Thursday 26th of May 2022
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Albania's Population 80% Muslim

A previously unpublished survey, which identifies religious affiliation, suggests that Muslims make up just under 80 per cent of Albania's population, a figure much higher than previously thought.

The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey organised by the National Institute for Statistics, INSTAT, in 2005 for UNICEF, was interested in revealing the health situation of mothers and children but also included questions on religious adherence.

More than 5,000 families were interviewed. In all, 79.9 per cent of respondents identified as Muslims.

Previous estimates indicated that 70 per cent of Albanians were Muslims, 20 per cent Christian Orthodox and 10 per cent Catholics.

The new survey found that the number of adherents of Shia Bektashi Islam, which has its world headquarters in Tirana and claims to be a separate religion, was negligible. The survey, thus, categorised Bektashis as others.

Religious observances were banned in Albania in 1967 by the communist regime of former Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha, who proclaimed an athiest state. In November 1990, on the eve of the collapse of the communist regime, Albania began allowing private religious practices. Since then, there has been widespread debate as to whether Albania is a Muslim country or not.

Based on the survey, Muslims constitute a 2.5 million majority within the 3.1-strong population. The survey does not take into account the circa one million Albanians who migrated to western Europe after the collapse of communism.

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