Albania 1831-1878

The great pashaliks of Albania, that of Ali Pasha at Janina (1822) and that of Mustafa Bushati at Shkoder (1831) were destroyed, the hitherto factually autonomous areas placed under Ottoman administration. The territories which had a distinct Albanian population majority were split among the Vilayets of Shkoder, Janina, Monastir and Kosovo - and especially the Vilayets of Monastir and Janina contained considerable elements of non-Albanian popularion. Within the Ottoman Empire, people were not distinguished by ethnicity, but by religion. The Albanians therefore were subdivided into Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic Albanians.
The TANZIMAT REFORMS, beginning in 1839, aimed at the modernization of the Empire. In Albania and Macedonia they were perceived mainly as increased taxation, and caused rebellions in 1843 and 1847. The reforms also increased tension between the religious communities, as the non-Muslims suffered extraordinarily from increased taxation, while incentives for converts in form of land grants were offered.
Albanian intellectual exiles such as NAUM VEQILHARXHI (1797-1846) stressed the necessity of an education in the Albanian language - hitherto the only education available for Albanian Muslims was offered by Koran schools, in Arabic. Albanians, depending on their religion, wrote in Arabic script (the Muslims), in Greek alphabet (the Orthodox christians) or in Latin alphabet (the Catholics). Veqilharxhi stressed the necesseity of a single alphabet for all religious communities among the Albanians, which he developed in 1844. In 1850 the ALBANIAN CULTURAL ASSOCIATION was founded in Bucharest (Wallachia). In 1877 an ALBANIAN COMMITTEE was formed in Istanbul.

Albania 1878-1912

First, Albania as a cohesive political entity, did not exist. The territories which had a distinct Albanian population majority were split among the Vilayets of Shkoder, Janina, Monastir and Kosovo - and especially the Vilayets of Monastir and Janina contained considerable elements of non-Albanian popularion. Within the Ottoman Empire, people were not distinguished by ethnicity, but by religion. The Albanians therefore were subdivided into Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic Albanians.
The rebellions of 1875-1876 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 affected Albania insofar as the TREATY OF SAN STEFANO foresaw the annexion of Pec, Ulcinj and Podgorica by Montenegro, the annexion of Korce and Tetovo (W. Macedonia) by Bulgaria. Both Britain and Austria-Hungary were concerned about the great increase of Russian influence on the Balkan peninsula, as both Bulgaria and Montenegro were perceived as Russian protectorates. Both powers seemed unwilling to accept the situation; Otto von Bismarck, at the BERLIN CONGRESS mediated a new peace treaty. Both Bulgaria and Montenegro had to accept less territorial gains.
In 1878, with the prospect of annexation by a christian Montenegro or Serbia imminent, Muslim Albanians organized themselves in the respective regions in order to resist the annexation, most notably in the Kosovo. On June 10th 1878, 300 delegates met in Prizren, the majority from Kosovo and from the Albanian districts in Macedonia, to form the PRIZREN LEAGUE, the purpose of which was to form a unified political organization for all Albania, capable of organizing military resistance against any attempt to split up the ethnicity. It appealed to the Sultan to merge the vilayets of Shkoder, Janina, Monastir and Kosovo - unsuccessfully.
In January 1881, relations between the Prizren League and the Ottoman authorities had reached such a low point, that the League ousted the Ottoman administration from the Kosovo and established a provisional government. An Ottoman army was sent into Kosovo in March, the resistance crushed, the leading League members banned into remote regions of the Empire. Kosovo saw another revolt in 1885. In 1889 the LEAGUE OF PEC was founded, which was less a national Albanian than a Muslim organization.
As the majority of the Albanians were Muslims, the relation between Albanians and Ottoman Turks were less conflicting than those between Greeks or Bulgarians and Ottoman Turks. In the GRAECO-TURKISH WAR of 1897 and on Crete in 1897/1898, Albanians fought with the Ottoman forces.
Albanian intellectuals were aware that Ottoman Albania was threatened, the object of expansionist plans of their Slavic and Greek neighbours and object of the diplomatic schemes of the great powers. The YOUNG TURK REBELLION resulted in aggravating the political instability and in a short period of a policy of OTTOMANIZATION to which Albania was subjected. Pristina saw yet another Albanian rising, in 1910, which was suppressed. Albanian CHETAS (guerillas) began to fight Ottoman authorities in 1911.
In the FIRST BALKAN WAR of 1912, much of Albania was conquered by Serbian troops, Shkoder by the Montenegrins; the Balkan Allies (Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia) easily defeated the Ottoman forces and seemed intent to partition amongst themselves the entire Ottoman territory on the Balkans peninsula, west of the Maritsa River. Without any consideration for the will of the Albanians.
Again the powers interfered by putting pressure on Serbia and Montenegro. An INDEPENDENT ALBANIA was formed by the CONFERENCE OF LONDON (Dec. 1912), because Britain would not tolerate a Serbian Albania, perceived as Russian, or as potentially Italian, in Austrian perspective. The powers were guided by geostrategic reasoning, not by sympathies for the Albanian nation; the Albanian districts with access to the Adriatic coast were to become part of the new state, not landlocked regions such as Kosovo.
In 1908/1911 the Albanian alphabet, based on the Latin alphabet, was adopted.

Albania in World War I

Although an Albanian National Movement had emerged late in the 19th century, the creation of an independent Albanian State in 1913 is the result of diplomatic pressure exerted by Austria-Hungary and Italy on the Balkan states victorious in the FIRST BALKAN WAR of 1912. In 1913 the KINGDOM OF ALBANIA was created; large areas with an Albanian-speaking majority, notably KOSOVO (allocated to Serbia) and CAMRIA (= southern Epirus, allocated to Greece) were left outside of the borders of the Albanian state. The new King, prince WILHELM ZU WIED, arrived in March 1914; unfamiliar with the language and customs of the land, he departed in the first weeks of World War I. The capital of the young kingdom was TIRANA.

Albania, a country comparatively backward and in the process of being organized, was without allies; Serbia, which in 1912/13 had ambitions to annex the entire territory, regarded it as an artificial state owing it's existence to the protection offered by Austria-Hungary and Italy. When World War I broke out, Albania remained neutral, and none of the rival powers seems to have been interested in drawing Albania to their side. When Serbia's position became untenable because of Bulgaria's entry into the war in October 1915, the forces of landlocked Serbia, refused permission to march across Montenegrin territory, disrespected Albania's neutrality and marched across northern Albania to the coast from where they were shipped to the Greek island of Corfu, which was to become their base for the remainder of the war.
Albania's neutrality now had been violated and the Central Powers invaded, occupying the country's north. The Greeks proceeded occupying the south, which they called NORTHERN EPIRUS; the Greek forces received the support of the local Greek minority. CENTRAL ALBANIA was occupied by Italian forces (1915-1916); the Italians were pushed back by the Central Powers.
During World War I, the Albanian front was a side show of a side show, not receiving much international attention. The little state organization it had had disintegrated.

Railway construction in Albania began in 1917.

Albania 1918-1924

After fighting ceased in October/November 1918, the occupation of Albania continued. It is needless to say, that Albania as much as other countries affected by the war, suffered from problems such as food shortage and infectious diseases.
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's 14 points included the principle that nations should be given the right to decide their own affairs; according to this principle, Albania's independence was restored, although Greece continued to occupy southern Albania (Northern Epirus) until 1923. A curiosity : the small island of Saseno, only a few km off the Albanian coast (hitherto Greek) was allocated not to Albania, but to Italy (1920).
A National Congress was held in Lushnje in January 1920, where the principles for Albania's government were decided upon. Albania was split in two rival camps, one lead by Ahmed Bey Zogu, representing the conservative landowners and tribal chiefs, traditionally leaning on Turkey, the other lead by Fan S. Noli, an western-educated Orthodox bishop in favour of introducing a western-style liberal democracy. The young republic's head of state 1919-1924 was Turchan Pasha. In 1924, Fan Noli ascended to the presidency; now unrestrained, he implemented an ambitious program of Land Reform and modernization. In 1924 Ahmed Zogu fled the country, taking up exile in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Meanwhile the modernization and land reform program had caused much resistance; Ahmed Zogu returned with an armed force and overthrew the Noli administration (Jan. 1925).

Albania 1925-1939

On January 31st 1925 Ahmed Zogu assumed Albania's presidency; on September 1st 1928 he had himself crowned King Zogu I.
In order to overpower his rival, Ahmed Zogu had relied on support from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes; in 1926 he signed an Albanian-SHS border treaty favourable to the latter. To counterbalance the Serb influence, Ahmed Zogu sought support from Italy, which in 1920 had annexed the previously Greek island of SASENO just off the Albanian coast.
Ahmed Zogu brought a degree of stability to Albania, but his rule was dictatorial, based on a bureaucracy, an efficient police force and on Italian credits. The Great Depression had a limited impact on Albania as the country hardly had an industrial base and still was largely agricultural. Poverty was wide-spread, the (not implemented) land reform a burning issue; many peasants emigrated; the first communist organizations were founded.
Over time Fascist Italy emerged as Albania's sole protector. When Europe's post-World War I order was broken up by the Munich Pact (1938), the Anschluss of Austria (1938) and the German occupation of Czechia in March 1939, Italian troops occupied Albania; King Zogu abdicated and the country was annexed by Italy.
In 1930, the population of Albania numbered 1,003,097; by 1939 it had risen to 1,037,856. The largest city was capital Tirana with 30,806 inhabitants (in 1930). The main agricultural products were maize and wheat, main animals held were sheep, goats, cattle and chicken. By 1936, Albania had 12 km of railway and 2100 km of roads. Both state revenue and expenses in 1937/38 amounted to 26.2 million Gold Franc.

Albania 1939-1944

Italy, a province of which Albania now formed, had remained neutral in the early stage of the war. Only when it became obvious that France could not stop the German advance, Italy had entered the war on Germany's side in June 1940. In an attempt to gain military victories which made him appear as an equal to Hitler, Mussolini on October 28th 1940 ordered Italian troops from Albania to invade Greece. Surprisingly, the Greeks not only stopped the Italian advance, but pushed them back into Albania, again occupying southern Albania (Nothern Epirus), drawing support from the regional Greek minority. Only when Germany forced a military alliance including Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria and launched the Balkan campaign in June 1941 did the Greek front falter; all of Yugoslavia and Greece were occupied.
All areas with Albanian population majority - Albania proper, Kosovo, a strip of land in western Macedonia and Greek Epirus, now found themselves under Italian administration.
Italy signed an armistice in September 1943; German troops took over the hitherto Italian administrated regions on the Balkans peninsula, including Albania proper.

Meanwhile the Albanian Communist Party had been founded in 1941. Germany, heavy pressed by the Russians had few troops to spare for the occupation of mountainous Albania, of little strategic importance as it was unlikely to be selected as an invasion site by the Allies, communist partisans thus had room to operate. In September/October 1944 the German occupation force withdrew from Greece; on November 29th 1944, the Communists, lead by Enver Hoxha, were in control of Albania.
During the withdrawal process, Germans attempted to win over the Albanians by raising the prospect of a Greater Albania including Kosovo and parts of Macedonia.
At the Yalta peace conference, the big three had partitioned post-war Europe into spheres of influence; Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia fell into the British sphere. Yet Britain had had no part in the liberation of Albania; the country had been liberated by Albanian partisans.

Albania 1944-1949

Status and Foreign Policy : At the Conference of Yalta (Feb. 1945), Albania was allocated to the British sphere of influence, together with Greece and Yugoslavia. Yet, when the German troops withdrew, Albanian Communist partisans were in control of the country, and Britain at first spent limited energy and attention on the remote mountainous region. A Provisional Government, dominated by the Communists, was recognized conditionally by the Big Three in December 1945. Britain did not recognize the communist Albanian government, the Bank of Britain froze prewar Albanian assets. Albania severed diplomatic relations. Britain, heavily involved in the (costly) Greek Civil War, did not pursue a similar policy in Albania; the communist administration was to stay. When two British navy vessels ran into a minefield in the Corfu Channel, this incident lead to a further deterioration of British-Albanian relations.
Albania supported the Greek Communists in the Greek Civil War. (Democratic) Greece claimed Northern Epirus. With Soviet support, Albania maintained a relatively large army and fortified coastal positions. Late in 1948 diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia were severed; Yugoslav advisors were expelled from Albania. These measures increased the country's dependence on the USSR; with the Greek Civil War coming to a close, Soviet interest in Albania declined. When COMECON was established in 1949, Albania became a beneficiary of economic aid without becoming member of the organization.

Domestic Policy : A People's Assembly was formed representing the country; it was dominated by the communists. Enver Hoxha was chairman of the council of ministers since 1946. In 1946, Albania introduced Universal Womanhood Suffrage. All political parties except the communist party were outlawed, a One-Party-State established. 1947 and 1948 saw Stalin-style party purges; in 1948 politicians branded as supporters of Tito were purged from the Communist Party . In 1948 Catholic schools were closed, a number of church leaders executed.

The Economy : Albania is one of Europe's economically most backward countries. When the communists took over, Large landowners were expropriated, collective farms established. Albania benefitted from relief supplies by the U.N.R.R.A. A Five-Year-Plan, following the Soviet model, was implemented in 1945. In 1946 Albania and Yugoslavia formed a monetary union; 1 Yugoslav Dinar valued as 1 Albanian Lek. In 1945-1948, Albania benefitted from Soviet as well as Yugoslav aid; the sudden decision to cut relations with Yugoslavia (1948) resulted in the geographical isolation of Albania and the necessity for increased Soviet aid; the monetary union with Yugoslavia was cut. The first Five Year Plan was scrapped, and replaced by a provisional Two Year Plan.

Albania 1949-1968

Administration . Foreign Policy . The communist Albanian government distrusted the west, fearing a potential repetition of the Greek experience. Sentiment was equally suspicious of Tito's Yugoslavia, with which Albania broke in 1948, so the Hoxha administration chose close ties with the USSR (which soon also broke with Yugoslavia). In 1955, Albania became a founding member of the Warsaw Pact - the only member nation not liberated by the Red Army.
Enver Hoxha was an admirer of Josef Stalin; in 1961 he broke with the USSR (Nikita Krushchev). now leaning on the PR China instead.

Political History . In 1967 Albania underwent her own version of the Cultural Revolution; places of worship were closed, clergy arrested.

The Economy . First Five Year Plan 1951-1955, Second Five Year Plan 1956-1960, Third Five Year Plan 1961-1965, Fourth Five Year Plan 1966-1970. In the Fourth Five Year Plan, the economic enterprises were given a touch more freedom to make their own decisions.
In 1952, Albania produced 86,000 metric tons of wheat, in 1957 a bumper 125,000, in 1960 64,000, in 1968 184,000 (IHS p.255). In 1961 the USSR cut her economic aid to Albania; the PR China tried to fill the gap.
Albania did not receive any Marshall Aid. In economic policy, Enver Hoxha tried to industrialize the country. Tirana Airport was constructed from 1955 to 1957.

Social History . The census of 1950 counted 1.2 million Albanians, the census of 1955 1.39 million, the census of 1960 1.62 million, the census of 1969 2.06 million Lahmeyer).

Cultural History . Tirana University was established in 1957, as the country's first university. During the Albanian Cultural Revolution of 1967, mosques and churches were closed; Albania proclaimed itself an atheist state. The Albanian National Olympic Committee was formed in 1959 and recognized by the IOC the same year.
Albania did not send athletes to the Summer Olympics in Helsinki 1952, Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 and Mexico City 1968. In the qualifications to the European Championship in 1968, by drawing the FRG 0-0, the Albanian national football team ousted West Germany from the competition.

Albania 1968-1989

Administration . Albania had been proclaimd a People's Republic in 1945 and had adopted a communist constitution in 1946. Parliamentary elections were held in 1945, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982 and 1987. The dominating political figure was Enver Hoxha, until his retirement in 1981 First Secretary of the Communist Albanian Party of Labour. From 1982 to 1992 Ramiz Tafe Alia held the reigns of the country, until 1991 as Chairman of the Presidium of the People's Assembly, from 1991 to 1992 as President.

Foreign Policy . Since 1958/1960, Albania sided with the PR China in the ideological conflict between the USSR and China. Albania also withdrew from the Warsaw Pact in 1968.
When the P.R. China went through the transfer from the post-cultural revolution to a policy of opening to the west and pursuing economic reforms, in 1978 Albania declared itself to be the only remaining true communist state in the world.
When European governments' delegations met in Helsinki to attend the CSCE, Albania was the only government not represented, and subsequently the only government not signing the Helsinki Accord of 1975.
Relations with Britain, since 1945, were strained; Albania and Britain did not maintain diplomatic relations.
Relations with neighbour Yugoslavia were strained since Tito broke with Stalin in 1948; a rapprochement took place in the early 1980es. One factor leading to the breach of relations with the PR China was the decision by the PR China to enter into diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia.

Political History . The Communist Albanian Party of Labour was in firm control of the country. In 1981, just before his retirement, Enver Hoxha had a number of Communist politicians excuted.

The Economy . Fourth Five Year Plan 1966-1970, Fifth Five Year Plan 1971-1975, Sixth Five Year Plan 1976-1980, Seventh Five Year Plan 1981-1985, Eighth Five Year Plan 1986-1990.
In 1968, Albania produced 168,000 metric tons of wheat, in 1988 633,000 (IHS p.255).
In 1971 the eletrification of Albania was completed. In 1984, the country's first and only rail connection with another country (Yugoslavia's Montenegro) was opened.

Social History . The census of 1969 counted 2.0 million Albanians, the census of 1979 2.59 million, the census of 1989 3.18 million (Lahmeyer).
Years of political and economic isolation lead only to stagnation and deterioration. When the communist system collapsed in eastern Europe and Albania, too, laxed border controls, a large number of Albanians tried to emigrate.

Cultural History . Television broadcasting began in 1969. The Albanian Academy of Sciences was established in 1981.
Albanian athletes participated in the Summer Olympics at Munich 1972, but were not represented at Mexico City 1968, Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988.

Recent History of Albania, since 1989

Administration . In 1989-1991, Albania changed from a People's Republic to a multiparty democracy. Free elections were held in 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2005. Ramiz Tafe Alia, head of state since 1982, presided over the transition. The office of president was held by R.T. Alia 1991-1992, by Sali Ram Berisha (PDS) 1992-1997, by Rexhep Kemal Mejdani (PSS) 1997-2002, by Alfred Spiro Moisiu (non-party) since 2002. In 1997 the Albanian government abruptly resigned and the country briefly descended into chaos.

Foreign Policy . Albanian relations with Greece, in the years when Albania went through a transition from a Communist state to a multiparty democracy, went through a low because Greece accused the Albanian authorities of putting pressure on the ethnic Greek minority in Albania; Greece also had to take a large chunk of the wave of economic refugees leaving Albania. In 1997 the Albanian government took steps to protect the cultural tights of the country's ethnic Greek minority (MAR).
Albania was concerned about the cancellation of Kosovo's autonomy within the Republic of Serbia (Yugoslavia) in 1988 and about the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Albania's concerns were focussed on Kosovo, a region with a majority Albanian population, and on Macedonia which has a significant Albanian population element. An (ethnic Albanian) Kosovo Liberation Army had begun to fight Serb control in the province in 1996; the Yugoslav (Serb) army took on the challenge and in 1998 launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing, causing a mass exodus of refugees. The war was ended with NATO intervention in 1999, and Kosovo returned to autonomous status.
In 2001, the Republic of Macedonia went through a brief conflict where the (ethnic Albanian) National Liberation Army faced Macedonian forces. The NLA was disarmed by NATO forces.
Since 1991, the EU and Albania have established a partnership manifest in a number of agreements signed.
In 2003 Albania joined the Coalition of the Willing and sent troops to Iraq. In 2007, U.S. president George W. Bush visited Albania.

Political History . Albania, economically underdeveloped and politically isolated, entered a political crisis in 1987 the magnitude of which best can be measured by the numbers of refugees who took desperate steps in order to flee the country.
Transition to a multiparty democracy in Albania was more challenging than in other European Communist countries, because Albania previously had little experience with democracy, because the country had been politically isolated, because the education level of Albanians was lower than that of Poles, Czechs and Russians, because many Albanians were attached to premodern traditions.
Albania developed into a two-party-system, represented by the Democratic Party (PDS) and the Socialist Party (PSS). Political associations, however, often follow the dialect / tribal lines of Tosk or Gheg.

The Economy . By 1989 Albania was regarded the poorest country in Europe. The policy of turning Albania into an industrialized nation through a planned economy had created industries which were not internationally competitive, and in many cases, by 1989, crumbling. The country, during the 1970es and 1980es, due to the rise in oil prices (Oil Crisis 1973-1981) and the confrontational course with both the capitalist west, neighbour Yugoslavia and the Soviet bloc, had to keep imports at a minimum, which negatively affected her economy. From 1989 to 1992 the GDP fell by over 50 %. In 1992 the government began implementing a policy of liberalization of the economy, in 1995 a policy of privatization. The Tirana Stock Exchange was opened in 1996.
From 1990 to 2000, prices increased 20-fold. The collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997 caused social unrest.
Albania is an exporter of chrome, copper and nickel ores.

Social History . According to the 1989 census, Albania had 3.18 million inhabitants; Jan Lahmeyer gives an estimate of 3.49 million for 2000. In the late 1980es and early 1990es Albania experienced a mass exodus of economic refugees, mainly to Italy and Greece; in 2001 Greece alone registered 443,500 Albanian residents, over 10 % of the total population of Albania.

Cultural History . Albanian athletes participated in the Summer Olympics of Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. So far, no Albanian ever won a medal.

George Castriot, Surnamed Scanderbeg, King of Albania

28 Jun 1389 1st Battle of Kosovo waged on the "Field of Blackbirds"
3 Nov 1443 Skanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti) defects at the battle of the River Morava near Naissus (Nish) in southern Serbia.
28 Nov 1443 Skanderbeg leads the capture of Kruja from its Turkish garrison through intrigue. On raising his standard above the castle, Skanderbeg tells the Albanians, "I have not brought you liberty. I found it here, among you."
1443/1444 Siege of Petrela
1443/1444 Siege of Stelluzi
1443/1444 Siege of Sfetigrad
1 Mar 1444 Council of Lezha - St. Nicholas cathedral. Princes who joined Skanderbeg's revolt:
  • Pal and Nikolla Dukagjini of Dukagjinin

  • Lek Zacaria Altisferi of Dagno near Scutari

  • Peter Spani of Shala and Shoshi in Northern Albania

  • Lek Dushmani of Zadrima in Northwest Albania

  • Gjergj Stresi Balsha of Misia between Kruja and Lezha

  • Andrea Topia of Scuria between Tirane and Durazzo

  • Tanush Topia (newphew of Andrea)

  • Gjergj Araniti Topia Comneni of Canina and Shpata

  • Teodor Korona Muzaka of Berat in Southern Albania

  • Stephan Cernojevic of Zabiak in Montenegro with his sons

  • 29 Jun 1444 Battle at plain of Torvidli. Ali Pasha defeated by Albanian forces led by Skanderbeg.
    11 Nov 1444 Battle of Varna. Skanderbeg unable to reach battle in time to help Hunyadi's forces.
    26 Jan 1445 Skanderbeg's youngest sister, Mamica Kastrioti, marries Muzaka Topia at Muzakiana.
    23 Jul 1448 Battle of the Drin against Venice for control of the city of Dagno.
    14 Aug 1448 Skanderbeg's army defeats the Turks at the First Battle of Oranik (6 miles from Kruja).
    Aug 1448 Skanderbeg raids area around Scutarie.
    17-19 Oct 1448 Skanderbeg denied passage by the Serbian Despot who was father-in-law to Murad II. 2nd Battle of Kosovo lost without Skanderbeg's help.
    Early 1449 Skanderbeg raids Turkish frontiers.
    Jul 1449 Turks under Murad II recapture Sfetigrad.
    20 Sep 1449 Skanderbeg takes up siege of Sfetigrad occuppied by the Turks. Skanderbeg often disguises himself as a shepherd to personally inspect the walls of the city for weaknesses in the Turkish defenses. The city finally falls in late 1449 or early 1450?
    5 Apr 1450 Sebelias Zeurenesse leads a 160,000 man Turkish force into Macedonia. Murad II and his sone, Mohomet, join the army in late April to lead it to Kruja.
    14 May 1450 Turkish army lays siege to Kruja. Skanderbeg remains outside the city harassing the Turks encamped about the city.
    1450 Turks retake Berat in the south.
    Jan 1451 Murad II dies in Adrianople. (Moore indicates that Murad died at Kruja in Aug 1450 but that his death was kept a secret.) His son, Mehmet II, succeeds him.
    Winter 1450-1451 Mehmet sends 12,000 horse under Amesa to approach Modrissa. Skanderbeg attacks in mountains with 3,000 foot and forces surrender of Turks. 7,000 Turks are killed, while the Albanians lose only 30.
    Summer 1451? Battle at Belgrade, Skanderbeg withdraws without the battle being decisive for either side.
    1452? Moisi Dibra defects to the Turks after Belgrade.
    1453 Constantinople falls to the Turks.
    Jul 1455 Affected by the fall of Constantinople, Venice pledges support to Skanderbeg.
    Winter 1452-1453 Skanderbeg defeats Moisi Dibra's forces at Oronichea. Sometime after defeat, Moisi Dibra returns to be reconciled with Skanderbeg.
    1456 Gjergj Stresi Balsha, son of Skanderbeg's sister Jella, sells the frontier fortress of Modrichi to the Turks.
    ?? Hamza Kastrioti (another of Skanderbeg's nephews) defects because he feels he was cheated out of land by the birth of Skanderbeg's son.
    Jul 1456 Skanderbeg leads troops into the mountains in a ruse to covince the Turks he is defeated.
    1456 Amese (another nephew of Skanderbeg) defects.
    7 Sep 1457 (Moore says Jul 1457) Battle of Abulena near the coast where Skanderbeg scatters an 80,000 strong Turkish force and captures his traitorous nephew, Hamza Kastrioti.
    23 Dec 1457 Pope Calixtus II names Skanderbeg, "Captain General of the Holy See."
    Aug 1461 Turks seek peace agreement as a cover for attacking by surprise. Skanderbeg joins forces in Italy to help establish the throne of Ferdinand.
    Jan 1462 Skanderbeg returns from Italy to meet the Turks approaching on the frontier.
    1462 (Moore indicates it was in 1460 and 1461) Skanderbeg defeats 3 Turkish armies in succession:
    1. Sinan Pasha and Hussein beg at Mokrena of Dibra
    2. Yussuf Beg at Prolog of Tetovo
    3. Caradjal Beg at Livad of Ochrida - after which the Turks once again sought peace.
    27 Apr 1463 Mehmed II arrives in Scopia hoping to subdue Bosnia. Princes of Albania vote against Skanderbeg to agree to peace with Turks and the agreement is signed on 27 Apr 1463.
    Nov 1463 Pope Pius II declares a crusade against the Turks and Skanderbeg breaks the peace to obey the call for the crusade opening the war with raids in late November.
    14 Aug 1464 Pope Pius II dies.
    1466 Ballaban Pasha begins work on fort at Elbassan. venice concerned about control of the river trade there and offers help to Skanderbeg.
    1466 Mehmed II arrives at Kruja with 150,000 troops. Again, Skanderbeg leads raids against the Turkish forces outside the castle.
    Late 1466 Skanderbeg travels to Italy and Venice to seek financial aid. On his return, he captures the army of Yonuz Pasha (Ballaban Pasha's brother) as they are in route to reinforce the siege at Kruja. Turkish siege is broken and they seek mercy but only a few escape Skanderbeg's forces.
    17 Jan 1468 Skanderbeg dies from a mysterious fever during conference to discuss capturing the castle at Elbassan. Mehmed II, upon hearing of his death, is said to have said, "At last Europe and Asia belong to me! Poor Christendom. It has lost both its sword and its shield!" Skanderbeg's horse is said to have refused to eat and also died. 10 Years later, invading Turks entered his tomb at St. Nicholas cathedral in Lezha to exhume his bones for good luck amuletes.

    Timeline of Albanian history to 1993

    2nd century AD 1 to 11th century

    • In the 150 AD, Ptolemy, the geographer and astronomer from Alexandria drafts a map. This map shows the city of Albanopolis (located Northeast of Durrës). Ptolemy also mentions the Illyrian tribe named Albanoi, who lived around this city. The area was part of Roman Macedon, specifically the Epirus Nova subdivision. Epirus nova or New Epirus or Illyria Graeca or Illyris proper was a province of the Roman Empire established by Diocletian (244-311) during his restructuring of provincial boundaries. The province, belonged to the Roman province of Macedonia. Later it became a theme of the Byzantine Empire. Dyrrachium (or Epidamnus) was established as the capital of Epirus nova. The region of Epirus Nova corresponded to a part of Illyria that was now partly Hellenic and partly Hellenized. The area was the line of division between the provinces of Illyricum and Macedonia.

    11th to 15th centuries

    The Arbanasi people are recorded as being 'half-believers' (non-Orthodox Christians) and speaking their own language in the Fragment of Origins of Nations between 1000-1018 by an anonymous author in a Bulgarian text of the 11th century.[14]
    In History written in 1079-1080, Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates referred to the Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the duke of Dyrrachium. It is disputed, however, whether the "Albanoi" of the events of 1043 refers to Albanians in an ethnic sense or whether "Albanoi" is a reference to Normans from Sicily under an archaic name (there was also tribe of Italy by the name of "Albanoi").[15] However a later reference to Albanians from the same Attaliates, regarding the participation of Albanians in a rebellion in 1078, is undisputed.[16]
    Arbanitai of Arbanon are recorded in an account by Anna Comnena of the troubles in that region during the reign of her father Alexius I Comnenus (1081–1118) by the Normans.[17]
    12th century - Serbs occupy parts of northern and eastern Albania.
    1204 - In the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade, Venice wins control over most of Albania, but the Byzantines regain control of the southern portion and establish the Despotate of Epirus.
    1258 - The Kingdom of Sicily seizes the Albanian coast and much of the hinterland from Epirus
    1272 - Forces of the Charles I of Naples occupy Dyrrhachium (Durrës) and establish the Angevin Kingdom of Albania.
    1280s - The Angevins launch an offensive to conquer Albania, but are repulsed by the Byzantines at Berat. BYzantine forces retake the country, but after ca. 1290, it begins to come under Serbian attack.
    1385 - Karl Thopia, the Albanian ruler of Durrës, invites the Ottoman forces of Murad I to intervene against his rival Balsha II; subsequently, Albanian clans pay tribute and swear fealty to the Ottoman Empire.
    1389 - Albanians join Serbian-led Balkan army that is crushed by Ottoman forces at the Battle of Kosovo; coordinated resistance to Ottoman expansion into the western Balkans collapses.
    1405 - Gjergj Kastrioti born, later becomes Albanian national hero known as Skanderbeg.
    1443 - After being sent in a battle near Nis, Skanderbeg turns in Albania, starts the long war against the Ottoman Empire and reembraces Roman Catholicism.
    1444 - Skanderbeg proclaimed chief of the League of Lezhë.
    1450 - The Albanians, under Skanderbeg, rout Ottoman forces under Sultan Murad II.
    1466 & 1467 - The Albanians under Skanderbeg, defend Krujë against massive Ottoman armies led by Sultan Mehmed II
    1468 - Skanderbeg dies.
    1478 - Krujë falls to the Ottoman Turks; Shkodër falls a year later. Subsequently, many Albanians flee to southern Italy, Greece, Egypt, and elsewhere; many remaining are forced to convert to Islam.

    17th Century

    Early 17th century Some Albanians who convert to Islam find careers in the Ottoman Empire's government and military service.

    17th century - 18th century About two-thirds of Albanians convert to Islam.

    18th century

    1785 Kara Mahmud Bushati, Albanian noble from the Bushati family, based in Shkodër, attacks Montenegrin territory; subsequently named governor of Shkodër by Ottoman authorities.

    19th century

    1822 Albanian leader Ali Pashë Tepelena assassinated by Ottoman agents for promoting an autonomous state.

    1830 500 Albanian leaders were invited to meet with Ottoman general in Monastir. They were trapped and killed in an ambush.

    1835 Ottoman Sublime Porte divides Albanian-populated lands into vilayets of Janina and Rumelia with Ottoman administrators.

    1848 Uprising of Albanians against Tanzimat reform.

    1861 First school known to use Albanian language in modern times opens in Shkodër.

    1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War. The Ottoman Empire is defeated by its rival Russian Empire, seriously weakening Ottoman power over Albanian-populated areas.

    1878 Albanian leaders met in Prizren, Kosovo, to form the League of Prizren, initially advocating a unified Albania under Ottoman suzerainty, with the intention to oppose the Treaty of San Stefano, signed after the Russo-Turkish War, a treaty which assigned Albanian-populated lands to the Principality of Bulgaria, the Principality of Montenegro, and the Principality of Serbia; but Austria-Hungary and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland block the treaty's implementation. During the Congress of Berlin, the Great Powers overturn the Treaty of San Stefano and divided Albanian lands among several states. The League of Prizren begins to organize resistance to the Treaty of Berlin's provisions that affect Albanians.

    1879 Society for Printing of Albanian Writings, composed of Roman Catholic, Muslim, and Orthodox Albanians, founded in Constantinople.

    1881 Ottoman forces crush Albanian resistance fighters at Prizren. Prizren League's leaders and families arrested and deported.

    1897 Ottoman authorities disband a reactivated League of Prizren, execute its leader later, then ban Albanian language books.

    20th century

    1906 Albanians begin joining the Committee of Union and Progress (Young Turks), which formed in Constantinople, hoping to gain autonomy for their nation within the Ottoman Empire.

    1908 Albanian intellectuals meet in Bitola and choose the Latin alphabet as standard script rather than Arabic or Cyrillic.

    1911 April 6 Albanian Highlanders (Malsorët) battle against the Young Turks regime of the Ottoman Empire by the command of Turgut Pasha in the town of Tuzi, Montenegro. The highlanders' were claimed victorious after raising the Albanian flag for the first time in over 400 years of Ottoman occupation. The commander/flagbearer for the Albanians was Ded Gjo Luli. Deda's word of victory later sparked to other events for the independence of Albania, which was finally reached the very next year.

    1912 May
    Albanians rise against the Ottoman authorities and seize Skopje.

    First Balkan War begins, and Albanian leaders affirm Albania as an independent state.

    Muslim and Christian delegates at Vlorë declare Albania independent and establish a Provisional Government of Albania.

    Ambassadorial conference opens in London and discusses Albania's fate. Half of Albanian territories are given to neighboring states, the Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Greece.

    1913 May
    The Treaty of London ends First Balkan War. Second Balkan War begins.

    The Treaty of Bucharest ends Second Balkan War. Great Powers recognize an independent Albanian state ruled by a constitutional monarchy.

    1914 March
    William, Prince of Albania, German army captain, installed as head of the new Principality of Albania by the International Commission of Control, arrives in Albania.

    New Albanian state collapses following outbreak of World War I; Prince Wilhelm is stripped of authority and departs from Albania.

    1918 November
    World War I ends, with the Royal Italian Army occupying most of Albania and Serbian, Greek and French forces occupying remainder. Italian and Yugoslav powers begin struggle for dominance over Albanians.

    Albanian leaders meet at Durrës to discuss presentation of Albania's interests at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919.


    1919 January
    The Kingdom of Serbia attack Albania's inhabited cities. Albanians adopt guerrilla warfare.

    Albania denied official representation at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919; British, French, and Greek negotiators later decide to divide Albania among the Kingdom of Greece, Italy, and the new Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

    1920 January
    Albanian leaders meeting at Lushnjë reject the partitioning of Albania by the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, warn that Albanians will take up arms in defense of their territory, and create a bicameral parliament.

    The Albanian government under Sulejman Delvina moves to Tirana, which becomes the capital.

    Albania forces Italy to withdraw its troops and abandon territorial claims to almost all Albanian territory.

    Albania admitted to the League of Nations as sovereign and independent state.

    1921 November
    The Royal Yugoslav Army invades Albanian territories they had not previously occupied; League of Nations commission forces Yugoslav withdrawal and reaffirms Albania's 1913 borders.

    Popular Party, headed by Xhafer Bej Ypi, forms government with Ahmet Zogu, the future King Zog, as internal affairs minister.

    1922 August
    Patriarch Meletius IV of Constantinople recognizes the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania.

    Zogu assumes position of prime minister of government; opposition to him becomes formidable.

    1923 Albania's Sunni Muslims break last ties with the disbanding Ottoman Empire and Constantinople, pledging primary allegiance to native country.

    1924 March
    Zogu's party wins elections for National Assembly, but Zogu steps down after financial scandal and an assassination attempt.

    A peasant-backed insurgency wins control of Tirana; Fan S. Noli becomes prime minister; Zogu flees to Yugoslavia.

    Zogu, backed by the Royal Yugoslav Army, returns to power and begins to smother parliamentary democracy; Noli flees to Italy.

    1925 May
    Italy, under Benito Mussolini, begins penetration of Albanian public and economic life.

    1926 27 November
    Italy and Albania sign First Treaty of Tirana, which guarantees Zogu's political position and Albania's boundaries.

    1928 August
    Zogu pressures the parliament to dissolve itself; a new constituent assembly declares Albania a kingdom and Zogu becomes Zog I, "King of the Albanians".

    1931 Zog, standing up to Italians, refuses to renew the First Treaty of Tirana; Italians continue political and economic pressure.

    1934 After Albania signs trade agreements with Greece and Yugoslavia, Italy suspends economic support, then attempts to threaten Albania.

    1935 Benito Mussolini, Prime Minister of Italy, presents a gift of 3,000,000 gold francs to Albania; other economic aid follows.


    1939 March

    March 17 In Rome, the German Ambassador to the Kingdom of Italy informs Benito Mussolini, Prime Minister of Italy that Nazi Germany is ready to support Italy in occupying Albania.

    March 25 In Tirana, the Italian Ambassador to Albania hands over to King Zog an ultimatum demanding the surrender of Albania to an Italian protectorate.

    April In the beginning of April, the Albanian army mobilizes.

    April 5 Leka, Crown Prince of Albania, the heir to the Albanian throne, is born.

    King Zog appeals to the democracies.

    April 6 King Zog appeals to the Balkan Pact.

    April 7 Italian invasion of Albania: 50,000 Italian marines land in the ports of Durrës, Vlorë, Shëngjin and Sarandë. The Albanian army resists, especially in Durrës.

    King Zog's wife, Queen Géraldine Apponyi de Nagyappony, and their infant son Leka, Crown Prince of Albania flee to the Kingdom of Greece. King Zog follows them.

    April 8 Italian troops occupy Tirana at 9:30 AM. During the afternoon motorized columns reach Shkodër and Elbasan. The Italian commander, General Alfredo Guzzoni, lands in Tirana and shortly afterwards the Italian foreign minister, Galeazzo Ciano, also arrives by air and tells an Albanian delegation that the Italian troops have come to ensure order, prosperity, and progress, without interfering with Albania's existence as a nation.

    April 12 A Constituent Assembly, summoned by the provisional committee of pro-Italian notables which has taken over the administration, meets in Tirana and approves a personal union with Italy: Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III is to become the King of Albania.

    Shefqet Bej Verlaci becomes prime minister. His cabinet includes Xhemil Dino (foreign minister), Fejzi Alizoti (finance), Xhafer Ypi (justice), Andon Beça (economy), and Ernest Koliqi (education).

    Shefqet Bej Verlaci also becomes the acting Head of State until Victor Emmanuel III comes to the throne.

    April 14 Albania withdraws from the League of Nations.

    April 16 An Albanian delegation headed by the new prime minister goes to the Quirinale in Rome to formally offer the crown of Albania to Victor Emmanuel III. The King accepts the crown, holding the crowns of Italy, Ethiopia and Albania in personal union.

    April 22 Francesco Jacomoni di San Savino is appointed the king's lieutenant-general (viceroy) in Albania.

    1940 The constitution of Albania is voided. The Albanian Fascist Party is established. The Albanian army is merged into the Royal Italian Army. The National Assembly and the government are subject to the Italian viceroy and his officials. Italy wins partial support of the Albanian public by defending Albania's claims to Kosovo and Chameria. Respectively held at the time by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Kingdom of Greece.

    October The Greco-Italian War begins. Royal Italian Army invades the Kingdom of Greece through Albania.

    October 28 From Albania, Italian forces (157,000 men) commanded by General Sebastiano Visconti Prasca invade Greece. A contingent of Albanian auxiliary forces (12,000 men) participate in Italy's campaign against Greece.

    1941 April Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Bulgaria, the Kingdom of Romania and the Croatian Ustaše perform a successful Invasion of Yugoslavia. Germany proceeds to invade Greece. The Battle of Greece ends with an Axis victory, with Crete holding out until June. The Axis occupation of Greece effectively partitions the country between Germany, Italy and Bulgaria. The Italians occupied the bulk of the Greek mainland and most of the islands. The Italians orchestrate the annexation of areas of Greek Epirus by Albania, citing the presence of a significant Albanian minority (the Cham Albanians). This plan is vetoed by Germany.[18]

    October Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav communist leader, directs organizing of Albanian communists.

    November Albanian Communist Party founded; Enver Hoxha becomes first secretary.

    November 8 The Albanian Communist Party is founded.


    December 3 Mustafa Merlika-Kruja becomes Prime Minister.

    1942 September 1942
    The Albanian Communist Party organizes the National Liberation Movement, a popular front resistance organization.

    September 16, 1942

    At the Conference of Pezë, the National Liberation Movement is established.

    October 1942
    Noncommunist nationalist groups form to resist the Italian occupation.

    1943 August
    The Kingdom of Italy signs an Armistice with the Allies of World War II. The Royal Italian Army and the Regia Aeronautica mostly disintegrate, the Regia Marina joins the Allies in Malta and Sardinia. The Italian Co-Belligerent Army, Italian Co-Belligerent Navy and Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force form in Southern Italy, joining the Allied cause. Nazi Germany establishes a puppet state in Northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic. Its armed forces form the Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano, the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, with a very small naval force forming the Marina Nazionale Repubblicana. Italian hold on areas outside the Italian Peninsula weakens. This includes Albania; Albanian resistance fighters overwhelm five Italian divisions.


    Wehrmacht forces invade and occupy Albania. The Albanian Kingdom becomes a puppet state of Nazi Germany

    1944 January
    The Communist partisans, supplied with British weapons, gain control of the southern Albania.

    May 1944
    The Communists meet to organize an Albanian government; Enver Hoxha becomes chairman of executive committee and supreme commander of the National Liberation Movement.

    July 1944
    The Communist forces enter central and northern Albania.

    October 1944
    The Communists establish a provisional government with Enver Hoxha as prime minister.

    November 1944
    The Wehrmacht withdraw from Tirana, the Communists move into the capital.

    December 1944
    The Communist provisional government adopts laws allowing state regulation of commercial enterprises, foreign and domestic trade.

    1945 January
    Communist provisional government agrees to restore Kosovo to Yugoslavia as an autonomous region; tribunals begin to condemn thousands of "war criminals" and "enemies of the people" to death or to prison. Communist regime begins to nationalize industry, transportation, forests, pastures.

    Yugoslavia recognizes communist government in Albania.

    Sweeping agricultural reforms begin; about half of arable land eventually redistributed to peasants from large landowners; most church properties nationalized. United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration begins sending supplies to Albania.

    Soviet Union recognizes provisional government; Britain and United States make full diplomatic recognition conditional.

    In elections for the People's Assembly only candidates from the Democratic Front are on ballot.


    1946 January
    People's Assembly proclaims the People's Republic of Albania; purges of noncommunists from positions of power in government begins.

    Spring People's Assembly adopts new constitution, Enver Hoxha becomes Prime Minister of Albania, foreign minister, defense minister, and commander-in-chief; Soviet-style central planning begins.

    Treaty of friendship and cooperation signed with Yugoslavia; Yugoslav advisers and grain begin pouring into Albania.

    26 October: Two British ships destroyed by mines off Albania's coast in the Straits of Corfu, see Corfu Channel Incident, .

    Albania breaks diplomatic relations with the United States after the latter withdraws its informal mission.

    1947 April

    Economic Planning Commission draws up first economic plan that established production targets for mining, manufacturing and agricultural enterprises.
    United Nations Security Council Resolution 22 recommends that the International Court of Justice settle the dispute between the UK and Albania regarding the sinking of two British ships in the Straits of Corfu in the Corfu Channel Incident.

    A United Nations commission concludes that Albania, together with Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, supported communist guerrillas in the Greek Civil War; Yugoslav leaders launch verbal offensive against anti-Yugoslav Albanian communists, including Hoxha; pro-Yugoslav faction begins to wield power.

    Albania refuses participation in the Marshall Plan of the United States.

    1948 February-March
    Albanian Communist Party leaders vote to merge Albanian and Yugoslav economies and militaries.

    Cominform expels Yugoslavia; Albanian leaders launch anti-Yugoslav propaganda campaign, cut economic ties, and force Yugoslav advisers to leave; Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, becomes national hero in Albania.

    Hoxha begins purging high-ranking party members accused of Titoism; treaty of friendship with Yugoslavia abrogated by Albania; Soviet Union begins giving economic aid to Albania and Soviet advisers replace ousted Yugoslavs.

    First Party Congress changes name of the "Communist Party of Albania" to Party of Labour of Albania.

    1949 January
    Regime issues Decree on Religious Communities.

    Albania joins Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon); all foreign trade conducted with member countries.

    Albanian communists considered supporters of Josip Broz Tito, Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, are purged.

    1950 Britain and United States begin inserting anticommunist Albanian guerrilla units into Albania; all are unsuccessful.

    A new constitution is approved by People's Assembly. Hoxha becomes minister of defense and foreign minister.

    1951 February
    Albania and Soviet Union sign agreement on mutual economic assistance.

    1954 July
    Hoxha relinquishes post of Prime Minister to Mehmet Shehu but retains primary power as First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania.

    1955 May
    Albania becomes a founding member of the Warsaw Pact.

    1956 February
    In February, Nikita Khrushchev's delivers his famous speech "On the Personality Cult and its Consequences". In the speech, Khrushchev criticized actions taken by the regime of Joseph Stalin, particularly the purges of the military and the upper Party echelons, and the development of Stalin's personality cult, while maintaining support for the ideals of Communism by invoking Vladimir Lenin. He also introduced the concept of peaceful coexistence between Communist and Capitalist states. Enver Hoxha adopts an Anti-Revisionism stance, comdemning these ideological moves; close relations with Soviet Union become strained.

    1959 Large amounts of economic aid from Soviet Union, East European countries, and China begin pouring into Albania.

    Khrushchev visits Albania.

    1960 June
    Albania sides with China in the Sino-Soviet split; consequently Soviet economic support to Albania is curtailed and Chinese aid is increased.

    Hoxha rails against Khrushchev and supports China during an international communist conference in Moscow.

    1961 February
    Hoxha harangues against the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia at Albania's Fourth Party Congress.

    Soviet Union breaks diplomatic relations; other East European countries severely reduce contacts but do not break relations; Albania looks toward China for support.

    1962 Albanian regime introduces austerity program in attempt to compensate for withdrawal of Soviet economic support; China incapable of delivering sufficient aid; Albania becomes China's spokesman at UN.

    1964 Nikita Khrushchev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, is forced to resign in October. He was facing considerable opposition by an alliance led by Leonid Brezhnev, Alexander Shelepin and Vladimir Semichastny. Enver Hoxha hails the fall of Khrushchev; diplomatic relations between Albania and the Soviet Union fail to improve.

    1966 February
    Hoxha initiates Cultural and Ideological Revolution.

    Albanian Party of Labor "open letter" to the people establishes egalitarian wage and job structure for all workers.

    1967 Hoxha regime conducts violent campaign to extinguish religious life in Albania; by year's end over two thousand religious buildings were closed or converted to other uses.

    1968 August
    Albania condemns the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, subsequently Albania withdraws from Warsaw Pact.

    1976 September
    Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China, dies. A period of power struggles begins. The so-called Gang of Four (Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan) maintains power for about a month, ousted by a coup in October. Hua Guofeng rises to power and begins abandoning the mandates of the Cultural Revolution. He is replaced by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, which also marks the beginning of a major economic reform in the People's Republic of China. Enver Hoxha becomes increasingly critical of the new Chinese regime(s), leading to a cooling of the relations between Albania and China.

    A new constitution promulgated superseding the 1950 version; Albania renamed to Socialist People's Republic of Albania.

    1977 Top military officials purged after "Chinese conspiracy" is uncovered.

    1978 July
    China terminates all economic and military aid to Albania.

    1980 Hoxha selects Ramiz Alia as the next party head, bypassing Shehu.

    1981 December
    Shehu, after rebuke by Politburo, kills himself, possibly murdered on Hoxha's orders.

    1982 November
    Alia becomes chairman of Presidium of the People's Assembly.

    1983 Hoxha begins semiretirement; Alia starts administering Albania.

    1985 April
    Hoxha dies.

    1986 November
    Alia featured as party's and country's undisputed leader at Ninth Party Congress.

    1987 August
    Greece ends state of war that existed since World War II.

    Albania and Greece sign a series of long-term agreements.

    1989 September
    Alia, addressing the Eighth Plenum of the Central Committee, signals that radical changes to the economic system are necessary.


    1990 January
    Ninth Plenum of the Central Committee; demonstrations at Shkodër force authorities to declare state of emergency.

    Alia declares willingness to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and the United States.

    Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Secretary-General of the United Nations, visits Albania.

    Regime announces desire to join the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. People's Assembly passes laws liberalizing criminal code, reforming court system, lifting some restrictions on freedom of worship, and guaranteeing the right to travel abroad.

    Summer Unemployment throughout the economy increases as a result of government's reform measures; drought reduces electric-power production, forcing plant shutdowns.

    Young people demonstrate against regime in Tirana, and 5,000 citizens seek refuge in foreign embassies; Central Committee plenum makes significant changes in leadership of party and state. Soviet Union and Albania sign protocol normalizing their relations.

    Government abandons its monopoly on foreign commerce and begins to open Albania to foreign trade.

    Alia addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

    Tirana hosts the Balkan Foreign Ministers' Conference, the first international political meeting in Albania since the end of World War II. Ismail Kadare, Albania's most prominent writer, defects to France.

    University students demonstrate in streets and call for dictatorship to end; Alia meets with students; Thirteenth Plenum of the Central Committee of the APL authorizes a multiparty system; Democratic Party of Albania, first opposition party established; regime authorizes political pluralism; draft constitution is published; by year's end, 5,000 Albanian refugees had crossed the mountains into Greece.

    1991 January
    First opposition newspaper Rilindja Demokratike begins publishing. Thousands of Albanians seek refuge in Greece.

    Albania and the United States reestablish diplomatic relations after a 35-year break. Thousands more Albanians attempt to gain asylum in Italy.

    First multiparty elections held since the 1920s; 98.9 percent of voters participated; Albanian Party of Labor wins over 67 percent of vote for People's Assembly seats; Albanian Democratic Party wins about 30 percent.

    Communist-dominated People's Assembly reelects Alia to new presidential term. Ministry of Internal Affairs replaced by Ministry of Public Order; Frontier Guards and Directorate of Prison Administration are placed under the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Justice, respectively. People's Assembly passes Law on Major Constitutional Provisions providing for fundamental human rights and separation of powers and invalidates 1976 constitution. People's Assembly appoints commission to draft new constitution.

    Prime Minister Fatos Nano and rest of cabinet resign after trade unions call for general strike to protest worsening economic conditions and killing of opposition demonstrators in Shkodër. Coalition government led by Prime Minister Ylli Bufi takes office; Tenth Party Congress of the Albanian Party of Labor meets and renames party the Socialist Party of Albania (SPA); Albania accepted as a full member of the OSCE Minsk Group; James Baker, Secretary of State of the United States, visits Albania.

    Sigurimi, notorious secret police, is abolished and replaced by National Information Service.

    Up to 18,000 Albanians cross the Adriatic Sea to seek asylum in Italy; most are returned. People's Assembly passes law on economic activity that authorizes private ownership of property, privatizing of state property, investment by foreigners, and private employment of workers.

    United States Embassy in Tirana opened. Albania joins International Monetary Fund.

    Coalition government dissolves when opposition parties accuse communists of blocking reform and Albanian Democratic Party withdraws its ministers from the cabinet. Prime Minister Bufi resigns and Alia names Vilson Ahmeti as Prime Minister. Alia sets March 1992 for new elections.

    1992 February
    The People's Assembly prevents OMONIA, the party representing Greek Albanians, from fielding candidates in the elections planned for March.

    March 22 and 29
    In the midst of economic freefall and social chaos, a decisive electoral victory is won by the anticommunist opposition led by the Democratic Party. The Democrats win 62% of the votes and achieve an overall majority with 92 of the 140 seats in the parliament. The Socialists, with 26% of the vote, win 38 seats. Turnout is 90%.

    April 3
    Alia resigns as president and is succeeded on April 9 by Sali Berisha, the first democratic leader of Albania since Bishop Noli. The first non-Communist government, headed by Aleksander Meksi, is elected on April 13. Its stated priority is to establish law and order to transform the paralyzed economy through a reform program emphasizing a free-market economy and privatization.

    April 16
    Eduard Selami is elected chairman of the Democratic Party.

    Albania signs the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Pact with ten other countries, including six former Soviet republics. The Pact establishes the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

    The Albanian Communist Party is outlawed, and its chairman, Hysni Milloshi, is arrested in Tirana and charged with illegally carrying a gun.

    July 26
    Four months after its March defeat, the Socialist Party makes impressive gains in the country's first democratic local elections. The Democratic Party wins 43.2% of the vote, compared to 41.3% cast for the Socialists. Continued economic hardships, general apathy, and a split within the Democratic Party contributed to its poor showing. It holds local administrative control in most large cities, while the Socialists control much of the countryside.

    Former President Alia is detained, joining eighteen other former communist officials, including Nexhmije Hoxha, who are charged with corruption and other offenses.

    November 3
    The split in the Democratic Party grows into a rift when a group of reform-minded Democrats break away and form a new party, the Democratic Alliance.

    Albania is granted membership of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and in the same month applies to join NATO, becoming the first former Warsaw Pact country formally to seek membership in the Western alliance.

    1993 January 27
    Nexhmije Hoxha is sentenced to nine years' imprisonment, having been found guilty of embezzling state funds.

    Former prime minister Vilson Ahmeti is placed under house arrest, following charges of corruption.

    Manfred Wörner, Secretary General of NATO visits Tirana.

    Albania recognizes the Republic of Macedonia.

    April 25
    Pope John Paul II makes a historic visit. (The last pope to travel to Albania - in 1464 - died en route.)

    Nexhmije Hoxha's prison sentence is increased by two years.

    Albania expels a Greek Orthodox cleric, who is alleged to have distributed maps showing southern Albania as Greek territory. Greece subsequently deports thousands of illegal Albanian migrant workers.

    July 30
    The leader of the Socialist Party, former prime minister Nano, is arrested on allegations of abuse of power.

    Alia is arrested on charges of abuse of power.

    Ahmeti is sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

    President Berisha and President Momir Bulatovic of Montenegro meet in Tirana to discuss ways of improving Albanian-Montenegrin relations.

    Greece recalls its ambassador for consultations after a series of border incidents and alleged human rights abuses in Albania.