History of immigration from Albania

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Map of Albania
Map date: 2013
Albanians were first recorded separately in the 1933 Victorian census, when 249 Albania-born Victorians were recorded. Despite this official record Albanians had been travelling to Australia for many years prior. In the 1920s and 1930s large numbers of men came to Melbourne and to Shepparton where they worked in the farming industry as they had in their homeland. This was still the case in 1933, when there were no Albania-born women recorded living in Victoria.

The next spike in migration was fed by the new communist regime that gained power in 1944 at the end of World War II. These two factors saw the population jump to 651 in 1947. The population continued to grow steadily until it peaked in 1961 at 753. The population slowly declined through the 1970s, and by 1986 there were only 557 Albania-born Victorians.

In 1990s the population began to slowly build again as unrest in the Albanian-speaking region of Kosovo grew. By 1996 the numbers had swelled to 653. Approximately 4000 Albanians were temporarily evacuated to Australia in 1999. A number were able to settle in Victoria permanently, which was reflected in a rise of almost 30% in the 2001 census.

The 2011 census recorded 1,501 Albania-born Victorians, 63% of the total Albania-born population in Australia. Whilst 82% speak Albanian at home, there are small numbers of both Greek- and Italian-speakers, but only 6% speak English at home. The population is fairly evenly aged, with almost the same number of people above as below the age of 55. The long tradition of Albanians on the land continues with 20% engaged in farming and associated industries. This does not include the numerous off-farm workers in rural communities. This rural connection is again evident in distribution with 22% living in Greater Shepparton. Large numbers also live in urban areas with 13% in the local government area of Brimbank and 12% in Whittlesea.

Approximately 52% of Albania-born Victorians are Muslim, while 19% do not identify with any religion and 8% identify as Eastern Orthodox. The Albanian community in Shepparton is the oldest Muslim community in country Victoria. The community has a rich history and still observes religious days and the Albanian national day (Flag Day) on November 28. The community is serviced by the Albania-Australia Community Association and the Albania-Australia Women’s Association.

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