Albania has a long and turbulent history. The illyrians lived there and Illyria was part of the Greek sphere first and then under Rome. Albania’s coast faces the Italian so it became under the Romans early. When the West-Roman empire collapsed the East-Romans (Byzantine) dominated part of the Balkans. From the 500s it was overrun by Slavic tribes and the Byzantine influence weakened. Then a Bulgarian empire took over, but in the 1300s both the Byzantine and Bulgarian were so weak that the Serbian Principality moved in. That became weaker as well and the first Albanian entity was formed.

Then the Ottomans conquered Byzants/Istanbul and the Ottoman empire expanded into the Balkans and now Skanderbeg enters the stage. He led the Albaniansand they beat the Ottoman armies 25 times. The Ottoman planned to invade Italy and then march into the rest of Europe. Skanderbeg stopped them!

DSCF2941b DSCF2941c                                         I bought a t-shirt with his name on and became very popular. I was asked to sit in his chair at the museum.

The Ottomans got a firm foothold in the region and and it prospered. They welcomed a sizeable number of Jews from Spain that expelled them. The Venetians traded in and from the Albanina coast.

This situation was fairly stable untill the end of the 1800s when nationalistic sentiments  got foothold in the region. The Ottoman empire collapsed around 1912 and the Republic of Albania was declared independent in November 1912. until the second world war it changed back and forth between republic and kingdom.. During the war it was occupied first by the Italians and then the Germans.

After the war the Communist party with leader Enver Hoxha took the power and that would last for more than 40 years. He ruled as a dictator and the country was very isolated and saw enimies everywhere. They built 750 000 shelters all over the country for 3 million people.  It was forbidden   to own a car   so except the military cars the number of cars in Albania was 600 all  belonging to the government and the Communist Party.                                                                                                                                                   DSCF2888                                                                                                              On a hillside  outside the city of Berat he had his first name “written” with white stones. When the Communist regime fell, the people changed the two first letters.                                                                                                                                            DSCF2903b                                                               They had a major economic collapse in 1990s, but since then the country has had a peaceful period.


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