Prayer Profile
The Tosk Albanian of Albania

[IMAGE] The Albanians are believed to be descendants of the Illyrians, who were the original inhabitants of the western Balkan Peninsula. In the sixth century, migrating Slavs began to settle on Illyrian territory and pushed the Illyrians into what is present-day 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?
Prior to the changes introduced by the Communist regime in the 1940's, the Albanians were a tribal people who lived in extended family units called fis. The fis had many old traditions, such as the vendettas, or "blood feuds," which often lasted for several generations. For protection during these feuds, families lived in fortified stone buildings called kulas. The ground floor of the kula was built with small slits rather than windows, while the upper floor had windows that could be closed.

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?
Centuries ago, many Albanians were converted to Islam by the Ottoman Turks. However, they practiced a type of "folk Islam," which embraced occult practices such as praying to the dead, seeking cures for sickness, and praying for protection from spirits and curses.

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?
Today, Albania's economy is very unstable. Strikes, especially in the mines, are frequent; the Albanian currency is worthless; and the rate of unemployment is extremely high. The people need to know that hope and security can be found in Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to raise up long-term laborers to go into Albania and share the Good News.
  • Pray that the legislation restricting the preaching of the Gospel will not be passed.
  • Pray that Bibles will be effectively distributed throughout Albania and have a strong spiritual impact on the people.
  • Pray for the effectiveness of the Jesus film in Albania.
  • Take authority over the principalities and powers that are keeping the Tosk Albanian bound in spiritual darkness.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Pray that God will begin to reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Tosk Albanian by the year 2000.

See also:
The Gheg Albanian of Albania.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Tosk Albanians
  • Country: Albania
  • Their language: Tosk
  • Population: (1990) 2,716,200
    (1995) 2,841,700
    (2000) 2,992,600
  • Largest religion: Muslim 45%
  • Christians: 22%
  • Church members: 642,220
  • Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 3
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 2,074,400 (73%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 880,900 (31%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 1,193,500 (42%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 767,300 (27%)
  • Country: Albania
  • Population: (1990) 3,289,500
    (1995) 3,441,500
    (2000) 3,624,300
  • Major peoples in size order: Tosk Albanian 82.6%
    Gheg Albanian 9.2%
    Greek 2.3%
    Macedonian 2%
    Vlach Gypsy 1.8%
  • Major religions: Muslim 40.8%
    Nonreligious 31.8%
    Christian 17.1%
  • Number of denominations: 20

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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