Albanians in Greece

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Albanians in Greece
Shqiptarët në Greqi
Αλβανοί στην Ελλάδα
Total population
ca. 480,000–670,000 Albanian immigrants[1][2][3][4][5][6]
Regions with significant populations
Athens · Attica · Thessaloniki · Peloponnese · Boeotia · Epirus · Thessaly
Albanian, Greek
Islam (Sunnism, Bektashism), Christianity (Orthodoxy, Catholicism), Irreligion
Related ethnic groups
Albanians, Albanians in Turkey and Albanians in North Macedonia

Albanians in Greece (Albanian: Shqiptarët në Greqi; Greek: Αλβανοί στην Ελλάδα) are people of Albanian ethnicity or ancestry who live in or originate from areas within modern Greece. They are divided into distinct communities as a result of different waves of migration. Albanians first migrated into Greece during the late 13th century. The descendants of populations of Albanian origin who settled in Greece during the Middle Ages are the Arvanites, who have been fully assimilated into the Greek nation and self-identify as Greeks. Today, they still maintain their distinct subdialect of Tosk Albanian, known as Arvanitika, although it is endangered as the younger generations no longer speak it due to language attrition.

The Chams are an Albanian group from the coastal parts of Epirus, in northwestern Greece and the southernmost part of Albania. The Chams of Muslim faith were expelled from Epirus during World War II after large parts of their population collaborated with the Axis occupation forces.[7] Greek Orthodox Albanian communities have been assimilated into the Greek nation.[8]

Alongside these two groups, a large wave of economic migrants from Albania entered Greece after the fall of Communism (1991) and forms the largest expatriate community in the country. They form the largest migrant group in Greece. A portion of these immigrants avoid declaring as Albanian in order to avoid prejudices and exclusion. These Albanian newcomers may resort to self-assimilation tactics such as changing their Albanian name to Greek ones and, if they are Muslim their religion from Islam to Orthodoxy:[9] Some Albanians with a Muslim background may change their names in order to avoid problems in predominately Orthodox Christian Greece. Through this, they hope to attain easier access to visas and naturalisation.[10] After migration to Greece, most are baptized and integrated.

While Greece does not record ethnicity on censuses, Albanians form the largest ethnic minority and top immigrant population in the country.[11]

Native Albanian communities[edit]

Cham Albanians and Souliotes[edit]

Groups of Albanians are first recorded in Epirus during the high Middle Ages. Some of their descendants form the Cham Albanians, which formerly inhabited the coastal regions of Epirus, largely corresponding to Thesprotia. The Chams are primarily distinguished from other Albanian groups by their distinct dialect of Tosk Albanian, the Cham dialect, which is among the most conservative of the Albanian dialects.[citation needed] During the rule of the Ottoman Empire in Epirus, many Chams converted to Islam, while a minority remained Greek Orthodox.

The Souliotes were a distinct subgroup of Cham Albanians who lived in the Souli region, and were known for the role in the Greek War of Independence.

When Epirus joined Greece in 1913, following the Balkan Wars, Muslim Chams lost the privileged status they enjoyed during Ottoman rule and were subject to discrimination from time to time. During World War II, large parts of the Muslim Chams collaborated with the Axis occupation forces, committing atrocities against the local population.[7] In 1944, when the Axis withdrew, many Muslim Chams fled to Albania or were forcibly expelled by the EDES resistance group. This event is known as the expulsion of Cham Albanians.

Communities of Albanian descent[edit]

Southern Greece[edit]

The Arvanites are by a community composed of the Southern Albanian dialectological group of Arvanitika speakers, known as Arvanites. They are a population group in Greece who traditionally speak Arvanitika, a form of Tosk Albanian. They settled in Greece during the late Middle Ages and were the dominant population element of some regions in the south of Greece until the 19th century.[12] Arvanites today self-identify as Greeks and have largely assimilated into mainstream Greek culture, they retain their dialect Arvanitika and cultural similarities with Albanians, but refuse any national connection with them and do not consider themselves an ethnic minority.[13][14] Albanian remained a "second language" in the Greek navy into the 20th century.[15] Arvanitika is endangered due to language shift towards Greek and large-scale internal migration to the cities in recent decades. The Arvanites are not considered an ethnic minority within Greece.


Historically, aside from the Cham and Souliote settlements, Albanians have also been formed communities in other areas of Epirus. Those Christian Albanians found in Epirus entirely identify with the Greek nation.[16] A small community is located in the Ioannina regional unit, where they form a majority in two villages of the Konitsa district.[17] Albanian communities also reside in the village of Plikati.[18] Although they are sometimes called Arvanites, their dialects are part of Tosk Albanian rather than Arvanitika. This population speaks the Lab branch of the Albanian language.

The victory of the invading Albanian tribes in the Battle of Achelous [19][20][21] left Epirus left open to increasing Albanian migration, who soon captured most of it, except for Ioannina.[22] Arta was captured In 1367 or shortly after, becoming the centre of the "Despotate of Arta".[23] and being recaptured only in 1416.[24]

In the city of Ioannina, a substantial minority of Albanian-speakers existed who spoke a dialect intermediate between Cham and Lab.[25][verification needed] However, during Ottoman era the Albanian minority in the kaza of Ioannina did not consist of native families but was limited to some Ottoman public servants.[26] Albanian communities historically have also inhabited Konitsa, Delvinaki, Pogoniani, Gorgopotamos, Mousiotitsa, the villages of Agia, Ammoudia, Anthousa, Kanallaki and Narkissos as well as the village of Kastri, these being located in the regional units of Ioannina, Preveza and Thesprotia respectively.

Over the centuries, some groups of Albanians also settled in various villages of Zagori.[27] Most of the Albanian settlement in Zagori can be attributed to after the 15th century and was the result of labor gaps caused by the outward migration of locals,[27][28] as well as movements of groups like the Souliotes.[27] These Albanians (locally known as Arvanítes) were considered métoikoi 'immigrants'; they comprised the lowest social class in the region and lived at the outskirts of the villages without civil and property rights.[29] They often worked as guards for the villages which had no military protection, and as workers in their fields.[27][29] They intermarried into the communities of Zagori or were adopted by Zagorisian families and quickly became part of the local population.[27][28] In the case of Tristeno, although no memories are preserved among the local population of any past Albanian presence, Albanian linguistic remnants in the local Greek speech suggest that they were the first settlers of the village; this would also explain the local Aromanian name of the village, which is Arbineshi 'Albanian village'.[27][30] Besides Tristeno, Albanians also settled in the villages of Arísti, Megalo Papingo, Anthrakítis, Asprángeli, Kavallári, Kípi, Leptokaryá, Monodéndri, Tsepélovo, Vítsa, Vradéto and possibly Kapésovo. Local Albanian traces, with the exception of some toponyms, have disappeared;[31] an extensive study of 3,546 toponyms in Zagori, found that 184 (5.19%) were mediated via the Albanian language.[32]


Villages of Florina with speakers of Arvanitika in yellow

The region of Macedonia also saw Albanian settlement. In the modern era only a small group of Christian, Albanian-speakers, speakers of a Northern Tosk Albanian dialect are still to be found in the villages of Drosopigi, Flampouro, Lechovo in Florina regional unit.[33] During the Ottoman era however, the Albanian population of the region was more widespread. These communities were largely found in and around the cities of Florina and Kastoria. Muslim Albanians inhabited the city of Florina itself, along with the nearby villages of Pyli, Lefkonas, Laimos, Agios Germanos, Tropaiouchos, Kolchiki, Agios Vartholomaios, Kato Kleines, and Ano Kleines. On the other hand, Christian Orthodox Albanians resided in the villages of Kato Ydroussa, Ano Ydroussa and Tripotamos, with these communities utilizing Albanian at least until the 1990s.

In Kastoria, Albanians in the city itself as well as the surrounding village of Giannochorio were Christian Orthodox, whereas Muslim Albanians inhabited the villages of Pefkos, Niki, Koromilia, Dipotamia, and Komninades.

In the area of Grevena, the village of Syndendro was inhabited by a Muslim Albanian population.

Following the October 1913 looting of the Albanian village of Mandritsa, Albanians settled the villages of Amparkioi (later renamed Mandres in their honor) in the Kilkis regional unit, as well as the villages of Souroti and Zagliveri in the Thessaloniki regional unit.

Sporadic Albanian communities, Christian Orthodox by faith, have further settled in other areas of Macedonia, including the villages of Nea Petra[citation needed], Kalochori[citation needed] and Paralimnoi[citation needed] in the Serres regional unit.

Those small Arvanite-speaking communities in Epirus and the Florina regional unit are identified as part of the Greek nation as well.[34]


The Malakasioi along with other Albanian tribes, the Bua and the Mesareti invaded Thessaly after 1318.[35] Traces of the Malakasioi are evident in the settlement of Malakasi, which takes the name of the tribe.

Western Thrace[edit]

Another small group is to be found in northeastern Greece, in Greek Macedonia and Western Thrace along the border with Turkey, as a result of migration during the early 20th century. They speak the Northern Tosk subbranch of Tosk Albanian and are descendants of the Orthodox Albanian population of Eastern Thrace who were forced to migrate during the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s.[36][37] They are known in Greece as Arvanites, a name applied to all groups of Albanian origin in Greece, but which primarily refers to the southern dialectological group of Arbëreshë. The Albanian speakers of Western Thrace and Macedonia use the common Albanian self-appellation Shqiptar.[37]

Albanian immigrants[edit]

After the fall of the communist government in Albania in 1990, a large number of economic immigrants from Albania arrived in Greece, mostly illegally, and seeking employment. Recent economic migrants from Albania are estimated to account for 60–65% of the total number of immigrants in the country. According to the 2001 census, there were 443,550 Albanian immigrants in Greece.[38] A special ID card for ethnic Greeks from Albania was issued in 2001 which was received by 189,000 individuals who resided in Greece at the time. For ethnic Greeks from Albania this measure was seen as treating them as "lower class citizens" as in order to obtain it their "Greekness" was examined in the form of a questionnaire. Another issue with the special ID card had to do with ethnic Albanians using fake documents which presented them as members of the Greek minority to obtain it.[39] In 2008, the citizenship law change in Greece allowed for holders of special ID cards to obtain Greek citizenship and about 45,000 did so just in the first three years of its implementation.[40] As of 2022, the number of Albanian citizens who are holders of special IDs as homogeneis (Greek co-ethnics) has been reduced to 13,329.[41]

In the 2011 census, 480,851 Albanian immigrants were recorded in Greece.[5] Accounting for non-permanent or irregular migration which constitutes up to 30% of Albanian immigrants in Greece, other estimates put their number closer to 600,000-670,000 (~6% of the total population of Greece).[42][6] Since the Greek economic crisis started in 2011, the total number of Albanians in Greece has fluctuated.[43] According to a study of 2012 conducted in Albania it is estimated that around 18%-22% Albanian immigrants returned to Albania the last five years.[44] As of 2019, Greece was the second top destination for Albanians, as movement to Greece constituted 35.3% of total Albanian immigration. Albanian immigrants are the largest immigrant community in Greece.[5] In recent years many Albanian workers and their families have left Greece for other countries in Europe in search of better prospects. In 2022, the number of Albanian citizens in Greece with a valid residency permit was 291,868; down from 422,954 in 2021. As of 2022, in total, there might have been more than 500,000 Albanian-born migrants and their children who received Greek citizenship over the years.[41]

Albanians have a long history of Hellenisation, assimilation and integration in Greece. Despite social and political problems experienced by the wave of immigration in the 1980s and 1990s, Albanians have integrated better in Greece than other non-Greeks.[45] A portion of Albanian newcomers change their Albanian name to Greek ones and their religion, if they are not Christian, from Islam to Orthodoxy.[46] Even before emigration, some Albanians from the south of Albania adopt a Greek identity including name changes, adherence to the Orthodox faith, and other assimilation tactics in order to avoid prejudices against migrants in Greece. In this way, they hope to get valid visas and eventual naturalization in Greece.[47]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vathi, Zana. Migrating and settling in a mobile world: Albanian migrants and their children in Europe. Springer Nature, 2015.
  2. ^ Managing Migration: The Promise of Cooperation. By Philip L. Martin, Susan Forbes Martin, Patrick Weil
  3. ^ Iosifides, Theodoros, Mari Lavrentiadou, Electra Petracou, and Antonios Kontis. "Forms of social capital and the incorporation of Albanian immigrants in Greece." Journal of ethnic and migration studies 33, no. 8 (2007): 1343-1361.
  4. ^ Lazaridis, Gabriella, and Iordanis Psimmenos. "Migrant flows from Albania to Greece: economic, social and spatial exclusion." In Eldorado or Fortress? Migration in Southern Europe, pp. 170-185. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2000.
  5. ^ a b c Speed, Madeleine; Alikaj, Arlis (2020). "Rights Denied: Albanians in Greece Face Long-Term Limbo". Balkan Insight.
  6. ^ a b Julie Vullnetari (2012). Albania on the Move: Links Between Internal and International Migration (PDF). Amsterdam University Press, 2012. p. 73. ISBN 9789089643551. To this, we need to add an estimate of irregular migrants; some Greek researchers have argued that Albanians have a rate of 30 per cent irregularity in Greece, but this is contested as rather high by others (see Maroukis 2009: 62). If we accept a more conservative share than that–e.g. 20 per cent–we come to a total of around 670,000 for all Albanian migrants in Greece in 2010, which is rather lower than that supplied by NID (Table 3.2). In a country with a total population of around eleven million, this is nevertheless a considerable presence: around 6 per cent of the total population
  7. ^ a b Hermann Frank Meyer. Blutiges Edelweiß: Die 1. Gebirgs-division im zweiten Weltkrieg Bloodstained Edelweiss. The 1st Mountain-Division in WWII Ch. Links Verlag, 2008. ISBN 978-3-86153-447-1, p. 702
  8. ^ Hart, Laurie Kain (1999). "Culture, Civilization, and Demarcation at the Northwest Borders of Greece". American Ethnologist. 26: 196. doi:10.1525/ae.1999.26.1.196.
  9. ^ Armand Feka (2013-07-16). "Griechenlands verborgene Albaner". Wiener Zeitung. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-03-02. Er lächelt und antwortet in einwandfreiem Griechisch: ‚Ich bin eigentlich auch ein Albaner.'
  10. ^ Lars Brügger; Karl Kaser; Robert Pichler; Stephanie Schwander-Sievers (2002). Umstrittene Identitäten. Grenzüberschreitungen zuhause und in der Fremde. Die weite Welt und das Dorf. Albanische Emigration am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts = Zur Kunde Südosteuropas: Albanologische Studien. Vienna: Böhlau-Verlag. p. Bd. 3. ISBN 3-205-99413-2.
  11. ^ Lazaridis, Gabriella, and Iordanis Psimmenos. "Migrant flows from Albania to Greece: economic, social and spatial exclusion." In Eldorado or Fortress? Migration in Southern Europe, pp. 170-185. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2000.
  12. ^ Trudgill (2000: 255).
  13. ^ Botsi (2003: 90); Lawrence (2007: 22; 156)
  14. ^ Greek Helsinki Monitor - The Arvanites Archived 2016-10-03 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Costa Carras (2004). "Greek Identity: A Long View". In Maria Todorova (ed.). Balkan Identities: Nation and Memory. New York University Press. p. 320. Greek speaking Muslims were indeed inassimilable into the body of post-independence Hellenes while Albanian speaking Orthodox played a crucial role in the war of independence, and Albanian was a second language in the Greek navy into the twentieth century... Orthodox Albanians' relationship to the Greek tradition has however remained fluid.
  16. ^ Hart, Laurie Kain (1999). "Culture, Civilization, and Demarcation at the Northwest Borders of Greece". American Ethnologist. 26: 196. doi:10.1525/ae.1999.26.1.196. Speaking Albanian, for example, is not a predictor with respect to other matters of identity .. There are also long standing Christian Albanian (or Arvanitika speaking) communities both in Epirus and the Florina district of Macedonia with unquestioned identification with the Greek nation. .. The Tschamides were both Christians and Muslims by the late 18th century [in the 20th century, Cham applies to Muslim only]
  17. ^ Euromosaic project (2006). "L'arvanite/albanais en Grèce" (in French). Brussels: European Commission. Archived from the original on 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  18. ^ Korhonen, Jani; Makartsev, Maxim; Petrusevka, Milica; Spasov, Ljudmil (2016). "Ethnic and linguistic minorities in the border region of Albania, Greece, and Macedonia: An overview of legal and societal status" (PDF). Slavica Helsingiensia. 49: 28. In several Albanian villages in Epirus (e.g., Plikati in the Ioannina district), the people of Albanian origin are sometimes called Arvanites, although there is an essential difference between them and the Arvanites of central and southern Greece. The Arvanitika-speaking villages form language island(s), as they are not connected geographically to the main Albanian-speaking area, whereas the villages in Epirus border Albanian-speaking territory and thus share more linguistic traits of the type that emerged later in the more extensive Tosk-inhabited territory.
  19. ^ Soustal & Koder 1981, pp. 70, 113–114.
  20. ^ Fine 1994, pp. 347–350.
  21. ^ Nicol 2010, pp. 123–138.
  22. ^ Fine 1994, pp. 350–351.
  23. ^ Soustal & Koder 1981, p. 114.
  24. ^ Soustal & Koder 1981, pp. 72–73, 114.
  25. ^ Xhufi, Pëllumb (February 2006). "Çamët ortodoks". Studime Historike (in Albanian). Albanian Academy of Sciences. 38 (2).
  26. ^ Vakalopoulos, Kōnstantinos Apostolou (2003). Historia tēs Ēpeirou: apo tis arches tēs Othōmanokratias hōs tis meres mas [History of Epirus: From Ottoman Rule to Present (in Greek). Hērodotos. p. 547. ISBN 9607290976. Στον καζά των Ιωαννίνων που συγκροτούνταν από 225 χωριά, δεν ζούσε καμιά αλβανική οικογένεια εκτός από κάποιους Αλβανούς υπαλλήλους .
  27. ^ a b c d e f Kahl 1999, pp. 113–114
  28. ^ a b Kahl 1999, p. 117: "Die durch die Auswanderungen entstandenen Bevölkerungslücken füllten zugewanderte orthodoxe Albaner (Arvaniten), die verschiedene Hilfsarbeiten in den fast männerleeren Dörfern übernahmen und schnell in der übrigen Bevölkerung aufgingen."
  29. ^ a b Tsefos 2001, p. 15: "Οι μέτοικοι (Αρβανίτες, Σουλιώτες και κάτοικοι από την περιοχή Λάκκα Σουλίου), που εργαζόταν σαν μισθοφόροι οπλίτες και εργάτες στα χωράφια των Ζαγορίσιων, και οι Γύφτοι (σιδεράδες-μουσικοί) αποτελούσαν τα χαμηλότερα κοινωνικά στρώματα και ζούσαν στα όρια του οικισμού, χωρίς να έχουν πολιτικά δικαιώματα και ιδιοκτησία."
  30. ^ Koukoudis 2003, p. 161
  31. ^ Kahl 1999, p. 115: "Die Spuren der Albaner bzw. Arvaniten sind mit Ausnahme der albanischen Toponyme verschwunden."
  32. ^ Oikonomou 1986, p. 971
  33. ^ Albanian, Tosk at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  34. ^ Laurie Kain Hart. Culture, Civilization, and Demarcation at the Northwest Borders of Greece. Archived 2014-11-12 at the Wayback Machine American Ethnologist, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Feb., 1999), pp. 196-220. (article consists of 25 pages). Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association "There are also long standing... unquestioned identification with the Greek nation."
  35. ^ Sansaridou-Hendrickx 2017, p. 289.
  36. ^ Greek Helsinki Monitor (1995): "Report: The Arvanites".
  37. ^ a b Euromosaic (1996): "L'arvanite / albanais en Grèce". Report published by the Institut de Sociolingüística Catalana.
  38. ^ Mediterranean Migration Observatory - Tables Archived March 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Κonsta, Anna-Maria; Lazaridis, Gabriella (2010). "Civic Stratification, 'Plastic' Citizenship and 'Plastic Subjectivities' in Greek Immigration Policy". Journal of International Migration and Integration / Revue de l'integration et de la migration internationale. 11 (4): 365. doi:10.1007/s12134-010-0150-8. S2CID 143473178.
  40. ^ Adamczyk, Artur (June 15, 2016). "Albanian Immigrants in Greece From Unwanted to Tolerated?" (PDF). Journal of Liberty and International Affairs. 2 (1): 53.
  41. ^ a b "Albanian Residents Leaving Greece for Wealthier Countries". In total, there could potentially be more than half a million Albanian-born individuals in Greece who along with their children have been granted Greek citizenship over the years.
  42. ^ Martin, Philip L.; Martin, Susan Forbes; Weil, Patrick (28 March 2018). Managing Migration: The Promise of Cooperation. Lexington Books. ISBN 9780739113417 – via Google Books.
  43. ^ "More than 130,000 Albanians have left Greece since 2011, as crisis, prejudice persist | Three Five Five Magazine". Archived from the original on 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2015-07-19.
  44. ^ Library, Civil Society. "Albanian Greek relations from the eyes of the Albanian public- perceptions 2013". Albanian Institute for International Studies. Friedrich Erbert Stiftung: 7. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  45. ^ Labrianidis, Lois, and Antigone Lyberaki. "Back and forth and in between: returning Albanian migrants from Greece and Italy." Journal of International Migration and Integration/Revue de l'integration et de la migration internationale 5, no. 1 (2004): 77-106.
  46. ^ Armand Feka (2013-07-16). "Griechenlands verborgene Albaner". Wiener Zeitung. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-03-02. Er lächelt und antwortet in einwandfreiem Griechisch: ‚Ich bin eigentlich auch ein Albaner.'
  47. ^ Lars Brügger; Karl Kaser; Robert Pichler; Stephanie Schwander-Sievers (2002). Umstrittene Identitäten. Grenzüberschreitungen zuhause und in der Fremde. Die weite Welt und das Dorf. Albanische Emigration am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts = Zur Kunde Südosteuropas: Albanologische Studien. Vienna: Böhlau-Verlag. p. Bd. 3. ISBN 3-205-99413-2.