History - Albania

At the beginning of the third millennium B.C., an Indo- European population was established in the area and as a result of the merge, a population was conceived that retained specific cultural and language characteristics in the Balkan Peninsula (pelasgians tribe). Between the second millennium and the first century B.C., the Illyrian population was founded. Like the Greeks, the Illyrians succeeded in preserving their language and traditions in spite of Roman occupation.

Albania is considered as one of the regions with the most ancient population traces in the Balkans and Europe.

There are precisely the evidences of numerous archaeological findings in different parts of the Albanian regions, such as those of Lepenica in Vlora , Tren in Korca, Xara in Saranda, nearby Shkodra at Selca, Dajti Mountain, Prizren etc., that prove for traces of ancient population on Albanian territory. By studying these archaeological objects, it has been proved that the first Albanian settlements have started to be inhabited in the middle of the Paleolithic period (100,000 to 40,000 years BC).

Likewise, during the Neolithic period (6000 – 2600 BC), it’s indicated a much more dense population on Albanian territories. This is noted in the archaeological excavations, carried out in the area of Korça, where 12 settlements are found belonging to this period. Such settlements have also been discovered in Cakran, Kolonjë, in the valley of the Black Drin River in Mat, in Përmet etc.

Prehistoric painted cave of Lepenica near Vlora

The Indo-European population settled here at the beginning of the III millennium BC. As a result of this merger, a new population was created in the Balkan Peninsula (Pelasgians), which preserved the specific cultural and language characteristics.

Illyrian Tummulus of Kamenica near Korca

This ancient population became the ancestors of the Illyrians between the II Millennium and I century B.C. After its fall in the year 30 B.C., and at the end of three Illyrian-Roman wars, Illyria fell under the control of the latter.

Skanderbeg Museum , Illyrians vs Romans

After the division of the Roman Empire (395 B.C.), Illyria became part of the Byzantine Empire.

Byllis Archaeological site , Albania

Although they were under Roman conquest the Illyrians retained their language and traditions for centuries. “Via Egnatia”, the most important trade route between Rome and Constantinople (Byzantium), passed through the port of Durrës.

Via Egnatia – Albania

The first three Byzantine emperors (Anastasius I, Justin and Justinian I) were of Illyrian origin. The attacks by Barbarian migrating tribes (Visigoths, Huns, Ostrogoths and Slavs) continued during the V and VI century. In 1344, Albania was under the rule of the Serbian Kingdom. After its fall in the war against Turkey in 1389, the Arbëresh principalities were created.

The Principality of Balshaj was the most important one. The region was open to the Ottoman attacks, which gradually managed to take Arbëria under the rule. The culmination of the anti-Ottoman resistance reached during the years 1443-1468, when the Albanian national hero Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg led the revolt of the Albanians against the Ottomans.

Church of Saint Mary in Apollonia – Fier – Albania

During this period, Arbëria turned into a key factor in the entire Europe. After the formation of a coalition of Arbër Feudal in the Historical League of Lezha, held on March 2nd, 1444, the National Hero, Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, led for 25 years the resistance against the Ottoman threat.

There were three Ottoman attacks n Kruja, all of which failed and only 10 years after the death of Skanderbeg, in 1478, they finally managed to capture Kruja. For more than 400 years, Albania was under the Ottoman regime. Albanian Resistance continued during the subsequent periods, being inspired especially by the Illuminist movement of the Albanian National Renaissance, which emerged in XIX century.

The Castle in Kruje, Albania

Successive revolts and efforts reached their peak with the proclamation of the National Independence on November 28th, 1912. The Assembly of Vlora established the first Albanian government led by Ismail Qemali. During the First World War, which broke out in 1914, Albania turned into a battlefield for different occupation troops, such as Austrian-Hungarian, Italian and French troops. The Congress of Lushnja, held in 1920, aimed to maintain the territorial integrity of Albania after the First World War.

Independence Monument , Vlore , Albania

This Congress proclaimed Tirana as the capital of Albania. In the same year, Albania adhered to the “League of Nations”. After a period of political turmoil in 1924, the country went through a bourgeois-democratic revolution and immediately after it, the country was led by the government of Fan Noli. In 1928, the country was declared a monarchy under King Zog I. The latter pursued a policy of rapprochement with Italy and Great Britain, but without being able to avoid a military occupation of Albania by Italian fascists.

Congress of Lushnja

On April 7th, 1939, the country was occupied by Mussolini’s troops, putting an end to the monarchy regime that lasted 11 years. In 1943, the country was occupied by Hitler’s Nazi forces. The resistance to foreign attacks is known as Anti-Fascist National Liberation Front. The end of World War II brought into force the Stalinist regime of Enver Hoxha.

New York Times news about Italian invasion of Albania

For about 50 years, the totalitarian regime followed a policy of isolation, leaving the country in economic poverty and totally isolated from the international community. Its economic policy was based on the principle of “relying on its own forces”, by banning loans and credits from abroad. This situation continued until 1991 when Albania, as a consequence of new winds that blew in Eastern Europe, eventually emerged from isolation.

Enver Hoxha painted as the leader of Albania

Since 1991, Albania holds pluralistic elections. The Socialist Party, along with its allies, is currently in power since 2013. Since 2009, Albania adhered to NATO as a member with full rights. The country is now undergoing a series of reforms, which aim the integration of Albania into the European Community.

The fall of Enver Hoxha statue in Tirana in 1991

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