Albanians of Romania

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Albanians of Romania
Shqiptarët e Rumanisë
Regions with significant populations
Islam, Catholic and Albanian Orthodox
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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.[1] The actual number of the Albanian population in Romania is unofficially estimated at around 10,000 persons.[2] Most members of the community live in Bucharest,[2] while the rest mainly live in larger urban centers such as Timișoara, Iași, Constanța and Cluj-Napoca.

Most families are Orthodox and trace their origins to the area around Korçë.[3] 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.[4] That section of the Albanian community is traditionally integrated into the Turk or Tatar groups, which makes its numbers hard to assess.[4]


An Albanian in Wallachia (1866 watercolor by Amadeo Preziosi)

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; Călinești (a village in present-day Florești, 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.[5] The community's presence was first recorded in Bucharest around 1628.[6] In Moldavia, an ethnic Albanian, Vasile Lupu, became Prince in 1634.[5] Albanians are called by Romanians today Albanezi, but in the past they were known as Arbănasi, the old ethnonym dating back to the Middle Ages.[7]

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 Arbănași, akin to Arvanites, and its variant Arnăuți, borrowed from the Turkish Arnavut).[5][8] 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.[9]

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).[5] 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.[5] 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).[10]

The newspaper Sqipetari/Albanezul, published by the Albanian community (1889)
Albanian schoolbook printed in Bucharest in 1887

Among the new groups of immigrants from various Balkan regions to Romania were the families of poets Victor Eftimiu and Lasgush Poradeci.[5] 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 Constanța — among its pupils was poet Aleksandër Stavre Drenova.[5] In 1912, at a Bucharest meeting headed by Ismail Qemali and attended by Drenova, the first resolution regarding Albania's independence was adopted.[5]

In 1893, the Albanian community in Romania numbered around 30,000 persons. In 1920 almost 20,000 Albanians lived in Bucharest.[5] A new wave of Albanian immigrants, many of them Muslims from Yugoslavia,[5] followed in the wake of World War I.[4][5] In 1921, the first translation of the Qur'an into Albanian was completed by Ilo Mitkë Qafëzezi and published in the city of Ploieşti.[4] Many Albanians settled in Transylvania, where they generally established confectionery enterprises.[5]

The community was repressed under the communist regime, starting in 1953 (when the Albanian cultural association was closed down).[3] 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.[2][3] Traditionally, members of the community have been included among a special "among others" category in the censuses.[2]

The community gained a seat in the Chamber of Deputies in 1996 when the Cultural Union of Albanians of Romania entered Parliament. In 2000 the community's seat was taken by the League of Albanians of Romania, who have held it since.

Notable Albanian-Romanians[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Romanian) Recensământ 2002. Rezultate: Populația după etnie. Populația după limba maternă at the 2002 Census official site; retrieved February 22, 2008
  2. ^ a b c d (Romanian) "Albanezi - Date demografice" at Divers online; retrieved February 26, 2008
  3. ^ a b c (Romanian) "Albanezii - Perioada contemporană" at Divers online; retrieved July 16, 2007
  4. ^ a b c d 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
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l (Romanian) "Albanezii - Scurt istoric" at Divers online; retrieved February 26, 2008
  6. ^ Giurescu, p.272
  7. ^ Kamusella, Tomasz (2009). The politics of language and nationalism in modern Central Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 241. "Prior to the emergence of the modern self-ethnonym Shqiptarë in the mid-16th century (for the first time it was recorded in 1555 by the Catholic Gheg, Gjon Buzuku, in his missal), North Albanians (Ghegs) referred to themselves as Arbën, and South Albanians (Tosks) Arbër. Hence, the self-ethnonym Arbëreshë of the present-day Italo-Albanians (numbering about 100,000) in southern Italy and Sicily, whose ancestors, in the wake of the Ottoman wars, emigrated from their homeland in the 14th century. These self-ethnonyms perhaps influenced the Byzantine Greek Arvanites for ‘Albanians,’ which was followed by similar ones in Bulgarian and Serbian (Arbanasi), Ottoman (Arnaut), Romanian (Arbănas), and Aromanian (Arbineş).
  8. ^ Giurescu, p.267, 272
  9. ^ Giurescu, p.267
  10. ^ Giurescu, p.168, 307


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