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Key Stages in Albanian Emigration | Albania |

Albania Background Information Historical Developments Key Stages Characteristics of Current Migration Flows Irregular Emigration Refugees and Asylum Seekers Immigration since 1990 Irregular Immigrants Refugees and Asylum Seekers Development of Migration-Related Policies Citizenship Current Developments Future Challenges References and Further Reading

Key Stages in Albanian Emigration

Julie Vullnetari

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There were three key stages on which this Albanian 'drama' of mass exodus was played: the very first post-communist years of extreme poverty, political and physical insecurity and general chaos (1990-1993); the break-down of law and order nearing civil war which followed the collapse of corrupt pyramid 'savings' schemes in 1997; and the destabilization of the country following the Kosovo war in 1999 and the resulting inflow of nearly half a million Albanian refugees fleeing Milosevic's terror. The 2000s have generally been a peaceful decade as far as the political scene is concerned, and, combined with the inflow of migrant remittances, the country's economic situation has significantly improved. Migration has continued, albeit not at the scale and with the same features of the previous decade.



  1. Also known as Ponzi schemes, these are non-sustainable investment models that promise participants extraordinarily high returns, resulting primarily from enrolling other people into the scheme. In Albania they flourished during 1995-96, helped by an informal credit market, a rudimentary official banking sector and a flow of migrants’ remittances from Greece and Italy. By the end of 1996, the interest paid by some of the schemes reached almost 50 percent a month, which of course could not be sustained (Jarvis 2000, p. 10). Nearly half of all Albanians had invested in these schemes, some even selling their houses and livestock in a rush to become rich quickly. In 1997 the schemes collapsed, causing the fall of the then Democratic-party-led government which was regarded as implicitly involved, thus plunging the country into chaos and near civil war. The World Bank estimated the lost savings at $1.2 billion, equal to half the country’s GDP in 1996 (Olsen 2000, p. 24).

  2. King (2003).


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Julie Vullnetari is post-doctoral researcher at the Sussex Centre for Migration Research, School of Global Studies of the University of Sussex in the UK. Email: E-Mail Link: