Albanian history

Brief history of Albania summarized

We briefly delve into the history of Albania, a small coastal region in the Balkans, neighboring Greece.

Ancient Albania

The people of Albania learned to use bronze around 2,100 BC Then around 1,000 BC they learned to use iron. The Iron Age people of Albania are called the Illyrians. The Illyrians came into conflict with Rome and were conquered by the Romans in 167 BC

Under Roman rule, Albania prospered. The Romans built roads in the area and towns like Elbasani grew. However, in the year 395 the Roman Empire was divided into two parts, East and West. Albania became part of the Eastern Empire, known to us as the Byzantine Empire.

During the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries the Germanic peoples invaded Albania several times, but they always withdrew. Between the invasions, life went on as usual.

However, due to its position on the edge of the Byzantine Empire, Albania was weakly defended. In the 10th century the Bulgarians conquered much of Albania. However, the Byzantines regained their territory in the early 11th century when they were led by Emperor Basil II.

Middle Ages

However, in the 11th century the Normans captured Sicily and southern Italy and turned their attention to Albania. They landed on the coast in 1081 and captured Durresi, but the Byzantines recaptured it in 1083 with help from Venice.

In 1204 the Crusaders captured Constantinople. For a time Albania was freed from Byzantine control and was up for grabs. A period of war followed with different powers fighting for control of Albania. Venice first seized central and southern Albania, but only ruled directly the main ports.

After 1210 a Greek vassal named Michael Commenus ruled the interior. However, in 1215, Michael turned against the Venetians and formed the plunder of Epirus.

In the late 13th century, the Byzantines fought with the southern kingdom of Italy and Sicily for control of Albania. The Byzantines eventually drove out the Italians, but in the 14th century Albania fell to the Serbs.

Serbian King Stefan Dusan first invaded Albania in 1343. However, after his death in 1355, the Serbs lost control of Albania and the feudal lords fought among themselves for control. However, there was a new threat to Albania: the Ottoman Turks.

The Turks occupied southern and central Albania in the years 1415-1423. However, in 1443 a rebellion broke out. It was led by George Kastrioti (1403-1468). Under his and his son’s leadership, the northern Albanians continued to resist the Turks until 1479.

Under Turkish rule, some Albanians converted to Islam, although Christians were allowed to practice their religion. In general, the Turkish government brought stability to Albania. However, at the end of the 19th century, a strong independence movement grew in Albania.

Twentieth century

The nationalist movement promoted the Albanian language and culture. In 1912 war broke out between the Turks and the Balkan League (Montenegro, Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria).

In 1912 the Ottoman Empire was in decline and the Albanians feared that their country would be divided among the members of the Balkan League. To prevent this, the Albanian leaders met in Vlora and on November 28, 1912 declared independence.

On December 20, 1912 the great European powers (Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria and Russia) recognized the independence of Albania. In 1913 they appointed a commission to demarcate the borders of Albania.

However, they refused to recognize the Provisional Government of Albania. Instead, they made a German prince, William of Wied, King of Albania. William arrived in Albania in March 1914. However, he fled after only six months in September 1914. Albania was divided into regions without any central government.

However, in 1918 the Albanians formed a provisional government. Elections were held and a parliament met in Tirana in 1920. The Albanian Minister of the Interior was Ahmet Zogu (1895-1961). In December 1922 he became the Albanian Prime Minister.

However, Zogu lost the elections in January 1924 and fled abroad in June 1924. However, in December 1924, with Yugoslav help, he marched on Tirana and overthrew the government. Zogu quickly became a dictator. In 1928 he became King Zog of Albania.

However, Italian influence increased in Albania under Zog’s rule. Finally, on April 7, 1939 Mussolini, the Italian dictator invaded Albania. Zog fled abroad.

Mussolini installed a puppet government and after Germany conquered Yugoslavia and Greece in 1941, part of their territory was ceded to Albania. However, in November 1941 a Communist Party was formed with Enver Hoxha (1908-1985) as secretary. From the summer of 1942 the communists fought against the Italians, but when Italy surrendered in 1943 the Germans intervened and occupied Albania.

However, the communists formed a provisional government in May 1944. In October 1944, the Germans began to withdraw from Albania. Finally, on November 28, 1944, the communists entered Tirana. They then imposed a totalitarian regime in Albania.

The communists began to nationalize industry in Albania and at first relations with Yugoslavia were friendly. However, in 1948 Yugoslavia was isolated from the Soviet Union and the other communist countries of Eastern Europe. Albania promptly ended economic agreements with Yugoslavia, and in 1950 diplomatic relations were severed (they were restored in 1953).

Then, in the late 1950s, relations between the Soviet Union and China worsened. Albania sided with China and in the late 1950s the Chinese increased their economic aid to Albania. Finally, in 1961, Albania severed diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.

After Mao’s death in 1976, relations between Albania and China cooled down and ordinary people were completely cut off from the rest of the world. Enver Hoxha died in 1985, but the tyrannical regime in Albania continued.

Meanwhile, Enver Hoxha was, like all Marxists, an atheist. In 1967 he declared that Albania was the world’s atheist state. Hoxha did everything he could to eradicate religion from Albania. All religious buildings were closed and all worship was prohibited.

In 1990, the Albanian leader Ramiz Alia introduced some minor reforms. However, in December 1990, student demonstrations forced the government to allow the formation of other political parties in Albania.

Elections were held on March 31, 1991. The Communists won, but a general strike in June forced them to resign. A coalition governed Albania until new elections were held in March 1992 and the Communist Party was forced to reinvent itself as the Socialist Party.

Meanwhile, religious freedom was introduced in Albania in 1990. Today, the majority of Albanians are Muslim. Significant minorities are Orthodox or Catholic.

Pyramid investment schemes emerged in Albania in 1995 and 1996, but by the end of 1996 they began to collapse. The result was unrest in Albania that forced the government to hold new elections in June 1997.

XXI century

Little by little, stability returned to Albania. However, since 1998 the Albanian economy has grown, although Albania remains a poor country. Today the government is trying to improve the infrastructure in Albania.

Meanwhile, in 2009 Albania joined NATO. Albania has plans to join the EU. At present, the population of Albania is 2.9 million inhabitants.

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