Surnames in Albania: A Study of the Population of Albania through Isonymy


Corresponding author: Chiara Scapoli, Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Ferrara, Via L. Borsari 46, – I-44121 Ferrara, Italy. Tel: +39-0532-455744; Fax: +39-0532-249761; E-mail:


In order to describe the isonymic structure of Albania, the distribution of 3,068,447 surnames was studied in the 12 prefectures and their administrative subdivisions: the 36 districts and 321 communes. The number of different surnames found was 37,184. Effective surname number for the entire country was 1327, the average for prefectures was 653.3 ± 84.3, for districts 365.9 ± 42.0 and for communes 122.6 ± 8.7. These values display a variation of inbreeding between administrative levels in the Albanian population, which can be attributed to the previously published “Prefecture effect”.

Matrices of isonymic distances between units within administrative levels were tested for correlation with geographic distances. The correlations were highest for prefectures (r = 0.71 ± 0.06 for Euclidean distance) and lowest for communes (r = 0.37 ± 0.011 for Nei's distance).

The multivariate analyses (Principal component analysis and Multidimensional Scaling) of prefectures identify three main clusters, one toward the North, the second in Central Albania, and the third in the South. This pattern is consistent with important subclusters from districts and communes, which point out that the country may have been colonised by diffusion of groups in the North-South direction, and from Macedonia in the East, over a pre-existing Illiryan population.