Gorani in Albania

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Expanded PDF Profile

Introduction / History

The Gorani, meaning Highlanders, is a Slavic ethnic group which inhabits the Gora region, located between Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

Some of the local Gorani people have over time also self-declared themselves as Serbs, Albanians, Macedonians, Bosniaks, Muslim Bulgarians, Turks, or just as Muslims, due to geopolitical circumstances and in censuses. Nevertheless, Albania only recognizes its Gorani community as Bulgarian. In 2017, the Albanian state began recording its Gorani minority as ethnic Bulgarians. The Gorani speak a transitional south Slavic dialect called Goranski.

The Gora region comprises of the Dragaš municipality in Kosovo, Shishtavec municipality in Albania and the area around the Šar Mountains in Macedonia. The Gorani are claimed by Bosniaks, Serbs, and Bulgarians and recently Macedonians for political reasons but the Gorani believe they are a distinct minority group.

The Gorani inhabit nine villages in northern Albania, along the border with Kosovo. A significant part of the community also lives in northeastern Albania.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Gorani live in a mountainous climate, which is persistently tough, with very cold and snowy winters. These conditions limit the mobility of the people and contribute to food insecurity, which lasts for most of the cold season. To withstand these conditions, they prepare stocks of foodstuffs, mostly using fermentation processes.

One of the traditions that survived besides the preparation of fermented fruit beverages is the fermentation of millet. This type of beer obtained from millet (Panicum miliaceum) represents a very ancient Gorani tradition. The millet beer, boza, is lightly alcoholic and acidic, produced without the addition of malt.

Rich and varied folk music and folk dances are an integral part of their life. The Gorani use these to transmit their culture and tradition. Traditional Gorani folk music includes a two-beat dance called "oro" ('circle'), which is a circle dance focused on the foot movements, that always starts on the right foot and moves in a counter -clockwise direction. The Oro is usually accompanied by instruments such as curlje, kaval, ?iftelija or tapan, and singing is used less frequently in the dances than in those of the Albanians and Serbs.

Periodically, the Gorani also engage in the popular national sport of Pelivona, which is a form of oil wrestling, holding regular tournaments in the outdoors with associated ritualized hand gestures and dances.

During wedding festivities, the bride is carried on a white horse covered with a scarf and an umbrella that is decorated for the occasion. The bride accompanies her family to the neighbor and then to the house of the future husband.

The national drink of the Gorani is rakija which is commonly distilled at home by elderly people. Another popular drink among them is the Turkish coffee which is drunk in small cups accompanied by a glass of water. Tasseography is popular among all Gorani using the residue of Turkish coffee.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most Gorani are Sunni Muslims, with a few belonging to Sufism. The Halveti and Bektashi Sufi orders are widespread. Even though the Gorani are Muslims, their traditions and customs are full of animistic elements. Their faith is in the spirit world, not Allah. The Gorani still tangentially observe some Orthodox Christian traditions, such as Slavas and ?ur?evdan, and like Serbs they know their Onomastik or saint's days.

What Are Their Needs?

The Gorani face many hurdles to maintain their ethnic identity, as a majority of them believe they are a separate nation. The claim to their own by the neighboring states of Kosovo, Serbia, and Bulgaria for political gain adds great pressure to the existing communities.

The unstable condition and worsening economic issues drive them to leave their native lands. A few of them are subject to threats and discrimination by ethnic Albanians and as such relations with Albanians remain tense.

The Bulgarian activists among Gorani have filed a petition in the country's parliament demanding their official recognition as a separate minority. Bulgaria, by providing a quick and easy pathway towards European citizenship, is taking advantage of people in a vulnerable situation by coercing them into essentially giving up their own ethnic identity and culture in exchange for a certificate declaring them ethnic Bulgarians, just to reinforce the country’s nationalistic narrative. Simultaneously, the Bulgarian state makes it virtually impossible for people of the same groups to legally migrate to Bulgaria in any other way.

Bulgarian passports are emptying out the Gorani villages around Kukës (Albania) who migrate in search of better opportunities.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Gorani people to live in peace with their neighbors.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of the Gorani people when the gospel is presented to them.

Pray that the Albanian churches will strive to reach these people with a loving and serving heart.

Pray for more missionaries from Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, and Macedonia to have a burden to reach these mountain people.

Pray that gospel recordings are soon used effectively for evangelism, church planting and systematic Christian teaching.

Scripture Prayers for the Gorani in Albania.





Profile Source:   Joshua Project  
Expanded PDF Profile

People Name General Gorani
People Name in Country Gorani
Pronunciation go-RAH-nee
Population this Country 34,000
Population all Countries 54,000
Total Countries 4
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Gorans
People ID 18765
ROP3 Code 114431
Country Albania
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Europe
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Gora region - the triangle between Albania, Kosovo, and Republic of Macedonia.   Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorani_people
Country Albania
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Europe
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Gora region - the triangle between Albania, Kosovo, and Republic of Macedonia..   Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorani_people
Map of Gorani in Albania
Primary Language Serbian (34,000 speakers)
Language Code srp   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Serbian (34,000 speakers)
Language Code srp   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Serbian
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
5.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
95.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
65.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
5.0 %
Roman Catholic
30.0 %
Photo Source Aljabakphoto - Wikimedia  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more