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English: The Arbëreshë (Arbëreshët e Italisë in Albanian, Albanesi d'Italia in Italian) or the Albanians of Italy, also known as Italo-Albanians, ethnic and linguistic Albanian minority community living in southern Italy (mostly concentrated in scattered villages in the region of Calabria, but also in Apulia, Basilicata, Molise and Sicily. They are the descendants of mostly Tosk Albanian refugees who fled Albania between the 15th and 18th centuries as a result of forced islamisation during the Ottoman Empire's invasion of the Balkans.

They settled in Southern Italy between the 15th and 18th centuries in several waves of migration, following the death of the Albanian national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg and the gradual conquest of Albania and the Byzantine Empire by the Ottoman Turks. Their culture is determined by the main features that are found in language, religion, traditions, customs, art and gastronomy, still zealously preserved, with the awareness of belonging to a specific ethnic group. Over the centuries, the Arbëreshë have managed to maintain and develop their identities, thanks to their cultural value exercised mainly by the two religious communities of the Eastern Byzantine Rite. Today, most of the fifty Arbëreshë communities are adherents to the Italo-Albanian Church, an Eastern Catholic church.

The Arbëreshë speak Arbëresh, an old variant of Albanian spoken in southern Albania, known as Tosk Albanian. The Arbëresh language is of particular interest to students of the modern Albanian language as it represents the sounds, grammar, and vocabulary of pre-Ottoman Albania. Today, in the light of historical events, the secular continuity of the Albanian presence in Italy is an aspect of exceptionality in the history of the peoples. Since 2017, with the subscription of the Republic of Albania and Kosovo, an official application for inclusion of the Arbëresh people has been submitted to the UNESCO List as a living human and social immaterial patrimony of humanity.

See also Arbëreshë on en:Wikipedia.
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Media in category "Arbëreshë"

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