Albania Historical Geography

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Historical Geography

The name "Albania" may be derived from the Illyrian and Pelasgus tribe of the Albani recorded by Ptolemy, the geographer and astronomer from Alexandria who drafted a map in 150 AD] that shows the city of Albanopolis (located northeast of Durrës).

The name may have a continuation in the name of a medieval settlement called Albanon and Arbanon, although it is not certain this was the same place. In his History written in 1079–1080, Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates was the first to refer to Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the Duke of Dyrrachium. During the Middle Ages, the Albanians called their country Arbër or Arbën and referred to themselves as Arbëresh or Arbnesh.

As early as the 16th century the placename Shqipëria and the ethnic demonym Shqiptarë gradually replaced Arbëria and Arbëresh. While the two terms are popularly interpreted as "Land of the Eagles" and "Children of the Eagles", they derive from the adverb shqip, which means "understanding each other". Under the Ottoman Empire Albania was referred to officially as Arnavutluk and its inhabitants as Arnauts (officially Arnavutlar). These terms remain the same officially and in common usage in the current Republic of Turkey. The word is considered to be a metathesis from the word Arvanite, which was the Medieval Greek name for the Albanians.