Albanians in North Macedonia

Last updated
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 group1994 [17] 2002 [18] 2012 [19] 2017 [16]
Number %Number %Number %Number %Number %Number %Number %Number %
Macedonians 16,70449.8813,63949.1311,99550.8911,26051.76
Albanians 12,01035.8610,11836.458,03534.097,40434.03
Turks 1,6164.831,2024.331,0924.639404.32
Romani 1,3784.111,6786.041,5526.591,2765.87
Serbs 4031.201680.611250.531290.59
Bosniaks 2511.062130.98
Vlach (Aromanians) 250.07230.08370.16400.18
other / unspecified1,3514.039333.364812.044922.26

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 Aracinovo Municipality.svg Aračinovo
31.3 km2 (12.1 sq mi)410,78993.8%Milikie Halimi (LSDM)
Coat of arms of Bogovinje Municipality.svg
141.65 km2 (54.69 sq mi)1427,61495.2%Albon Xhemaili (ASH)
Coat of arms of Municipality of Brvenica.svg
164.3 km2 (63.4 sq mi)109,77061.6%Enver Pajaziti (I)
Coat of arms of Cair Municipality.svg
3.52 km2 (1.36 sq mi)136,92157.0%Visar Ganiu (BDI)
Coat of arms of Debar Municipality.svg
145.67 km2 (56.24 sq mi)1811,34858.1%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)3454,03866.7%Arben Taravari (ASH)
Coat of arms of Kicevo Municipality.svg
838 km2 (324 sq mi)8030,92754.5%Fatmir Dehari (BDI)
Coat of arms of Lipkovo Municipality.svg
267.82 km2 (103.41 sq mi)2326,36097.4%Erkan Arifi (BDI)
Coat of arms of Saraj Municipality.svg
229.06 km2 (88.44 sq mi)2332,40891.5%Blerim Bexheti (BDI)
Coat of arms of Struga Municipality.svg
483 km2 (186 sq mi)4936,02956.8%Ramiz Merko (BDI)
Coat of arms of Studenicani Municipality.svg
276.16 km2 (106.63 sq mi)2011,79368.4%Azem Sadiku (PDSH)
Coat of arms of Tearce Municipality.svg
136.54 km2 (52.72 sq mi)1318,95084.4%Isen Asani (BDI)
Coat of arms of Tetovo Municipality, Macedonia.svg
261.89 km2 (101.12 sq mi)2060,88670.4%Teuta Arifi (BDI)
Coat of arms of Vrapciste Municipality.svg
157.98 km2 (61.00 sq mi)1521,10183.1%Isen Shabani (ASH)
Coat of arms of Zelino Municipality.svg
201.04 km2 (77.62 sq mi)1824,19599.2%Blerim Sejdiu (Besa)
153,851.32 km2 (1,487.00 sq mi)342413,129


Albanians from Debar in 1863 Albanians Debar 1863.jpg
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 Stirovica, Gostivar in 1907 Doda nb902075b.jpg
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" Anti-Albanian Inscription.png
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 Albanians of Skopje (1910).jpg
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

Related Research Articles

The history of North Macedonia encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of North Macedonia.

Demographics of North Macedonia

This article is about the demographic features of the population of North Macedonia, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Politics of North Macedonia Political system of North Macedonia

Politics in North Macedonia occur within the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Economist Intelligence Unit rated North Macedonia a "hybrid regime" in 2019.

National Liberation Army (Macedonia)

The National Liberation Army, also known as the Macedonian UÇK was a militant, separatist militia that operated in the Republic of Macedonia in 2001 and was closely associated with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

Democratic Union for Integration North Macedonian political party

The Democratic Union for Integration is the largest ethnic Albanian political party in North Macedonia and the third largest political party in the country. It was formed immediately after the country's 2001 armed conflict between the National Liberation Army (NLA) and Macedonian security forces. NLA leader Ali Ahmeti has been the party's president ever since.

Tetovo City in Polog, North Macedonia

Tetovo is a city in the northwestern part of North Macedonia, built on the foothills of Šar Mountain and divided by the Pena River. The municipality of Tetovo covers an area of 1,080 km2 (417 sq mi) at 468 meters (1,535 ft) above sea level, with a population of 52,915. The city of Tetovo is the seat of Tetovo Municipality.

Elections in North Macedonia

North Macedonia elects on national level a head of state - the president - and a legislature. The president is elected for a five-year term by the people. The Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia (Sobranie) has 120-123 members, elected for a four-year term, by proportional representation. North Macedonia has a multi-party system, with numerous parties in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments.

Šuto Orizari Municipality Municipality of Northern Macedonia

Šuto Orizari, often shortened as Šutka (Шутка), is one of the ten municipalities that make up the City of Skopje, the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia. Šuto Orizari is also the name of the urban neighbourhood where the municipal seat is located. It consists of a council and mayor.

Ohrid Agreement Peace treaty

The Ohrid Framework Agreement was the peace deal signed by the government of the Republic of Macedonia and representatives of the Albanian minority on 13 August 2001. The agreement was signed by the country's four political parties after international mediators demanded their commitment to its ratification and implementation within a four-year period.

2006 Macedonian parliamentary election

Parliamentary elections were held in Macedonia on 5 July 2006. The result was a victory for the VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition, which won 45 of the 120 seats.

Turks in North Macedonia Ethnic group

Turks in North Macedonia, also known as Turkish Macedonians and Macedonian Turks, are the ethnic Turks who constitute the third largest ethnic group in the Republic of North Macedonia. According to the 2002 census, there were 77,959 Turks living in the country, forming a minority of some 3.8% of the population. The community forms a majority in Centar Župa and Plasnica.

Čair Municipality Municipality of Northern Macedonia

Čair is one of the ten municipalities that make up the City of Skopje, the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia. The municipal administration consists of a council and mayor. Skopje's old town is located in Čair. The municipality has a predominantly Albanian population.

Tearce Village in Polog, North Macedonia

Tearce is a village located 12 km to the northeast of Tetovo, in northwestern North Macedonia, about 15 kilometres from the border with Kosovo. It is a seat of the Tearce municipality. Population 3,974 (2002). The B-405 road connects it to Tetovo.

2008 Macedonian parliamentary election

Early parliamentary elections were held in Macedonia on 1 June 2008, after the Assembly voted to dissolve itself on 12 April 2008. The result was a victory for the VMRO-DPMNE-led alliance, which won 63 of the 120 seats in the Assembly.

North Macedonia Country in Southeast Europe

North Macedonia, officially the Republic of North Macedonia, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in 1991 as one of the successor states of Yugoslavia. North Macedonia is a landlocked country bordering with Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. It constitutes approximately the northern third of the larger geographical region of Macedonia. Skopje, the capital and largest city, is home to a quarter of the country's 1.83 million population. The majority of the residents are ethnic Macedonians, a South Slavic people. Albanians form a significant minority at around 25%, followed by Turks, Romani, Serbs, Bosniaks, Aromanians and a few other minorities.

Fatmir Besimi Albanian-Macedonian politician

Fatmir Besimi is a Macedonian politician and economist of Albanian ethnicity. He currently served for Minister of Finance in North Macedonia, He also served twice as Minister of Economy then Minister of Defence and after that he was Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia in charge of European Affairs. In 2010 he was selected as one of the top European Ministers in the group of Young Global Leaders by World Economic Forum.

Skanderbeg Square, Skopje Square in Skopje, North Macedonia

Skanderbeg Square is a square in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Teuta Arifi Macedonian politician of Albanian origin

Teuta Arifi is a Macedonian politician of Albanian origin. In April 2013 Teuta Arifi was elected the Mayor of Municipality of Tetovo. Previous to her run for local elections, Teuta Arifi served as Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia in charge of European Affairs. Arifi was the first Albanian woman to be elected in the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia in 2002. She was subsequently re-elected as Member of Parliament in 2006, 2008, and 2011. She also holds the position of Vice-President of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), key political party of the Albanians in North Macedonia. She speaks Albanian, Macedonian, English, French, Italian and Turkish.

Vejce Village in Polog, North Macedonia

Vejce is a village in the municipality of Tetovo, North Macedonia. It is a small village located in the Šar Mountains, some 9.01 kilometres away from the closest city Tetovo and 1250 metres above sea level.

2020 North Macedonian parliamentary election Election held in North Macedonia

Early parliamentary elections were held in North Macedonia on 15 July 2020. It was originally scheduled for November 2020, but Prime Minister Zoran Zaev called early elections after the European Council failed to come to an agreement on starting talks with North Macedonia on joining the European Union in October 2019. The election date was set for 12 April, but was postponed until July due to the COVID-19 pandemic in North Macedonia.


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Further reading