Albanian emigrants have an important place in the socio-cultural mosaic of Italy. Currently, by the number of Albanians, Italy is second among the countries where Albanians have emigrated. In the framework of numerous citizenship, the Albanians occupy the second place after the Romanians. But if we add to the criterion of countries outside the European Union, Albanian emigrants would occupy the first place, followed by Moroccans. This shows that the phenomenon of Albanian emigration in Italy is very important starting from the quantitative point of view.

Tablo nr.1 – Foreign Residents in Italy by Nationality (31.12.2008)

Origin Total on 31.12.2008 % of the total number Total on 31.12.2009 % of the total number
Romania 796.477 20.5 953.000 22.2
Albania 441.396 11.3 472.000 11.0
Morocco 403.592 10.4 433.000 10.1
China 170.265 4.4 181.000 4.2
Ukraine 153.998 4.0 172.000 4.0
Philippines 113.686 2.9 120.000 2.8
Tunisia 100.112 2.6 105.000 2.4
Poland 99.389 2.6 107.000 2.5
India 91.855 2.4 104.000 2.4
Moldova 89.424 2.3 109.000 2.5

Dossier Statistico Immigrazione – Caritas/Migrantes dhe Istat (Istituto Nazionale di statistica)


The new Albanian emigration comes with the end of dictatorship, the establishment of the pluralistic system and the attainment of some of the fundamental rights, expecially the free movement of people.

Albanian emigration to the Italian coast can be divided into five phases:

The first phase, July 1990, has to do with the so-called “embassy crisis” where thousands of Albanian entered into some Western diplomatic representations and sought political refuge. The Italian embassy hosted more than 800 Albanians, who, after a series of negotiations with the Ramiz Alise regime, were granted the right to board ferries made available by the Italian government to head towards Pulja.

The second phase consists of two massive exodus towards the Italian coast: the first, in early March 1991, when several ports of Albanian ships (some 25,000) left, which in a few days arrived in the ports of Puglia; the second, in August of the same year, when more than 20 thousand Albanians arrived in Italy, who were repatriated after being closed for several days in the Bari study.

March 1991, Durres, Albania


The third phase is related to the post-communist years, to Albania, which implies a difficult economic, political and social transition, and constantly looking for its identity within the regional context. During these years, migratory flows from Albania can also be organized by illegal roads. In Italy, in this period many Albanians arrived, with regular or false visas, even through illegal riders.

The fourth stage refers to the deep crisis of 1997. After the collapse of the pyramid schemes, many Albanians were forced to take random ship to go to Italy. According to official Italian statistics, at the end of the year, there were 83,807 Albanian migrants.

The fifth stage: it is a phase in which legal and illegal immigration coexist. Over the past few years, immigration law has been completed in Italy, which has migratory flows and promotes special agreements with the country with strong immigration pressure.


In December 1999, Lombardy was at the top of the Italian provinces with 17,559 Albanians, followed by Tuscany with 14,368 Albanians and Pulja with 12,820. According to Caritas/Migrantes, by the end of 2000, Albanians were distinguished for their distribution throughout Italy, which is obviously an essential feature. Due to the considerable increase in numbers, Albanians became the first group in seven provinces: Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, Abruco, Molise, Basilica, Pulja; the second group in six provinces of Piedmont, Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Calabria; the third group in two provinces: Vale d’Aosta and Veneto; fourth group in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Campania; the fifth group in a province: Sicily; and the sixth group in one province: Sardinia. By the end of 2003, Lambardia was again the province with more Albanians, and in the last place was Sardinia. Here are the provinces where most Albanians lived in 2003: Lombardy, Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, Veneto, Pulza and Lacio. Those with few Albanian emigrants were the following: Sicily, Calabria, Basilica, Molise, Vale d’Aosta and Sardinia.

Due to the increase in the number of emigrants in general and of Romanians in particular, at the end of 2008 Albanians resulted in the lowest percentages in the respective provinces. From the perspective of the percentages, from 1999 to 2003, the presence of Albanians in the central Italian provinces has remained the same, in the south it has decreased by six points, in the islands from 3% to 2%. Albanians in northern provinces grew by 7%. During 2006, the gap between south and north was further expanded. The presence of Albanians in the northern Italian provinces went over 60%, while in other areas there were further reductions. The same performance was confirmed by the latest estimates, according to which on December 31, 2008, approximately 61% of Albanians were living in the north. Lombardy occupied the first place among the Italian provinces with about 90,000 Albanians. These data clearly show that the majority of Albanians live in northern Italy.


Albanian emigration to Italy started mainly as male emigration. The ways of exodus to Italy and other cultural factors favored the masculine part of the emigration. In the year of exodus, men reached 21,382, while women only 3,504 (that is, about 1.4% of the total number). Five years later, the situation was quite different: at the end of 1996, almost 27% of all Albanians were able to reach the women. In other words, it took a few years for a substantial change in female presence.

Reasons for staying in Italy

The typology of the reasons for the stay casts light on the reality of immigrants. If we were to look at the data related to the reasons for the stay of Albanians in Italy, we would notice that the work constitutes one of the main reasons. From 2001-2007 the majority of Albanians had a permit for work reasons. During this period, the number of this category has increased by about 40%, while that of the family has tripled. Significant growth has also underwritten study permits: three times more in six years.

However, in recent years they have witnessed a developed Albanian skills for entrepreneurship. The number of self-employed Albanians reached the beginning of 2007 with a figure of 18,476. while the number of job seekers has been declining. Recent estimates of the StatisticoImmigrazione Dossier – Caritas/Migrantes have revealed that the number of employees at the beginning of 2008 was around 216,320, while self-employed 15,357.


Tablo nr. 2 – Albanians with a residence permit (2001-2007)

Year Employed Self-employed Looking for work Total
01/01/2001 77.252 4.797 8.547 90.596
01/01/2002 80.132 6.629 4.237 90.998
01/01/2003 82.300 7.537 2.983 92.820
01/01/2004 109.758 8.958 3.988 122.704
01/01/2005 127.994 12.665 2.932 143.591
01/01/2006 120.226 16.063 2.639 138.928
01/01/2007 126.991 18.476 2.609 148.076