Albania Facts

Albania Facts and History


Albania – The Land of the Eagle Sons

Albania, the land of the Skipetars or the land of the sons of the eagles, as it is called in Albanian, has retained something of its wildness and loneliness that fascinated Kara Ben Nemsi (Karl May) to this day.

The largely untouched nature is breathtakingly beautiful and free from mass tourism. You can enjoy the beauty of Lake Ohrid or Lake Prespa on the border with North Macedonia in the vicinity of small fishing villages, or sunbathe on the beach on the Adriatic coast. Those who have had enough of swimming can visit the many cultural sites and the old cities that testify to the long and eventful history of Albania.

Traveling in the country is still sometimes adventurous. The roads are largely unpaved and are often still used by ox and horse carts.

The few railway lines are single-track and the locomotives are still powered by diesel. So you have to take some time to travel the country. The effort will certainly be rewarded. The people are open and friendly, and you can certainly count on a friendly little invitation here and there. But the traces of the war can still be seen. There is still a risk of mines on the border with Kosovo. Albania is still one of the poorest countries in Europe.

What no one could have imagined 20 years ago became reality on April 1st, 2009. Together with Croatia, the country became a member of the 28-member NATO.

It is interesting that between 1972 and 1984 around 173,370 small and large bunkers were built by the dictator Enver Hodscha (1908-1985) to protect the country against external enemies.

Name of the country Republic of Albania
Form of government Parliamentary republic
Geographical location Between approximately 39º – 42º north latitude and approximately 19º – 21º east longitude
National anthem Hymni i Flamurit
National holiday November 28 and 29 (declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912; end of the Italian-German occupation in 1944)
Population approx. 3.2 million (Credit: Countryaah: Albania Population)
Ethnicities Albanians 95%, Greeks 3% and others 2%
Religions Muslim 70%, Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10%
Languages Albanian, in the south a minority speak Greek.
Capital Tirana with around 650,000 residents
NATO membership since April 1, 2009
Surface 28,748 km²
Highest mountain Korabi with a height of 2,751 m
Longest river Inside with a length of around 285 km
Largest lake Shkodra Lake with an area of about 391 km²
International license plate AL
National currency 1 Lek (Lek) = 100 Qindarka
Time difference to CET = CET
International phone code +355
Mains voltage, frequency 220 V, 50 Hz
Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) .al

Albania: history

Before the year 1000

According to Abbreviationfinder website, from 1100 to approx. 450 BC There were the first fortified settlements of the Illyrians, one of the oldest peoples in Europe. The last Illyrian king was defeated by the Romans.

167/165 BC BC Albania was occupied by the Romans and added to the Roman Empire. In 390 Albania was assigned to the Byzantine Empire. Slavic ethnic groups invaded the country from 500 AD.

From the year 1000 to the 17th century

Around 1000 the name Albanians appeared for the first time for small mountain principalities, some of which were under Venetian and partly Byzantine rule.

Between 1081 and 1185 the Normans invaded the area.

Between 1000 and 1500 the first Bulgarian empire, the Serbian empire and the kingdom of Naples fought over the area.

Today’s national hero, Prince Gjergj Kastrioti, united the Albanians for the first time in 1444 and used them to repel the invading Ottomans. Ten years after his death (1458), i.e. in 1478, the Ottomans finally conquered the country. Many Albanians fled to Italy, the others converted to Islam. In 1614 Tirana was founded.

18th and 19th centuries

In 1878 the first attempts at autonomy against the Ottomans emerged, which were represented by the League of Prizren (in today’s Kosovo) at the Berlin Congress.

20th century until today

The autonomy movements led to a rebellion against the Turks in 1910.

In 1912 Serbs, Montenegrins and Greeks declared war on the Turks and invaded Albanian territory. The first Balkan War broke out. On November 28, 1912, Ismael Kemal proclaimed the independence of Albania in Valona. But Albania did not achieve full independence until 1920. In 1913 the major European powers England, Germany, Russia, Austria – Hungary, France and Italy agreed to create an independent principality.

The German Prince Wilhelm zu Wied was appointed ruler of Albania. But he left the country again six months later.

In 1920 Albania gained full independence and was admitted to the League of Nations.

In 1922 Zogu became prime minister and Albania was modernized with Italian help. In 1924 Zogu had to flee to Yugoslavia because of a revolt. The new government under Noli tried to establish a western-oriented democracy, but failed, among other things for financial reasons. In 1925 Zogu recaptured Yugoslavia with armed support and in 1928 proclaimed a monarchy. This had close contact to fascist Italy under Mussolini, which exerted a strong influence on Albania.

In 1939 Italy occupied Albania.

From September 8th, 1943 to November 29th, 1944 Albania was under German occupation.

January 11th, 1946 the monarchy was abolished by Enver Hoxha, the leader of the communist party, who proclaimed the People’s Republic of Albania. With the support of Tito, he formed a popular front government.

In 1946 the new constitution came into force.

In 1948 Albania distanced itself from the Yugoslav communists and came closer to Stalin.

On April 14th, 1955 Albania became a member of the Warsaw Pact.

In 1955 Albania was also admitted to the UN. In 1968, the country withdrew from the Warsaw Pact to express its protest against the invasion of Russian troops into Czechoslovakia.

In 1978 Albania also broke with communist China. Hoxha died on April 11th, 1985 and Ramiz Alia took over the leadership of the Communist Party. The first cautious opening of the country began under him. A multi-party system was approved under Ramiz Alia in 1990 after violent protests and emigration movements.

Albania has been a parliamentary republic since 1991.

The first free elections since World War II took place in March. Various governments were formed and, in 1992, new elections were held, which the Democratic Party won.

In 1996 the Democrats won the election a second time. At the beginning of the year, due to the collapse of certain investment systems in which almost the entire population had invested (the so-called pyramid games), there was political unrest.

Large parts of the industry and infrastructure were destroyed.

The country came under the control of armed groups for a short time. In early 1997, President Berisha resigned from the Democratic Party.

OSCE auxiliaries were sent into the country on April 11, 1997 to prevent a complete breakdown of order. In June 1997 new elections were called under the supervision of the OSCE, in which Fatos Nano was elected Prime Minister by the Socialist Party. Opposition politician Hajdari was assassinated in September, after which the prime minister’s office was occupied and Pandeli Majko of the Socialist Party became the new prime minister.

On November 28, 1998, a modern democratic constitution came into effect.

In 1999 the country experienced a wave of refugees from Kosovo. NATO soldiers were stationed in Albania to protect the country from a possible Yugoslav attack and to support the approximately 600,000 refugees. In 1999 Ilir Meta became Prime Minister of the Socialist Party.

In 2001 parliamentary elections were held again, which resulted in a clear victory for the Socialist Party. In 2002 Pandeli Majko became prime minister again. In 2003 there were first negotiations for a stabilization and association agreement with the EU. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the SP lost its majority. From now on, the Democratic Party was again the government holder.

Together with Croatia, the country became a member of the 28-member NATO on April 1, 2009.

Albania Facts