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Dr IWAN SUWANDY, MHA
The History of Albania emerges from the prehistoric stage from the 4th century BC, with early records of Illyria in Greco-Roman historiography. The modern territory of Albania has no counterpart in antiquity, comprising parts of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia (southern Illyricum), Macedonia (particularly Epirus Nova), and Moesia Superior. The territory remained under Roman (Byzantine) control until the Slavic migrations of the 7th century, and was integrated into the Bulgarian Empire in the 9th century.
The territorial nucleus of the Albanian state forms in the Middle Ages, as the Principality of Arbër and the Kingdom of Albania. The first records of the Albanian people as a distinct ethnicity also date to this period. The area was conquered in the 15th century by the Ottoman Empire and remained under Ottoman control as part of the Rumelia province until 1912, when the first independent Albanian state was declared. The formation of an Albanian national consciousness dates to the later 19th century and is part of the larger phenomenon of rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire. A short-lived monarchy (1914–1925) was succeeded by an even shorter-lived first Albanian Republic (1925–1928), to be replaced by another monarchy (1928–1939), which was conquered into Fascist Italy during World War II. After the collapse of the Axis powers, Albania became a communist state, the Socialist People’s Republic of Albania, which for the most part of its duration was dominated by Enver Hoxha (d. 1985). Hoxha’s political heir Ramiz Alia oversaw the disintegration of the “Hoxhaist” state during the wider collapse of the Eastern Bloc in the later 1980s.
The communist regime collapsed in 1990, and the Republic of Albania was founded in 1991 and the former communist party was routed in elections March 1992, amid economic collapse and social unrest. Further crisis during the 1990s, peaking in the 1997 Lottery Uprising, led to mass emigration of Albanians, mostly to Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Germany and to North America during the 1990s. Albania became a full member of NATO in 2009. The country is applying to join the European Union.
The Illyrians derive from early Indo-European presence in western Balkan Peninsula. Their formation can be assumed to coincide with the beginning Iron Age in the Balkans, during the early 1st millennium BC.
Archaeologists associate the Illyrians with the Hallstatt culture, an Iron Age people noted for production of iron, bronze swords with winged-shaped handles, and domestication of horses. It is impossible to delineate Illyrian tribes from Paleo-Balkans in a strict linguistic sense, but areas classically included under “Illyrian” for the Balkans Iron Age include the area of the Danube, Sava, and Morava rivers to the Adriatic Sea and the Shar Mountains.
The territory of Albania in antiquity was mainly inhabited by Illyrian tribes, who, like other ancient people, were subdivided into tribes and clans.The region was also inhabited by Bryges, a Phrygian people and the Chaones, an ancient Greek people.
The Illyrians (Ancient Greek: Ἰλλυριοί; Latin: Illyrii or Illyri) were a group of tribes who inhabited the Western Balkans during classical antiquity. The territory the tribes covered came to be known as Illyria to Greek and Roman authors, corresponding roughly to the area between Adriatic sea in west, Drava river in North, Morava river in east and the mouth of Vjosë river in south.The first account of Illyrian peoples comes from Periplus or Coastal passage an ancient Greek text of the middle of the 4th century BC.
 Roman Era
The Roman province of Illyricum or Illyris Romana or Illyris Barbara or Illyria Barbara replaced most of the region of Illyria. It stretched from the Drilon river in modern Albania to Istria (Croatia) in the west and to the Sava river (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the north. Salona (near modern Split in Croatia) functioned as its capital.The regions which it included changed through the centuries though a great part of ancient Illyria remained part of Illyricum. South Illyria became Epirus Nova, part of the Roman province of Macedonia. In 357 AD the region was part of the Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum one of four large praetorian prefectures into which the Late Roman Empire was divided. By 395 AD dioceses in which the region was divided were the Diocese of Dacia (as Pravealitana), and the Diocese of Macedonia (as Epirus Nova). Most of the region of modern Albania corresponds to the Epirus Nova.
Christianity came to Epirus nova, then part of the Roman province of Macedonia. Since the first and second century AD, Christianity had become the established religion in Byzantium, supplanting pagan polytheism and eclipsing for the most part the humanistic world outlook and institutions inherited from the Greek and Roman civilizations.
When the Roman Empire was divided into eastern and western halves in A.D. 395, Illyria east of the Drinus River (Drina between Bosnia and Serbia), including the lands that now form Albania, were administered by the Eastern Empire but were ecclesiastically dependent on Rome. But, though the country was in the fold of Byzantium, Christians in the region remained under the jurisdiction of the Roman pope until 732. In that year the iconoclast Byzantine emperor Leo III, angered by archbishops of the region because they had supported Rome in the Iconoclastic Controversy, detached the church of the province from the Roman pope and placed it under the patriarch of Constantinople. When the Christian church split in 1054 between the East and Rome,the region of southern Albania retained its ties to Constantinople while the north reverted to the jurisdiction of Rome. This split in marked the first significant religious fragmentation of the country.
After the formation of the Slav principality of Dioclia (modern Montenegro), the metropolitan see of Bar was created in 1089, and dioceses in northern Albania (Shkodër, Ulcinj) became its suffragans. Starting in 1019, Albanian dioceses of the Byzantine rite were suffragans of the independent Archdiocese of Ohrid until Dyrrachion and Nicopolis, were re-established as metropolitan sees. Thereafter, only the dioceses in inner Albania (Elbasan, Krujë) remained attached to Ohrid. In the 13th century during the Venetian occupation, the Latin Archdiocese of Durrës was founded.
 Middle Ages
 Barbarian invasions and Early Middle Ages
After the region fell to the Romans in 168 BC it became part of Epirus nova that was in turn part of the Roman province of Macedonia.Later it was part of provinces of the Byzantine empire called Themes.
In the first decades under Byzantine rule (until 461), Epirus nova suffered the devastation of raids by Visigoths, Huns, and Ostrogoths. Not long after these barbarian invaders swept through the Balkans, the Slavs appeared. Between the 6th and 8th centuries they settled in Roman territories. In the 4th century, barbarian tribes began to prey upon the Roman Empire. The Germanic Goths and Asiatic Huns were the first to arrive, invading in mid-century; the Avars attacked in A.D. 570; and the Croatian tribes invaded in the early 7th century. In general, the invaders destroyed or weakened Roman and Byzantine cultural centers in the lands that would become Albania.
 Late Middle Ages
The territory of modern Albania was part of the Bulgarian Empire during certain periods in the Middle Ages, and parts of what is now eastern Albania were populated and ruled by the Bulgarians for centuries. The Serbs occupied parts of northern and eastern Albania toward the end of the 12th century. In 1204, after Western crusaders sacked Constantinople, Venice won nominal control over Albania and the Epirus region of northern Greece and took possession of Durrës. During the Serbian Occupation the first Albanian state of the Middle Ages was created. The proclamation of the Principality of Arbër of Arberia, in northern Albania, with Kruja as the capital, took place in 1190. The founder of this state was Progoni, who was succeeded by Gjini and then by Dhimiter. After the fall of the Principality of Arber in territories captured by the Despotate of Epiros, the Kingdom of Albania was established by Charles of Anjou. He took the title of King of Albania in February, 1272. In the mid 14th century, Albania was entirely independent save for Durrës which was part of the Serbian Empire.
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 that refers to Albanians in an ethnic sense.
 Ottoman rule
Ethnic composition map of the Balkans by the pro-Greek  A. Synvet of 1877, a French professor of the Ottoman Lyceum of Constantinople.
Ottoman supremacy in the Balkan region began in 1385 with the Battle of Savra but was briefly interrupted in the 15th century, when Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu, an Albanian who had served as an Ottoman military officer, renounced Ottoman service, allied with some Albanian chiefs and fought off Turkish rule from 1443-1478. Upon the Ottomans’ return, a large number of Albanians fled to Italy, Greece and Egypt and maintained their Arbëresh identity. Many Albanians won fame and fortune as soldiers, administrators, and merchants in far-flung parts of the Empire. As the centuries passed, however, Ottoman rulers lost the capacity to command the loyalty of local pashas, which threatened stability in the region. The Ottoman rulers of the nineteenth century struggled to shore up central authority, introducing reforms aimed at harnessing unruly pashas and checking the spread of nationalist ideas. Albania would be a part of the Ottoman Empire until the early 20th century.
 Birth of nationalism
By the 1870s, the Sublime Porte’s reforms aimed at checking the Ottoman Empire’s disintegration had clearly failed. The image of the “Turkish yoke” had become fixed in the nationalist mythologies and psyches of the empire’s Balkan peoples, and their march toward independence quickened. The Albanians, because of the higher degree of Islamic influence, their internal social divisions, and the fear that they would lose their Albanian-populated lands to the emerging Balkan states–Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece were the last of the Balkan peoples to desire division from the Ottoman Empire.
Albanian leaders formed the League of Prizren in 1878 with the backing of sultan Abdulhamid II, through which they pressed for territorial autonomy and defense of the Albanian lands from the onslaught of their neighbours, but internal issues within the League of Prizren prevented Albanians to reach unity and the League efforts failed in 1881.
 20th century
In 1912, after three decades of unrest, a major uprising exploded in the Albanian-populated Ottoman territories, on the eve of the First Balkan War. When Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece laid claim to Albanian lands during the war, the Albanians declared independence.
The European Great Powers endorsed an independent Albania in 1913, after the Second Balkan War leaving outside the Albanian border more than half of the Albanian population and their lands, that were partitioned between Montenegro,Serbia and Greece. They were assisted by Aubrey Herbert, a British MP who passionately advocated their cause in London. As a result, Herbert was offered the crown of Albania, but was dissuaded by the British prime minister, H. H. Asquith, from accepting. Instead the offer went to William of Wied, a German prince who accepted and became sovereign of the new Principality of Albania.
The young state, however, collapsed within weeks of the outbreak of World War I. Before this, Albanians rebelled against the German prince and declared the independence of their country from the jurisdiction of the great powers and established throughout the country a Muslim regime under the leadership of a local warrior, Haji Qamil. Meanwhile in the country’s south the local Greek population, revolted against the incorporation of the area into the new Albanian state and declared the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus at February 28.
This situation did not last for a long time as World War I erupted and Albania was invaded by Montenegro, Serbia, Austria-Hungary, Greece, Italy, and France. After World War I, Albania was still under the occupation of Serbian and Italian forces. It was a rebellion of the respective populations of Northern and Southern Albania that pushed back the Serbs and Italians behind the recognized borders of Albania.
 World War I and its effects
Albania achieved a degree of statehood after World War I, in part because of the diplomatic intercession of the United States. The country suffered from a debilitating lack of economic and social development, however, and its first years of independence were fraught with political instability. Unable to survive a predatory environment without a foreign protector, Albania became the object of tensions between Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (the later Yugoslavia), which both sought to dominate the country.
In late 1924 Ahmed Bey Zogu, then Albanian founding father and politician emerged victorious from an internal political power struggle against Prime Minister Fan Noli using Yugoslav military assistance. Zogu, however, quickly turned his back on Belgrade and looked instead to Benito Mussolini‘s Italy for patronage. Under Zogu, Albania joined the Italian coalition against Yugoslavia of Kingdom of Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria in 1924-1927. After the United Kingdom’s and France’s political intervention in 1927 with the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the alliance crumbled. In 1928 the country’s parliament declared Albania a kingdom and Zogu King. King Zog remained a conservative, but initiated reforms, for example, in an attempt at social modernisation the custom of adding one’s region to one’s name was dropped. Zog also made donations of land to international organisations for the building of schools and hospitals. Mussolini’s forces overthrew King Zog when Italy invaded Albania in 1939.
 World War II and the rise of communism
The National Liberation War of the Albanian people started with the Italian invasion in Albanian in April 7, 1939 and ended in November 28, 1944. During the antifascist national liberation war, the Albanian people fought against Italy and Germany, which occupied the country. In the 1939-1941 period, the antifascist resistance was led by the National Front nationalist groups and later by the Communist Party. The Albanian communists supported the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, and did not participate in the antifascist struggle until Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. The communists turned the so-called war of liberation into a civil war, especially after the discovery of the Dalmazzo-Kelcyra protocol, signed by the Balli Kombetar. The communist forces liberated Albania from the German forces by pursuing the German army till Višegrad, Bosnia (then Yugoslavia) in collaboration with the Yugoslav communist forces.
After having taken over power of the country, the Albanian communists launched a tremendous terror campaign, shooting intellectuals and arresting thousands of innocent people. Some died due to suffering torture.
 Communist rule
Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu emerged as communist leaders in Albania. They began to concentrate primarily on securing and maintaining their power base by killing all their political adversaries, and secondarily on preserving Albania’s independence and reshaping the country according to the precepts of Stalinism so they could remain in power forever. Throughout all rule, Hoxha engineered an elaborate cult of personality that elevated him to the status of a blood-thirsty idol. When he died in 1985, grandiose and ridiculous mourning ceremonies were organized, where people were trained to cry.
Soon after Hoxha’s death, voices for change emerged in the Albanian society and the government began to seek closer ties with the West in order to improve economic conditions, and initial democratic reforms were introduced including multi-party elections in 1991. Pursuant to a 1991 interim basic law, Albanians ratified a constitution in 1998, establishing a democratic system of government based upon the rule of law and guaranteeing the protection of fundamental human rights. But the question was other. The power fell on hands of communists, with the force of weapons, that blockaded all reforms and gave pretext to rise the corruption. Private property were recognized and returned to their owner. The political prisoners were not compensated for their years of condemnation. The Europeans didn’t intervene to oblige the last governments to apply the reforms on that sense.
Since 1992 Albania has been seeking a closer relationship with the West. In 1992 the Democratic Party of Albania took control of the country through democratic elections. What followed were deliberate programs of economic and democratic reform, but Albanian inexperience with capitalism led to the proliferation of pyramid schemes – which were not banned due to the corruption of the government. Anarchy in late 1996 to early 1997, as a result of the collapse of these pyramid schemes, alarmed the world and prompted international mediation.
In the 1997 unrest in Albania the general elections of June 1997 brought the Socialists and their allies to power. President Berisha resigned from his post, and Socialists elected Rexhep Meidani as president of Albania. Albanian Socialist Party Chairman Fatos Nano was elected Prime Minister, a post which he held until October 1998, when he resigned as a result of the tense situation created in the country after the assassination of Azem Hajdari, a prominent leader of the Democratic Party. Pandeli Majko was then elected Prime Minister, and he served in this post until November 1999, when he was replaced by Ilir Meta. Albania approved its constitution through a popular referendum which was held in November 1998, but which was boycotted by the opposition. The general local elections of October 2000 marked the loss of control of the Democrats over the local governments and a victory for the Socialists.
 Recent history (2001 to present)
Although Albania has made strides toward democratic reform and maintaining the rule of law, serious deficiencies in the electoral code remain to be addressed, as demonstrated in the June 2001 parliamentary elections.
International observers judged the 2001 elections to be acceptable, but the Union for Victory Coalition, the second-largest vote recipient, disputed the results and boycotted parliament until January 31, 2002. The Socialists re-elected Ilir Meta as Prime Minister in August 2001, a post which he held till February 2002, when he resigned due to party infighting. Pandeli Majko was re-elected Prime Minister in February 2002. In the June of 2005, the democratic coalition formed a government with prime minuster Sali Berisha. After Alfred Moisiu, in 2006 Bamir Topi was elected President of Albania until 2010.
Despite the political situation, the economy of Albania grew at an estimated 5% in 2007. The Albanian lek has strengthened from 143 lekë to the US dollar in 2000 to 92 lekë in 2007. In 2008 Albania officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
the edn@copyright XDr Iwan Suwandy 2010