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According the last population census carried out in 2011, Albania’s resident population as of October 1st 2011 is 2.82 million people, a drop of 8 per cent compared to the previous census in 2001. According to the annual population estimate published by INSTAT in January 2017, 2.87 million people live in Albania. The average age is 35, while the aging index increased from 8 per cent in 2001 to 11 per cent in 2011. The Albanian population started declining since 1990, as a result of massive emigration following the collapse of the communist regime, which banned travel outside the country. INSTAT estimates that between 2001 and 2011, more than 500,000 Albanian citizens migrated abroad in search of employment, education and an array of other opportunities. According to the 2011 census data the natural sex ratio at birth in Albania was 107.8 males for every 100 females, compared to the worldwide ration of 105 males to 100 females. The higher ratio is attributed to sex-selective abortions. According to a population projection made by INSTAT based on the 2011 census data, Albania’s population is expected to drop further in the next two decades, from 2.86 million in 2021 to 2.78 million in 2031, due to a further decrease in the birth rate and continuous migration.

In the past two decades the country has undergone rapid urbanization. So, the 2011 census suggests that for the first time in the Albanian history its urban population became larger than its rural population. The resident population in urban areas was 53.5 per cent while 46.5 per cent of the population lived in rural areas. Communist Albania invested heavily on education resulting in near 100% literacy. However, the last population census shows that the illiteracy rate in Albania was 2.8 per cent among the population 10 years and over. Half of the illiterates are 75 years or older. The illiteracy rate is also higher among women (3.7%) than men (1.7%). According to the census data, 14.9 per cent of the literate population has a primary school education as the highest level of education, 40.9 per cent has lower secondary school as the highest level, and 28.4 per cent attained upper secondary education, including general or vocational schooling. The percentage of the population that has completed a university education or is currently enrolled in graduate or postgraduate studies is 10.7 per cent of the population (or 262,369 persons), while ten years earlier, according to the 2001 census, the people who were enrolled or had completed a university education comprised only 5.5 per cent of the population. In the 2011 census women slightly outnumbered men, accounting for 51 per cent of the population with the university level education. The women accounted for only 41.1 per cent of this population in 2001 and men with university degrees were 58.9 per cent. This shows that after 10 years 10% more women pursued higher education.

The official language is Albanian and it is considered as a native language by 98.76 per cent of the population; however, minority languages are officially used in some local government units. According to census data minorities account for only 1.5 per cent of the population. INSTAT estimates that the ethnic Greek minority now accounts for only 0.87 per cent of the population, ethnic Macedonians make up 0.2 per cent and Roma 0.3 per cent. The census data show that 83.2 per cent of the respondents declared themselves ethnic Albanians, while 14.07 per cent refused to answer questions on the basis of nationality.

According to census data Islam is the main religion in Albania. with 56.7 per cent of Albanians viewing themselves as Muslim, 10.53 per cent as Catholics, 6.75 per cent as Orthodox, and 2.09 per cent as Bektashi Muslims (a Sufi order). Another 2.5 per cent are atheists and 5.53 per cent are non-denominational believers. Although many Albanians identify with one religion or another, religious practice in the country is quite lax and few consider religion a dominant factor in their lives, where traditional values built around family and clan still hold sway.

According to INSTAT latest quarterly data survey on unemployment, in the fourth quarter of 2016 the unemployment rate in Albania was 14.2 % for the population 15 years and older, while the rate of participation in the workforce for people between the ages of 15-64 years old was 65.7 %.    

During the communist regime foreign media were banned in Albania; however, many still managed to watch in secret the signal of the Italian public television RAI, which was a sort of window to the west and has played a role to shape not only Albanian popular culture but also its media scene. 

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