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History of Albania

 This article is the top of the 
History of Albania series.
 Albania in the Middle Ages
 Albanian lands under Ottoman domination
 National awakening and the birth of Albania
 Albania between wars
 Albania during World War II
 Communist and post-Communist Albania

This article briefly outlines each period of History of Albania only; details are presented in separate articles (see the links in the box and below).

Table of contents
1 Illyria
2 Middle Ages
3 Ottoman domination
4 Independence
5 Interbellum
6 World War II
7 Communist era
8 References
9 Related articles
10 External links


Main article: Illyria

Many scholars believe the Albanian people are the direct descendants of a group of tribes known as the Illyrians, who arrived in the Balkans around 2000 BC. They intermingled and made war with the Greeks, Thracians, and Macedonians before succumbing to Roman rule around the time of Jesus Christ.

Following the split of the Roman Empire in 395, the Byzantine Empire established its control over present-day Albania. It was during this time (1043) that the Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I Comnenus made the first recorded reference to a people called the Albanians.

Middle Ages

Main article: Albania in the Middle Ages

All the Illyrian tribes except the Albanians disappeared during the Dark Ages under the waves of migrating barbarians. A forbidding mountain homeland and resilient tribal society enabled the Albanians to survive into modern times with their identity and their Indo-European language intact.

Ottoman domination

Main article: Albanian lands under Ottoman domination

Ottoman supremacy in the Balkan region began in 1385 but was briefly interrupted in the 15th century, when an Albanian warrior known as Skenderbeg united his countrymen and fought-off Turkish rule from 1443-1478. Upon the Ottomans' return, a large number of Albanians fled to Italy, Greece and Egypt and many of the Albanians who remained (about two-thirds of the Albanian population), converted to the Islamic faith. Many Albanians won fame and fortune as soldiers, administrators, and merchants in far-flung parts of the empire. As the centuries passed, however, Ottoman rulers lost the capacity to command the loyalty of local pashas, who governed districts on the empire's fringes. Soon pressures created by emerging national movements among the empire's farrago of peoples threatened to shatter the empire itself. The Ottoman rulers of the nineteenth century struggled in vain to shore up central authority, introducing reforms aimed at harnessing unruly pashas and checking the spread of nationalist ideas.


Main article: National awakening and the birth of Albania

At the end of the 19th century, efforts by the Turks to suppress Albanian nationalism failed. Albanians had created The Prizren League, attempting to unify Albanian territory and established the current-day Albanian alphabet. Following the conclusion of the First Balkan War, Albanians issued the Vlorė Proclamation of November 28, 1912, declaring independence. Albania was internationally recognized as an independent state in 1913.


Main article: Albania between wars

Albania's territorial integrity was confirmed at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, after U.S. President Woodrow Wilson dismissed a plan by the European powers to divide Albania amongst its neighbors.

With the complete collapse of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires after World War I, the Albanians looked to Italy for protection against predators. After 1925, however, Benito Mussolini sought to dominate Albania. In 1928 Albania became a kingdom under Zog I, the conservative Muslim clan chief and former prime minister, but Zog failed to stave off Italian ascendancy in Albanian internal affairs. In 1939 Mussolini's troops occupied Albania, overthrew Zog, and annexed the country.

World War II

Main article: Albania during World War II

Albanian communists and nationalists fought each other as well as the occupying Italian and German forces during World War II, and with Yugoslav and Allied assistance the communists triumphed.

Communist era

Main article: Communist and post-Communist Albania

Following the Second World War, in which both Italy and Germany occupied Albania, communism became the prevailing political ideology within Albania and remained an influential part of its culture for the next 50 years.

Communist strongmen Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu eliminated their rivals inside the communist party and liquidated anticommunist opposition. Concentrating primarily on maintaining their grip on power, they reorganized the country's economy along strict Stalinist lines, turning first to Yugoslavia, then to the Soviet Union, and later to the People's Republic of China for support. In pursuit of their goals, the communists repressed the Albanian people, subjecting them to isolation, propaganda, and brutal police measures. When Communist China opened up to the West in the 1970s, Albania's rulers turned away from Beijing and implemented a policy of strict autarky, or self-sufficiency, that brought their nation economic ruin.

Hoxha's death in 1985 and the fall of communism throughout south central Europe led to widespread changes within Albanian society. The Albanian Government began to seek closer ties with the West in order to improve economic conditions, and initial democratic reforms were introduced including multi-party elections in 1991. Pursuant to a 1991 interim basic law, Albanians ratified a constitution in 1998, establishing a democratic system of government based upon the rule of law and guaranteeing the protection of fundamental human rights. Although Albania has made strides toward democratic reform and maintaining the rule of law, serious deficiencies in the electoral code remain to be addressed.


Related articles

External links