|Approximately 8-8.5 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
| Albania 2,312,356 
Kosovo[a] 1,690,000 
|1 Mostly boycotted Census
|Part of a series on|
|Balkan countries with substantial Albanian population|
|Varieties of Albanian|
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. Ethnic Albanians speak the Albanian language and more than half of ethnic Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo.[a] The Albanian diaspora also exists in a number of other countries.
While the exonym Albania for the general region inhabited by the Albanians does hark back to Classical Antiquity, the name was lost within the Albanian language, the Albanian endonym being shqiptar, from the term for the Albanian language, shqip, a derivation of the verb shqiptoj "to utilize a correct Albanian pronunciation". This theory pertains to Hahn and it holds that perhaps the word is ultimately a loan from Latin excipio. Thus, the Albanian endonym, like Slav and others, is in origin a term for "those who speak [intelligibly, the same language]". However another plausible theory has been advanced by Maximilian Lambertz to explain the endonym as derived from the Albanian noun shqype or shqiponjë (eagle), which, according to Albanian folk etymology, denoted a bird totem dating from the times of Skanderbeg, as displayed on the Albanian flag.
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. However a later reference to Albanians from the same Attaliates, regarding the participation of Albanians in a rebellion around 1078, is undisputed. The first reference to the Albanian language dates to the later 13th century (around 1285).
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.
Studies in genetic anthropology show that the Albanians share the same ancestry as most other European peoples.
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. 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.
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"). However a later reference to Albanians from the same Attaliates, regarding the participation of Albanians in a rebellion around 1078, is undisputed. At this point, they are already fully Christianized, although Albanian mythology and folklore are part of the Paleo-Balkan pagan mythology, in particular showing Greek influence.
From late 11th century the Albanians were called Arbën/Arbër and their country as Arbanon, a mountainous area to the west of Lake Ochrida and the upper valley of the river Shkumbin. 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. 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, and the other around the region which was known with the name Arbanon.
Albanians under the Ottoman Empire
The establishment of Ottoman supremacy in the Southeast Europe began with the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. 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. Albanians could also be found across the empire, in Egypt, Algeria, and across the Maghreb as vital military and administrative retainers. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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 1443–1478 (although Kastrioti died in 1468). Kastrioti's strongholds included Kruja, Shkodra, Durrës, Lezha, Petrela, Koxhaxhik and Berat.
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. 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. The Treaty of San Stefano was the impetus for the nation-building movement, which was based more on fear of partition than national identity. Even after Albania became independent in 1912, Albanian national identity was fragmented and possible non-existent in much of the new country. 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.
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.
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.
An estimated 275,000–600,000 Albanians live in Greece, forming the largest immigrant community in the country. 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.
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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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Unattested prior to the second half of the 15th century, the Albanian language is one of the youngest languages of Europe in terms of first written account.
Albanian in a revised form of the Tosk dialect is the official language of Albania and Kosovo[a]; 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.
The Albanians first appear in the historical record in Byzantine sources of the late 11th century. 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.
In the preliminary results of the latest census in 2011, 70% of all Albanians did not declare adherence to any particular religion. The CIA World Factbook gives a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholics but clarifies "percentages are estimates; there are no available current statistics on religious affiliation; all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice." Most of the Muslims in Albania are Sunni Muslims and Bektashi Muslims There are also Orthodox Christians, predominantly in Southern Albania, bordering Greece, and Roman Catholicism is the main religion among those Albanians living predominantly in northern Albania, bordering the Republic of Montenegro. After 1992 an influx of foreign missionaries has brought more religious diversity with groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Hindus, Bahá'í, a variety of Christian denominations and others. This rich blend of religions has however rarely caused religious strife. People of different religions freely intermarry.
For part of its history, Albania has also had a Jewish community. Some of the members of the Jewish community were saved by a group of Albanians during the Nazi occupation. Many left for Israel circa 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.
In the 2011 census the declared religious affiliation of the population was: 56.7% Muslims, 13.79% undeclared, 10.03% Catholics, 6.75% Orthodox believers, 5.49% other, 2.5% Atheists, 2.09% Bektashis and 0.14% other Christians.
|Prefer not to answer||386,024||13.79|
|Believers without denomination||153,630||5.49|
|Not relevant/not stated||68,022||2.43|
|Part of a series on|
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.
- Gjon Buzuku – a northern Albanian Catholic cleric born in the 16th century; the author of the first book written and published in Albanian.
- Mit’hat Frashëri- Albanian diplomat, writer and politician. The son of Abdyl Frashëri, one of the most important activists of the Albanian National Awakening in 1908 he participated in the Congress of Manastir
- Lorik Cana- football player
- Rita Ora - singer.
- Ismail Kadare- writer
- Dritëro Agolli Poet, Writer
- Gjekë Marinaj Writer and Literary Critic
- Agim Kaba- Emmy nominated actor and artist.
- Rexhep Qosja- prominent Albanian politician and literary critic.
- Naim Krieziu- football player famous in Italy in 1940s and 1950s.
- Sedefkar Mehmed Agha - architect of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the "Blue Mosque") in Istanbul.
- Mother Teresa- was a Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta,
- Skanderbeg- as a 15th-century Albanian lord[D], who as leader of the federation of the League of Lezhë defended the region of Albania against the Ottoman Empire for more than two decades.
- Mohammed Ali Pasha – Viceroy of Egypt and Sudan
- Mirela Manjani- is a retired javelin thrower who represented Greece.
- James Biberi- actor
- Gjon Mili- Albanian-American photographer
- Inva Mula- opera soprano
- Aleksander Moisiu- stage actor.
- Ernesto Sabato (1911–2011) Argentinian writer, painter and physicist of Arbëreshë-Albanian descent. His writings led him to receive many international prizes, including the Legion of Honour (France), the Prix Médicis (Italy) and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize (Spain).
- Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani (1914 – October 2, 1999) was an influential Islamic scholar of the 20th century; he specialised in the fields of hadith and fiqh. He was also a prolific writer and speaker.
- Ali Sami Yen 20 May 1886 – 29 July 1951- founder of the Galatasaray Sports Club.
Kosovar Albanian children in Prizren
- Albanian diaspora
- Albanian American
- Albanians in Ukraine
- Arbanasi (group)
- Demographics of Albania
- Cham Albanians
- List of Albanian-Americans
- List of Albanians
- Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 99 out of 193 United Nations member states.
- This number is based on a lower-end tally of the figures given in the material cited on this page.
- See 2011 Census, the preliminary results of the 2011 census in the Republic of Kosovo show the national population at 1,733,872 but the census was boycotted in North Kosovo and this figure does not include the entire population of Kosovo, the CIA World Factbook gives an estimate of 1,836,529 persons living in Kosovo for the year 2012, claiming that 92% of them are Albanians, i.e. about 1,690,000 people. (see Kosovo entry at The World Factbook).
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- Migration and Migration Policy in Greece. Critical Review and Policy Recommendations. Anna Triandafyllidou. Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). Data taken from Greek ministry of Interiors. p. 5 "the total number of Albanian citizens residing in Greece, including 185,000 co-ethnics holding special identity cards"
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- The wars of the Balkan Peninsula: their medieval origins G – Reference, Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series Authors Alexandru Madgearu, Martin Gordon Editor Martin Gordon Translated by Alexandru Madgearu Edition illustrated Publisher Scarecrow Press, 2008 ISBN 0-8108-5846-0, ISBN 978-0-8108-5846-6 It was supposed that those Albanoi from 1042 were Normans from Sicily, called by an archaic name (the Albanoi were an independent tribe from Southern Italy). The following instance is indisputable. It comes from the same Attaliates, who wrote that the Albanians (Arbanitai) were involved in the 1078; rebellion of... p. 25
- "Robert Elsie, ''The earliest reference to the existence of the Albanian Language''". Scribd.com. 2007-05-28. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
- L'Albanie entre Byzance et Venise" Volume 248 of Collected studies Variorum Collected Studies Volume 248 of Variorum reprint Author Alain Ducellier Edition illustrated, reprint Publisher Variorum Reprints, 1987 ISBN 0-86078-196-8, ISBN 978-0-86078-196-7. "Par deux fois, Anne Comnene laisse entendre que la place forte de Petrela constitue la voie d'acces principale de cette region ..."
- Michele Belledi, Estella S. Poloni, Rosa Casalotti, Franco Conterio, Ilia Mikerezi, James Tagliavini and Laurent Excoffier. "Maternal and paternal lineages in Albania and the genetic structure of Indo-European populations". European Journal of Human Genetics, July 2000, Volume 8, Number 7, pp. 480-486. "Mitochondrial DNA HV1 sequences and Y chromosome haplotypes (DYS19 STR and YAP) were characterized in an Albanian sample and compared with those of several other Indo-European populations from the European continent. No significant difference was observed between Albanians and most other Europeans, despite the fact that Albanians are clearly different from all other Indo-Europeans linguistically. We observe a general lack of genetic structure among Indo-European populations for both maternal and paternal polymorphisms, as well as low levels of correlation between linguistics and genetics, even though slightly more significant for the Y chromosome than for mtDNA. Altogether, our results show that the linguistic structure of continental Indo-European populations is not reflected in the variability of the mitochondrial and Y chromosome markers. This discrepancy could be due to very recent differentiation of Indo-European populations in Europe and/or substantial amounts of gene flow among these populations."
- R. Elsie: Early Albania, a Reader of Historical Texts, 11th – 17th Centuries, Wiesbaden 2003, p. 3
- Extract from: Grujic, Radoslav: Legenda iz vremena Cara Samuila o poreklu naroda. in: Glasnik skopskog naucnog drustva, Skopje, 13 (1934), p. 198 200. Translated from the Old Church Slavonic by Robert Elsie. First published in R. Elsie: Early Albania, a Reader of Historical Texts, 11th – 17th Centuries, Wiesbaden 2003, p. 3. Albanian History
- The wars of the Balkan Peninsula: their medieval origins G – Reference, Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series Authors Alexandru Madgearu, Martin Gordon Editor Martin Gordon Translated by Alexandru Madgearu Edition illustrated Publisher Scarecrow Press, 2008 ISBN 0-8108-5846-0, ISBN 978-0-8108-5846-6 It was supposed that those Albanoi from 1042 were Normans from Sicily, called by an archaic name (the Albanoi were an independent tribe from Southern Italy), p. 25
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- Studies in late Byzantine history and prosopography Volume 242 of Collected studies Variorum reprints ; CS242 Volume 242 of Variorum reprint Author Donald MacGillivray Nicol Edition illustrated Publisher Variorum Reprints, 1986 ISBN 0-86078-190-9, ISBN 978-0-86078-190-5 page. 160 "The geographical location of the mysterious 'Arbanon' has at last no doubt been settled by the researches of Alain Ducellier. In the 11th century at least it was the name given to the mountainous area to the west of Lake Ochrida and the upper valley of the river Shkumbin..."
- The New Cambridge Medieval History: c. 1198-c. 1300 Volume 5 of The New Cambridge Medieval History, Rosamond McKitterick, ISBN 0-521-85360-5, ISBN 978-0-521-85360-6 Author David Abulafia Editors David Abulafia, Rosamond McKitterick Contributors David Abulafia, Rosamond McKitterick Edition illustrated, reprint Publisher Cambridge University Press, 1999 ISBN 0-521-36289-X, 9780521362894 page 780
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Albanians|
- Albanians in Turkey
- Albanian Canadian League Information Service (ACLIS)
- Albanians in the Balkans 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.