Albanians in North Macedonia

Albanians in North Macedonia
Total population
509,083 (2002 census)[1][2]
  • 700,000–900,000 (Albanian estimate)[3]
Albanian · Macedonian
Sunni Islam (Majority)
Christianity (minority)
Catholicism · Orthodoxy · Protestantism
Related ethnic groups
Albanians · Kosovo Albanians

The Albanians in North Macedonia (Albanian: Shqiptarët në Maqedoninë e Veriut, Macedonian: Албанци во Северна Македонија) are the second largest ethnic group in North Macedonia.

Of the 2,022,547 people in North Macedonia, 509,083, or 25.2%, are Albanian according to the national census of 2002. The Albanian minority is concentrated mostly in the western, north-western and partially middle area of the country with small communities located in the south-west. The largest Albanian communities are in the municipalities of Tetovo (70.3% of the total population), Gostivar (66.7%), Debar (58.1%), Struga (56.8%), Kičevo (54.5%), Kumanovo (25.8%), and Skopje (20.4%).[4]


According to the official census data (held every 10 years), Albanians made up 19% of the total population in 1953. The population fell to 13% in 1961, but grew again in 1971 to 17%. The group formed 19.7% in 1981 and 21% in 1991.[5] At the last census in 2002, the Albanian population was at 25.2%. Ethnologue in 2002 estimated some 500,000 people speaking Albanian in North Macedonia.[6] In the decade since the republic declared independence from Yugoslavia, some Albanians have claimed to account for 30% of the population and demanded an appropriate share of power. On the other side, ethnic Macedonians said Albanians were barely 20%.[7] However, the widely accepted number of Albanians in North Macedonia is according to the internationally monitored[8] 2002 census. The census data estimated that Albanians account for about 25.2% of the total population. The 2012 census was not held and boycotted by the Albanian political parties. In the 2008 Macedonian parliamentary elections, Albanian political parties received 22.61% of the total vote, receiving 29 of 120 seats.[9]

Albanian is co-official at a state level (excluding defense, central police and monetary policy) and in local self-government units where speakers of the population are 20% or more. The change in status occurred in 2019 as use of Albanian became no longer geographically limited.[10][11][12] The new law extended the official use of Albanian over the entire country, easing communication in Albanian with the institutions. Under the new legislation, Macedonian continues to be the primary official language, while Albanian may be used now as a second one, including at a national level in official matters. The legislation stipulates also all public institutions in the country will provide Albanian translations in their everyday work.[13][14]

The Albanian population in the country is largely rural with ethnic Albanians forming a majority or plurality in only 3 of the country's 34 cities.[15]

Around 35% of the newborns in North Macedonia belong to the Albanian ethnic minority. In 2017, 21,754 children were born in the Republic of Macedonia. The ethnic affiliation of these newborns was: 11,260 (51.76%) Macedonian; 7,404 (34.03%) Albanians; 940 (4.32%) Turkish; 1,276 (5.87%) Roma; 40 (0.18%) Vlach; 129 (0.59%) Serbian; 213 (0.98%) Bosniaks; 492 (2,26%) other ethnic affiliation and unknown.[16]

Newborns in North Macedonia according to ethnic group
Ethnic group 1994[17] 2002[18] 2012[19] 2017[16]
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Macedonians 16,704 49.88 13,639 49.13 11,995 50.89 11,260 51.76
Albanians 12,010 35.86 10,118 36.45 8,035 34.09 7,404 34.03
Turks 1,616 4.83 1,202 4.33 1,092 4.63 940 4.32
Romani 1,378 4.11 1,678 6.04 1,552 6.59 1,276 5.87
Serbs 403 1.20 168 0.61 125 0.53 129 0.59
Bosniaks 251 1.06 213 0.98
Vlach (Aromanians) 25 0.07 23 0.08 37 0.16 40 0.18
other / unspecified 1,351 4.03 933 3.36 481 2.04 492 2.26
Total 33,487 27,761 23,568 21,754

Municipalities with an Albanian majority

Of the 80 municipalities in the country, 15 have an ethnic Albanian majority following the 2013 Macedonian territorial reforms.

km² (sq mi)
Населени места
Population (2002) Mayor
Total %
Coat of arms of Aračinovo Municipality.svg Aračinovo
31.3 km2 (12.1 sq mi) 4 10,789 93.8% Milikie Halimi (LSDM)
Coat of arms of Bogovinje Municipality.svg
141.65 km2 (54.69 sq mi) 14 27,614 95.2% Albon Xhemaili (ASH)
Coat of arms of Municipality of Brvenica.svg
164.3 km2 (63.4 sq mi) 10 9,770 61.6% Enver Pajaziti (I)
Coat of arms of Čair Municipality.svg
3.52 km2 (1.36 sq mi) 1 36,921 57.0% Visar Ganiu (BDI)
Coat of arms of Debar Municipality.svg
145.67 km2 (56.24 sq mi) 18 11,348 58.1% Hekuran Duka (BDI)
*Dolneni Municipality is governed by an Albanian mayor, however its Albanian population stands at 26.37%.
Coat of arms of Gostivar Municipality.svg
513.39 km2 (198.22 sq mi) 34 54,038 66.7% Arben Taravari (ASH)
Coat of arms of Kičevo Municipality.svg
838 km2 (324 sq mi) 80 30,927 54.5% Fatmir Dehari (BDI)
Coat of arms of Lipkovo Municipality.svg
267.82 km2 (103.41 sq mi) 23 26,360 97.4% Erkan Arifi (BDI)
Coat of arms of Saraj Municipality.svg
229.06 km2 (88.44 sq mi) 23 32,408 91.5% Blerim Bexheti (BDI)
Coat of arms of Struga Municipality.svg
483 km2 (186 sq mi) 49 36,029 56.8% Ramiz Merko (BDI)
Coat of arms of Studeničani Municipality.svg
276.16 km2 (106.63 sq mi) 20 11,793 68.4% Azem Sadiku (PDSH)
Coat of arms of Tearce Municipality.svg
136.54 km2 (52.72 sq mi) 13 18,950 84.4% Isen Asani (BDI)
Coat of arms of Tetovo Municipality, Macedonia.svg
261.89 km2 (101.12 sq mi) 20 60,886 70.4% Teuta Arifi (BDI)
Coat of arms of Vrapčište Municipality.svg
157.98 km2 (61.00 sq mi) 15 21,101 83.1% Isen Shabani (ASH)
Coat of arms of Želino Municipality.svg
201.04 km2 (77.62 sq mi) 18 24,195 99.2% Blerim Sejdiu (Besa)
15 3,851.32 km2 (1,487.00 sq mi) 342 413,129


Albanians from Debar in 1863

Shortly after the defeat of Turkey by the Balkan allies, a conference of ambassadors of the Great Powers (Britain, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Italy) convened in London in December 1912 to settle the outstanding issues raised by the conflict. With support given to the Albanians by Austria-Hungary and Italy, the conference agreed to create an independent state of Albania, which became a reality in 1913. However, the boundaries of the new state were drawn in such a way that large areas with Albanian populations remained outside of Albania, including the area that would go on to become the Socialist Republic of Macedonia.

When the Socialist Republic of Macedonia was established in 1946, the constitution guaranteed the right of minorities to cultural development and free use of their language. Minority schools and classes in minority languages were introduced immediately, in order to counter the high percentage of illiteracy among these groups. In the following two decades, the communist party continuously introduced measures meant to promote the incorporation of the Albanian community into the economic and social life of the new socialist state through education, professional training, and social opportunities.[20]

Since the end of World War II, the Socialist Republic of Macedonia's population has grown steadily, with the greatest increases occurring in the ethnic Albanian community. From 1953 through the time of the latest census in 2002 (initial results were released December 2003), the percentage of Albanians living in North Macedonia rose 25.2%.[4] Most of the ethnic Albanians live in the western part of the country. The net influx in the past 30 years[when?] has been close to 100,000 Albanians[citation needed].

Albanians from Štirovica, Gostivar in 1907

In the late 1980s when the autonomy of the province of Kosovo was revoked, and the repression of the Albanian population significantly increased, these developments also took place in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. Albanian was removed from public sight, Albanian families were prohibited from naming their children with Albanian names on the ground that it caused divisions with the other communities in the republic, and finally, to lower the significantly high birth rate of the Albanian population, Albanian families were prohibited from having more than two children.[21] This assimilative campaign can be clearly seen by the fact that in 1990 the amended Constitution redefined the state from "a state of the Macedonian people and the Albanian and Turkish nationalities" to a "national state of the Macedonian people".[22]

In 1994 the US Department of State's Report on Human Rights in Macedonia reported that the following forms of discrimination against ethnic Albanians existed in Macedonia: limited access to Albanian-language media and education; poor representation in public sector jobs; poor representation in the police corps; poor representation in the military officer corps; denial of citizenship to many long-time ethnic Albanian residents of Macedonia as well as discrimination in the process of citizenship applications; and unfair drawing of voting districts which dilutes their voting strength.[23]

In the September 2002 elections, an SDSM-led pre-election coalition won half of the 120 seats in parliament. Branko Crvenkovski was elected Prime Minister in coalition with the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) party and the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP).[further explanation needed]

On 26 November 2019, an earthquake struck Albania. Albanians from North Macedonia responded in large numbers to the Albanian government's appeal for financial assistance through donations to various humanitarian organisations and special bank accounts fundraising for aid.[24][25]


Albanian political parties

North Macedonia has a few Albanian parties. As of 2020 election The Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) and the Aliance for Albanians are the two largest Albanian political parties in the country. In the 2008 Macedonian parliamentary elections, DUI won 11.3% of the total vote, while DPA got 10.1%.[9] However, due to pre-election fights between the two main Albanian political parties, some Albanian areas of the country have revoted.

In the 2011 Macedonian parliamentary elections, Albanian parties received 20.96% of the total popular vote. DUI received 10.2% of the vote, giving it 15 seats. This is a loss of 3 seats from the previous elections. DPA received 5.9% of the vote, winning 8 seats which is also a drop of 3 seats from the 2008 election. The third Albanian party to receive seats in parliament is the National Democratic Revival party which received two seats with 2.7% of the vote.[26]

In the 2014 elections, three Albanian parties, DUI, DPA, and NDP won 19 seats, seven seats, and one seat, respectively, out of the 123 total seats. Ethnic Albanians parties received just under 21% of the total popular vote.[27]


Anti-Albanian inscription written in Macedonian on a mosque, meaning "Death for Albanians"

Ethnic tensions have simmered in North Macedonia since the end of an armed conflict in 2001, where the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army attacked the security forces of Macedonia with the goal of securing greater rights and autonomy for the ethnic Albanian minority.

The Macedonian Academy for Science and Art was accused of Albanophobia in 2009 after it published its first encyclopedia in which was claimed that the Albanian endonym, Shqiptar, primarily used by other Balkan peoples to describe Albanians, if used in South Slavic languages the endonym is considered derogatory by the Albanian community. The encyclopaedia also claimed that the Albanians settled the region in the 16th century.[28][29][30] Distribution of the encyclopedia was ceased after a series of public protests.

On 12 April 2012, five ethnic Macedonian civilians were shot dead – allegedly by ethnic Albanians – in an attack known as the Železarsko lake killings.

On 1 March 2013 in Skopje, a mob of ethnic Macedonians protested against the decision to appoint Talat Xhaferi, an ethnic Albanian politician, as Minister of Defence.[31] The protest turned violent when the mob started hurling stones and also attacking Albanian bystanders and police officers alike. The police reports 3 injured civilians, five injured police officers and much damage to private property. Although the city hospital reported treating five heavily injured Albanian men, two of which are on Intensive-care unit. During this protest part of the mob burned the Albanian flag.

On the 108th anniversary of the Congress of Manastir the museum of the Albanian alphabet in Bitola was vandalized, the windows and doors were broken. A poster with the words "Death to Albanians" and with the drawing of a lion cutting the heads of the Albanian double-headed eagle was placed on the front doors of the museum.[32] One week after this incident, on the day of the Albanian Declaration of Independence graffiti with the same messages, as those of the previous week, were placed on the directorate of Pelister National Park.[33]

Current issues

Amongst the unemployed, Albanians are highly overrepresented. In public institutions as well as many private sectors they are underrepresented. They also face discrimination by public officials and employers.[34] According to the United States' Country Report on Human Rights 2012 for Macedonia "certain ministries declined to share information about ethnic makeup of employees". The same report also added:

"...ethnic Albanians and other national minorities, with the exception of ethnic Serbs and Vlachs, were underrepresented in the civil service and other state institutions, including the military, the police force, and the intelligence services, as well as the courts, the national bank, customs, and public enterprises, in spite of efforts to recruit qualified candidates from these communities. Ethnic Albanians constituted 18 percent of army personnel, while minority communities as a whole accounted for 25 percent of the population according to statistics provided by the government."[35]

As of 2019, the Albanian language is a co-official language in the country.


Albanian catholic family from Skopje

The spoken dialects of Albanian are Gheg, by majority, and Tosk in parts of the south.[6] Education in Albanian is provided in all levels, including university levels, such as State University of Tetovo,[36] South East European University,[37] also in Tetovo.

The main religion among Albanians in North Macedonia is Islam (see Islam in North Macedonia), though there are some who are Roman Catholic, with the most prominent member Agnes (Anjeza) Bojaxhiu, also known as Mother Teresa. There are also a few Orthodox Christian Albanian villages located in Gostivar, Reka, and scattered in the southeast.[citation needed]

Pjetër Bogdani (ca. 1630 - 1689), known in Italian as Pietro Bogdano, is the most original writer of early literature in Albania. He is author of the Cuneus Prophetarum (The Band of the Prophets), 1685, the first prose work of substance written originally in Albania. Born in Gur i Hasit, Has, near Kukës district, Albania about 1630, Bogdani was educated in the traditions of the Catholic Church to which he devoted all his energy. His uncle Andrea or Ndre Bogdani (ca. 1600-1683) was Archbishop of Skopje and author of a Latin-Albanian grammar, now lost.

Notable people

Selected people:

See also


  1. ^ "Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Macedonia, 2002 final data" (PDF). (in English and Macedonian). State Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia. p. 591.
  2. ^ "Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Macedonia, 2002 final data" (PDF). (in English and Macedonian). State Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia. p. 62.
  3. ^ "Refworld ; Moving Macedonia Towards Self-Sufficiency: A New Security Approach for NATO and the EU". p. 11.
  4. ^ a b "2002 Census results" (PDF).
  5. ^ Vladimir Ortakovski (2001): Interethnic relations and minorities in the Republic of Macedonia, Sts. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje
  6. ^ a b "Macedonia".
  7. ^ Reuters (2 December 2003). "World Briefing - Europe: Macedonia: Overdue Ethnic Census Is Completed". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Head of UN-created Kosovo Protection Corps arrested - 19:28 - B92" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-08-22. Retrieved 2006-06-10.
  9. ^ a b "B92 - News - Region - Grueski victorious in violence-marred Macedonia polls". Archived from the original on 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  10. ^ Macedonian Information Agency, 18 Jan. 2019.
  11. ^ Macedonia's Albanian-Language Bill Becomes Law. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. January 15, 2019.
  12. ^ Associated Press: Albanian designated Macedonia’s 2nd official language. January 15, 2019.
  13. ^ Law on Use of Languages will cost a lot and requires a lot of work. 16.01.2019,
  14. ^ Albanian designated Macedonia’s 2nd official language, New York Times, Jan. 15, 2019.
  15. ^ "Macedonian census, language and religion" (PDF).
  16. ^ a b "Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Macedonia, 2018, p. 83" (PDF). Republic of Macedonia, State Statistical Office. 2016. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Macedonia, 1999, p. 21". Republic of Macedonia, State Statistical Office. 1999. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Macedonia, 2004, p. 65". Republic of Macedonia, State Statistical Office. 2004. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Macedonia, 2014, p. 79" (PDF). Republic of Macedonia, State Statistical Office. 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  20. ^ Milosavlevski and Tomovski, 1997:15, 49-105
  21. ^ Milosavlevski and Tomovski, 1997:205, and Politika ekspres 10-6-1986
  22. ^ Poulton, 1995:122
  23. ^ "Refworld | Chronology for Albanians in Macedonia".
  24. ^ "Maqedoni, në të gjitha xhamitë grumbullohen ndihma për Shqipërinë!" (in Albanian). Gazeta Lajm. 29 November 2019. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Përmes telefonatave janë mbledhur rreth 40 mijë euro" (in Albanian). 28 November 2019. Archived from the original on 29 November 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Conservative Leader Claims 3rd Term In Macedonia". NPR. 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2011-06-06.[permanent dead link]
  27. ^ "Early Parliamentary and Presidential Elections 2014". State Election Commission. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  28. ^ "B92 - News - Macedonian encyclopedia pulled from shelves". B92. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  29. ^ Rashidi, Nazim. "Dënohet Enciklopedia maqedonase". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  30. ^ "Macedonian Encyclopedia Sparks Balkan Ethnic Row". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  31. ^ "Приведени неколкумина учесници во инцидентот пред Влада". Puls 24. Archived from the original on 2 March 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  32. ^ "ХУЛИГАНИ ГО ДЕМОЛИРАА МУЗЕЈОТ НА АЛБАНСКАТА АЗБУКА". 21TV. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  33. ^ "KËRCËNIM NË FESTËN E FLAMURIT 'VDEKJE SHQIPTARËVE'". TV-21. Archived from the original on 28 November 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  34. ^ "Albanians - Minority Rights Group".
  35. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Macedonia". Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Retrieved 2013-04-26.[dead link]
  36. ^ State University - Tetovo Archived 2006-09-02 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ "Welcome to SEE University Website". Archived from the original on 2006-06-22. Retrieved 2006-05-31.

Further reading

External links