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The Albanians or Shqiptarė are a people of the western Balkan peninsula, numbering today approximately six million. 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:

Some believe the Albanians to be descendants of the Illyrians while others give them origins that date back to 1043 when they were first mentioned in the Balkans. 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.

The Albanians speak Albanian.

Table of contents
1 Albanian Nationalism
2 Ethnic Albanians
3 See Also
4 External Links

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 extremist 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:

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

See Also

External Links