Devoll District

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District of Devoll
Rrethi i Devollit
Map showing the district within Albania
Map showing the district within Albania
Country  Albania
County Korçë County
Capital Bilisht
 • Total 429 km2 (166 sq mi)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 33,785
 • Density 79/km2 (200/sq mi)

Devoll District (Albanian: Rrethi i Devollit) was one of the thirty-six districts of Albania (which were dissolved in 2000) that is now part of Korçë County. It derives its name from the Devoll river flowing through the valley. It had a population of 33,785,[2] and an area of 429 km². It is in the southeastern corner of the country, and its capital is Bilisht.[3] Its busy border point Kapshticë/Krystallopigi connects the district with the Greek regional units of Florina and Kastoria to the east and southeast. Devoll borders the district of Kolonjë to the southwest and Korçë to the west and north. Devoll is also considered a traditional or "ethnographic" region with borders similar to the former district.


The district is known in history for the Devol fortress, where the Treaty of Devol between Bohemond I of Antioch and Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos was held in 1108. Its site became forgotten in modern times, however it has been tentatively identified with the site Zvezdë[4] (located at 40°43′N 020°51′E / 40.717°N 20.850°E / 40.717; 20.850[5]), a conjecture already proposed by the 19th century British traveller William Martin Leake in 1835.[6]

It was in Devoll, while the region was within the Serbian Empire, that Emperor Stefan Dušan died in 1355.

In late Ottoman times and early Independence era, much of the Christian population emigrated abroad and then returned, and later a part of the Muslim population did the same. Today, there is again mass emigration, although this time the local Muslim population is emigrating in larger numbers and higher proportions than the Christian population, a reverse of the "Kurbet" of the previous century.


The population is overwhelmingly ethnically Albanian, with the majority of Albanians there having been Muslim (many of these belonging to the Halveti Order) at the end of the Ottoman era, while a minority of the Albanians, especially those that resided especially in high altitude areas, remained Orthodox Christian. The Albanian Christian population lives mostly in the upper valley of the Devoll river, in the town of Hoçisht [7], in Bilisht and in the village of Tren, and insist on being called only Albanian and not Greek.[8] Additionally, a part of the original post-Ottoman Albanian Muslim population has converted to Orthodoxy as part of emigration to Greece.[9] There are also Roma present as well as Slavic Macedonian speakers in the village of Vërnik. The Slavs of Vernik identify as Aegean Macedonians and refuse any Bulgarian or other identity, however their Albanian neighbors often casually refer to them as bullgare (Bulgarians). The Roma are mainly Muslim while the Macedonian Slavs are Orthodox Christians. In modern times, among the Albanian population, there has been extensive intermarriage between the Muslim and Christian populations, with the result being that many of the ethnically Albanian youth in the area identity with both traditions, as "half-Muslim, half-Christian". Like elsewhere in Albania, actual religious observance is typically lax although due to Ottoman history even among some non-practicers, religious identity may still plays a role in social relations, being more significant among the older generations.

The Albanian population speaks with a Tosk dialect, while the Macedonian Slavic population speaks the Kostur dialect. The entire Slavic Macedonian population is also bilingual in Albanian nowadays.[10]

Administrative divisions[edit]

The district consisted of the following municipalities:

Devoll Municipality[edit]

Note: - urban municipalities in bold

Communities and subdivisions[edit]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "POPULLSIA SIPAS PREFEKTURAVE, 2001–2010". Albanian Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  2. ^ "POPULLSIA SIPAS RRETHEVE, 2001-2010". Albanian Institute of Statistics. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  3. ^ Albania Government - Flags, Maps, Economy, Geography, Climate...
  4. ^ Talbert, Richard J. A., and Roger S. Bagnall, Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, Princeton University Press, 2000. p.752
  5. ^ US National Geospacial Intelligence Agency, Search GNS Search Archived June 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Leake, William M., Travels in Northern Greece. London: J. Rodwell, 1835. p. 339.
  7. ^ De Rapper, Gilles (2010). "Religion on the border: sanctuaries and festivals in post-communist Albania": 2–3,6,8,12–3. 
  8. ^ De Rapper. 27 June 2008. "'The son of three fathers has no hat on his head’. Page 2: "The Devoll, the Albanian district in which Vërnik is included, is mainly Muslim. Christian villages are located in the upper valley of the Devoll River, and do not have relations with Vërnik. They are all Albanian-speaking Christians, although some old people have been to Greek village schools by the beginning of the 20th century. They are insisting on being Albanian and not Greek. Christians can also be found in the town of Bilisht, very close to Vërnik, and in the village of Tren, two hours from Vërnik (footpath). "
  9. ^ De Rapper, Gilles. 2005. Better than Muslims, not as good as Greeks. Page 1: "My first encounter with Albanian emigration happened in 1995-96, when I was doing fieldwork in the border district of Devoll, in south-eastern Albania. I was staying in an Albanian-speaking Christian village, up in the mountains and close to the Greek border. Villagers told me about people from the closest Muslim village, down in the valley: ‘Look at them, down there. At the time of the cooperative, they used to insult us by calling us “damned Greeks”, “bloody Greeks”. But today they all work in Greece and have Greek names, while we did not go to Greece. Who is Greek then?’ As a matter of fact, people from the Christian villages – who insist on their Albanian national identity and refuse to be called Greek – have been moving to the town and even more to the United States, where they retain links dating back to the time of the pre-World War II migration known as kurbet. Meanwhile, their Muslim neighbours started in the early 1990s to migrate to Greece, where most of them changed their names and some converted to Orthodoxy. "
  10. ^ De Rapper. 27 June 2008. "'The son of three fathers has no hat on his head’. Life and social representations in a Macedonian village of Albania". Page 2-3

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°35′N 20°56′E / 40.583°N 20.933°E / 40.583; 20.933