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History of Albania

To provide even a brief long term history of Albania would take volumes. I have outlined below events that have played a significant part over the past century, resulting in Albania as it is today is best learnt from visiting the museums, churches and monuments. I would also recommend the book 'ALBANIA' written by Agim Neza, published in English by 'Ilar'.

1914 - During the first world war Albania was at various times partly invaded or controlled by Greece, Italy, France, Austria and Hungary. At the end of the war it remained under foreign' control.

1920 - Albanian peasants fight the Italian soldiers, leading to the withdrawal of Italian troops. Albania joined the League of Nations.

1921 - Albania recognised, at a meeting of Ambassadors in Paris, to be an independent sovereign state. Albania's first ever election held.

1921- 1924 Various changes of government. In Dec. 1924 Ahmed Zogu led an armed force to overthrow the government of Fan Noli.

1925 - In January Zogu appointed as president.

1928 - Zogu appoints himself King Zog I of Albania.

1938 - Italy takes virtual control of the country through commerce and the economy.

1939 - Mussolini demands that Albania become an Italian protectorate. Italy invades and King Zog went into exile. In 1940 Greece invaded to repel the Italians from it's border and takes control of the south. In 1941 Germany invaded to attack Greece. Albania was at war with all three countries.

1944 - Following the collapse of Italy in September 1943 Germany strengthened it's force in Albania. British Special Services were sent to the country and supplied arms to the Albanian Partisans, who were led by Enver Hoxha. Under the banner of The National Liberation Movement, Hoxha fought the Germans and declared his party the provisional government'. Britain continued to supply the partisans, mainly by air drop. In October 1944 the battle of Tirana virtually saw the end of the German invasion. Hoxha's army, assisted by British Special Services, fought a 19 day bloody battle. Hundreds of partisans were killed. 43 British soldiers lost their lives to liberate Albania.

1945 - Enver Hoxha changes political stance from liberation to communist. For the next four decades he imposed the harshest and most tyrannical dictatorship on the Albanian people.

1946 - Britain and the USA break off all relations with Albania, following damage caused to allied warships in the waters off Corfu.

I960 - Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union sever relations. Albania is now isolated from Europe and the West. Throughout the 60's Hoxha tightens his grip on his people. Churches are closed or destroyed, religion is banned, books are destroyed, listening to foreign radio and music is illegal.

1976 - China breaks off relations. Albania is now totally isolated and remained so until 1990.

1985 - Hoxha dies, allegedly from diabetes. He is succeeded by Ramiz Alia, who made some progress towards change.

1989 - The end of Ceausescu and his regime in Romania worries Ramiz Alia. He removed some restrictions on press and media and started a programme of reform.

1990 - Rioting and illegal emigration attempts were widespread. By the end of the year most of the symbols of communism had been removed and statues of Hoxha toppled.

1991 - In March the first elections for over 60 years were held. The Labour Party [communists] held on to power! Serious rioting followed throughout the year with high loss of life and damage to property.

1992 - Fresh elections are held resulting in victory for the Democrats, under the Presidency of Dr Sali Berisha. Reform begins.

1996 - Elections and Berisha retained control but criticism was made over polling "irregularities'. Unrest was mounting over a possible bank scandal. Overseas Albanians had been encouraged to invest money back into their native country, they were promised high returns. More and more money was pouring in but it became apparent that this was 'pyramid banking'. Interest payments could only be made if more money came in. Investors tried to withdraw their money but the banks could not repay.

1997 - Riots against the government and financial institutions. In March Berisha tries to enforce law and order by military force. Army units sympathetic to the people opened up their weapons stores. The people were now armed with 600,000 [?] Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles. The result was a bloody armed uprising throughout the country. In June Berisha called new elections and the Socialites gained control. Fighting continued against Berisha supporters but by September the country was under control. The Socialist party have retained their majority in subsequent elections and now there is peace and progressive prosperity.

  ©Derek Crane Travel Consultants Ltd 2007.
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