The Albanian population is considered a very young population, with an average age of 28.9 years. After 1990 the Albanian population has faced new phenomena like migration, which greatly affected the distribution by districts and prefectures. Districts in the North have seen a decreasing population, while Tirana and Durrës districts have increased their population, due to internal immigration.
Albania's population was 3,152,600 on 1 January 2007 and 3,170,048 on 1 January 2008. Alternative sources estimate the population in July 2009 at 3,639,453 with an annual growth rate of 0.546%. Albania is a largely ethnically homogeneous country with only small minorities. The vast majority of the population is ethnically Albanian. The exact size of ethnic minorities is not known, while the last census that contained ethnographic data was held in 1989. According to the latest news, the next census containing ethnographic data will begin in April 2011 with EU counsels assisting in certain fields. The pilot census is already being conducted, while the official one will being on April 2, 2011.
Minorities include Greeks, Vlachs, Macedonians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Balkan Egyptians, and Roma). The size of the Greek minority is contentious, with the Albanian government claiming it is only 60,000, while the Greek government is claiming 300,000. Most Western sources put the size of the Greek minority at around 200,000, or ~6% of the population, while the CIA Factbook estimates the Greek minority at 3% of the total population and the US State Department uses 1.17% for Greeks and 0.23% for other minorites. A 2003 survey conducted by Greek scholars estimate the size of the Greek minority at around 60.000.
The dominant and official language is Albanian, a revised and merged form of the two main dialects, Gheg and Tosk, but with a bigger influence of Tosk as compared to the Gheg. The Shkumbin River is the dividing line between the two dialects. In the areas inhabited by the Greek minority, a dialect of Greek that preserves features now lost in standard modern Greek is spoken.
There are no official statistics regarding religious affiliation in Albania. Estimates of the religious allegiance of the population of Albania vary, with some sources suggesting that the majority do not follow or practice any religion. The CIA World Factbook gives a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholics. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, roughly 39% of Albanians are Muslim, and 35% Christian.
The Albanians first appear in the historical record in Byzantine sources of the late-11th century. At this point, they are already fully Christianised. Christianity was later overtaken by Islam, which kept the scepter of the major religion during the period of Ottoman Turkish rule from the 15th century until year 1912. After independence (1912) from the Ottoman Empire, the Albanian republican, monarchic and later communist regimes followed a systematic policy of separating religion from official functions and cultural life. Albania never had an official state religion either as a republic or as a kingdom. In the 20th century, the clergy of all faiths was weakened under the monarchy, and ultimately eradicated during the 1940s and 1950s, under the state policy of obliterating all organised religion from Albanian territories.
The Communist regime that took control of Albania after World War II suppressed religious observance and institutions and entirely banned religion to the point where Albania was officially declared to be the world's first atheist state. Religious freedom has returned to Albania since the regime's change in 1992. Albanian Muslim populations (mainly secular and of the Sunni rite) are found throughout the country whereas Orthodox Christians are concentrated in the south and Roman Catholics are found in the north of the country. No reliable data are available on active participation in formal religious services, and estimates range from 25% to 40%.
There are about 4,000 active Jehovah's witnesses in Albania. Among other religious organizations making inroads into this nation is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or 'Mormons'). LDS involvement in Albania began with Humanitarian Aid during the 1990s. The first missionaries were sent in 1992 with the Albania Tirana Mission being opened in 1996. As of 2008, there were nearly 2,000 members of the LDS church in Albania, spread throughout ten branches with two purpose-built Chapels and one Family History Center.[