The name Albania (in the Tosk dialect Arberia, in the Gheg Arbenia), like Albania in the Caucasus, Armenia, Albany in Britain, and Auvergne (Arvenia) in France, is probably connected with the root alb, alp, and signifies "the white or snowy uplands."
The Albanians, both Ghegs and Tosks, call themselves Shkiipetar, and their land Shkiipenia or Shkiiperia, the former being the Gheg, the latter the Tosk form of the word.
The name Gheg (Gege-a) is not adopted by the Ghegs themselves, being regarded as a nickname; the designation Tosk (Toske-a) is restricted by the Tosks to the inhabitants of a small region north of the lower Viossa (Toskeria).
The native disposition of the Tosks has been modified by intercourse with the Greeks and Vlachs; while the Gheg devotes his attention exclusively to fighting, robbery and pastoral pursuits, the Tosk occasionally occupies himself with commercial, industrial or agricultural employments; the Gheg is stern, morose and haughty, the Tosk lively, talkative and affable.
Since the time of Ali Pasha, who broke the power of the local chieftains, southern Albania has been subject to the central Turkish power; before that period the mountaineers of Suli and Khimara enjoyed an independence similar to that of the Gheg tribes.
Some of the Gheg tribes, such as the Puka, Malsia Jakovs and Malsia Krues, are partly Roman Catholic, partly Moslem; among fellowtribesmen the difference of religion counts for little.
The Serbo-Croats of Dalmatia, and Croatia-Slavonia, some of the Gheg tribes in Albania, about 21% of the Bosnians, a still smaller number of Bulgarians in the kingdom and in Macedonia and a few Greeks in the islands belong to the Roman Catholic Church.