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Aromanians in Albania

  • According to the 2011 census, there are 8,266 self-declared Aromanians (or Vlachs) in Albania. This figure corresponds to 0.30 percent of Albania’s resident population, although the number is disputed by community representatives.

     

  • The presence of Aromanians or Vlachs on the territory of today’s Albania dates back to the sixth century. The community constituted a pastoralist nomadic population which over time switched increasingly to agricultural activities in rural areas and craftsmanship in urban centres. Elderly Aromanians recall participating in seasonal livestock movements until the middle of the last century, when the communist regime’s policies of confiscation and collectivization brought these deeply rooted traditions to an end.

    Aromanians established the town of Voskopoja (Moscopole in Aromanian) in the thirteenth century. The town grew to become an important wool trading and processing centre, noted for its many churches and with a population of about 50,000 people by the middle of the eighteenth century. In 1769, the town was attacked and plundered by marauders, and in 1789, the Ottomans ordered its destruction, paving the way for its gradual decline. Today, only about 2,000 people live there.

    For the first time, Albanian authorities introduced Aromanians to the population census statistics in 1950. In 2011, after many years of absence this ethnic group was reintroduced to the census questionnaire.

    After the collapse of communism in Albania, Aromanian activists formed several associations, including ‘Armeni-Alban’, The Aromanians’ Association Voskopoja and ‘Aefallofisi’. They have been promoting their rights, culture and traditions.

     

  • Aromanians are concentrated in the rural areas of Myzeqe of Fier and Vlora, in Frasher of Permet, in Moker of Pogradec, in Kolonja. In the urban areas, their communities can be found in Korça, Berat, Tirana, Elbasan and Durres.

    The 2017 Law on Protection of National Minorities modified the status of Aromanians in the context of Albanian law from that of an ethno-linguistic group to being recognized as a national minority.

    The long-term survival of Aromanian culture may be in question in today’s Albania. Since the population is small and scattered, community members tend to be bilingual. Their children lack access to Aromanian schooling. Urbanization is a further factor contributing to this minority’s increasing assimilation into majority Albanian culture.

     

Updated February 2024

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