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Albanians

From Academic Kids

The Albanians or Shqiptar are a people of the western Balkan peninsula, speaking the Albanian language and numbering today approximately six million worldwide.

The Albanians are called "Shqipetaret" in the Albanian language, which is freely translated as "The Sons of Eagles". The flag of Albania includes a bicephalic eagle.

Due to the high rate of migration of various ethnic groups throughout the Balkans in the last two decades, exact figures are difficult to obtain. A tenuous breakdown of Albanians by location is as follows:

  • 3,129,000 in Albania according to the Institute of Statistics for 2002, but estimates for 2002 [1] (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/al.html#People) put it at around 3,544,841
  • 1,770,000 in Serbia-Montenegro (official censa where available added with OSCE estimate where no census has been carried out)
    • 1,730,000 in Serbia. The OSCE estimates about 1,672,000 Albanians in Kosovo and the 2002 census in the remainder of Serbia gives 67,000 more. (last census, 1981: 1,303,034 Albanians in Serbia)
    • 31,000 in Montenegro according to the 2003 census; an estimated 50,000 [2] (http://www.albanian.com/information/countries/montenegro/index.html) by Albanian accounts.
  • 509,000 in the Republic of Macedonia from the 2002 census.
  • more than 233,000 Albanians in Italy, the majority having arrived since 1991 [3] (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=68624). See also: Arbresh
  • According to unofficial estimates [4] (http://www.greece.gr/POLITICS/SouthEastEurope/greekalbanianrelations.stm), over 500,000 in Greece (Orthodox Albanians - Arvanites, Cham Albanians, Albanian nationals). Most of these are illegal; some put the figures at around 150,000.

Some believe the Albanians to be descendants of the Illyrians, but this is controversial. They were first mentioned in the Balkans in 1043AD (see Origin of Albanians). Islam replaced Christianity as the majority religion during the period of Ottoman Turkish rule from the 15th century until 1912, though Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are also practiced. Among the poorest of the Continent's nationalities, in the latter half of the 20th century Albanians experienced the highest rate of natural population growth of any of Europe's major indigenous ethnic groups, increasing their numbers from 1.5 million around 1900 and fewer than 2.5 million in 1950.

Contents

Albanian Nationalism

Both Kosovo (a Serbian province though governed since June 1999 by UNMIK, backed by KFOR, a NATO-led international force) and western Macedonia have in recent years seen armed movements (Kosovo Liberation Army, UCPMB, Macedonian NLA) aiming either for independence, greater autonomy, or increased human and political rights.

The fate of Kosovo remains uncertain owing to the reluctance of the Albanian majority to contemplate a restoration of Serbian sovereignty and of the United Nations and NATO to separate the territory definitively from Serbia in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from 1999. August of 2003 was marked by renewed terrorist attacks by the ANA (Albanian National Army) both against Serb border guards and Serb civilians.

The situation in Macedonia seems to have been resolved by giving the Albanian minority greater government representation and the right to use the Albanian language in education and government.

Ethnic Albanians

Albanian is also a term often given to what would otherwise be called an ethnic Albanian. This is usually someone who is considered by himself or others to be Albanian or of Albanian descent. Several distinguishing characteristics might be:

  • Cultural connection with Albanian culture
  • Speaking the Albanian language
  • Having ancestors who lived in Albania or an area out of which the current Albanian state was formed (i.e. the occupied lands that were part of the Ottoman Empire)

There are ethnic Albanian minorities in several European countries, as well as in the United States, Canada, and Australia, Russia, Ukraine.

See also

External links

de:Albaner et:Albaanlased nl:Albanezen pl:Albańczycy sr:Албанци

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