arbërisht.[103] While the exonym Albania for the general region inhabited by the Albanians does have connotations to Classical Antiquity, the Albanian language employs a different ethnonym, with modern Albanians referring to themselves as Shqip(ë)tarë and to their country as Shqipëria.[87] Two etymologies have been proposed for this ethnonym: one, derived from the etymology from the Albanian word for eagle (shqipe, var., shqiponjë).[89] In Albanian folk etymology, this word denotes a bird totem, dating from the times of Skanderbeg as displayed on the Albanian flag.[89][105] The other is within scholarship that connects it to the verb 'to speak' (me shqiptue) from the Latin "excipere".[89] In this instance the Albanian endonym like Slav and others would originally have been a term connoting "those who speak [intelligibly, the same language]".[89] The new ethnonyms Shqip(ë)tarë and Shqipëria emerged and replaced the older ethnonyms Arbëneshë/Arbëreshë and Arbënia/Arbëria between the late 17th and early 18th centuries.[87] That era brought about religious and other sociopolitical changes.[87] As such a new and generalised response by Albanians based on ethnic and linguistic consciousness to this new and different Ottoman world emerging around them was a change in ethnonym.[87]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Albanese
العربية: ألبان
aragonés: Albaneses
azərbaycanca: Albanlar
تۆرکجه: آلبان‌لار
башҡортса: Албандар
беларуская: Албанцы
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Альбанцы
български: Албанци
bosanski: Albanci
català: Albanesos
Чӑвашла: Албансем
čeština: Albánci
Cymraeg: Albaniaid
Deutsch: Albaner
Ελληνικά: Αλβανοί
español: Pueblo albanés
Esperanto: Albanoj
euskara: Albaniar
Frysk: Albanezen
한국어: 알바니아인
հայերեն: Ալբանացիներ
hrvatski: Albanci
Bahasa Indonesia: Bangsa Albania
italiano: Albanesi
Basa Jawa: Wong Albania
қазақша: Албандар
kurdî: Alban
Кыргызча: Албандар
latviešu: Albāņi
lietuvių: Albanai
magyar: Albánok
македонски: Албанци
Nederlands: Albanezen
нохчийн: Албанаш
norsk: Albanere
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Albanlar
polski: Albańczycy
português: Albaneses
română: Albanezi
русский: Албанцы
Scots: Albanies
slovenčina: Albánci
slovenščina: Albanci
српски / srpski: Албанци
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Albanci
suomi: Albaanit
svenska: Albaner
татарча/tatarça: Албаннар
Türkçe: Arnavutlar
українська: Албанці
Tiếng Việt: Người Albania
Zazaki: Arnawud