Albanian (shqip , or gjuha shqipe ) is a language of the Indo-European family, in which it occupies an independent branch. It is an official language in Albania and Kosovo and has official minority status in Macedonia, Italy, Romania, Montenegro, Serbia and others. The language has an official status in Ulcinj, southern Montenegro. Albanian is also spoken by large Albanian communities in Europe, the Americas and Australia.
The two main dialects of Albanian are Gheg and Tosk. Gheg is primarily spoken in the north, while Tosk is spoken in the south. Standard Albanian is based on the Tosk dialect. The number of Albanian speakers in the Balkans is estimated to be approximately 5 million.
Centuries-old communities speaking Albanian dialects can be found scattered in Croatia (the Arbanasi), Greece (the Arvanites and some communities in Epirus, Western Macedonia and Western Thrace), Italy (the Arbëreshë in Southern Italy, Sicily and Calabria) as well as in Romania and Ukraine. There is also a large Albanian diaspora.
The language is spoken by approximately 7 million people primarily in Albania, Kosovo, Greece, Italy, Macedonia and Montenegro. However, due to the large Albanian diaspora, the total number of speakers is much higher than the native speakers in Southern Europe.
The Albanian language is the official language of Albania and Kosovo. It is spoken by the entire Albanian population in both. Albanian is a recognised minority language in Croatia, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and in Serbia. Albanian is also spoken in the Thesprotia and Preveza regional units and in a few villages in Ioannina and Florina regional units in Greece.