The history of Albania

THE HISTORY OF ALBANIA

Castles of Albania

Castles of Albania

Located on the western side of the Balkan Peninsula, facing the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Albania occupies a most favorable position for mediating between Europe and Asia. It is separated from the coast of Italy by only seventy-two kilometers, while its river valleys with their numerous tributaries give easy access at relatively low altitudes to the interior of the Balkans. From early times the valley of the Shkumbi was traversed by the ‘Via Egnatia’, the principal route connecting Rome and Byzantium. The Drin and the White Drin connect the Adriatic to the basin of the Morava and so to the banks of the Danube. The Semeni, with one of its tributaries, the Devoll, and the Vijosë with the Sarandaporos lead without serious difficulty to the Haliacmon valley and the Aegean. The sea-lanes too bring Albania into contact with countries facing the Mediterranean. Thus from the earliest times, the inhabitants of Albania have been able to develop links with many regions, not only within the Balkans but also in the rest of Europe and in Asia.

Apart from its favorable geographical situation, Albania enjoys conditions particularly conducive to intensive economic development. Land is fertile, and there are extensive pastures and dense forests; mountain ranges rich in minerals (copper in particular), allowed the development of metallurgy at an early date; the coastline lends itself perfectly to the development of navigation and sea-trade. Finally, the climate is kindly. Being situated in a sub-tropical zone, Albania has a climate well suited to man's economic existence; the combination of maritime and continental conditions creates a great variety of vegetation and agricultural produce.

castles of Albania

castles of Albania

The prehistory of Albania: The country is is known as Albania today, has been inhabited for over ten millennials. The first Paleolithic settlements to be excavated were in caves at the area of Gajtan, close to Skodra, and Konispoli that is located in the far southwest. Most recent work has identified some open air cities: For example, Skreli, located in the northwest and the area around Apollonia in central Albania. The Neolithic period in this region is c6000 - c2100 BC and the Bronze Age is c2100 - 1200 BC; the Korca region is full of sites from this periods, including the tumulus site at Kamenica. It is in the Iron Age, starting from 1200 BC, that it begins possible to recognize the culture known as Illyrian. Some archaeologists take the view that, during the Bronze Age, the inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula began to develop tribal differences and that one of these tribes which emerges as a result was the Illyrian people, who are considered to be the ancestors of the modern Albanians. Others consider that the Illyrians came from elsewhere and invaded Albania at some point between the 13th and the 10th century BC.

There is also considerable controversy over the question of where the boundary was between the Hellenes (the Greeks), Epirotes (whom the Greeks considered to be sort of Greeks, in the same way that the Macedonians were) and the Illyrians (who were definitely Barbarians, ie. not Greeks). Word is said that Illyrian and Epirote settlements were inter spread in the area that is now southern Albania and Northern Greece.

The Illyrians: The Illyrian culture had many similar features to the Albanians. The Greeks considered the various Illyrian tribes as similar enough to each other to form a distinct group. They built large, well fortified cities (almost all of which were in stunning locations with panoramic views) , they traded with the Greek colonies on the Adriatic coast and beyond and they minted coins. The silver and copper coins which they mined were also used for personal adornments: fibulae (brooches) such as spiraling spectacle brooches; metal coils which the women twisted into their hair; and the unique byzylyk, bracelets which were placed on the arms and legs of dead people as part of the burial process. In one tumulus a skeleton was found with more than six byzylyke on each limb.

A tumulus (plural tumuli) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli also are known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgräber, or kurgans, and may be found throughout much of the world. A cairn, which is a mound of stones built for various purposes, might also originally have been a tumulus.

The burial tumulus of Lofkënd lies in one of the richest archaeological areas of Albania (ancient Illyria) home to a number of burial tumuli spanning the Bronze and Iron Ages of later European prehistory. Modern understanding of the pre- and protohistory of Illyria has largely been shaped by the contents of such burial mounds, yet some were robbed long ago, others reused for modern burials, and few were excavated under scientific conditions. WheelWhat inspired this systematic exploration by UCLA was more than the promise of an unplundered necropolis; it was also the chance to revisit the significance of this tumulus and its fellows for the emergence of urbanism and complexity in ancient Illyria. In addition to artifacts, the recovery of surviving plant remains, bones, and other organic material contributed to insights into the environmental and ecological history of the region. Full analysis of all the skeletal remains, inhumed and cremated, enhanced knowledge about the demography and human population in this region of Albania. Finally, an intensive survey of the environment around the burial mound revealed the long-term history of its human and natural landscape.

In the 3rd century BC, a Northern Illyrian tribe, called the Ardiaeans established its capital in the town of Skodra. The Ardiaeans were seafarers - their coins (the modern 20 - lek coin) show a small, fast galley called a liburnis, which was a particular favorite of pirates - and in 229BC their attacks on Italian ships brought them to a war with Rome, which was then emerging as the most powerful state in Italy. Queen Teuta of the Ardiaeans was forced to make terms, and the Romans gained their first foothold on the other side of the Adriatic. Sixty years later, in 168BC, they defeated the Ardiaeans in battle and besieged their king, Genti, (known to the Romans as Gentius), in Rozafa Castle until he surrendered. Genti was the last Illyrian King.

 

In the Kanun (a set of traditional Albanian laws), Besa is described as the highest authority,

People from Albania

Enver Hohxa:  Enver Hoxha was born in Argirokastro, in the south of Albania, on October 16, 1908; his father was a modest employee, for many years an emigrant in America; his mother was a housewife. A great influence on the spiritual growth of Enver Hoxha was exercised by his uncle Hyen Hoxha, a man who for that period was a definite revolutionary.  He represented Gjirokastra on November 28, 1912, in the act of proclamation of independence of Albania, signing a document that consecrated the will of the Albanian people to free themselves from the yoke of the Turkish empire.
Enver Hoxha later also took a hostile attitude towards the reactionary regime of king Zog. This played a fundamental role in the formation of the political ideas of Enver Hoxha. In his city he breathed the air of protest against a repressive government that culminated in the democratic revolution of 1924. Having finished elementary school he attended the high school of Argirocastro.

At the age of 16 he was already among the first initiators and also secretary of the Society of the Students of Argirocastro, which was permeated with a democratic-revolutionary spirit. He led the protest of progressive students when center was closed by the government after a year. He left Argirocastro to move to Korca, where he continued his studies in the French high school. Here he learned French history, literature and philosophy. In this city he read for the first time the "Manifesto of the Communist Party" given to him by a worker named Koçi Bako. In this period he also learned for the first time about the October Socialist Revolution; all that together with the ideas of the French Revolution which thrilled Enver Hoxha, determined his cultural development and his political tendencies. In the summer of 1930 he finished his studies at the high school of Korca with excellent marks; in the same year he won a scholarship to attend the faculty of natural sciences at Montepellier in France. He wanted to study philosophy or law. Here he attended the lessons and the conferences of the Association of Workers organized by the French Communist Party. After a year, not having much interest in biology he left Montepellier to go to Paris, hoping to continue his university studies. He took courses in the faculty of philosophy at the Sorbonne and, in the Marxistenvironment of the French capital, he collaborated with "Humanite",writing some articles on the situation in Albania. Here he had the opportunity to study Marx's "Capital" and Engels' "Anti-Duhring." For these reasons in November of 1933 he was denied his scholarship by the government of Zog. For economic reasons and with the help of some Albanian friends he went to Brussels, where he found a job in the Albanian Consulate. He attended university courses in the faculty of law; here he broadened and enriched his knowledge of Marxist-Leninist literature. Once again he was dismissed, because the consul discovered through Zog's agents that his employee had deposited in his office revolutionary materials and books. In that period he studied in France and worked in Belgium, also attending the University of Brussels. Being without work and without money, he could not finish his university studies, so Enver Hoxha in the summer of 1936 finally returned to Albania. He spent a brief period of time in the city of his birth, he made contact with Albanian communists, and in July of 1936 he met Alì Kelmendi, an Albanian communist. He had contacts with the communist group of Korca, which was the most solid and organized of the movement. He returned to Korca as a teacher in the French high school. On April 7, 1939, Italy occupied Albania. For his openly revolutionary and anti-fascist ideas he was dismissed. He left Korca, went to Tirana, the Albanian capital, on November 29, 1939. Here he worked part-time in the government grammar school for a short time as a teacher, being again dismissed because he was by now known as a communist. With the help of some friends he opened a small shop, which became a cover for his clandestine activity. He came into contact with many members of the varied communist groups, that of Scutari, that of the youth of Korca, etc. In collaboration with the communist activists of these groups he worked actively for the unification of the scattered communist movement, with the firm intention to create a single communist party. On November 8, 1941, the Communist Party of Albania was founded and Enver Hoxha, who had a played an important and decisive role, was chosen one of 7 members of the provisional Central Committee. According to the decision of the meeting, no one was chosen secretary or president. Soon Enver Hoxha showed himself as the true leader of the party. He carried on an intense activity for the organization of the party in Tirana and in the various cities and regions of Albania. He was the principle inspirer of the political life of the party, which consisted in organizing the armed struggle by means of a united front of all forces, independent of their political and ideological orientation. In September of 1942 at the Conference of Pesa the National Front of Liberation was formed. Condemned to death in absentia by a fascist tribunal, Enver Hoxha lived and worked illegally in Tirana and in the various regions of the country. In March of 1943 the first National Conference of the C.P.A. elected him formally as General Secretary of the Party, a position that he held until his death. He founded the Army of National Liberation which, in the spring of 1944 had about 70 thousand men. The role of Enver Hoxha as a political and military figure was very important and perhaps fundamental. The role that Enver Hoxha played in the organization of the new political system was also fundamental. Aware of the fact that Albania in the post-war period could no longer be a feudal dominion of the bourgeoisie, nor a colony of the imperialist powers, Enver Hoxha in the party inspired the creation of embryos of the new political power: the National Councils of Liberation. In May of 1944 the Anti-Fascist Congress of Permet chose Enver Hoxha as president of the National Anti-Fascist Committee of Liberation, which was at that epoch the only legislative organ of the Albanian State, with the attributes of a provisional government, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army. After 4 months, in view of the coming liberation of the country, the Committee was transformed into a Provisional Democratic Government and Enver Hoxha became the first head of government of the new Albania. After liberation, which was the exclusive achievement of the Army of Albanian Liberation itself, Enver Hoxha began a new phase in the fight for Albania to rise again on the path of socialism. In March of 1946 the Constituent Assembly, chosen in the elections of December 1945, proclaimed Albania a Peoples Republic and nominated Enver Hoxha as Prime Minister, the office that he held until 1954. In August of that same year Enver Hoxha participated in the Peace Conference in Paris as head of the Albanian delegation, defending brilliantly the right of his people to be considered a member of the anti-fascist coalition, opposing the territorial claims of Greece. The period of 1947-1948 was marked by the firm and determined attitude of Enver Hoxha to prevent the realization of the intentions of Tito: to transform Albania into a Yugoslav republic. The distrust of Enver Hoxha towards the Yugoslav leaders and towards Tito had its origin during the war and developed in the post-war period. As the relationships between the two states grew, so did Enver Hoxha's doubts about Yugoslavia's real policies. These doubts were fed by the way in which the economic relationships between the two countries were conducted, and by the ever stronger tendency of Yugoslavia to make Albania into a satellite state. Above all, the national problem, with the lack of self-determination for Kosova promised by Tito but never realized, fed Enver Hoxha's doubts about the Yugoslav leaders. The 1950s were years of the first, most difficult steps for Albania towards economic, social and cultural development. To appraise correctly and objectively this experience of almost fifty years, to comprehend the vastness of the political, economic, social and cultural transformation that was realized, one must take into account the enormous backwardness that Albania had inherited from the past. A country with a completely agricultural economy, with a primitive agriculture marked by feudal economic relationships, almost totally lacking in industry, with a very low level of education: 80-85% of the population was illiterate; a life expectancy that did not reach 40 years; this was Albania before the war. To all that must be added the human casualties, 28 thousand fallen out of 800 thousand inhabitants and the destruction of the war. Enver Hoxha as leader of the C.P.A. and as head of government played an important role in what was revealed as a still bloodier struggle than the war, for the revival of Albania. The politics of the Party of Labor - called that after the first congress of November, 1948 - had three fundamental orientations: industrialization, the development of agriculture through the formation of cooperatives, and a program for the development of education and culture. Enver Hoxha was the inspirer and author of the work that was carried out in those years, as leader of the Party of Labor. With great sacrifices, with enormous popular enthusiasm and also with aid of the socialist countries - the Soviet Union in the 1950s and for a certain period afterwards also China - Albania was transformed into a advanced country, very far from the level inherited from the past, and this was already an excellent progress. Big industrial complexes, thermo and hydroelectric power plants were built, swamps, embankments and rivers were reclaimed, entirely new cities were built from nothing. A very widespread system of elementary and middle schools were developed that assured the education of all children; the whole country was electrified. Enver Hoxha knew very well that Albania was not heaven on earth, that it was still very far from the more advanced countries of Europe. The last fifty years were marked by increasing differences with the Soviet leaders. The Party of Labor of Albania and Enver Hoxha personally had many reservations about the new course officially applied by Khrushchev after the XXth Congress of the C.P.S.U. For Enver Hoxha there was not only the question of Stalin, but above all the policy toward the U.S.A. and world imperialism, and still more the hegemonic tendencies of the new U.S.S.R, towards the socialist countries. Enver Hoxha, in the contacts he had with Khrushchev, presented his reservations on different occasions: in Moscow in December of 1956, April 1957, January 1960, and also in Tirana in May of 1959. Upon his arrival at the Conference of the 81 Fraternal Parties held in Moscow on November 16, 1960, Enver Hoxha in a courageous speech made public his reservations and his accusations regarding the new Soviet course. This act also marked the official break between Albania and the U.S.S.R. From that moment Enver Hoxha, supported for a brief period of time by the Chinese, become the unique heroic fighter against modern revisionism. For all his life he defended the theory and the principles in which he believed, Marxism-Leninism. He rejected every deviation from the revolutionary spirit of this theory. Yugoslav, Soviet, Chinese, Eurocommunist, all were for him the Trojan horse in the international communist and workers movement. Enver Hoxha wanted to defend the victories of the socialism in Albania and the very independence of the country. In the 1970s, new fronts of struggle were opened, all those inside the Party and the State who were against socialism were unmasked. Enver Hoxha suffered a heart attack in 1973, and although he was able to recover fairly well, he could no longer devote the maximum of his being to this new struggle. In fact, from that moment on the activity of Enver Hoxha in the Party and he in the State tended more and more to decrease. There began on the part of the enemies infiltrated into the Party and the State the work of methodical, systematic destruction of all that had been realized on the road to socialism in Albania. From the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s Enver Hoxha began a period of intense theoretical activity.

 

All his experience, all his life, from an activist to a communist leader, is contained in the various volumes he has written. Among these are:

 

  • Yugoslav "Self-Administration" - A Capitalist Theory and Practice(1978)
  • Imperialism and the Revolution (1978)
  • Reflections on China (1979)
  • With Stalin (1979)
  • The Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism (1980)
  • The Khrushchevites (1980)
  • The Anglo-American Threat to Albania (1982)
  • The Titoists (1982)
  • Reflections on the Middle East (1984)
  • Laying the Foundations of the New Albania (1984)
  • Two Friendly Peoples (1985)
  • The Superpowers (1985)

 

This is only a part of his intense theoretical activity by which Enver Hoxha has enriched the universal fund of the experience of the theory to which he devoted all his life, Marxism-Leninism. In the 1980s Enver Hoxha's state of health worsened, he suffered from diabetes and in 1983 he was stricken with a cerebral ischemia, and again in 1984. On April 9, 1985, he suffered a cardiac arrest; the doctors were able to revive his heart, but he was deprived of consciousness.

On April 11, 1985, Enver Hoxha died. His death was felt by the people as a great loss. There was nationally a sincere and heartfelt grief. The Albanian people loved and adored him.

Enver Hoxha in his period of activity of fifty years had given the Albanian people freedom and national dignity, he had brought his people from the darkness of the feudalism towards a society, which, although not ideal, was more just and more advanced. He had given his people an ideal for which it was worthy to fight, to sacrifice, oneself, to live for.
Enver Hoxha succeeded in giving to his people all that they do not have any more. He gave the world Marxist-Leninist movement the clarity of the development of the class struggle, from the October Revolution until today.

Tirana, 1995
Tom Kastrioti

Visit the official website for Enver Hoxha, here! 

Skanderberg: Skanderbeg, also known under the name of George Kastrioti, or Castriota, Albanian Gjergj Kastrioti (born 1405, northern Albania—died Jan. 17, 1468, Lezhë, Albania), is a national hero of the Albanians.

A son of John (Gjon) Kastrioti, prince of Emathia, George was early given as hostage to the Turkish sultan. Converted to Islām and educated at Edirne, Turkey, he was given the name Iskander—after Alexander the Great—and the rank of bey (hence Skanderbeg) by Sultan Murad II. During the defeat of the Turks at Niš (1443), in Serbia, Skanderbeg abandoned the Turkish service and joined his Albanian countrymen against the forces of Islām. He embraced Christianity, reclaimed his family possessions, and in 1444 organized a league of Albanian princes, over which he was appointed commander in chief.

In the period 1444–66 he effectively repulsed 13 Turkish invasions, his successful resistance to the armies of Murad II in 1450 making him a hero throughout the Western world. Through the years he elicited some support from Naples, Venice, and the papacy and was named by Pope Calixtus III captain general of the Holy See. In 1463 he secured an alliance with Venice that helped launch a new offensive against the Turks. Until the end of his life he continued to resist successfully all Turkish invasions. Within a few years of his death, however, his citadel at Krujë had fallen (1478), and Albania passed into several centuries of obscurity under Turkish rule.

 

Here are some of the most important Albanians in different fields of human activity

Writers
Ismail Kadare
Petro Marko
Dritero Agolli

Patriots
Ismail Qemali
Isa Boletini
Frasheri Brothers

The only king of Albania
Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbej

Nobelist
Mother Teresa

Famous people outside Albania
Jim and John Belushi
Anna Oxa
Elisa Dushku
Rita Ora

Actors
Kadri Roshi
Robert Ndrenika
Margarita Xhepa
Mirush Kabashi
Roland Trebicka

Dancers
Kleidi Kadiu

Painter
Ibrahim Kodra

Unfortunately the most hated man in America :
Martin Shkreli