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Albanian Australian

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Title: Albanian Australian  
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Subject: European Australian, Kosovan Australian, Albanians, Albanian diaspora, Albanians in Serbia
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Albanian Australian

Albanian Australian
Total population
13,142 (by ancestry)[1]
2,398 (by birth).[1]
Regions with significant populations
Melbourne · Shepparton · Mareeba
Albanian · Australian English
Related ethnic groups
Albanian diaspora

Albanian Australian (Albanian: Shqiptarë Australian) are residents of Australia who are of Albanian heritage or descent.

According to the 2006 Australian census 2,014 Albanians were born in Australia[2] while 11,315 claimed Albanian ancestry, either alone or with another ancestry.[3]

According to the 2011 Australian census 2,398 Albanians were born in Australia[1] while 13,142 claimed Albanian ancestry, either alone or with another ancestry.[1]


The first recorded Albanian to settle in Australia was Naum Konxha who arrived in Brisbane in 1885 with his English wife and decided to stay permanently. The second Albanian, Spiro Jani from Himara, arrived in Queensland in 1908. Then Kristo Zafiri arrived from Labora and Dhimiter Ikonomi from Drolpolli. They disembarked in 1913 from an English ship at Townsville. In 1914 Jan Konomi arrived and in 1920 Vasil and Thomas Kasneci.

As with others from the Balkans, the first major period of emigration to Australia followed the United States quota restrictions on Southern Europeans of 1924.[4] The Australian census did not record Albanians separately until 1933 when there were 770, the largest number living in Queensland. The number had doubled by 1947 with the balance having shifted to Victoria where it has remained. Albanians who arrived in the 1920s settled in rural areas and engaged in agriculture related employment, mainly fruit growing. As with other Southern European migrants, most Albanians who came to Australia in the 1920s were men. They became market gardeners, sugar cane workers, tobacco farmers and horticulturalists. The largest number arrived in 1928. Early settlements were made in Northam in Western Australia by Ismail Birangi and Sabri Sali, who later moved to Shepparton where they established their families with their friends Reshit Mehmet and Fethi Haxhi.[4] Albanians also settled in Cairns, Melbourne, Brisbane and York.[4]

The 1933 Australian Census recorded 770 Albania-born living in Australia, mostly in Queensland and Victoria. Many Albanians settled around Mareeba in northern Queensland and in Brisbane.[4]

In Victoria, most Albanians settled on rural properties around Shepparton in the Goulburn Valley.[4] In the 1920s, most came from southern Albania, around the city of Korçë, and engaged in agriculture, especially fruit growing. A much smaller number were from Gjirokastër, also in the south and similarly belonging to the Tosk dialect group rather than the Gheg dialect spoken in northern Albania and Kosovo.[4] While the majority were Muslims, it was estimated that about 40% were Orthodox Christians.[4] The Shepparton community was joined by post war refugees between 1949 and 1955. Only 235 Albanian Displaced Persons arrived but this was enough to raise the overall total of the Albania-born to its highest level until 1976. There was a much larger displaced ethnic-Albanian post war, but the refugees were registered as Yugoslav. The Shepparton mosque was built in 1960 as the religious focal point for the most prosperous and well established rural Albanian community in Australia.[4]

Because of the restrictions on emigration from Albania, which lasted until the 1990s, most recent Albanian-speaking migrants in Australia came from former Yugoslavia.[4]

In 1996, there were 6212 who spoke Albanian at home, or more than five times the number born in Albania. Of these, 1299 were born in Macedonia and only 60 in Serbia and Montenegro. However, the political situation since then has increased this latter component and includes those from Kosovo. Apart from a handful from Greece, Bosnia and Turkey, the rest were either born in Albania or Australia.[4]


Unlike some other Eastern European languages, Albanian was spoken over a large age range from infancy to old age and is surviving into second generation, as well as being added to by recent arrivals, the number using the language rose by one-quarter between 1986 and 1996. A substantial majority of the recent arrivals have settled in Victoria, both in Melbourne and around Shepparton. Albanian of the Tosk and Gheg dialect is both widely used by Albanian Australians.[4]


As in Albania and Kosovo, 57% of Albanian speakers in Australia subscribe to Islam despite its officials outlawing under the Albanian communists. Over 400 were Catholic, the religion of the most famous Albanian, Mother Teresa, some of whose relatives settled in Melbourne.[4] Only 114 were Orthodox.[4] The predominance of Islam gave the Albanian population a degree of unity and the ability to build their own mosques, as in rural Mareeba, Shepparton and Melbourne metropolitan North Carlton.[4]

The Shepparton Mosque was the first mosque built in Victoria and the Carlton Mosque was the first mosque built in Melbourne.

Albanians of Catholic and Orthodox, found an established network of religious institutions available to them in the places they settled with their Muslim compatriots. However, in the absence of Albanian churches and Albanian-speaking ministers, Christian Albanians struggle to maintain their unique heritage.[5]


The major Albanian community organistation is the Albania-Australia Community Association located in North Carlton and chaired by Erik Lloga, who took an active role in settling Kosovar refugees, including acting as an interpreter for the Prime Minister. It shares premises with the Albanian Australian Islamic Society and there are also Albanian Islamic societies in Dandenong and Shepparton and the Albanian Catholic Community in St Albans. Other Victorian associations have included the Albanian Teachers’ Association and a branch of the Balli Kombëtar political party based on anti-communist post-war refugees.[4] In Queensland there is an Albanian Association of Brisbane and an Albanian Australian Moslem Society in the long established community in Mareeba.[6] There is also an Albanian Australian Association in Adelaide. All these associations cater for Albanians from Macedonia and Kosovo as well as those from Albania and some took an active role in providing support for the Kosovar refugees in 1999.[4]

The Albanian community has become more involved within the community forming associations such as the Australian Albanian Women's Association and a more recent youth directed group Albanians Connect.

Albanian sport clubs

Notable Albanian-Australians

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Department of immigration
  2. ^ Total count of persons: 19,855,288.
  3. ^ Total responses: 25,451,383 for total count of persons: 19,855,288.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
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