|Regions with significant populations|
|Gheg Albanian dialect, Croatian|
Arbanasi is a community in the Zadar region, Croatia, of Albanian origin, who traditionally speak a dialect of Gheg Albanian. Their name means Albanians in Croatian and is the toponymy of the first Arbanasi settlement in the region, which today is a suburb of Zadar. In Albanian literature, they are known as "Albanians of Zadar" (Arbëreshët e Zarës).
Today, the community is spread across Croatia. Their original settlements were Arbanasi of Zadar and some villages around Zadar, namely Zemunik, Dračevac, Crno, Ploča, etc. The former village derived its name from its founders, the Albanians. The Arbanasi are known to have settled the area during two different periods of migration; the first in 1655 and the second in 1726-33. These settlers were said to be part of the Kastrioti clan, one of the numerous Northern Albanian clans known to have existed.
The origin of the Croatian Arbanas is from Skadarska Krajina (Albanian: Krajë) region from the villages of Briska (Brisk), Šestan (Shestan), Livari (Ljare), and Podi (Pod) located in modern southern Montenegro. Every one of the inhabitants of the village of Pod had left for migration in 1726, leaving the village completely abandoned. Ruins of old houses can still be found in the area today.  They originated from the hinterland, demonstrated by the names of fish coming from the Croatian language. This population migrated into what is today Croatia in two different periods, first in 1655 to Pula, Istria[better source needed] and then 1726–27 and 1733, to the Zadar area, supported and planned by Archbishop of Zara Vicko Zmajević and the Venetian republic to repopulate the countryside and hinterland of Zadar.
The first migration to Zadar was mentioned in March 23, 1726, when first arrivals who numbered around 56 individuals, and afterwards another 28 families, were temporarily settled in Kaštel Novi, today Herceg Novi. It is considered[by whom?] that they arrived in Zadar in the summer, in July. The group was guided by two brothers of the Pretani family, and the following people are mentioned: Luca d'Andrea Gezghenovich, Nicolo di Luca Marghicevich, Nicolo d'Andrea Gasparovich, Giovanni d'Andrea Gezghenovich, Pere di Marco, Prem Vuca Marghicevich, Paolo Giech Marghicevich, Giech Prend Marghicevich, Giech Pepa Marghicevich, Marco Discialo Marghicevich, Prenz Prema Marghicevich, Petar Vuca Gianova, Nico Matessich, Luca Prend, Boso Nico Smira, Stanica Gielencovich, Visco Gielencovich, Lech Pero Marghicevich i Luca Lucich.
The second migration to Zadar was in 1733, and in the document from March 11, 1735 can be seen another 28 families and some members: Nicolo Andre, Crasto Covac, Marco Giocca, Giocca Gionon, Giocca Giuchin, Stjepo Gjuri, Stiepo Luco, Prento Kneunichi, Lecca Marco, Prento Marcov, Paolo Marussich, Mar Mazia, Marco Nicadobrez, Pema Nichin, Nicolo Pantov, Marco Pertu, Frane Popovich, Paolo Prendi, Nicola Rose, Rado Ruco, Gen Sperc, Prento Stani, Vuco Tamartinovich, Vuksa Tancovich, Pietro Tioba, Andrea Toma, Capitano Nicolo Vlagdan i Jovan Vucin. They bore surnames Duka (Duca), Prema (extinct), Mazija (Mazia), Cotić (extinct branch of Mazija), Marušić, Ratković, Krstić, Stipčević, Mužanović (initially called Kovač), Maršan, Vladović (Vlagdan), Ugrin, Luco, Relja (branch of Vladović), Nikpalj, Musap (branch of Duka), Morović (from Petani), Prenđa (Prendi), Gjergja (Đerda), Tokša, Tamartinović, as well three Montenegrin families Zanković, Popović, and Škopelja. Other surnames are Dešpalj, Kalmeta, Karuc (Karuz), Kotlar, Jelenković, Jović, Perović, Vukić and Ćurković.
Around the same time, Chakavian-speaking families from Kukljica, Ugljan, and Zadar hinterland, settled among the Arbanasi, and included: Bajlo, Dadić, Tomas, Ćućula, Matešić, Matijaš, Bulić, Banić, Smolčić, Grdović, Zubčić, Ljubičić, Labus, who eventually integrated into the Arbanasi community to the extent that they are now considered real Arbanasi.
Their church, Saint Mary of Loreto, was built from 1734, and founded in 1737.
All these groups were integrated into the social and economic sphere of Venetian Dalmatia, but they preserved their language, customs and songs. First, the Albanian community worked to claim the marshy areas near their settlement (Arbanasi), which was originally an island now connected to the mainland, and then got the leasing right of cultivation of the land.[when?] The Venetian government took charge of construction of many homes and, at first, even meals.
Since 1901 the Arbanasi are also equipped with an Albanian school and in 1910 James Vuçani promoted and organized the "Italo-Albanian Association". After the Second World War, many Arbanasi from village Borgo Erizzo emigrated to Italy, following the Yugoslav takeover of Zadar. In modern times about 4000 Arbanasi remain in Croatia.
- Šime Dešpalj (1897–1981) – composer, music teacher, writer
- Pavle Dešpalj (b. 1934) – music conductor and composer, member of HAZU
- Valter Dešpalj (b. 1947) – cellist and professor on Academy of Music in Zagreb
- Šime (Simeone) Duka (1915-2006) – secretary of Vatican archives
- Josip Gjergja (b. 1937) – basketball player
- Mladen Grdović (b. 1958) – singer
- Božidar Kalmeta (b. 1958) – Mayor of Zadar 1994–2003 and 2013-present, former Croatian government minister
- Ratimir Kalmeta (1916-2005) – geographer and linguist
- Kruno Krstić (1905-1987) – lexicographer
- Hrvoje Macanović (1904-1980) – sport journalist
- Đani Maršan (b. 1944) – singer, musician, diplomat and Croatian Consul
- Bepo Matešić – tenor singer
- Berto Matešić – tenor singer
- Ivica Matešić Jeremija (b. 1959) – writer, military diplomat and holder of the Order of Danica Hrvatska for culture
- Ivo Perović (1882-1958) – Ban (Viceroy) and Regent of Yugoslavia for the underage Peter II from 1934 to 1941
- Ivan Prenđa (1939-2010) – archbishop of the Archdiocese of Zadar
- Aleksandar Stipčević (1930-2015) – an archeologist, historian, and member of ASHAK
- Ennio Stipčević (b. 1959) - musicologist, member of HAZU
- Josip Vladović Relja – writer
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