Into Their World… The Gheg Albanian of the United States

There are over 100,000
Gheg Albanians in the US.

The Gheg Albanian are thought to be descendants of the Illyrians, the original inhabitants of the western Balkan Peninsula. The Gheg are one of two major Albanian groups. The other is the Tosk. The two groups have historically been quite different, with the Gheg being more stern and courageous and the Tosk being more friendly and talkative.

Many changes introduced by the Communist regime in Albania in the 1940s affected the lifestyle of the Gheg Albanian. Previously, they had been a tribal people who lived in extended family units called fis. Blood feuds were so common that fortified stone buildings called kulas were created for protection during the feuds.

After the Communist regime collapsed in 1991, Albania was left in something of an identity crisis and today it claims the sad distinction of being one of Europe’s poorest and least developed nations. For centuries, the Gheg Albanian practiced a type of folk Islam, which included occult practices such as praying to the dead, seeking cures for sickness and praying for protection against spirits and curses.

Although Albania declared itself the world’s first atheistic state in 1967, with the fall of the Communist regime came a rise in religion, in particular an influx of Muslim missionaries seeking to evangelize the Gheg Albanian.

During the turmoil of the past few decades, over 100,000 Gheg Albanian immigrated to the United States where many seek to find refuge and new opportunities for themselves and their families.

Pray that the Gheg Albanian in the United States find the Lord Jesus Christ as they make their way in their new homeland. Pray that Christians in America will open their hearts and their doors to these people who have been through so much—but who are so loved by God.

For more information on the Albanian of the United States, visit:

(Information compiled from

(Note: The website links above are intended to provide you with more information about this people group. Some of the links are to groups that are not religious in nature but who provide information and background that may be helpful in researching this people group. The content of each of the websites linked to is the sole responsibility of the linked-to organization. Views expressed on these websites do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of the staff or writers of Lausanne World Pulse or those of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Institute of Strategic Evangelism, Evangelism and Missions Information Service or Intercultural Studies Department.)

Laurie Fortunak Nichols is editorial coordinator of Lausanne World Pulse. She also serves as editorial coordinator for the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College and managing editor and book review editor of Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ). She has edited a number of books, including the recent Extending God's Kingdom: Church Planting Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, with A. Scott Moreau and Gary R. Corwin.