Shkodër, is a city located on Lake Skadar in northwestern Albania in the District of Shkodër, of which it is the capital. It is one of the oldest and most historic towns in Albania, as well as an important cultural and economic centre. Shkodër's estimated population as of 2004[update] is 90,000; if the surrounding region is included the population is 110,000. As of 2008 the current population is 228,000 including the surrounding region, villages and mountains.


The origins of the city's name remain shrouded in mystery. The name on coins minted in Hellenistic Scodra (during the rule of Genthius) have the legend (Greek: ΣΚΟΝΔΡΙΝΩΝ). Some believe the name has a Latin[who?] root, while others[who?] that it was Illyrian. In early 20th century, Shkodër was referred to in English by the Italian name Scutari. In Greek, it is known as Σκουτάριον (Scutarion) or Σκόδρα (Skodra), in Serbian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Macedonian as Skadar (Скадар), and in Turkish as İşkodra. Some scholars[who?] believe that the name derives from "Shko-drin" which in Albanian means "where Drin goes", Drin being the Drin River that connects with the Buna River next to the castle of Rozafa. Some others believe that the name derives form "Shko-kodër (Shko në Kodër)" which in Albanian means "Go to the hill" which symbolizes the Castle of Rozafa in the hill at the entrance to Shkodra.


The town was known as Scodra (Greek: Σκάρδον)[3] (Latin: Scodra)[4] during the antiquity, and was the capital of the first kingdom of the Illyrian tribe of the Ardiaei, since the middle of the 3rd century BC[5]. The town, was first mentioned during classical times as the site of the Illyrian Labeates, as well as the capital of the kingdom of King Gentius[6]- in which he minted coins - and that of Queen Teuta. In the year 168 BC, the city was captured by the Romans and it became an important trade and military route. The Romans colonized[7] the town. Scodra remained in the province of Illyricum, and later Dalmatia. By it 395 AD, it was part of the Diocese of Dacia, within Praevalitana.
Middle Ages

The dawn of the Middle Ages saw waves of Slavs arriving. De Administrando Imperio describes how Byzantine Emperor Heraclius gave the Slavs the city of Shkodër and the surrounding territories during the first half of the 7th century. The Slavs soon formed the Byzantine sponsored Principality of Duklja there. Shkodër was a major city of the medieval Montenegrin state. Duklja was subjected to its northern neighbor, the Principality of Rascia, forming the Grand Principality of Rascia. Its rulers recognized Bulgarian Czars as their supreme rulers during the first half of the 10th century.

Soon Grand Prince Časlav of the House of Klonimir gained control of the local Serbian lands previously under Byzantine and Bulgarian rule. Shkodër soon became Duklja's capital during the reign of Saint John Vladimir in the second half of the 10th century who defended the city from an uprising of the Arbanas tribes. John had to briefly surrender Duklja to the Bulgarian ruler Samuil.

The Byzantines later incorporated the region directly into their empire, forming the Theme of Serbia governed by Strategos Constantine Diogenes. Stefan Voislav from Travunia expelled the last Strategos of Serbia Theophilos Erotikos and fought the Byzantines successfully during the first half of the 11th century, keeping its independence. It soon became a major city of a revived Duklja. King Constantine Bodin of Duklja and Dalmatia accepted the crusaders of the Crusade of 1101 in Shkodër. After numerous dynastic struggles, in the 12th century Shkodër became a part of Zeta, which was a part of medieval Serbia. It later fell to the hands of the House of Balšić followed afterwards by the Dukagjini control who surrendered the city to the Venetian rule, forming a coalition against the Ottoman Empire with many neighboring Albanian tribes.
Shkodër and surrounding area
15th to 19th centuries

Shkodër (under Venetian rule) resisted a major Ottoman attack in 1474. In 1478 the city was again entirely surrounded by Ottoman forces. Mehmed the Conqueror personally laid the siege. About ten heavy canons were cast on site. Balls heavy as much as 380 kg were fired on the citadel (such balls are still on display on the castle museum). Nevertheless the city resisted. Mehmet left the field and had his commanders continue the siege. By the winter the Ottomans had captured one after the other all adjacent castles: Lezhë, Drishti, Zhabjak. This, together with famine and constant bombardment lowered the morale of defenders. On the other hand the Ottomans were already frustrated by the stubborn resistance. The castle is situated on a naturally protected hill and every attempted assault resulted in considerable casualties for the attackers. A truce that would save some honour and more lives, became an option for both parties. On January 25 an agreement between the Venetians and the Ottoman Empire ended the siege, permitting the citizens to leave unharmed, and the Ottomans to take over the deserted city.

After the Turkish occupation a large number of the population fled. Around the 17th century, the city began to prosper and it became the center of a sanjak, an Ottoman administrative unit smaller than a vilayet. It became the economic center of northern Albania, its craftsmen producing fabric, silk, arms, and silver artifacts. Construction included two-story stone houses, the bazaar, and the Central or Middle Bridge (Ura e Mesit) over the Kir river, built during the second half of the 18th century, over 100 meters long, with 13 arcs of stone, the largest one being 22 meters wide and 12 meters tall.

In the 18th century Shkodër became the center of the (pashaluk) of Shkodër, under the rule of the Bushati family, which ruled from 1757 to 1831. After the fall of the pashaluk, the people of Shkodër had a number of uprisings against the Ottomans (1833–1836, 1854, 1861–1862, and 1869). During this time, many of the Serbian families had to emigrate.[citation needed]

Shkodër became an important trade center in the second half of the 19th century. Aside from being the center of the vilayet of Shkodër, it was an important trading center for the entire Balkan peninsula. It had over 3,500 shops, and clothing, leather, tobacco, and gun powder were some of the major products of Shkodër. A special administration was established to handle trade, a trade court, and a directorate of postage services with other countries. Other countries had opened consulates in Shkodër ever since 1718. Obot and Ulcinj served as ports for Shkodër, and later on Shëngjin (San Giovanni di Medua). The Jesuit seminar and the Franciscan committee were opened in the 19th century. It was also the main spot for transporting 'illegal' things through Montenegro and throughout eastern Europe.

Shkodër played an important role during the League of Prizren, the Albanian liberation movement. The people of Shkodër participated in battles to protect Albanian land. The branch of the League of Prizren for Shkodër, which had its own armed unit, fought for the protection of Plava and Gusinje, Hoti, and Gruda, and the war for the protection of Ulcinj.

In the 19th century Shkodër was also known as a cultural center. The Bushati Library, built during the 1840s, served as a center for the League of Prizren's branch for Shkodër. Many books were collected in libraries of Catholic missionaries working in Shkodër. Literary, cultural, and sports associations were formed, such as Bashkimi ("The Union") and Agimi ("The Dawn"). The first Albanian newspapers and publications printed in Albania came out of the printing press of Shkodër. The Marubi family of photographers began working in Shkodër, which left behind over 150,000 negatives from the period of the Albanian liberation movement, the rise of the Albanian flag in Vlorë, and life in Albanian towns during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

Before 1867 Shkodër (İşkodra) was a sanjak of Rumelia Eyalet in Ottoman Empire. In 1867, Shkodër sanjak merged with Skopje (Üsküp) sanjak and became Shkodër vilayet. Shkodër vilayet was split into Shkodër, Prizren and Debar sanjaks. In 1877, Prizren passed to Kosovo vilayet and Debar passed to Monastir vilayet, while Durrës township became a sanjak. In 1878 Bar and Podgorica townships belonged to Montenegro. In 1900, Shkodër vilayet was split into Shkodër and Durrës sanjaks.

20th century
During the Balkan Wars, Shkodër went from one occupation to another, when the Ottomans were defeated by the Kingdom of Montenegro. The Ottoman forces led by Hasan Riza Pasha and Esad Pasha had resisted for seven months the surrounding of the town by Montenegrin forces and their Serbian allies. Esad (Hasan had previously been mysteriously killed in an ambush inside the town) finally surrendered to Montenegro in April 1913, after Montenegro suffered a high death toll with more that 10,000 casualties. Montenegro was compelled to leave the city to the new country of Albania in May 1913, in accordance with the London Conference of Ambassadors.
Alter Stadtteil.jpg

During World War I, Montenegrin forces again occupied Shkodër on June 27, 1915. In January 1916, Shkodër was taken over by Austria-Hungary and was the center of the zone of their occupation. After World War I, the international military administration of Albania was temporarily located in Shkodër, and in March, 1920, Shkodër was put under the administration of the national government of Tirana. In the second half of 1920, Shkodër resisted another threat, the military intervention of the forces of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Shkodër was the center of democratic movements of the years 1921–1924. The democratic opposition won the majority of votes for the Constitutional Assembly, and on May 31, 1924, the democratic forces took over the town and from Shkodër headed to Tirana. From 1924 to 1939, Shkodër had a slow industrial development, small factories that produced food, textile, and cement were opened. From 43 of such in 1924, the number rose to 70 in 1938. In 1924, Shkodër had 20,000 inhabitants, the number grew to 29,000 in 1938.

Shkodër was the seat of a Catholic archbishopric and had a number of religious schools. The first laic school was opened here in 1913, and the State Gymnasium was opened in 1922. It was the center of many cultural associations. In sports Shkodër was the first city in Albania to constitute a sports association, the "Vllaznia" (brotherhood). Vllaznia is the oldest sport club in Albania.

During the early 1990s, Shkodër was once again a major center, this time of the democratic movement that finally brought to an end the communist regime established by Enver Hoxha.


Mosque in central Shkodër

Shkodër Cathedral
Shkodër is an important educational and industrial center. The city produces various mechanical and electrical components, along with textile and food products. Luigj Gurakuqi University of Shkodër is one of the more prestigious learning centers of Albania. The public library of the city contains more than 250,000 books. Several other cultural institutions exist, such as the Cultural Center, the Marubi Photo Archives, the Artists and Writers Association, the "Migjeni" Theater (named after Millosh Gjergj Nikolla), the Gallery of Arts, and the Museum of History. Shkodër is the center of Albanian Catholicism and the most prominent city of Roman Catholics in Albania. Historic cultural architecture includes the Castle of Shkodër, the Turkish Bath, and the Lead Mosque. The Castle of Shkodër became famous during the First Balkan War when it was protected by the Turkish general Hasan Riza Pasha and Esad Pasha.
Shkodër is also famous for its Islamic scholarship. The site of the only institution in Albania which provides high-level education in Arabic and Islamic Studies, having produced well-known Muslim personalities as Shaykh Nasirudin Albani.


Migjeni Theatre in Shkoder
City tunes differ from the rural music of the land, but both enjoy popularity in Shkodra. Northern music is a refined combination of romantic and sophisticated undertones with oriental-sounding scales and a constant interplay of major and minor. It bears a significant affinity with the sevdalinke of Bosnia and the neighboring Sandžak, but differs from them in their extreme forms while maintaining a typically Albanian quality through the exceptional fluidity of rhythm and tempo. Early descriptions of such music groups, which date from the end of the nineteenth century, suggest use of the violin, clarinet, saze, defi, and sometimes Indian-style harmonium and percussion (provided by rattling a stick between two bottles). Today, the accordion and guitar have replaced the more exotic instruments. Among the most important players are Bik Ndoja, Luçije Miloti, Xhevdet Hafizi and Bujar Qamili.

[edit] Sights

The pedestrian street known as the Piaca
Kisha e Lindjes së Krishtit në Shkodër.jpg

Our Lady of Shkodra Church
The city and the surrounding area are blessed with a large variety of natural and cultural elements. The most attractive quarters of the city are commonly thought to be Pjaca, identifiable as the main city centre between statues of Mother Teresa and Luigj Gurakuqi, and Gjuhadol, the neighborhood around one of the most scenic streets connecting the Cathedral on the east side of town with the middle of the city. The most recognizable memorial is the legendary castle of Rozafa known also as Rozafati.
Built during the Illyrian reign, the castle has sprouted a legend explaining the keeping of a promise. Rozafa, the bride of the youngest of three brothers, was walled up alive in the mortar of the walls of the castle to ward off evil that was destroying them each night. The calcareous water passing through the stones at the main entrance is connected in the folk fantasy with the milk of the bosom of Rozafa, which she requested be left available to nurse her newborn baby boy. She also requested that one foot be used to rock his cradle and one arm to lull him to sleep. Inside the ancient walls is a museum dedicated to the history and legends of the castle.
Lake Skadar is the biggest lake of the Balkans peninsula. It is a major summer attraction for tourists and inhabitants.
Another interesting historical site is the ruins of Shurdha (Sarda), a medieval town situated only 15 km from Shkodër. To go out there you must take a motor-boat from the dam of Vau i Dejës out to the island where Shurdha is located (about 10 miles, or 16 km). Shurdha was built atop a hill on the island, roughly 5 ha in area, surrounded by the waters of the Drini river (which has been rerouted now to form an artificial lake). At one time it was the summer retreat of the famous Dukagjini Family.
About 5 km in the east of Shkodër lies the medieval citadel of Drisht.
Many visitors feel that Shkodër is the soul of Albania. The very characteristic appearance of the city is formed by the juxtaposition of ancient houses and narrow streets joined with stone walls and modern buildings. After World War II, some of Shkodër was rebuilt with wider streets to accommodate automotive traffic, and new residential buildings are being constructed all the time.
Shkodër is also the home of Loro-Boriçi Stadium, the second biggest stadium in Albania.

Notable people

Below are some of the most notable personalities born or long time residents in Shkodër:

General information Of Albania

Geographical Position
Albania is a country in South-Eastern Europe, in the West of the Balkan Peninsula, between the geographical coordinates: 39 16' latitude and 42 39' longitude. Albania is almost midway between Equator and the North Pole, and covers a surface of 28.748 km2. The overall length of the borderline of the Republic of Albania is 1094 km; out of which 657-km is land-border, 316-km sea-border, 48-km river-border and 73 km lake-border. The Republic of Albania, borders in the North and North-East with Kosovo and Montenegro, on the East with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and in the South and South-East with the Republic of Greece. On the West, Albania is washed by the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The average altitude is 708 m, i.e. two times higher than that of Europe. Albania is included in the humid sub-tropical zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and it belongs to the Mediterranean climatic zone.


Coastal areas: Central Mediterranean, mild and wet winter, hot and dry summer.
Alpine areas: Central Continental, cold and wild winter, wet summer.


Lowland – Western Albania, Plain – Eastern Albania
Alpine – Northern Albania, the Highest Peak – Korabi Mountain (2,753m)


3,364,571 (June 1999)
95% Albanian, 3% Greek and 2% various

Capital City

Tirana (since 1920)

Main Cities

Durres, Vlora, Saranda, Shkodra, Berat, Korca, Gjirokastra, Elbasani,

Official Language

Albanian is an Indo-European language and it represents a separate branch of this family on the bases of its idiosyncrasy. The Greek geographer, Ptholemeous, has witnessed the existence of Albanians and Albanian language in the second century AD. The name "Shqiperi" (Albania) replaced the "old" name "Arberi" (or Arbani) by the end of the XVII century, due to the new historical conditions created, and aimed at giving importance to the connection between the nation notion and the use of the Albanian language, which was by that time called "Shqip". The Albanian language is also used (written & spoken) in the parts of Kosovo, Serbia & Montenegro, and Macedonia, where ethnic Albanians live.

Historical Background

The territory of Albania has been inhabited since Antiquity. Traces of life from the period of middle and late Paleolithic (100 000 - 10 000 years ago) are found in Xare, as well as in the Cave of Saint Marina in Saranda.
Albanians are the direct successors of the Illyrians. The Illyrian tribes stretched along the Western part of the Balkans, and they reached the rivers Sava and Danube in the North, the rivers Morava and Vardar on the East (the border line with Thrake), and the mountain-chain of Pindi in the South and South-East (the border with the Greeks and Macedonians). With the break up of the Roman Empire in the year 395 AD, Illyria remained under the Byzantine Empire. In the following period, Illyria suffered the invasion of several barbarian tribes, like Goths, Avars, etc. During the IV - VI centuries, Slavs invaded part of the Northern and Eastern Illyria, as well as Macedonia, parts that with the passing of time were assimilated.
The Ottoman invasion (XIV century) established the military feudal system in Arberia (Albania), but several continuous uprisings of the Albanian princes prepared the glorious resistance of the Albanian people under the leadership of the National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti, known as Scanderbeg. Scanderbeg managed to give birth to a centralized Albanian state (Arberia), and his flag became the national flag of Albania.
The XVIII century marks the flourishing of two Albanian very well organized and very powerful "Patriarchies": The Patriarchy of Bushatllinj (with Shkodra as its center and governed by Karamahmut Pasha Bushatlli); and the Patriarchy of Ioaninna, with Ioaninna as its center and governed by Ali Pashe Tepelena). The peak of the struggle for independence and national identity was reached with the Albanian Renaissance Movement, which starts in 1830.
In 1878, this movement was very well organized under the League of Prizren, which served as the first military and political leadership of the Albanian uprisings. But, unfortunately enough, in the same year, the Congress of erlin decided the division of the Albanian territories to the benefit of the neighboring states, Montenegro, Serbia and Greece.
Nevertheless, the Albanian movement for freedom was crowned with the Proclamation of Independence, on November 28, 1912.
During the years of the World War I, Albania was converted into a battlefield for the combating powers, and it was invaded consequently by the Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, France and Austro-Hungary.
In 1920, the Congress of Lushnja (a town 90 km south to Tirana), with the consensus of all the representatives from all over Albania declared Tirana to be the Capital of Albania.
On January 21, 1925, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a Parliamentary Republic and Ahmet Zog was elected President of Albania, but he had so much power in his hands that, in fact, the Republic functioned as a Presidential one.
On September 1, 1928, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania Democratic Parliamentary Kingdom and Ahmet Zog the King of Albania, receiving the royal title "Zog I".
On April 7, 1939, fascist Italy invaded Albania, and consequently on April 12, 1939, the so-called Constitutional Assembly declared the end of Zog's Kingdom and offered the crown to Victor Emanuel III. The Albanian State formally remained a Constitutional Kingdom under the Savoy Dynasty.
On November 29, 1944, Albania was liberated from the nazi-fascist invaders. Since then, Albania was ruled by the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, which influenced into the country’s isolation.
On January 11, 1946, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a People's Republic, as one of the forms of the proletarian dictatorship, which lasted, more or less, half a century, until April 29, 1991, when the first pluralistic Parliament declared the Parliamentary Republic of Albania.

Political System

Parliamentary Republic
Flag description: red with a black two-headed eagle in the center Economy (source: 2001 CIA Book of Facts)
Poor and backward by European standards, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime and to revive economic activity and trade. The economy is bolstered by remittances from abroad of $400-$600 million annually, mostly from Greece and Italy. Agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, is held back because of frequent drought and the need to modernize equipment and consolidate small plots of land.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $14 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 49%, industry: 27%, services: 24% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line: 30% (2001 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6% (2002 est.)
Labor force: 1.283 million (not including 352,000 emigrant workers and 261,000 domestically unemployed) (2000 est.)
Industries: food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
Exports - commodities: textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Exports - partners: Italy 71%, Greece 12%, Germany 7%, Ex-Yugoslavia 3% (2001)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Imports - partners: Italy 32%, Greece 26%, Turkey 6%, Germany 6%, Bulgaria 2% (2001)
Debt - external: $784 million (2000)
Currency: lek (ALL)

Tirana (Capital City)

Tirana (pronounced: Tih-rana) is the capital and the largest city (1991 est. pop. 300,000) of Albania. It is the administrative, cultural, economic, and industrial center of the Republic of Albania.

The founding and later development of the city of Tirana were made possible by its geographic position on a fertile plain, rich in forest lands and water, and crossroads of the Adriatic and eastern Albania, and through the Qafa e K‘rab‘s valley and the Shkumbin river with the inner parts of the Balkan peninsula. The area around Tirana has been inhabited since the neolithic age. On the mountainside of Dajti are the remains of an ancient castle dating back to the first century B.C., which happens to be the castle that the Byzantine historian Prokop (sixth century) mentions as the castle of Tirkan. The name of the city contains an ancient root that is present in other places that have been inhabited by Illyrians. There was a system of castles on the surrounding hills (Petrel‘, Prez‘, Ndroq, Fark‘, etc.) that served as protection for Durr‘s and Kruja. The oldest discovery in the area of Tirana has been a mosaic with several other remains of buildings of the later antiquity, found at the Kroi i Sh‘ngjinit (Fountain of Sh‘ngjin), near a Medieval temple.

The renovated Tirana International Hotel

The year 1614 is considered the date that Tirana was founded, when Sulejman Pasha Bargjini built a mosque, a hamam (Turkish bath), a bakery, and several shops. Tirana began to develop in the begining of the sixteenth century, when a bazar was established, and its craftsmen made silk, cotton, and leather fabrics, ceramics, iron, silver, and gold artifacts. The first quarter of Tirana was Bami and later the Mujos quarter. The Ethem Bey mosque was built in 1789, which has been preserved and is located at today's Skenderbeg Square. In 1830, the Sahat-Kulla (Clock Tower) was built, which is 35 meters tall. Albanian feudal lords were in conflict over the rule of the town. In the 19th century, the authority of the Toptani family grew in Tirana. During the Rilindja (Albanian national awakening of the 19th century), several of its activists had worked in Tirana. The schools of Tirana began teaching the Albanian language in 1889, and in 1908 the patriotic club "Bashkimi" (Unity) was founded here. On November 26th, 1912, the people of Tirana, in accordance with Ismajl Qemali, rose the Albanian flag to end the rule of the Ottoman Turks in Albania. During the First Balkan War, Tirana was captured by the Serbian army. A large population from Dibra, forcefully expelled from their homes by the Serbian army, in 1913-1915 and 1918-1920, took shelter and settled in Tirana. The inhabitants of Tirana and its surroundings took part in an uprising led by Haxhi Qamili in 1914.
On February 8th, 1920, the provisional government formed at the Congress of Lushje moved to Tirana, and at this point Tirana became the capital of the country. This played an important role for the development of the town. At this time it had 17,000 inhabitants, and new quarters were added to the town. The people of Tirana and its surroundings, in 1919 opposed Esat Pasha Toptani, considered a traitor to Albanian national interests, in 1922 Ahmet Zogu's efforts to gain power, and helped the uprisers of Dibra led by Isuf Elezi enter the town. In the years 1920-1924 the people of Tirana fought against the attacks of the Serbian army, and the forces of Zogu at the Shkalla e Tujanit (Step of Tujan). The people of Tirana demonstrated when on March 20th, 1924, Zog's agents killed Avni Rustemi, a distinguished Albanian patriot, leader of the "Bashkimi" national and democratic association.

The Sahat Kulla (Clock Tower) and Ethem Bey's Mosque
In June of 1924, the provisional government of the June Revolution, led by Fan S. Noli, was established in Tirana. After its fall, Tirana remained the center of opposition to Ahmet Zog's rule. Although the capital of Albania, until 1938 Tirana had a population of only 25,000. An urbanization plan was carried out in the beginning of the 1930s by the opening of new ministry and administration buildings, and the Skenderbeg Square. In 1937 the building of the National Bank was completed, the hospital and shops on the present Barrikada street were built, and east of the old bazar a new one was opened. New houses built on the western and southwestern part of the town were named New Tirana. The town had no running water, no sewage system, no electricity, narrow streets, and low houses, except several three to four floor houses of wealthy merchants.

Skenderbeg's monument in Tirana
The Italians captured Tirana with the occupation of Albania in 1939. The Italians built several administration and residential buildings in Tirana during their rule. In November 1941, Enver Hoxha with other Albanian communists founded the Communist Party of Albania in Tirana, and the town became the center of the Albanian communists' activities to mobilize the people of Tirana to fight the Italian fascists and later Nazi Germans and to spread ideological propaganda. The town was liberated after a fierce battle between the Communists and the people of Tirana against the German forces, on November 17th, 1944.
Before World War II, Tirana had one power plant, two printing presses, several wood processing plants using outdated techniques, and several soap factories. Today Tirana is the largest industrial center of Albania. During the 1980's, Tirana produced one fifth of the total industrial product, one third of the total mechanics industry product, 30 percent of the total coal production, and a half of the total textile production of Albania. Many industries, such as the building materials, textile, food, mechanical products, and electrical products, are based in Tirana.
Government buildings: the People's Assembly, the Ministries, the executive, the High Court, are in Tirana. The city has around 45 elementary schools (compared to 19 before World War II), the same number of secondary schools (compared to 6 before World War II), and in 1957 the University of Tirana was established, from which in 1991 emerged the Polytechnic University of Tirana. Other educational institutions include: the Academy of Arts, the Agricultural University, the Military Academy, the Institute of Physical Education "Vojo Kushi", and the Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Skenderbeg Square
The main cultural and artistic institutions of Tirana are the National Theater, The Theater of Opera and Ballet, The Estrada Theater, the Ensemble of Folk Music and Dances, and others. The National Library together with three other important libraries function here, including seven specialized libraries.
The look of the city has changed since the end of World War II, in accordance with urbanization plans made during the years 1952-1956. Old city quarters with no architectural value were demolished (such as the Tabak and Terzinje quarters, the old bazar in 1959, the eastern side of the Barrikada street, etc.), to make way for new quarters (such as the number 6, 7, and 9), new blocks (such as the "Vasil Shanto" and "Ali Demi"), and older ones were rebuilt. During the 1960s, the center was improved, with the new Cultural Palace and the Theater of Opera and Ballet (1966), Skenderbeg's monument (1968), Hotel Tirana (1979), and the Museum of National History (1981). The hills on the southeastern part of the city around the artificial lake were afforested, thus opening the new Park, which is connected with the Botanical Garden and the Zoo. On the southwestern part of the city is the Student City, which houses the students of the University of Tirana. The city has several hotels, the main ones include Dajti, Tirana, Arb‘ria, Arbana, Peza, and Drini.


The origins of the Albanian people, as was mentioned before, are not definitely known, but data drawn from history and from linguistic, archaeological, and anthropological studies have led to the conclusion that Albanians are the direct descendants of the ancient Illyrians and that the latter were natives of the lands they inhabited. Similarly, the Albanian language derives from the language of the Illyrians, the transition from Illyrian to Albanian apparently occurring between the 4th and 6th centuries AD.

Illyrian culture is believed to have evolved from the Stone Age and to have manifested itself in the territory of Albania towardthe beginning of the Bronze Age, about 2000 BC. The Illyrians were not a uniform body of people but a conglomeration of many tribes that inhabited the western part of the Balkans, from what is now Slovenia in the northwest to and including the region of Epirus, which extends about halfway down the mainland of modern Greece. In general, Illyrians in the highlands of Albania were more isolated than those in the lowlands, and their culture evolved more slowly--a distinction that persisted throughout Albania's history.

In its beginning, the kingdom of Illyria comprised the actual territories of Dalmatia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, with a large part of modern Serbia. Shkodra (Scutari) was its capital, just as it is now, the most important center of Northern Albania.

The earliest known king of Illyria was Hyllus (The Star) who is recorded to have died in the year 1225 B.C. The Kingdom, however, reached its zenith in the fourth century B.C. when Bardhylus (White Star), one of the most prominent of the Illyrian kings, united under scepter the kingdoms of Illyria, Molossia (Epirus*) and a good part of Macedonia. But its decay began under the same ruler as a result of the attacks made on it by Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

In the year 232 B.C. the Illyrian throne was occupied by Teuta, the celebrated Queen whom historians have called Catherine the Great of Illyria. The depredations of her thriving navy on the rising commercial development of the Republic forced the Roman Senate to declare war against the Queen. A huge army and navy under the command of of Santumalus and Alvinus attacked Central Albania, and, after two years of protracted warfare, Teuta was induced for peace (227 B.C.)

The last king of Illyria was Gentius, of pathetic memory. In 165 B.C. he was defeated by the Romans and brought to Rome as a captive.

Henceforth, Illyria consisting of the Enkalayes, the Taulantes, the Epirotes, and the Ardianes, became a Roman dependency. She was carved out into three independent republics the capitals of which were respectively Scodar (Shkoder), Epidamnus (Durres) and Dulcigno (todays' Ulqin in Montenegro).

Authors of antiquity relate that the Illyrians were a sociable and hospitable people, renowned for their daring and bravery at war. Illyrian women were fairly equal in status to the men, even to the point of becoming heads of tribal federations. In matters of religion, Illyrians were pagans who believed in an afterlife and buried their dead along with arms and various articles intended for personal use. The land of Illyria was rich in minerals--iron, copper, gold, silver--and Illyrians became skillful in the mining and processing of metals. They were highly skilled boat builders and sailors as well; indeed, their light, swift galleys known as liburnae were of such superior design that the Romans incorporated them into their own fleet as a type of warship called the Liburnian.
The Greeks

From the 8th to the 6th century BC the Greeks founded a string of colonies on Illyrian soil, two of the most prominent of which were Epidamnus (modern Durr's) and Apollonia (near modern Vlor'). The presence of Greek colonies on their soil brought the Illyrians into contact with a more advanced civilization, which helped them to develop their own culture, while they in turn influenced the economic and political life of the colonies. In the 3rd century BC the colonies began to decline and eventually perished. Roughly parallel with the rise of Greek colonies, Illyrian tribes began to evolve politically from relatively small and simple entities into larger and more complex ones. At first they formed temporary alliances with one another for defensive or offensive purposes, then federations and, still later, kingdoms. The most important of these kingdoms, which flourished from the 5th to the 2nd century BC, were those of the Enkalayes, the Taulantes, the Epirotes, and the Ardianes. After warring for the better part of the 4th century BC against the expansionist Macedonian state of Philip II and Alexander the Great, the Illyrians faced a greater threat from the growing power of the Romans. Seeing Illyrian territory as a bridgehead for conquests east of the Adriatic, Rome in 229 BC attacked and defeated the Illyrians, led by Queen Teuta, and by 168 BC established effective control over Illyria.

*) "Epirus" means "mainland" or "continent" in Greek, and was originally applied to the whole coast northward of the Corinthian Gulf in contradistinction to the neighboring islands, Corfu (Corcyra), Leucas, etc. In consequence it does have not any ethnical meaning, as it is sometimes proclaimed. The name of Epirus, as applied to Southern Albania, is misleading inasmuch as its Greek sound gives the idea that one is dealing with a Greek territory. This is due to the unfortunate fact that the principal sources of the history of this section of Albania, are the writings of Greek historians, some of whom tend to hellenize everything. Yet, all the ancient Greek writers, including Theopompus, Thucydides, and the more modern Plutarch, are in full accord in stating that Epirus was exclusively inhabited by non-Hellenic barbarous populations.

Human rights

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Albania are protected under a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. Both male and female same-gender sexual activity are legal in Albania, but households headed by same-gender couples are still not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-gender couples. Albania, as a whole, is still considered to be rather conservative, especially in public reactions regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights and visibility of LGBT people, however recent anti-discrimination legislation have made ILGA-Europe regard Albania as one of a very few countries in Europe which explicitly bans discrimination on the grounds of gender identity. Albania has ratified Protocol No. 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, moreover Albania was a signatory to the 2007 UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.


Before the Communist regime, Albania's illiteracy rate was as high as 85%. Schools were scarce between World War I and World War II. When the Communist regime over took the country in 1944, the regime wanted to wipe out illiteracy. The regulations became so strict that anyone between the ages of 12 and 40 who could not read or write was mandated to attend classes to learn. Since these times of struggle the country's literacy rate has improved remarkably.[84] Today the overall literacy rate in Albania is 98.7%, the male literacy rate is 99.2% and female literacy rate is 98.3%.[68] Since the rather large population movements in the 1990s to urban areas, education has moved as well. Thousands of teachers moved to urban areas to follow students. The University of Tirana is the oldest university in Albania, founded in October 1957.


Music and folklore

Albanian folk music falls into three sylistic groups, with other important music areas around Shkodër and Tirana; the major groupings are the Ghegs of the north and southern Labs and Tosks. The northern and southern traditions are contrasted by the "rugged and heroic" tone of the north and the "relaxed, gentle and exceptionally beautiful" form of the south and the rugged, beautifal east.

These disparate styles are unified by "the intensity that both performers and listeners give to their music as a medium for patriotic expression and as a vehicle carrying the narrative of oral history", as well as certain characteristics like the use of obscure rhythms such as 3/8, 5/8 and 10/8.[80] The first compilation of Albanian folk music was made by Pjetër Dungu in 1940.

Albanian folk songs can be divided into major groups, the heroic epics of the north, and the sweetly melodic lullabies, love songs, wedding music, work songs and other kinds of song. The music of various festivals and holidays is also an important part of Albanian folk song, especially those that celebrate St. Lazarus Day (the llazore), which inaugurates the springtime. Lullabies and laments are very important kinds of Albanian folk song, and are generally performed by solo women.

Albanian was proven to be an Indo-European language in 1854 by the German philologist Franz Bopp. The Albanian language comprises its own branch of the Indo-European language family.

Some scholars believe that Albanian derives from Illyrian[82] while others,[83] claim that it derives from Daco-Thracian. (Illyrian and Daco-Thracian, however, might have been closely related languages; see Thraco-Illyrian.)

Establishing longer relations, Albanian is often compared to Balto-Slavic on the one hand and Germanic on the other, both of which share a number of isoglosses with Albanian. Moreover, Albanian has undergone a vowel shift in which stressed, long o has fallen to a, much like in the former and opposite the latter. Likewise, Albanian has taken the old relative jos and innovatively used it exclusively to qualify adjectives, much in the way Balto-Slavic has used this word to provide the definite ending of adjectives.

The cultural resistance was first of all expressed through the elaboration of the Albanian language in the area of church texts and publications, mainly of the Catholic confessional region in the North, but also of the Orthodox in the South. The Protestant reforms invigorated hopes for the development of the local language and literary tradition when cleric Gjon Buzuku brought into the Albanian language the Catholic liturgy, trying to do for the Albanian language what Luther did for German.
Excerpt from Meshari by Gjon Buzuku

Meshari (The Missal) by Gjon Buzuku, published by him in 1555, is considered to date as the first literary work of written Albanian. The refined level of the language and the stabilised orthography must be a result of an earlier tradition of writing Albanian, a tradition that is not known. But there are some fragmented evidence, dating earlier than Buzuku, which indicate that Albanian was written at least since 14th century AD.

The first known evidence dates from 1332 AD and deals with the French Dominican Guillelmus Adae, Archbishop of Antivari, who in a report in Latin writes that Albanians use Latin letters in their books although their language is quite different from Latin. Of special importance in supporting this are: a baptizing formula (Unte paghesont premenit Atit et Birit et spertit senit) of 1462, written in Albanian within a text in Latin by the Bishop of Durrës, Pal Engjëlli; a glossary with Albanian words of 1497 by Arnold von Harff, a German who had travelled through Albania, and a 15th century fragment from the Bible from the Gospel of Matthew, also in Albanian, but in Greek letters.
The National Museum of Albania features exhibits from Illyrian times to World War II.

Albanian writings of these centuries must not have been religious texts only, but historical chronicles too. They are mentioned by the humanist Marin Barleti, who, in his book Rrethimi i Shkodrës (The Siege of Shkodër) (1504), confirms that he leafed through such chronicles written in the language of the people (in vernacula lingua).

During the 16th to 17th centuries, the catechism E mbësuame krishterë (Christian Teachings) (1592) by Lekë Matrënga, Doktrina e krishterë (The Christian Doctrine) (1618) and Rituale romanum (1621) by Pjetër Budi, the first writer of original Albanian prose and poetry, an apology for George Castriot (1636) by Frang Bardhi, who also published a dictionary and folklore creations, the theological-philosophical treaty Cuneus Prophetarum (The Band of Prophets) (1685) by Pjetër Bogdani, the most universal personality of Albanian Middle Ages, were published in Albanian. The most famous Albanian writer is probably Ismail Kadare.


The Albanian population is considered a very young population, with an average age of 28.9 years. After 1990 the Albanian population has faced new phenomena like migration, which greatly affected the distribution by districts and prefectures. Districts in the North have seen a decreasing population, while Tirana and Durrës districts have increased their population, due to internal immigration.[citation needed]

Albania's population was 3,152,600 on 1 January 2007 and 3,170,048 on 1 January 2008.[67] Alternative sources estimate the population in July 2009 at 3,639,453 with an annual growth rate of 0.546%.[68] Albania is a largely ethnically homogeneous country with only small minorities.[69] The vast majority of the population is ethnically Albanian. The exact size of ethnic minorities is not known, while the last census that contained ethnographic data was held in 1989.[69] According to the latest news, the next census containing ethnographic data will begin in April 2011 with EU counsels assisting in certain fields.[70] The pilot census is already being conducted, while the official one will being on April 2, 2011.

Minorities include Greeks, Vlachs, Macedonians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Balkan Egyptians, and Roma). The size of the Greek minority is contentious, with the Albanian government claiming it is only 60,000, while the Greek government is claiming 300,000. Most Western sources put the size of the Greek minority at around 200,000, or ~6% of the population, while the CIA Factbook estimates the Greek minority at 3% of the total population and the US State Department uses 1.17% for Greeks and 0.23% for other minorites. A 2003 survey conducted by Greek scholars estimate the size of the Greek minority at around 60.000.

The dominant and official language is Albanian, a revised and merged form of the two main dialects, Gheg and Tosk, but with a bigger influence of Tosk as compared to the Gheg. The Shkumbin River is the dividing line between the two dialects. In the areas inhabited by the Greek minority, a dialect of Greek that preserves features now lost in standard modern Greek is spoken.

There are no official statistics regarding religious affiliation in Albania. Estimates of the religious allegiance of the population of Albania vary, with some sources suggesting that the majority do not follow or practice any religion.[74] The CIA World Factbook gives a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholics.[75] According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, roughly 39% of Albanians are Muslim, and 35% Christian.[76]

The Albanians first appear in the historical record in Byzantine sources of the late-11th century. At this point, they are already fully Christianised. Christianity was later overtaken by Islam, which kept the scepter of the major religion during the period of Ottoman Turkish rule from the 15th century until year 1912. After independence (1912) from the Ottoman Empire, the Albanian republican, monarchic and later communist regimes followed a systematic policy of separating religion from official functions and cultural life. Albania never had an official state religion either as a republic or as a kingdom. In the 20th century, the clergy of all faiths was weakened under the monarchy, and ultimately eradicated during the 1940s and 1950s, under the state policy of obliterating all organised religion from Albanian territories.

The Communist regime that took control of Albania after World War II suppressed religious observance and institutions and entirely banned religion to the point where Albania was officially declared to be the world's first atheist state. Religious freedom has returned to Albania since the regime's change in 1992. Albanian Muslim populations (mainly secular and of the Sunni rite) are found throughout the country whereas Orthodox Christians are concentrated in the south and Roman Catholics are found in the north of the country. No reliable data are available on active participation in formal religious services, and estimates range from 25% to 40%.

There are about 4,000 active Jehovah's witnesses in Albania. Among other religious organizations making inroads into this nation is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or 'Mormons'). LDS involvement in Albania began with Humanitarian Aid during the 1990s. The first missionaries were sent in 1992 with the Albania Tirana Mission being opened in 1996. As of 2008, there were nearly 2,000 members of the LDS church in Albania, spread throughout ten branches with two purpose-built Chapels and one Family History Center.[


In the early 1990s, the rock-strewn roadways, unstable rail lines and obsolete telephone network crisscrossing Albania represented the remnants of the marked improvements that were made after World War II. Enver Hoxha's xenophobia and lust for control had kept Albania isolated, however, as the communications revolution transformed the wider world into a global village. Even internal travel amounted to something of a luxury for many Albanians during communism's ascendancy.
[edit] Highways
SH 2 Highway (Tirana–Durrës).

There is a four lane highway connecting the city of Durrës with Tirana and the city of Durrës with the city of Lushnje. Albania is partaking in the construction of what it sees as three major corridors of transportation.

The major priority as of present is the full completion of the four lane Durrës-Pristina highway which will link Kosovo with Albania's Adriatic coast. The portion of the highway which links Albania's north east border with Kosovo was completed in June 2009,[65] as a result, cutting the time it takes to get from Kosovo to Durrës from six hours to two and a half. Indeed the roads in northwestern Albania remain in poor condition as of summer 2009. It takes approximately 1h 30' to drive the 35 km (22 mi) from the border of Montenegro to Shkodër.[citation needed]

There has been much discussion, debate, and interest in the 170 km (106 mi) Durrës–Kukës–Morinë Highway Albanian highway to Kosovo, which is intended to create a new, super-fast connection between Durrës on the Adriatic coast to Morinë at the border of Kosovo. The current drive time between Kukës and Durrës is now 2 hours. The whole will be around 250 km (155 mi), when completed to Pristina. The objective for constructing the road, according to the transport ministry, is to reduce transport costs and accidents, and improve traffic flow. It is the biggest, most expensive infrastructure project ever undertaken in Albania. The cost of the highway appears to have breached EUR800 million, although the exact cost for the total highway has yet to be confirmed by the government. Currently there is a display in Tirana's centre on Bvld Dëshmorët e Kombit.

The second priority is the construction of European corridor 8 linking Albania with the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria.

The third priority for the government is the construction of the north-south axis of the country; it is sometimes referred to as the Adriatic–Ionian motorway as it is part of a larger regional highway connecting Croatia with Greece along the Adriatic and Ionian coasts.

By the end of the decade it is expected that the majority of the sections of these three corridors will have been built.[citation needed] When all three corridors are completed Albania will have an estimated 759 kilometers of highway linking it with its neighbors.
[edit] Aviation
Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza

The civil air transport in Albania marked its beginnings in November 1924, when the Republic of Albania signed a Governmental Agreement with German Air Company Lufthansa. On the basis of a ten-year concession agreement, the Albanian Airlines with the name Adria Aero Lloyd Company was established.[citation needed] In the spring of 1925, the first domestic flights from Tirana to Shkoder and Vlora began.[citation needed]

In August 1927, the office of Civil Aviation of Air Traffic Ministry of Italy purchased Adria Aero Lloyd. The company, now in Italian hands, expanded its flights to other cities, such as Elbasan, Korça, Kukësi, Peshkopia and Gjirokastra, and opened up international lines to Rome, Milan, Thessaloniki, Sofia, Belgrade, and Podgorica.

The construction of a more modern airport construction in present Lapraka started in 1934 and was completed by the end of 1935. This new airport, which was later officially named "Airport of Tirana", was constructed in conformity with optimal technological parameters of that time, with reinforced concrete runway of 1200 400 m (1,312.34 ft), and complemented with technical equipment and appropriate buildings.

During 1955–1957, the Rinasi Airport was constructed for military purposes. Later, its administration was shifted to the Ministry of Transport. On 25 January 1957 the State-owned Enterprise of International Air Transport (Albtransport) established its headquarters in Tirana. Aeroflot, Jat, Malev, Tarom and Interflug were the air companies that started to have flights with Albania until 1960.

During 1960–1978, several airlines ceased to operate in Albania due to the impact of the politics, resulting to a decrease of influx of flights and passengers. In 1977 Albania's government signed an agreement with Greece to open the country's first air links with non-communist Europe. As a result, Olympic Airways was the first non-communist airline to commercially fly into Albania after WWII. By 1991 Albania had air links with many major European cities, including Paris, Rome, Zürich, Vienna and Budapest, but no regular domestic air service.

A French-Albanian joint venture Ada Air, was launched in Albania's as the first private airline, in 1991. The company offered flights in a thirty-six-passenger airplane four days each week between Tirana and Bari, Italy and a charter service for domestic and international destinations.

From 1989 to 1991, because of political changes in the Eastern European countries, Albania adhered to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), opened its air space to international flights, and had its duties of Air Traffic Control defined. As premises of these developments, conditions were created to separate the activities of air traffic control from Albtransport. Instead, the National Agency of Air Traffic (NATA) was established as an independent enterprise. In addition, during these years, governmental agreements of civil air transport were established with countries such as Bulgaria, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, Russia, Austria, the UK and Macedonia. The Directory General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was established on 3 February 1991, to cope with the development required by the time.

As of 2007 Albania has one international airport: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza. The airport is linked to 29 destinations by 14 airlines. It has seen a dramatic rise in terms of passenger numbers and aircraft movements since the early 1990s. The data for 2009 is 1.3 million passengers served and an average of 44 landings and takeoffs per day.
Train on the Durrës to Tiranë railway line
[edit] Railways
Main articles: Rail transport in Albania and Hekurudha Shqiptarë

The railway system was extensively promoted by the totalitarian regime of Enver Hoxha, during which time the use of private transport was effectively prohibited. Since the collapse of the former regime, there has been a considerable increase in car ownership and bus usage. Whilst some of the country's roads are still in a very poor condition, there have been other developments (such as the construction of a motorway between Tirana and Durrës) which have taken much traffic away from the railways.

The railways in Albania are administered by the national railway company Hekurudha Shqiptare (HSH) (which means Albanian Railways). It operates a 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) gauge (standard gauge) rail system in Albania. All trains are hauled by Czech-built ČKD diesel-electric locomotives.

Science and technology

Albania remains a poor country by Western European standards.[52] Its GDP per capita (expressed in PPS—Purchasing Power Standards) stood at 26 percent of the EU average in 2010.[53] Still, Albania has shown potential for economic growth, as more and more businesses relocate there and consumer goods are becoming available from emerging market traders as part of the current massive global cost-cutting exercise. Albania and Cyprus are the only countries in Europe that recorded economic growth in the first quarter of 2009. In its latest report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Albania and Cyprus recorded increases of 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively.[54][55] There are signs of increasing investments, and power cuts are reduced to the extent that Albania is now exporting energy.[56]

Albania and Croatia have discussed the possibility of jointly building a nuclear power plant at Lake Shkoder, close to the border with Montenegro, a plan that has gathered criticism from the latter due to seismicity in the area.[57] In addition, there is some doubt whether Albania would be able to finance a project of such a scale with a total national budget of less than $ 5 billion.[58] However, in February 2009 Italian company Enel announced plans to build an 800 MW coal-fired power plant in Albania, to diversify electricity sources.[59] Nearly 100% of the electricity is generated by ageing hydroelectric power plants, which are becoming more ineffective due to increasing droughts.[59]

The country has some deposits of petroleum and natural gas, but produces only 6,425 barrels of oil per day.[60] Natural gas production, estimated at about 30 million cubic meters, is sufficient to meet consumer demands.[58] Other natural resources include coal, bauxite, copper and iron ore.

Agriculture is the most significant sector, employing some 58% of the labor force and generating about 21% of GDP. Albania produces significant amounts of wheat, corn, tobacco, figs (13th largest producer in the world)[61] and olives.
[edit] Science and technology
Main article: Science and technology
This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Please improve this section if you can. The talk page may contain suggestions. (August 2010)

Expenditure for scientific research and Development in Albania does not exceed 0.18% of GDP, which marks the lowest level in Europe. Economic competitiveness and exports are low, with the economy still heavily skewed towards low technology.

From 1990 human resources in sciences and technology have drastically decreased. Various surveys show that during 1990-1999, approximately 40% of the professors and research scientists of the universities and science institutions in the country have emigrated.[62]

Driving forces for the brain drain are found in the deteriorated economic living conditions, the lack of state of the art infrastructure and funds that constitute serious obstacles for research.

However in 2009 the government approved the "National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation in Albania"[63] covering the period 2009–2015. The document was coordinated by the Department of Strategy and Donor Coordination of the Prime Minister's Cabinet, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science and with UNESCO assistance.

It fixes five strategic goals to 2015:

* to triple public spending on research and development (R&D) to 0.6% of GDP;
* to augment the share of gross domestic expenditure on R&D from foreign sources, including via the European Union's Framework Programmes for Research, to the point where it covers 40% of research spending;
* to create four or five Albanian centres of excellence in science which will be equipped with dedicated laboratory equipment and workspaces that could be used for pre-incubation, testing, certification and so on of new technology based firms;
* to double the number of researchers, both through 'brain gain' incentives like a returning researchers grant scheme and through the training of new researchers, including 500 PhDs: this will entail establishing up to three new doctoral programmes in Albanian universities;
* to stimulate innovation in 100 companies, either via investment in local R&D or via consortia with academic research institutes or foreign partners.[64]

The Strategy is to be implemented in synergy with other sectoral strategies and taking into account Albania's Higher Education Strategy adopted in 2008 and the National Strategy for Development and Integration (2007–2013). The latter underlines the importance of modernizing economic sectors such as the agro-food industry and tourism. It also underscores the strategic importance of energy, environmental and water resource management. Stakeholders have proposed prioritizing fields of research such as agriculture and food, information and communication technologies (ICTs), public health, Albanology and humanities, natural resources, biotechnology, biodiversity, defence and security.

The European Union (EU) has set clear objectives for research and innovation as part of its Lisbon Strategy for becoming the most competitive economy in the world. Like other Western Balkan countries aspiring to join the EU, Albania is trailing behind in the development process, having focused in recent years on laying the foundations for economic growth.

Deputy Prime Minister Genc Pollo acknowledges that "the high rates of socio-economic development required in the process of Albania's membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (now a member) and EU accession necessitate strengthening the role of science, technology and innovation in our society."

In August 2009, the government approved the establishment of the Albanian Agency of Research, Technology and Innovation, to improve policy implementation.

In 2006, the Albanian government undertook a deep reform of the scientific research system. The Academy of Sciences was re-organized along the model of many other European countries; it now operates through a selected community of scientists and no longer administrates research institutes, these having been integrated into the higher education system. Two new faculties have been set up: the Faculty of Information Technology at the Polytechnic University of Tirana and the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food at the Agricultural University of Tirana. The University of Tirana has also gained an Applied and Nuclear Physics Centre and Biotechnology Department. Twelve government agencies and centres for technology transfer have also been created.

Until recently, R&D and innovation statistics were not collected in Albania to OECD, Eurostat or UNESCO standards. A first survey of public and academic institutes was launched earlier this year and a business R&D and innovation survey is currently under way, both the support of UNESCO.

The restrictive visa regulations also hinder scientific exchange and temporary employment abroad

There is a total of 578 scientific workers in Albania:

* 274 in Academy of Sciences
* 304 in R & D institutions of Ministries[62]

The numbers of personnel in R & D in Albania are about 0.2 per 1000 population.


Albania remains a poor country by Western European standards.[52] Its GDP per capita (expressed in PPS—Purchasing Power Standards) stood at 26 percent of the EU average in 2010.[53] Still, Albania has shown potential for economic growth, as more and more businesses relocate there and consumer goods are becoming available from emerging market traders as part of the current massive global cost-cutting exercise. Albania and Cyprus are the only countries in Europe that recorded economic growth in the first quarter of 2009. In its latest report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Albania and Cyprus recorded increases of 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively.[54][55] There are signs of increasing investments, and power cuts are reduced to the extent that Albania is now exporting energy.[56]

Albania and Croatia have discussed the possibility of jointly building a nuclear power plant at Lake Shkoder, close to the border with Montenegro, a plan that has gathered criticism from the latter due to seismicity in the area.[57] In addition, there is some doubt whether Albania would be able to finance a project of such a scale with a total national budget of less than $ 5 billion.[58] However, in February 2009 Italian company Enel announced plans to build an 800 MW coal-fired power plant in Albania, to diversify electricity sources.[59] Nearly 100% of the electricity is generated by ageing hydroelectric power plants, which are becoming more ineffective due to increasing droughts.[59]

The country has some deposits of petroleum and natural gas, but produces only 6,425 barrels of oil per day.[60] Natural gas production, estimated at about 30 million cubic meters, is sufficient to meet consumer demands.[58] Other natural resources include coal, bauxite, copper and iron ore.

Agriculture is the most significant sector, employing some 58% of the labor force and generating about 21% of GDP. Albania produces significant amounts of wheat, corn, tobacco, figs (13th largest producer in the world) and olives.

Flora and fauna

Although a small country, Albania is distinguished for its rich biological diversity. The variation of geomorphology, climate and terrain create favorable conditions for a number of endemic and sub-endemic species with 27 endemic and 160 subendemic vascular plants present in the country. The total number of plants is over 3250 species, approximately 30% of the entire flora species found in Europe.

Coastal regions and lowlands have typical Mediterranean macchia vegetation, whereas oak forests and vegetation are found on higher altitudes. Vast forests of black pine, beech and fir are found on higher mountains and alpine grasslands grow at altitudes above 1800 meters a.s.l.[50]

There are around 760 vertebrate species found so far in Albania. Among these there are over 350 bird species, 330 freshwater and marine fish and 80 mammal species. There are some 91 globally threatened species found within the country, among which the Dalmatian pelican, Pygmy cormorant, and the European sea sturgeon. Rocky coastal regions in the south provide good habitats for the endangered Mediterranean monk seal.

Some of the most significant bird species found in the country include the golden eagle – known as the national symbol of Albania – vulture species, capercaillie and numerous waterfowl. The Albanian forests still maintain significant communities of large mammals such as the brown bear, gray wolf, chamois and wild boar.[50] The north and eastern mountains of the country are home to the last remaining Balkan lynx – a critically endangered population of the Eurasian lynx.[


With its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas, its highlands backed upon the elevated Balkan landmass, and the entire country lying at a latitude subject to a variety of weather patterns during the winter and summer seasons, Albania has a high number of climatic regions for so small an area. The coastal lowlands have typically Mediterranean weather; the highlands have a Mediterranean continental climate. In both the lowlands and the interior, the weather varies markedly from north to south.

The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7 °C (45 °F). Summer temperatures average 24 °C (75 °F). In the southern lowlands, temperatures average about 5 °C (9 °F) higher throughout the year. The difference is greater than 5 °C (9 °F) during the summer and somewhat less during the winter.

Inland temperatures are affected more by differences in elevation than by latitude or any other factor. Low winter temperatures in the mountains are caused by the continental air mass that dominates the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Northerly and northeasterly winds blow much of the time. Average summer temperatures are lower than in the coastal areas and much lower at higher elevations, but daily fluctuations are greater. Daytime maximum temperatures in the interior basins and river valleys are very high, but the nights are almost always cool.

Average precipitation is heavy, a result of the convergence of the prevailing airflow from the Mediterranean Sea and the continental air mass. Because they usually meet at the point where the terrain rises, the heaviest rain falls in the central uplands. Vertical currents initiated when the Mediterranean air is uplifted also cause frequent thunderstorms. Many of these storms are accompanied by high local winds and torrential downpours.

When the continental air mass is weak, Mediterranean winds drop their moisture farther inland. When there is a dominant continental air mass, cold air spills onto the lowland areas, which occurs most frequently in the winter. Because the season's lower temperatures damage olive trees and citrus fruits, groves and orchards are restricted to sheltered places with southern and western exposures, even in areas with high average winter temperatures.

Lowland rainfall averages from 1,000 millimeters (39.4 in) to more than 1,500 millimeters (59.1 in) annually, with the higher levels in the north. Nearly 95% of the rain falls in the winter.

Rainfall in the upland mountain ranges is heavier. Adequate records are not available, and estimates vary widely, but annual averages are probably about 1,800 millimeters (70.9 in) and are as high as 2,550 millimeters (100.4 in) in some northern areas. The western Albanian Alps (valley of Boga) are among the most wet areas in Europe, receiving some 3,100 mm (122.05 in) of rain annually.[48] The seasonal variation is not quite as great in the coastal area.

The higher inland mountains receive less precipitation than the intermediate uplands. Terrain differences cause wide local variations, but the seasonal distribution is the most consistent of any area.

In 2009 an expedition from University of Colorado, discovered four small glaciers in the 'Cursed' mountains in North Albania. The glaciers are at the relatively low level of 2,000 meters - almost unique for such a southerly latitude.


Albania has a total area of 28,748 square kilometers. Its coastline is 362 kilometers long and extends along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The lowlands of the west face the Adriatic Sea. The 70% of the country that is mountainous is rugged and often inaccessible from the outside. The highest mountain is Korab situated in the district of Dibër, reaching up to 2,753 metres (9,032 ft). The climate on the coast is typically Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and warm, sunny, and rather dry summers.

Inland conditions vary depending on altitude but the higher areas above 1,500 m/5,000 ft are rather cold and frequently snowy in winter; here cold conditions with lying snow may linger into spring. Besides the capital city of Tirana, which has 800,000 inhabitants, the principal cities are Durrës, Korçë, Elbasan, Shkodër, Gjirokastër, Vlorë and Kukës. In Albanian grammar, a word can have indefinite and definite forms, and this also applies to city names: both Tiranë and Tirana, Shkodër and Shkodra are used.

The three largest and deepest tectonic lakes of the Balkan Peninsula are partly located in Albania. Lake Shkodër in the country's northwest has a surface which can vary between 370 km2 (140 sq mi) and 530 km2, out of which one third belongs to Albania and rest to Montenegro. The Albanian shoreline of the lake is 57 km (35 mi). Ohrid Lake is situated in the country's southeast and is shared between Albania and Republic of Macedonia. It has a maximal depth of 289 meters and a variety of unique flora and fauna can be found there, including "living fossils" and many endemic species. Because of its natural and historical value, Ohrid Lake is under the protection of UNESCO.

Over a third of the territory of Albania – about 10,000 square kilometers (2.5 million acres) – is forested and the country is very rich in flora. About 3,000 different species of plants grow in Albania, many of which are used for medicinal purposes. Phytogeographically, Albania belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between the Adriatic and East Mediterranean provinces of the Mediterranean Region and the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature and Digital Map of European Ecological Regions by the European Environment Agency, the territory of Albania can be subdivided into three ecoregions: the Illyrian deciduous forests, Pindus Mountains mixed forests and Dinaric Alpine mixed forests. The forests are home to a wide range of mammals, including wolves, bears, wild boars and chamois. Lynx, wildcats, pine martens and polecats are rare, but survive in some parts of the country.

Government, politics and armed forces

The Albanian republic is a parliamentary democracy established under a constitution renewed in 1998. Elections are now held every four years to a unicameral 140-seat chamber, the People's Assembly. In June 2002, a compromise candidate, Alfred Moisiu, former Army General, was elected to succeed President Rexhep Meidani. Parliamentary elections in July 2005 brought Sali Berisha, as leader of the Democratic Party, back to power. The Euro-Atlantic integration of Albania has been the ultimate goal of the post-communist governments. Albania's EU membership bid has been set as a priority by the European Commission.

Albania, along with Croatia, joined NATO on 1 April 2009 becoming the 27th and 28th members of the alliance.[43]

The workforce of Albania has continued to migrate to Greece, Italy, Germany, other parts of Europe, and North America. However, the migration flux is slowly decreasing, as more and more opportunities are emerging in Albania itself as its economy steadily develops.
[edit] Executive branch

The head of state in Albania is the President of the Republic. The President is elected to a 5-year term by the Assembly of the Republic of Albania by secret ballot, requiring a 50%+1 majority of the votes of all deputies. The next election will run in 2012. The current President of the Republic is Bamir Topi.

The President has the power to guarantee observation of the constitution and all laws, act as commander in chief of the armed forces, exercise the duties of the Assembly of the Republic of Albania when the Assembly is not in session, and appoint the Chairman of the Council of Ministers (prime minister).

Executive power rests with the Council of Ministers (cabinet). The Chairman of the Council (prime minister) is appointed by the president; ministers are nominated by the president on the basis of the prime minister's recommendation. The People's Assembly must give final approval of the composition of the Council. The Council is responsible for carrying out both foreign and domestic policies. It directs and controls the activities of the ministries and other state organs.
Legislative branch

The Assembly of the Republic of Albania (Kuvendi i Republikës së Shqipërisë) is the lawmaking body in Albania. There are 140 deputies in the Assembly, which are elected through a party-list proportional representation system. The President of the Assembly (or Speaker) has two deputies and chairs the Assembly. There are 15 permanent commissions, or committees. Parliamentary elections are held at least every four years.

The Assembly has the power to decide the direction of domestic and foreign policy; approve or amend the constitution; declare war on another state; ratify or annul international treaties; elect the President of the Republic, the Supreme Court and the Attorney General and his or her deputies; and control the activity of state radio and television, state news agency and other official information media.
[edit] Armed forces
Main article: Military of Albania
See also: Albanian Air Force, Albanian Naval Defense Forces, Albanian Joint Forces Command, and Albanian Logistic Support Command
Albanian Navy warship Iliria

The Albanian Armed Forces (Forcat e Armatosura të Shqipërisë) first formed after independence in 1912. Albania reduced the number of active troops from a 1988 number of 65,000[44] to a 2009 number of 14,500[45] with a small fleet of aircraft and sea vessels. In the 1990s, the country scrapped enormous amount of obsolete hardware, such as tanks and SAM systems from China.

Today, it consists of the General Staff Headquarters, the Albanian Joint Forces Command, the Albanian Support Command and the Albanian Training and Doctrine Command. Increasing the military budget was one of the most important conditions for NATO integration. Military spending accounted for about 2.7% of GDP in 2008. Since February 2008, Albania participates officially in NATO's Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean Sea.[46] and received a NATO membership invitation on 3 April 2008.[47] Albania became a full member of NATO on 1 April 2009.


Main articles: Illyria, Dalmatia (Roman province), Illyricum (Roman province), and Moesia Superior
Further information: Illyrians and Thraco-Illyrian

The first recorded inhabitants in the territory of Albania were the Illyrians,[21] an Indo-European people that inhabited the area corresponding to northern and central Albania.[22] The Illyrian tribes that resided in the region of modern Albania were the Taulantii[23] the Parthini, the Abri, the Caviii, the Enchelei,[24] and several others. In the westernmost parts of the territory of Albania there lived the Bryges,[25] a Phrygian people, and in the south lived the Greek tribe of the Chaonians.

Beginning in the 7th century BC, Greek colonies were established on the Illyrian coast. The most important were Apollonia, Avlona (modern-day Vlorë), Epidamnos (modern-day Durrës), and Lissus (modern-day Lezhë). The rediscovered Greek city of Buthrotum (modern-day Butrint), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is probably more significant today than it was when Julius Caesar used it as a provisions depot for his troops during his campaigns in the 1st century BC. At that time, it was considered an unimportant outpost, overshadowed by Apollonia and Epidamnos.[26]

In the 4th century BC, the Illyrian king Bardyllis united several Illyrian tribes and engaged in conflict with Macedon to the southeast, but was defeated. Bardyllis was succeeded by Grabos,[27] then by Bardyllis II,[28] and then by Cleitus the Illyrian,[28] who was defeated by Alexander the Great. Later on, in 229 BC, Queen Teuta[29] of the Ardiaei clashed with the Romans and initiated the Illyrian Wars, which resulted in defeat and in the end of Illyrian independence by 168 B.C., when King Gentius was defeated by a Roman army.

The lands comprising modern-day Albania were incorporated into the Roman empire as part of the province of Illyricum above the river Drin, and Roman Macedonia (specifically as Epirus Nova) below it. The western part of the Via Egnatia ran inside modern Albania, ending at Dyrrachium. Illyricum was later divided into the provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia.
[edit] Byzantine era

When the Roman Empire was divided into East and West in 395, the territories of modern Albania became part of the Byzantine Empire. Beginning in the first decades of Byzantine rule (until 461), the region suffered devastating raids by Visigoths, Huns, and Ostrogoths. In the 6th and 7th centuries, the region was overrun by the Slavs.

The new administrative system of the themes, or military provinces created by the Byzantine Empire, contributed to the eventual rise of feudalism in Albania, as peasant soldiers who served military lords became serfs on their landed estates. Among the leading families of the Albanian feudal nobility were the Balsha, Thopia, Shpata, Muzaka, Dukagjini and Kastrioti. The first three of these rose to become rulers of principalities were vassals of the Byzantine empire, maintaining a partial local autonomy from the Byzantine empire. Many Albanians converted to the Roman Catholic Church at that period.

The territory of Albania would remain under Byzantine and Bulgarian rule until the 14th century, when the Ottoman Turks began to make incursions into the Empire. The Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453, and by 1460 most former Byzantine territories were in the hands of the Turks. Albania was fully occupied by the Ottomans in 1478.
[edit] Ottoman era
Durrës in 1573

In the Middle Ages, the name Arberia (see Origin and history of the name Albania) began to be increasingly applied to the region now comprising the nation of Albania.

Beginning in the late-14th century, the Ottoman Turks expanded their empire from Anatolia to the Balkans (Rumelia). By the 15th century, the Ottomans ruled all of the Balkan Peninsula. Many Albanians had been recruited into the Janissary, including the feudal heir Gjergj Kastrioti who was renamed Skanderbeg (Iskandar Bey) by his Turkish trainers at Edrine. After some Ottoman defeats at the hands of the Serbs, Skanderbeg deserted and began a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire.[30]

After deserting, Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg re-converted to Roman Catholicism and declared a holy war against the Ottoman Empire,[30] which he led from 1443 to 1468. Under a red flag bearing Skanderbeg's heraldic emblem, an Albanian force of about 10,000-15.000 men at Krujë held off Ottoman campaigns against their lands for twenty-five years. Thrice the Albanians overcame sieges of Krujë (see Siege of Krujë) led by the sultans Murad II and Mohammad II.

However, Skanderbeg was unable to receive any of the help which had been promised him by the popes. He died in 1468, leaving no worthy successor. After his death the rebellion continued, but without its former success. The loyalties and alliances created and nurtured by Skanderbeg faltered and fell apart, and the Ottomans reconquered the territory of Albania in 1478. Shortly after the fall of Kruje's castle, some Albanians fled to neighboring Italy, giving rise to the modern Arbëreshë communities.
Ottoman volley gun with 9 barrels, early 16th century.

The Ottomans had urbanized the landscape creating new cities, Bazaars, garrisons and Mosques throughout the Albanian regions. The majority of the remaining Albanian population converted to Islam, with many joining the Sufi Order of the Bektashi. Converting from Christianity to Islam brought considerable advantages, including access to Ottoman trade networks, bureaucratic positions and the army. As a result many Albanians came to serve in the elite Janissary and the administrative Devşirme system. Among these were important historical figures, including Iljaz Hoxha, Hamza Kastrioti, Köprülü Mehmed Pasha (head of the Köprülü family of Grand Viziers), the Bushati family, Sulejman Pasha, Ethem Pasha, Nezim Frakulla, Ali Pasha of Tepelena, Hasan Zyko Kamberi, Ali Pasha of Gucia, and Mehmet Ali ruler of Egypt.[31] and Emin Pasha.
Ottoman guns, 1750–1800

Many Albanians gained prominent positions in the Ottoman government, Albanians highly active during the Ottoman Era and leaders such as Ali Pasha of Tepelena is known to have aided the Bosnian Hero Husein Gradaščević on various occasions, no fewer than 42 Grand Viziers of the Empire were of Albanian descent, including Mehmet Akif Ersoy (1873–1936) an Albanian from Peja/Ipek who composed the Turkish National Anthem in 1921, "İstiklâl Marşı" (The Independence March). As Hupchik states, "Albanians had little cause of unrest" and "if anything, grew important in Ottoman internal affairs", and sometimes persecuted Christians harshly on behalf of their Turkish allies.

Albania became pivotal for the Ottomans in the Balkans, although Albanians were always committed to gain their independence and some were thus nicknamed "Arnauts" by the Ottomans, which meant "stubborn". The Ottoman period also saw the rising of semi-autonomous Albanian ruled Pashaliks, and Albanians were also an important part of the Ottoman army and Ottoman administration like the case of Köprülü family. Albania would remain a part of the Ottoman Empire as the provinces of Shkodra, Manastir and Yanya until 1912.
[edit] 20th century
[edit] 1913 to 1928

After five hundred years of Ottoman domination, an independent Albania was proclaimed on November 28, 1912.

The initial sparks of the first Balkan War in 1912 were ignited by the Albanian uprising between 1908 and 1910[32] which were directed at opposing the Young Turk policies of consolidation of the Ottoman Empire. Following the eventual weakening of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria declared war and sought to aggrandize their respective boundaries on the remaining territories of the Empire. Albania was thus invaded by Serbia in the north and Greece in the south, restricting the country to only a patch of land around the southern coastal city of Vlora. In 1912 Albania, still under foreign occupation declared its independence and with the aid of Austria-Hungary, the Great Powers drew its present borders leaving more than half of the Albanian population outside the new country.

The border between Albania and its neighbors was delineated in 1913 following the dissolution of most of the Ottoman Empire's territories in the Balkans. The delineation of the new state's borders left a significant number of Albanian communities outside Albania. This population was largely divided between Montenegro and Serbia (which then included what is now the Republic of Macedonia). A substantial number of Albanians thus found themselves under Serbian rule. At the same time, an uprising in the country's south by local Greeks, led to the formation of an autonomous region inside its borders (1914). After a period of political instability caused during World War I, the country adopted a republican form of government in 1920.[33] The territorial security of Albania was guaranteed by a League of Nations declaration of November 9, 1921, which entrusted the defense of that state to Italy.[34]
[edit] 1928 to 1946
Zog of Albania

Starting in 1928, but especially during the Great Depression, the government of King Zog, which brought law and order to the country, began to cede Albania's sovereignty to Italy. Despite some insignificant resistance, especially at Durrës, Italy invaded Albania on 7 April 1939 and took control of the country, with the Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini proclaiming Italy's figurehead King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy as King of Albania. The nation thus became one of the first to be occupied by the Axis Powers in World War II.[35]

As Hitler began his aggressions, Mussolini decided to occupy Albania as a means to compete with Hitler's territorial gains. Mussolini and the Italian Fascists saw Albania as a historical part of the Roman Empire, and the occupation was intended to fulfill Mussolini's dream of creating an Italian Empire. During the Italian occupation, Albania's population was subject to a policy of forced Italianization by the kingdom's Italian governors, in which the use of the Albanian language was discouraged in schools while the Italian language was promoted. At the same time, the colonization of Albania by Italians was encouraged.

Mussolini, in October 1940, used his Albanian base to launch an attack on Greece, which led to the defeat of the Italian forces and the Greek occupation of Southern Albania in what was seen by the Greeks as the liberation of Northern Epirus. While preparing for the Invasion of Russia, Hitler decided to attack Greece in December 1940 to prevent a British attack on his southern flank.[36]

During World War II, the Albanian Communist Party was created on 8 November 1941. With the intention of organizing a partisan resistance, they called a general conference in Pezë on 16 September 1942 where the Albanian National Liberation Front was set up. The Front included nationalist groups, but it was dominated by communist partisans.

In December 1942, more Albanian nationalist groups were organized under Visor Kola. Albanians fought against the Italians while, during Nazi German occupation, Balli Kombëtar allied itself with the Germans and clashed with Albanian communists, which continued their fight against Germans and Balli Kombëtar at the same time.

With the collapse of the Mussolini government in line with the Allied invasion of Italy, Germany occupied Albania in September 1943, dropping paratroopers into Tirana before the Albanian guerrillas could take the capital. The German Army soon drove the guerrillas into the hills and to the south. The Nazi German government subsequently announced it would recognize the independence of a neutral Albania and set about organizing a new government, police and armed forces. Many Balli Kombëtar units cooperated with the Germans against the communists and several Balli Kombëtar leaders held positions in the German-sponsored regime.

The partisans entirely liberated Albania from German occupation on 29 November 1944. The Albanian partisans also liberated Kosovo, part of Montenegro, and southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. By November 1944, they had thrown out the Germans, one of the few East European nations to do so without any assistance from Soviet troops. Enver Hoxha became the leader of the country by virtue of his position as Secretary General of the Albanian Communist Party.

Albania was one of the European countries occupied by the Axis powers that ended World War II with a larger Jewish population than before the war.[37][38][39][40] Some 1,200 Jewish residents and refugees from other Balkan countries were hidden by Albanian families during World War II, according to official records.[41]
[edit] Communist state
Main article: Socialist People's Republic of Albania
The former Enver Hoxha Museum in Tirana
Tirana's Skanderbeg Square in 1988

Albania became an ally of the Soviet Union, but this came to an end in 1960 over the advent of de-Stalinization. A strong political alliance with China followed, leading to several billion dollars in aid, which was curtailed after 1974. China cut off aid in 1978 when Albania attacked its policies after the death of the Chinese ruler Mao Zedong. Large-scale purges of officials occurred during the 1970s.

Enver Hoxha, who ruled Albania for four decades, died on 11 April 1985. Eventually the new regime introduced some liberalization, and granting the freedom to travel abroad in 1990. The new government made efforts to improve ties with the outside world. The elections of March 1991 left the former Communists in power, but a general strike and urban opposition led to the formation of a coalition cabinet that included non-Communists.[42]
[edit] Recent history – 1992 to present
Main article: History of post-Communist Albania
Further information: Timeline of Albanian history from 1994

Albania's former Communists were routed in elections March 1992, causing economic collapse and social unrest. Sali Berisha was elected as the first non-Communist president since World War II. The next crisis occurred in 1997, during his presidency, as riots ravaged the country because of collapse of financial pyramidal schemes. The state institutions collapsed and an EU military mission led by Italy was sent to stabilize the country. In summer 1997, Berisha was defeated in elections, winning just 25 seats out of a total of 156. His return to power in the elections of 3 July 2005 ended eight years of Socialist Party rule. In 2009, Albania – along with Croatia – joined NATO.