Albanians in Serbia

Albanians in Serbia
Shqiptarët në Serbi
Албанци у Србији / Albanci u Srbiji
Total population
5,809 (2011 census)
~50,000 (est.)
Regions with significant populations
Preševo 31,098 (2002 census)
Bujanovac 23,681 (2002 census)
Medveđa 2,816 (2002 census)
Vojvodina 2,251 (2011 census)
Belgrade 1,252 (2011 census)
Sunni Islam (majority)
Bektashi (minority)
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Albanians in Serbia (Albanian: Shqiptarët në Serbi; Serbian: Албанци у Србији / Albanci u Srbiji) are an officially recognized ethnic minority living in the present-day country of Serbia.


In the municipalities of Preševo and Bujanovac Albanians form the majority of population (89.1% in Preševo and 54.69% in Bujanovac according to the 2002 census). In the municipality of Medveđa, Albanians are second largest ethnic group (after Serbs), and their participation in this municipality was 32% in 1981 census, 28.67% in 1991 and 26.17% in 2002.[1] The region of Bujanovac and Preševo is widely known as the Preševo Valley (Serbian: Прешевска Долина, Preševska Dolina, Albanian: Lugina e Preshevës).

There is a small community of Albanians in the Pešter region of Sandžak living in villages such as Boroštica, Doliće and Ugao.[2] For the past two generations these villages have become partly bosniakicised, due to intermarriage with the surrounding Bosniak population.[2] As such and also due to the Yugoslav wars and thereafter, they have opted to declare themselves in censuses as "Muslims" and "Bosniaks" instead of as Albanians to avoid problems.[2] Elders in these villages are still fluent in Albanian.[2]


In 1992, the Albanian representatives in the municipalities Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac organized a referendum in which they voted for the joining of these municipalities to the self-declared assembly of the Republic of Kosova.[3] However, no major events happened until the end of the 1990-s.

Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, and nearby Kosovo War which lasted until 1999, between 1999 and 2001, an ethnic Albanian paramilitary separatist organization, the UÇPMB, raised an armed insurgency in the Preševo Valley, in the region mostly inhabited by Albanians, with a goal to occupy these three municipalities from Serbia and join them to (future independent) Kosovo.

Unlike in the case of Kosovo, western countries condemned the attacks and described it as the "extremism" and use of "illegal terrorist actions" by the group.[4] Following the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević, the new Serbian government suppressed the violence by 2001 and defeated the separatists. NATO troops also helped the Serbian government by ensuring that the rebels do not import the conflicts back into Kosovo, and even supported Serbia's military suppression of Albanians in their country, as an act to restore the relations with Serbia after 1999 bombing. This has left a dark chapter on Albania's relations with NATO, although Albania later joined the organization.

Since then, the Albanian Coalition from Preševo Valley has gained representation in the National Assembly of Serbia where it holds two seats. In 2009, Serbia opened a military base Cepotina 5 kilometers south of Bujanovac, to further stabilize the area.[5]

On 7 March 2017, the President of Albania Bujar Nishani made a historical visit to the municipalities of Preševo and Bujanovac, in which Albanians form the ethnic majority.[6]


Education in Albanian is provided for primary and secondary schools. There may be some university-level courses provided in Albanian, in the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, but students mainly do their university degree in the University of Prishtina in the Republic of Kosovo, in Macedonia, or in Albanian Universities.

The main religion of Albanians in this region is Islam. Prior to the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans, the population of the Preševo Valley was mostly Roman Catholic. There are still Catholic churches in the Karadak villages, located in Kosovo today.


Historical population
since 1991, the census was not conducted on the territory of Kosovo[lower-alpha 1]
Source: [7]

An estimate of 50,000[8]–70,000 Albanians live in Serbia, a majority of whom live in the municipalities of Preševo (Albanian: Preshevë), Bujanovac (Albanian: Bujanoc), and part of the municipality of Medveđa (Albanian: Medvegjë). According to the results of the 2002 census, there were 61,467 ethnic Albanian citizens. Most Albanians boycotted the 2011 census, which resulted in only 5,809 Albanians being recorded as living in Serbia.[9]

Also, Belgrade has a minor Albanian community. In the census of 1981, 8,212 Albanians were registered. In 1991 there lived only 4,985 Albanians in Belgrade. After the Kosovo War, this number decreased to 1,492, and according to the latest census (2011), the number is 1,252.

Notable people


  • Aćif Hadžiahmetović – politician in the Sandžak region of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the interwar period and during World War II.
  • Idriz Seferi – Albanian nationalist figure and guerrilla fighter
  • Nexhat Daci – Kosovo-Albanian politician
  • Mazarek – Serbian nobleman and general in the service of the Serbian Despotate
  • Fatmir Hasani – Politician in Serbia


Arts and entertainment


See also


  1. Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.
b.  ^ During the 2011 census, in the municipalities of Bujanovac and Preševo there was undercoverage of the census units owing to the boycott by most of the members of the Albanian ethnic community.
  1. Popis stanovništva, domaćinstava i Stanova 2002. Knjiga 1: Nacionalna ili etnička pripadnost po naseljima (in Serbian). Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. 2003. ISBN 86-84433-00-9.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Andrea Pieroni, Maria Elena Giusti, & Cassandra L. Quave (2011). "Cross-cultural ethnobiology in the Western Balkans: medical ethnobotany and ethnozoology among Albanians and Serbs in the Pešter Plateau, Sandžak, South-Western Serbia." Human Ecology. 39.(3): 335. "The current population of the Albanian villages is partly “bosniakicised”, since in the last two generations a number of Albanian males began to intermarry with (Muslim) Bosniak women of Pešter. This is one of the reasons why locals in Ugao were declared to be “Bosniaks” in the last census of 2002, or, in Boroštica, to be simply “Muslims”, and in both cases abandoning the previous ethnic label of “Albanians”, which these villages used in the census conducted during “Yugoslavian” times. A number of our informants confirmed that the self-attribution “Albanian” was purposely abandoned in order to avoid problems following the Yugoslav Wars and associated violent incursions of Serbian para-military forces in the area. The oldest generation of the villagers however are still fluent in a dialect of Ghegh Albanian, which appears to have been neglected by European linguists thus far. Additionally, the presence of an Albanian minority in this area has never been brought to the attention of international stakeholders by either the former Yugoslav or the current Serbian authorities."
  3. organized a referendum in which they voted that Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac should join Kosovo
  4. European Centre for Minority Issues Staf (1 January 2003). European Yearbook of Minority Issues: 2001/2. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 652–. ISBN 90-411-1956-6.
  5. "Otvorena baza na jugu Srbije". (in Serbian). Beta. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  6. "Musliu: Albanski predsednik Bujar Nišani posetiće 7. marta Bujanovac i Preševo". (in Serbian). Beta. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  7. "2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia" (PDF). Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  8. "South Serbia Albanians Seek Community of Municipalities". Retrieved 17 July 2013. South Serbia is home to 50,000 or so Albanians.
  9. "2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia: Ethnicity" (PDF). Belgrade: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
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