• Vatican City!

    Vatican City: Vatican Museums. Go Now!

    Vatican City
    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

  • Macedonia!

    Macedonia: Traditional architecture. Go Now!

    Macedonia
    Macedonia is a country still finding its unique identity, but its architecture is already one of a kind. Explore Macedonia!

  • Netherlands!

    Netherlands: Wooden shoes. Go Now!

    Netherlands
    This low country might be small, but it maintains a unique place in history and culture. Explore the Netherlands!

  • Austria!

    Austria: Belvedere Palace. Go Now!

    Austria
    Belvedere Palace (pictured) is just one of many palaces found in Vienna. The capital is a good start to Austria, which also features the Alps, the Lakes District, and incredible history & food. Go Now!

  • Ukraine!

    Ukraine: Traditional Village. Go Now!

    Ukraine
    Ukrainian culture is based on village life, particularly that found in the Carpathian Mountains (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Latvia!

    Latvia: Art Nouveau in Riga. Go Now!

    Latvia
    Latvia is small, but has a diverse history, foods, and architecture (shown), which includes aspects from both Eastern and Western Europe. Begin Your Journey!

Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Albania

Ethnicity

Albania almost entirely consists of ethnic Albanians. However, what it means to be an ethnic Albanian is up for debate. The Albanians are Indo-European, but don't seem to be closely related to any other modern day European group. Most people consider the ethnic Albanians to be descendants of numerous people, most particularly the Illyrians, Dacians, and/or Thracians, with scant traces of neighboring peoples, such as the Greeks and ethnic Slavs to their north.

Language

Like their ethnicity, the Albanian language doesn't have any close relatives, but instead constitutes the only remaining language in a branch of the Indo-European language grouping. It might be a descendant of either the Illyrian or Thracian language and has some influences from Greek, Slavic, and the Germanic languages today, yet remains incredible unique.

English and other popular international languages are rarely spoken in Albania although more young people are learning these foreign languages each year.

Religion

Albanians are primarily Muslim due to being under Ottoman Turkish rule, during which time most of the people converted to Islam from Christianity. There are however significant Albanian Orthodox and Catholic minorities as well.

Islam (the name of the religion, whose followers are called Muslims) is a monotheistic religion, whose holy book is called the Qur'an. The Qur'an is believed to be the word of God spoken through the prophet Muhammad from 609-632 CE (Common Era is preferred over AD (Anno Domini or "year of the Lord") since the Islamic world doesn't believe Jesus was the messiah). Islam believes Muhammad was the last prophet sent to earth by God, the last in a long line of prophets, which includes Moses, Abraham, and Jesus among others.

Muslims follow five pillars of their faith: testimony, prayer, alms-giving, fasting, and pilgrimage. These pillars, and other tenants of their faith, can give great structure to their lives as some foods, like pork, are forbidden and every Muslim is expected to pray five times a day. However, the level of participation in each of these pillars and to what degree Islam influences an individual's life varies from person to person and community to community.

This page was last updated: May, 2014