Most of Albania’s residents live in the coastal country, while the mountain areas are sparsely populated. The Communist regime (1945–1991) severely restricted people’s opportunities to leave the countryside. After its fall, a large population migration began from the countryside to the cities. Nowadays, more Albanians live in cities than in rural areas.
The communist regime wanted a high population growth and the population almost tripled under its rule. After the fall of the communist regime, the residents of Albania emigrated at a rate that was one of the highest in the world. Approximately one in five residents left the country between 1990 and 2001. After a certain population increase in the early 2000s, the number of residents again declined. A census in 2011 showed a decline of 7.7 percent in ten years, to 2.8 million. Since then, the population has increased somewhat again.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Albania, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
The population of Albania is relatively homogeneous. In the 2011 census, nearly 83 percent of residents described themselves as ethnic Albanians. However, just over 15 percent chose not to declare any ethnic affiliation.
There are several ethnic minorities, but together they make up only a few percent of the population. The largest minority group is Greeks. Albania’s relations with Greece have at times been strained because Greece has considered that the Greek minority in Albania has been discriminated against. The conditions for the group improved somewhat in 1995, when a new law gave ethnic minorities the right to speak their own language and practice their own culture.
Greeks, Macedonians and Montenegrins are officially defined as national groups, while Roma and Vlachs (a Romanian-speaking people) are defined as linguistic minorities. There is also a group that calls themselves Egyptians. They are often confused with Roma, but speak Albanian and are not recognized as a minority group.
The Roma are generally poor and socially disadvantaged. In 2003, the government adopted a nationwide plan to improve the situation of the Roma, but illiteracy is still high and health is often poor within the group.
Albanians have been in the region for thousands of years, and almost as many ethnic Albanians live in other Balkan countries as in Albania. In the former Serbian province of Kosovo, which in 2008 unilaterally proclaimed itself an independent state, the majority of people are Albanians. There are large Albanian minorities in, for example, Northern Macedonia, Italy, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, the United States and the Netherlands. Albanians in the various countries often perceive themselves as members of the same “nation”.
Until the middle of the 19th century, the Ottoman (Turkish) rulers did not allow the Albanian language to be used in school education. It was not until 1908 that the language received a modern alphabet with Latin letters. Albanian is now the country’s official language. It belongs to the Indo-European language family, but is not closely related to the other languages in the family. Albanian is the only language derived from the extinct language Illyrian, but it has been influenced by Latin, Turkish, Greek and Slavic languages. There are two main dialects: Gaelic in the north, spoken by two-thirds of the population, while the others speak Tuscan. The latter forms the basis for the official writing language. The difference between the dialects is being erased.
A peculiarity of Albanians who confuses foreigners is that the place names exist in both definite and indeterminate form, for example Tirana / Tiranë, Durrësi / Durrës, and are also divided into masculine and feminine names. What form is considered the “right” varies between the genders, but is partly also a matter of personal perception and dialect.
Within the country, a number of minority languages are spoken, of which Greek is the largest.
Albanian pronunciation guide
Most letters, or combinations, are pronounced much like in Swedish, but some differences exist:
C = ts, Ç = tj, Dh = as th in English this, Ë = roughly like English’s indefinite article a (not pronounced at all when it says last in one word), Gj = dj, Q = much like k in chain, Sh = sch, Th = as th in English think, X = dz, Xh = dj, with a clear d sound, Z = toning s, Zh = voicing sj
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
a large majority (95–98%) of Albanians; minorities of Greeks, Macedonians, Romans, Vlachs, Serbs, Montenegrins
Number of residents
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
59.4 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
11.8 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
7.4 per 1000 residents (2016)
-0.1 percent (2017)
1.7 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
49.5 percent (2017)
78 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
80 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
76 years (2016)
Albanian is the official language (main dialects Tuscan and Gaelic)
Demonstrations against alleged election fraud
The opposition PS is organizing a series of demonstrations against alleged election fraud. Prime Minister Sali Berisha refuses to agree to the opposition’s demand that the votes be recalculated. He points out that the Constitution does not provide for such a possibility.
The PD government remains in power after the election
The parliamentary election results in the bourgeois PD government being able to remain in power, but the victory margin is scarce. PD with allied parties gets just under 47 percent of the vote, compared to just over 45 percent for the Socialist Party’s Alliance. The opposition claims that the government side cheated and protests erupted among opposition supporters. The election is the first in which all MPs are appointed proportionally according to party lists.
Albania applies for EU membership
At the same time as Albania formally joins the NATO defense alliance, the country submits an application for membership in the EU.