The Albanian exodus has been the largest emigration movement in Europe since the population movements after World War II. It had been caused by the collapse of the communist regime in 1991 and the following economic crisis. Here are 10 facts about Albanian refugees:
- The first wave of immigration occurred in 1991 when 20,000 Albanians squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder head to Italy on the cargo ship La Vlora.
- More Albanian refugees live outside of Albania than within. Countries like Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States all have Albanian diasporas.
- About $500 million was sent home by Albanian refugees in 1996 from these countries, supporting the survival of the people remaining in Albania and the development of the private sector.
- Albania’s population is approximately three million, and about 10 million Albanians are living outside of the country.
- Roughly 600,000 Albanian refugees work in Greece.
- About 480,000 ethnic Albanian refugees entered into Albania in 1999 because of the war in neighboring Kosovo. This influx strained the country’s resources.
- The unemployment rate is incredibly high in Albania, where a small and overcrowded job market doesn’t allow new businesses to emerge.
However, things are changing for the better in Albania, and the future is bright for the nation. While the country is still struggling with outcomes of the refugee crises of the early ’90s, the Albanian government considers tourism as a key strategic economic sector, touting its potential to act as a catalyst for the development of the rest of the country.
– Yana Emets