The Tosk Albanian of Albania
The Albanians are divided into two major groups, the Tosk and the Gheg, according to which Albanian dialect they speak. The Tosk live south of the Shkumbin River, while the Gheg live north of the river. The two dialects differ slightly in vocabulary and pronunciation. In the 1950's it was decided that the Tosk dialect would be used in all Albanian publications, since it was the one most widely spoken in Albania.
The climate of southern Albania resembles that of southern Italy. The Tosk Albanian who live there are known to be friendly, lively, and talkative. They also dominate politics and many other spheres of social life.
What are their lives like?
Albania is a country with many isolated areas. Over the centuries, this produced a wide variety of regional lifestyles and settlement patterns. However, when the Communist regime began in 1944, the traditional lifestyles began to change drastically. Communist political authorities believed that the way to achieve national unity was to abolish differences of tribe, religion, and even dress. Huge community farms were established and education became mandatory. Large apartment complexes were built and much of the population became urbanized. Today, more than a third of Albania's population live in cities. The increasing industrial population and the introduction of mandatory education have, in fact, eliminated many regional differences.
The collapse of the Communist regime in 1991 brought on numerous traumatic and rapid changes in Albania, leaving the people with an identity crisis. The people were shocked to discover that they had been reduced to poverty. Hurt, angry, and confused, they are now struggling to find their identity in a country that is considered to be Europe's poorest and least developed.
What are their beliefs?
In 1967, Albania declared itself as "the world's first atheistic state," closing its borders to any influence from the outside world. Before this time, religion was mostly based on superstition. Many of the Tosk are Orthodox; however, their religious practices have always been nominal and superficial.
With the fall of the Communist regime in 1990, the crime rate in Albania began to soar. Since that time, religious practices have not only been allowed, but also encouraged as an antidote to the crime wave. Muslims from the Middle East are now attempting to re-evangelize Albania by sending missionaries, supplying financial aid, and building mosques. Today, the Muslims, along with the Catholics of northern Albania and the Orthodox of southern Albania, are pressing for restrictive legislation to keep out other religions that are considered non-Albanian.
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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