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Heads of Religious Communities
There are four official religious beliefs in Albania.
These belong to the Sunni Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Catholic Christian and Bektashi Muslim. Followers of Islam are found throughout the country. Catholics are concentrated mostly in the northern part of the country, the Orthodox in the south and center of the country, and the Bektashi sect of Sufism is found in some specific regions such as Skrapar, Krujë, Elbasan, Mat, Mallakastër, Korçë, etc. Freedom of religion is a right guaranteed by the Albanian Constitution. Besides official religions, it has also followers of other as those of Baha’is, Christian Evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. Additionally there are also atheists and non-religious people.
Albania became unique in Europe in 1967, when all religious activity was banned by closing down churches, mosques, religious schools and tekkes. For about 23 years, Albania was the only atheist country in the world. In 1990, after a democratic movement, the freedom of religion was restored and churches and mosques were rebuilt, as well as many other religious buildings. Albania has several places of religious pilgrimage. The most important are those in honor of Shna Nues (St. Anthony) on 13 June at the Church of Lac, the pilgrimage of Abas Ali on 19 August in Tomorr Mountain, the one in honor of St. Mary on 15 August in some of the churches across the country, the pilgrimage in honor of Sari Salltik in Kruja and others.