Albanians of Romania
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The Albanians (Shqiptarë in Albanian, Albanezi in Romanian) are an ethnic minority in Romania. As an officially recognized ethnic minority, Albanians have one seat reserved in the Romanian Chamber of Deputies to the League of Albanians of Romania (Liga Albanezilor din România).
In the 2002 census 520 Romanian citizens indicated their ethnicity was Albanian, and 484 stated that their native language was Albanian. The actual number of the Albanian population in Romania is unofficially estimated at around 10,000 persons. Most members of the community live in Bucharest, while the rest mainly live in larger urban centers such as Timişoara, Iaşi, Constanţa and Cluj-Napoca.
Most families are Orthodox and trace their origins to the area around Korçë. Many other Romanian Albanians adhere to Islam — according to a 1999 article by Romanian scholar George Grigore, various studies show that about 3,000 members of the Romanian Muslim community may in fact be Albanian. That section of the Albanian community is traditionally integrated into the Turk or Tatar groups, which makes its numbers hard to assess.
An Albanian community inside the Danubian Principalities was first attested in Wallachia under Prince Michael the Brave: a report drafted by Habsburg authorities in Transylvania specified that 15,000 Albanians had been allowed to cross north of the Danube in 1595; Călineşti (a village in present-day Floreşti, Prahova County) was one of their places of settlement, as evidenced in a document issued by Michael's rival and successor, Simion Movilă, who confirmed their right to reside in the locality. The community's presence was first recorded in Bucharest around 1628. In Moldavia, an ethnic Albanian, Vasile Lupu, became Prince in 1634.
The Albanian community was strengthened during the Phanariote epoch, when numerous immigrants opened businesses in a large number of cities and towns, and were employed as bodyguards of Wallachian princes and boyars (being usually recorded as arbănaşi, akin to Arvanites, and its variant arnăuţi, borrowed from the Turkish arnaut). In 1820, a survey indicated that there were 90 traders from the Rumelian town of Arnaut Kioy present in the Wallachian capital, most of whom were probably Albanians and Aromanians.
The Rilindja Kombëtare movement of Albanian nationalism inside the Ottoman Empire was present and prolific in Wallachia, the center of cultural initiatives taken by Dora d'Istria, Naim Frashëri, Jani Vreto, and Naum Veqilharxhi (the latter published the first ever Albanian primer in Bucharest, in 1844). Aleksandër Stavre Drenova, a resident of Bucharest, authored the lyrics of Albania's national anthem, Hymni i Flamurit, which is sung to the tune of Pe-al nostru steag e scris Unire, composed by the Romanian Ciprian Porumbescu. At the time, Albanians were present, alongside other Balkan communities, in Bucharest's commercial life, where many worked as street vendors (specializing in the sale of soft drinks or confectionery items).
Among the new groups of immigrants from various Balkan regions to Romania were the families of poets Victor Eftimiu and Lasgush Poradeci. At the time, the independence movement gathered momentum, and, for a while after 1905, was focused on the activities of Albert Gjika. An Albanian school was opened in 1905 in the city of Constanţa — among its pupils was poet Aleksandër Stavre Drenova. In 1912, at a Bucharest meeting headed by Ismail Qemali and attended by Drenova, the first resolution regarding Albania's independence was adopted.
In 1893, the Albanian community in Romania numbered around 30,000 persons. In 1920 almost 20,000 Albanians lived in Bucharest. A new wave of Albanian immigrants, many of them Muslims from Yugoslavia, followed in the wake of World War I. In 1921, the first translation of the Qur'an into Albanian was completed by Ilo Mitke Qafëzezi and published in the city of Ploieşti. Many Albanians settled in Transylvania, where they generally established confectionery enterprises.
The community was repressed under the communist regime, starting in 1953 (when the Albanian cultural association was closed down). Rights lost were regained after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, but the number of people declaring themselves Albanian has decreased dramatically between 1920 and 2002. Traditionally, members of the community have been included among a special "among others" category in the censuses, but have first received a special seat in Parliament after the 2000 elections.
- Kristaq Antoniu
- Aleksander Stavre Drenova
- Victor Eftimiu
- the Ghica family
- Oana Manolescu
- Marvin Nallbani
- Lasgush Poradeci
- Ilo Mitkë Qafëzezi
- Naum Veqilharxhi
- the Lupu family
- Ibrahim Temo
- Dora d'Istria
- (Romanian) Recensământ 2002. Rezultate: Populaţia după etnie. Populaţia după limba maternă at the 2002 Census official site; retrieved February 22, 2008
- (Romanian) "Albanezi - Date demografice" at Divers online; retrieved February 26, 2008
- (Romanian) "Albanezii - Perioada contemporană" at Divers online; retrieved July 16, 2007
- George Grigore, "Muslims in Romania", in International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) Newsletter 3, July 1999, p.34; retrieved July 16, 2007
- (Romanian) "Albanezii - Scurt istoric" at Divers online; retrieved February 26, 2008
- Giurescu, p.272
- Giurescu, p.267, 272
- Giurescu, p.267
- Giurescu, p.168, 307
- Constantin C. Giurescu, Istoria Bucureştilor. Din cele mai vechi timpuri pînă în zilele noastre ("History of Bucharest. From the Earliest Times to Our Day"), Editura Pentru Literatură, Bucharest, 1966
- (Romanian) Albanian League of Romania