The first reaction perhaps of most people upon learning of the unique features of the Albanians is "Where did these people come from?" or "Who ordered the Albanians?" The answer is that the Albanians were in the nature of an aboriginal people of the Balkans who were pushed back into a mountainous corner of the peninsula by the migratory invasions of the Slavs. The Albanian language is a branch of the Indo-European language family so Albanian is not so ancient as Basque. But the Albanians were in the Balkans from at least 1000 B.C. Like Greek, Albanian is a branch of Indo-European spoken by a relatively small number compared to the other branches such a Germanic, Celtic and Slavic.
In ancient times the Albanians were known as the Illyrians and were spread more extensively over the Balkans. Isolated groups are still found as far afield as Italy including Sicily, the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece and European Turkey, but primarily the Albanian speakers are concentrated in what is now Albania, Kosovo and western Macedonia. The language of the ancient Dacians in what is now Romania appears to be related to Albania. Some small core of Dacian has survived in modern Romanian.