The Albanian diaspora is the largest in the world as per the size of the population with 57% of Albanians living outside of the country.
At the time of writing, some 2.87 million citizens are remaining in Albania. This means that 4.5 million Albanians are living abroad.
This ration is the highest in Europe and if we ignore countries with a population of less than 1 million, Albania is the first in the world.
2018 marked that highest rate of emigration from Albania. Also, according to a Gallup poll, in that year, 60& said they want to leave the country, making them fourth in the world for this metric. 13% applied for the American lottery- that equates to 367,231 people. These figures place Albania third in the world and first in Europe for the number of applications in the US lottery.
A further 62,525 were provided with residence permits for the firsts time in an EU country. A further 106,000 received citizenship in an EU country.
INSTAT predicts that by 2050, there will be 2.6 million people in the country.
But immigration is not a new phenomenon. Even before communism when the Albanian borders were closed for five decades, Albanians sought to leave. Following Skanderbeg’s death in the 15th Century, 200,000 Albanians migrated to Italy and some left to Greece.
But those that leave Albania do not abandon their home country. Between 1994 and 2004, emigrants remitted around $5.8 billion to Albania. Between 1992 and 2020, $30.25 billion was remitted, an average of $1.08 billion each year.
According to the Bank of Albania and the World Bank, 23% of Albanian households benefit from remittances with an average of EUR 2000 per household per year.
“For most households, these incomes are estimated to be the main source for covering consumption and investment costs,” the Bank of Albania report states.
Likewise, they are still the second most important group of tourists in Albania, after Kosovo Albanians.
There are hundreds of thousands of emigrants who visit Albania for summer or winter vacations, spending tens of millions of euros every year.
Let us not forget that tourism accounts for up to 10-12 per cent of the country’s income each year.
These important economic figures show that Albania can not prosper and develop without the contribution of the diaspora.