Although dialect and cultural differences between the Ghegs and Tosks can be substantial, both sides identify strongly with the common national and ethnic culture. Albanians live in ethnically compact settlements in large areas of the southwest part of the Balkan peninsula, primarily in the Republic of Albania with its centrally located capital city of Tirana and in the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo.
The Republic of Albania, which houses only about 60 percent of all the Albanians in the Balkans, is a mountainous country along the southern Adriatic coast across from the heel of Italy.
All Albanians north of the Shkumbin, along with the Albanians of Montenegro, Kosovo, and most of Macedonia (FYROM), speak Gheg dialects with their characteristic nasalization.
Since ancient times, very substantial strata of Latin and of Slavic and Turkish have been added to Albanian, making the older strata more difficult to analyze.
The 1991 census for the Republic of Albania gives a total population of 3,255,891.
In addition there are about two million Albanians in Kosovo, about five-hundred thousand in the Republic of Macedonia, and about one-hundred thousand in Montenegro.
The Albanians in Macedonia represent about 30 percent of the population, although there are no reliable statistics.
The Albanian minority in Greece can be divided into two groups: those living in villages and settlements near the Albanian border and the largely assimilated Arvanites who populated much of central and southern Greece in the late Middle Ages.