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The international terms "Albania" and "Albanian" are based on the root *alb- , *arb- , which also is the source of the word Arberesh , which is used to describe the Italo-Albanians of southern Italy.

That root also appears as *lab- in Labëria , referring to the southern Albanian region from Vlorë southward to the Greek border, and *rab- in early Slavic, as in raban , rabanski ("Albanian").

Also related to this basic root are the Turkish and Greek words for Albanians and the Albanian language.

Albanians now use the designation shqiptar ("Albanian") shqip ("Albanian language"), and Shqipëria ("Albania"). According to the Austrian linguist Gustav Meyer (1850–1900), shqip ("Albanian language"), shqiptar ("Albanian"), and Shqipëria ("Albania") are related to the Albanian verb shqipoj ("to speak clearly") and shqiptoj ("to pronounce") and can be linked to the Latin excipio and excipere ("to listen to, take up, hear").

Albanians can be divided into two cultural groups: the northern Albanians, or Ghegs (sometimes spelled Gegs), and the southern Albanians, or Tosks.