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Albania facts & history in brief

Albania facts & history in brief
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Map of Albania

Albania is a Mediterranean country in southeastern Europe.
It is bordered by Montenegro in the north, Kosovo
in the north-east - both still formally part of
Serbia-Montenegro, the Republic of Macedonia in the
east, and Greece in the south, has a coast on the Adriatic Sea in the west, and a coast on the Ionian Sea in the southwest.
The country is an emerging democracy and is formally named the Republic of Albania (Albanian: Republika e Shqipėrisė).

National motto (not verified): Feja e Shqiptareve ėshtė Shqiptaria (The religion of the Albanians is Albanian national consciousness)
Official language: Albanian ("Shqip" or "gjuha shqipe" in Albanian).

Tirana (Tiranė)
Population: 353,400 (2003)
Coordinates: 41°20' N 19°48' E
Head of State: President
Head of Government Prime Minister
Area: 28,748 km²
Independence: From the Ottoman Empire - November 28, 1912
National Day: 28 November
Religions: Muslim 70%, Greek Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10%
Currency: Lek (Lk) = 100 qindarka ("cents")
Time zone: UTC+2:00
National anthem: Hymni i Flamurit (/Rreth Flamurit tė pėrbashkuar)
Albanian: Hymn to the Flag (/United around the Flag)
Internet TLD: .al
Calling Code: 355

It should be noted that Albania is a name given to the country by foreigners.
In the native language, Albania is called Shqiperi (meaning "eagle's nest"); Albanians themselves are called Shqipetare and the language itself Shqip.

Albania probably derives from the same Indo-European source as the name of the Alps, which also appears in the Scottish "Albainn", for "highlands".
Alternatively, "Albania" may derive from the ancient Indo-European root *albho, meaning "white", which also gave the name Albion, the ancient name of England.
The first known occurance of the word Albanoi as the name of an Illyrian tribe in what is now north-central Albania goes back to 130 AD, in a work of Ptolemy.
Albanopolis of the Albani is a place located on the map of Ptolemy and also named on an ancient family epitaph at Scupi (near Skopje), which has been identified with the Zgėrdhesh hill-fort near Kruja in northern Albania.
Arbanon is likely to be the name of a district - the plain of the Mat has been suggested - rather than a particular place.
An indication of movement from higher altitudes in a much earlier period has been detected in the distribution of place-names ending in -esh that appears to derive from the latin -enisis or -esis, between the Shkumbin and the Mat rivers, with a concentration between Elbasan and Kruja.

The term "Albanoi" may have been slowly spread to other Illyrian tribes until its usage became universal among all the Albanian people.
According to the Albanian scholar Faļk bey Konitza, the term "Albania" did not displace "Illyria" completely until the end of the fourteenth century.
The word "Alba" or "Arba" seems to be connected with the town Arba (modern Rab, Croatia), in prehistoric times inhabited by the semi-Illyrian Liburnians, first mentioned in 360 BC.
Approximately a millennium later, some Byzantine writers used the words "Albanon" and "Arbanon" to indicate the region of Kruja.
Under the Angevine rulers, in the 13th century, the names "Albania" and "Albanenses" indicated the whole country and all the population, as is demonstrated by the works of many ancient Albanian writers such as Budi, Blanco and Bogdano.
We first learn of Albanians in their native land as the Arbanites of Arbanon in Anna Comnenas' account (Alexiad 4) of the troubles in that region caused by the Normans during the reign of her father Alexius I Comneus (1081-1118).
In the History written in 1079-1080, Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates was first to refer 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.
The Italo-Albanians and the Albanian minorities still present in Greece have been known by different names over time: Arbėnuer, Arbėnor, Arbėneshė, Arbreshė, Arbėreshė.
There seems to be no doubt that the root alb- or arb- is earlier than shqip-, from which the modern name of the state (Shqipėria) derives, a name which appears only in the time of the Turkish invasions.
The Albanian name of the country, Shqipėria, translates into English as "Land of the Eagles", hence the two-headed bird on the national flag and emblem, and because of the large presence of these animals in the mountainous zones of Albania.
Albanian names, like all nouns, appear under two forms "indefinite" and "definite".
Hence Tiranė/Tirana, Krujė/Kruja, Elbasan/Elbasani, Durrės/Durrėsi, etc.
The definite form is the equivalent of adding the article "the" in front of the noun.
The common scholarly usage is to mention feminine names in the definite form, while the masculine are mentioned in the indefinite: Tirana, Kruja, Elbasan, Durrės, etc.
But it is not always the case.
Since Albanian territories have long been under foreign rule, historical documents may mention Albanian place-names in their Greek, Latin, Italian (Venetian), Turkish, Slavic, or even French versions.
For instance, Durrės has been called Dyrrachion, Dyrrachium, Durazzo, Draē, Drac and Duras.
Another source of confusion from historical sources may come from a transformation of "-n-" into "-r-", called "rhotacism", which took place in the Southern (Tosk) dialects and prevails in the literary language.
Hence, the Greek/Latin "Avlona" which gave the Italian Valona" is now "Vlora".

In the area that is today Albania, human activity has been present since the beginning of human history.
The earliest inhabitants were probably part of the pre-Indo-European populace that occupied the coastline of most parts of the Mediterranean.
However, their physical remains are scarce and concentrated in the coastal region.
Soon, these first inhabitants were overrun by the Proto-Hellenic tribes that gradually occupied modern-day Greece, southern Macedonia and the southern part of present-day Albania.
This process was completed over the second millennium BC and did not really affect northern or central Albania, an area that at the time presented the image of a political vacuum (in essence a historical paradox).
Illyrians were relative late comers to the Balkan arena.
Though their presence can be traced back to 900 BC, their political structure was formulated in the 7th and 6th centuries BC.
Excellent metal craftsmen and fierce warriors, the Illyrians formed warlord-based kingdoms that fought amongst themselves for most of their history.
Only during the 6th century BC did the Illyrians venture significant raids against their immediate neighbours, the Greek kingdom of the Mollosoi in northern Epirus (present southern Albania), the kingdom of Macedonia and the kingdom of Paionia (now in northern Republic of Macedonia).
Probably their most important success was the slaughter of Perdiccas III, king of Macedonia.
Unfortunately for the Illyrians, Perdiccas was succeeded by Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, who effectively terminated the Illyrian aggresion.
The Illyrians were also traders of agricultural products and metal works.
Their culture was influenced by the Greek-Macedonian culture (mainly the south Illyrian tribes).
Greek influence was spread further by the presence of several ancient Greek colonies along the Albanian coast.
Albania became part of the Roman and Byzantine Empires before succumbing to a wave of invaders in the Middle Ages, losing most of its original population and finally becaming a part of the Ottoman Empire in 1478.
Although its most famous leader Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeg, the Albanian National Hero, put up years of resistance to Ottoman rule, the Ottomans nonetheless secured control of the country and held it for the next 450 years.
During this time, many of its people were converted to Islam.
After the First Balkan War, Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, becoming a principality.
In 1914, the great powers agreed to try and unify Albania under a neutral prince, but Prince William of Weid proved an unsuccessful leader and came into conflict with his War Minister, Essed Pasha (a former warlord who had ruled much of central Albania).
Essed was supported by Italy and Serbia and the prince by Austria-Hungary, and the resulting rebellion saw Essed flee to Italy, then return as his men beseiged Prince William in Durrės.
Prince William left Albania in September 1914, only six months after his arrival, while bands of Greek bandits effectively ruled the south of the country.
From 1928 on, the country was ruled by King Zog I until 1938, when it was annexed by Italy.
During World War II, the Italians tried to invade Greece from Albania in October 1940.
The invasion was a fiasco that had to be rescued by the Germans, whose invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941 enabled Italy to annex the Albanian-inhabited territories of Kosovo and Western Macedonia.
The Albanians resented Italian occupation but generally welcomed the incorporation of the Albanian-inhabited parts of Yugoslavia.
As a result, a violent form of fascism set in most of the country, especially in the northern provinces.
The Italians and later the Germans - who had occupied northern Kosovo in 1941 as part of a rump Serbian state and took over in Albania after the Italian capitulation of September 1943 - found some collaborators to fight local nationalist and communist insurgents.
The collaborators were of limited use, however; the "Skanderbeg Division" of the Waffen SS had under three thousand men, with low morale and discipline.
The Albanian Communist Party, created by Tito in 1941 and led by the Serbs Dusan Mugosa and Miladin Popovic, had few followers among the Albanians and achieved little until the Germans retreated in 1944.
It took over the country in November 1944 under the leadership of Enver Hoxha.
Tito intended to include Albania, with Kosovo, in a Yugoslav and possibly Balkan federation, but the Albanian Communists followed Stalin as they broke with Tito in June 1948.
After its break with Yugoslavia, Albania remained a client state of the Soviet Union.
Following the Soviet Union's rejection of Stalinism beginning in 1956, Albania turned away from Moscow and found a new benefactor in the People's Republic of China.
When China ended its international isolation in the 1970s, Albania turned away from its Asian patron as well, and adopted a strict policy of autarky - aiming to cut itself off from the rest of the world.
The paranoid Hoxha feared invasion from both the West and the Warsaw Pact and responded by building over 700,000 concrete bunkers across Albania, costing more than twice as much to build as France's infamous Maginot Line.
In 1985, Hoxha died and Ramiz Alia took his place.
Initially, Alia tried to follow in Hoxha's footsteps, but Eastern Europe was already changing: Mikhail Gorbachev had appeared in the Soviet Union with new policies (glasnost and perestroika).
The totalitarian regime was pressured by the US and Europe and the hate of its own people.
After Nicolae Ceausescu (the communist leader of Romania) was executed in a revolution, Alia knew he would be next if changes were not made.
He signed the Helsinki Agreement (which was signed by other countries in 1975) that respected some human rights.
He also allowed pluralism, and even though his party won the election of 1991 it was clear that the change would not be stopped.
In 1992 the general elections were won by the Democratic Party with 62% of the votes.
In the general elections of June 1996 the Democratic Party tried to win an absolute majority and manipulated the results.
In 1997 the fraud of the pyramid schemes shocked the entire government and riots started.
Many cities were controlled by militia and armed citizens.
This anarchy and rebellion caused the socialist party to win the early elections of 1997.
Since 1990 Albania has been oriented towards the West, was accepted in the Council of Europe, is included in NATO's Partnership for Peace program and is a candidate to NATO membership.
The workforce of Albania has continued to emigrate to Greece, Italy, Europe and North America.

Albania is a Parlamentary Republic.
The head of state is the president, who is elected by the Parlament,(called Kuvend in the native language), or the Assembly of the Republic of Albania.
The main part of the Assembly's 140 members is elected every 4 years.
100 of the parliament's members are chosen by the people with a direct vote, while the other 40 members are chosen using a proportional system.
The president is assisted by a council of ministers, who are appointed by the president.
Constitution was adopted by popular referendum on 28 November 1998.
There are currently two major political parties. The Democratic party, which was founded by people who contributed to the struggle against communism in 1991, and the Socialist Party that currently governs the state.
The first free elections in 1991 established the Democratic Party as the winner, allowing Albania to begin its national recovery.

Districts and Counties of Albania Albania is divided into 36 rrethe (districts).
Several districts are then grouped into a qark (county or prefecture), of which there are 12.
The capital city, Tiranė, has a special status.
The districts are: 1 Berat, 2 Bulqizė, 3 Delvinė, 4 Devoll, 5 Dibėr , 6 Durrės, 7 Elbasan, 8 Fier, 9 Gjirokastėr, 10 Gramsh, 11 Has, 12 Kavajė, 13 Kolonjė, 14 Korēė, 15 Krujė, 16 Kuēovė, 17 Kukės, 18 Kurbin, 19 Lezhė, 20 Librazhd, 21 Lushnjė, 22 Malėsi e Madhe, 23 Mallakastėr, 24 Mat, 25 Mirditė, 26 Peqin, 27 Pėrmet, 28 Pogradec, 29 Pukė, 30 Sarandė, 31 Shkodėr, 32 Skrapar, 33 Tepelenė, 34 Tiranė, 35 Tropojė, 36 Vlorė.

Albania is a Mediterranean country in southeastern Europe.
It is bordered by Serbia and Montenegro in the north, and north-east, the Republic of Macedonia in the east, and Greece in the south, has a coast on the Adriatic Sea in the west, and a coast on the Ionian Sea in the southwest.
The country is an emerging democracy and is formally named the Republic of Albania (Albanian: Republika e Shqipėrisė).
Albania consists of mostly hilly and mountainous terrain, the highest mountain, Korab in the district of Dibra reaching up to 2,753 m.
The country has a mild, but generally wet climate.
Annual rainfall is the highest of any country in Europe, reaching well over 2000mm (80 inches) in the north and 1190mm (47 inches) at Tirana.
Most of the rain falls between October and May - Gjirokastėr averages over 300mm (12 inches) in January alone - with the summers being fairly dry.
Temperatures in the summer are generally quite hot, averaging around 29°C (84°F) in Tirana in July, whilst in the winter they are cold, with minimums below 0°C (32°F) except near the coast.
Besides the capital city Tirana, with 520,000 inhabitants, the principal cities are Durrės, Elbasan, Shkodėr, Gjirokastėr, Vlorė and Korēė.

Albania after the communist regime was overthrown, as all the ex-communist countries, the country was left with an obsolete industrial base and a pattern of industrial capacity wholly unsuited to its needs.
Till '96 Albania's Growth Domestic Product was nearby 9% with a dynamic economy.
But in 1997 the "Pyramidal Schemes" caused a regression of Albanian Economy.
Almost half of the economically-active population still engaged in agriculture and a fifth said to be working abroad.
The country has almost no exports, and imports many goods from Greece and Italy.
Money for imports comes from financial aid and from the money that refugees working abroad bring to Albania.
Albania is working to fulfil European standards on its way to "The Stability Pact".
Albania has coastline on two of Europe's seas, the Ionian and the Adriatic.
The Ionian Sea is known for clean, clear water and forms the southwest coast of Albania, from Vlorė to the Greek border.
The Adriatic Sea forms the Albanian coastline from Vlorė to the border with Serbia and Montenegro.
It is famous throughout the Balkans for its rich, sandy beaches.
Until as recently as 2000, Ionian beaches were heavily populated but only by residents, with very few tourists.
Between 1990 and 2000, the country went through political, economic, and social upheaval.
Since then, however, Albania has had improving employment and decreasing corruption, which in turn has increased tourism.

Demographics According to some sources, 95% of the population is Albanian, with a Greek minority of 3%.
Many ethnic Albanians also live in bordering Kosovo - (SCG) (around 2.8 million), FYR Macedonia (around 800,000), Serbia (over 350,000, mainly in southern Serbia) and Montenegro (around 150,000).
Over 600,000 Albanians have emigrated to Greece since 1990; many others have left for other countries.
The language is Albanian, although Greek is also spoken by the Greek minority in the southern regions of the country.
A Slavic language called Gorani is also spoken around Gorė, in the Kukės district, the only part of the world where this language is used.
The village of Shishtavec is the main centre of the Gorani language.
Other linguistic and cultural groups include the Vlach and Roma (Gypsies).
Since the occupation by the Ottomans, the majority of Albanians have been Muslim (70%), even though religion was prohibited during the Communist era.
The Eastern Orthodox Church (20%) and Catholicism (10%) are the other main religions in Albania, though in Albania religious fanaticism has never been a serious problem, with people from different religions living in peace and even getting married without any problem.
(Note that these percentages are estimates; no official statistics are available.)
20% of the total Muslim population is Bektashi, people who follow a faith originating in the Turkish migrations into Turkey, which came to Albania through the Ottoman Janissaries.
It has outwardly Shi'ite Islamic elements, but is really a Shamanic-Pantheistic faith.
The main prophet of the Bektashi order is Haxhi Bektash Veliu, and it is currently headed by Baba Flamur Shkalla, the successor of Baba Rexhep, based in Madison, USA.

External links

This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albania) July 2005
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).

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