Albanians of Croatia

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Albanians of Croatia
Total population
 Croatia 17,513 (2011)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Primorje-Gorski Kotar2,410[1]
 Istria County2,393[1]
 Zagreb County921[1]
 Zadar County908[1]
Related ethnic groups
Arbanasi people, Arbereshe people

The Albanians of Croatia (Albanian: Shqiptarët në Kroaci; Croatian: Albanci u Hrvatskoj) are people of full or partial Albanian ancestry and heritage in Croatia.

They are an autochthonous national minority recognized by the Constitution of Croatia.[2][3] As such, they elect a special representative to the Croatian Parliament, shared with members of four other national minorities.[2] The Albanian language is recognised in Croatia.[4]

In the 2011 Croatian census, there were 17,513 Albanians living in Croatia, 0.41% of total population. The largest religious groups among the Albanians were Muslims (9,594 or 54.8% of them) and Catholics (7,109 or 40.6% of them).[5]

In the 1712/14 census done in Lika and Krbava among Vlach population, and other documents, many surnames with Albanian and Arbanasi word roots were recorded, such as those with suffixes "-aj" (e.g. Bulaja, Mataija, Šolaja, Saraja, Suknajić, Rapajić), "-ez" (Kokez, Kekez, Ivez, Malez etc.), and others (Šimleša, Šimrak, Šinđo/a/n, Šintić, Kalember, Flego, Macura, Cecić, Kekić, Zotović etc.).[6][7]

Albanians came to Croatia in various historical periods. In the Middle Ages they lived in coastal cities and some were assimilated with Vlachs, in the 17th and 18th century the Arbanasi people settled the area around Zadar, and in modern time they came as seasonal workers, war refugees or sportspeople. Many people in Croatia descended from earlier waves of Albanian migration bear surnames of linguistically Albanian origin, but do not speak the language and are not considered to be Albanians.[7]


The 2011 census shows that at that time 17,513 Albanians lived in Croatia. This corresponds to 0.41% of the population. In 2001, the proportion of 15,082 persons had only 0.34%.

Of these, 9,594 (54.8%) are Muslims and 7,109 (40.6%) are Catholics. 17 belong to other Christian denominations and the remaining 793 (4.5%) are partly atheists, partly agnostics, give no indication with respect to religion or belong to other religions.

Albanians are concentrated in Istria (2,393), Dalmatia (1,025), Zadar (908) and in the north of the Croatian coast (2,410) as well as in the capital Zagreb (4,292). More live in smaller numbers scattered throughout Croatia.

Counties or region Albanians 2001[8] % 2001 Albanians 2011[1] % 2011
 Zagreb City 3,389 0.43% 4,292 0.54%
 Primorje-Gorski Kotar County 2,063 0.68% 2,410 0.81%
 Istria County 2,032 0.98% 2,393 1.15%
 Split-Dalmatia County 900 0.19% 1,025 0.23%
 Osijek-Baranja County 858 0.26% 865 0.28%
 Zagreb County 835 0.27% 921 0.29%
 Bjelovar-Bilogora County 755 0.57% 743 0.62%
 Zadar County 629 0.39% 908 0.63%
 Sisak-Moslavina County 511 0.28% 576 0.33%
 Vukovar-Srijem County 487 0.24% 492 0.27%
 Dubrovnik-Neretva County 328 0.27% 408 0.33%
 Šibenik-Knin County 322 0.29% 379 0.35%
 Varaždin County 304 0.16% 264 0.15%
 Karlovac County 300 0.21% 340 0.26%
 Koprivnica-Križevci County 285 0.23% 249 0.22%
 Brod-Posavina 285 0.16% 315 0.20%
 Virovitica-Podravina County 229 0.25% 234 0.28%
 Međimurje 185 0.16% 200 0.18%
 Požega-Slavonia County 146 0.17% 196 0.25%
 Krapina-Zagorje County 129 0.09% 132 0.10%
 Lika-Senj County 110 0.20% 171 0.34%
 Croatia 15,082 0.34% 17,513 0.41%


Early history[edit]

The relief of the entrance of the Cathedral of Trogir worked by Andrea Nikollë Aleksi.

Some of them came to Croatian lands at the time of Venetian rule because in parts of Croatia and Albania were under the rule of the Venetian Republic. Thus through the internal migration, the Albanian families also migrated, of which a large number was croatianized over the centuries to come. Internal migration has been of economic nature.

Another period is the time of liberation wars against the Ottomans when Christian Albanian families migrated to the liberated territories of Croatia.

The Arbanasi (Albanian also Arbëreshët e Zarës "Albanians of Zadar") are a small population group in Croatia still existing today. They are Catholic Albanians who fled the Ottomans between 1726 and 1733 in the Croatian coastal country, where they are still present today. In the city of Zadar they founded their own named after them district, which persists to this day. The Arbanasi traditionally speak a different dialect of Albanian.

The original Albanian inhabitants of Catholic faith Peroj (Albanian Përrua) in Pula, who fled from the Ottomans in 1657, have given up their Albanian nationality.

Modern history[edit]

At the time of Yugoslavia, Albanians migrated to Croatia for economic and political reasons, especially after 1945. Albanian migrants were mainly from Kosovo and North Macedonia.

Traditionally, Croatian Albanians have been involved with jewelry, filigree, bakery and restaurant management, such as bakeries and confectioners.

According to the Association of Volunteers of the Homeland War, 2,579 Albanian volunteers fought in the Croatian Army and various Croat paramilitary units during the Croatian War for Independence, with losses of 86 killed, 37 missing and more than 500 injured. Among the Albanians who fought during the war were the generals Rahim Ademi and Agim Çeku.[citation needed]


The only political party representing Albanians in Croatia is the Union of Albanians of Croatia (Albanian: Unioni i Shqiptarëve të Kroacisë, Croatian: Unija Albanaca u Hrvatskoj, UAH), led by Ermina Lekaj Prljaskaj, she also serving as the representative of Albanian minority in Croatian parliament (Sabor), since 2011.

Notable Croats of Albanian origin[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "2. POPULATION BY ETHNICITY, BY TOWNS/MUNICIPALITIES, 2011 CENSUS". Croatian Bureau of Statistics.
  2. ^ a b "Pravo pripadnika nacionalnih manjina u Republici Hrvatskoj na zastupljenost u Hrvatskom saboru". Zakon o izborima zastupnika u Hrvatski sabor (in Croatian). Croatian Parliament. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  3. ^ Meštrić, Klara Bilić; Šimičić, Lucija (2017). "Language Orientations and the Sustainability of Arbanasi Language in Croatia – A Case of Linguistic Injustice". Open Linguistics. 3 (1): 147. doi:10.1515/opli-2017-0008.
  4. ^ Franceschini, Rita (2014). "Italy and the Italian-Speaking Regions". In Fäcke, Christiane (ed.). Manual of Language Acquisition. Walter de Gruyter GmbH. p. 546. ISBN 9783110394146.
  5. ^ "4. Population by ethnicity and religion". Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. Croatian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  6. ^ Šarić, Marko (2009), "Predmoderne etnije u Lici i Krbavi prema popisu iz 1712./14.", in Željko Holjevac (ed.), Identitet Like: Korijeni i razvitak (PDF) (in Croatian), vol. 1, Zagreb: Institut društvenih znanosti Ivo Pilar, p. 370, ISBN 978-953-6666-65-2, archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-09-24, retrieved 2019-01-19
  7. ^ a b P. Šimunović, F. Maletić (2008). Hrvatski prezimenik (in Croatian). Vol. 1. Zagreb: Golden marketing. pp. 41–42, 101–102.
  8. ^ "12. STANOVNIŠTVO PREMA NARODNOSTI, PO GRADOVIMA/OPĆINAMA, POPIS 2001". (in Croatian). Croatian Bureau of Statistics.