History of Albania

A brief History of Albania

The history of Albania dates back to ancient times, as Albanian lands have been occupied by man since the Paleolithic era.

This brief summary of the main periods of the Albanian history aims to put into relief the great cultural diversity brought by the foreign influences that have marked Albania and its inhabitants:

The Western part of the Balkan peninsula was inhabited, during the Antiquity, by the Illyrian civilization. Albanians are the descendants of this ancient tribe. However, this territory of the Balkans has suffered from an extensive number of successive invasions, its geographical situation being strategic to the neighbouring Great Civilizations. Romans, Slavics, Latins and Ottomans successively annexed this country, that only gained its independence in 1912.

On the 15th century, a military leader of the name of Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg (Skanderbeu in Albanian), taken since he was a child away from his family by the Ottomans, declares his opposition to the Ottoman forces and decides to reconquer his country. After reconquering the city of Kruja (Skanderbeg’s hometown), a 25 year long struggle begins to get back the lands that belong to the Albanians. Ten years after Skanderbeg's death in Lezha, his army kept on fighting against the Ottomans. This resistance reinforced the feeling and the will from freedom of the Albanians, marked by the words of nowadays Albanian national hero : “I am not bringing you freedom, I found it in you”. A great number of foreign leaders, including Pope Clement X, gave him their support, to that point of naming him the “protector of the European civilization” .

Skanderbeg is a respected figure of Albanian's history. There is today a museum dedicated to his character and his fight in Kruja, and his profile appears on the 5000 Lek bill (highest note value).

Year 1945 has marked the beginning of forty years of communist dictatorship, that is considered as the harshest communism of all times, under the control of Enver Hoxha. It's finally in 1992 that Albania gets to discover the sense of democracy and liberty, even though this small country hasn’t yet achieved a real democratic regime. 

Albania became part of NATO in 2009 and has also begun its way to be part of the EU.