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Thread: Albanian History

  1. #1 Albanian History 
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    The Origin of the Albanians
    Main article: Origin of Albanians

    Most scholars consider that the Albanians are direct descendants of an Illyrian tribe that was named "Albanoi" that was located in present day Albania. Some scholars dispute this. See Origin of Albanians. Some scholars have claimed that the Albanians and the Illyrians are the descendants of the ancient Pelasgians, and thus their history goes back at least 4000 years before Christ.

    Those who support the Illyrian-Albanian continuity theory maintain that all the Illyrian tribes except the Albanians disappeared during the Early Middle Ages under the waves of migrating barbarians. A forbidding mountain homeland and resilient tribal society enabled the Albanians to survive into modern times with their identity and their Indo-European language intact.

    The name Albania is said by these scholars to be derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Arber, or Arbereshë, and later Albanoi, that lived near Durrës.


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    Ancient Illyria
    Main article: Illyria

    The Illyrians were Indo-European tribesmen who appeared in the western portion of the Balkan Peninsula about 1000 B.C., a period coinciding with the end of the Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age. They inhabited much of the area for at least the next millennium. Archaeologists associate the Illyrians with the Hallstatt culture, an Iron Age people noted for production of iron and bronze swords with winged-shaped handles and for domestication of horses. The Illyrians occupied lands extending from the Danube, Sava, and Morava rivers to the Adriatic Sea and the Sar Mountains. At various times, groups of Illyrians migrated over land and sea into Italy, such as the Messapians and Iapyges.

    The Albanians were originally an extension of the southeast Illyrian peoples. By contrast with other areas, the coastal hinterland between the Narenta and the Drilo was occupied by a considerable number of smaller tribes, most of whom lost their separate identity during the final stages of the Roman occupation. The twenty peoples listed by Pliny were only a fraction of the eighty-nine civitates attested by Varro a century earlier at the Narona conventus.

    The southeast of Dalmatia was populated by the "real Illyrians", and the evidence from personal names produces a uniform picture with very little influence from other parts of the province, except for a group of Celtic names in the upper Narenta valley around Konjic. In the later 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. all these peoples were part of the Illyrian kingdom, but with the removal of King Gentius they all resumed some form of independence, mostly in some kind of treaty arrangements with the Romans.

    The Illyrians carried on commerce and warfare with their neighbors: Greeks, Paionians, Thracians, and other peoples. To the east in Dardania, there was a broad area of intermingling, or a "contact zone", between Illyrians and Thracians, another ancient people with adjoining lands on the east. This area ran from the Danube below Belgrade down the west of the Morava valley to the Vardar and the northern border of Macedonia.

    In the south and along the Adriatic Sea coast, the Illyrians were heavily influenced by the Greeks, who founded trading colonies there. At the end of the 7th century B.C., Corinthian Greek settlers from Corfu established ports on the coast at Apollonia (Pojanë, near modern Vlorë) in 588 B.C. and farther north at Lissos (Lezhë) and Epidamnos (modern Durrës) in 623 B.C. But the Illyrians living in Albania's rugged mountains resisted Greek settlement. Illyrian raiders attacked the coastal cities, and Illyrian pirates threatened Greek trading ships in the Adriatic Sea.

    The Illyrians produced and traded cattle, horses, agricultural goods, and wares fashioned from locally mined copper and iron. Feuds and warfare were constant facts of life for the Illyrian tribes, and Illyrian pirates plagued shipping on the Adriatic Sea. Councils of elders (bulae) chose the chieftains who headed each of the numerous Illyrian tribes. From time to time, local chieftains extended their rule over other tribes and formed short-lived kingdoms. During the fifth century B.C., a well-developed Illyrian population center existed as far north as the upper Sava River valley in what is now Slovenia. Illyrian friezes discovered near the present-day Slovenian city of Ljubljana depict ritual sacrifices, feasts, battles, sporting events, and other activities.

    The Illyrian kingdom of Bardhyllus became formidable local power in the fourth century B.C. He fought with Greek settlers and with Macedonia, a powerful Greek realm to the southeast. In 358 B.C., however, Macedonia's Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great, defeated the Illyrians and assumed control of their territory as far as Lake Ohrid. Alexander himself routed the forces of the Illyrian chieftain Clitus in 335 B.C., and Illyrian tribal leaders and soldiers accompanied Alexander on his conquest of Persia. After Alexander's death in 323 B.C., independent Illyrian kingdoms again arose. In 312 B.C., King Glaucius expelled the Greeks from Durrës.

    By the end of the third century, the Illyrian king Agron united many independent cities and greatly expanded Illyrian territory. Agron made Shkodër his capital and built an army and navy to protect Illyrian cities and ports. His kingdom, which stretched from Dalmatia in the north to the Vijosë River in the south, controlled parts of northern Albania, Montenegro, and Hercegovina.

    After Agron's death in 231 B.C., Illyria passed to his widow Teuta. The queen ordered several attacks on neighboring states. But the pirate raids on merchant vessels in the Adriatic Sea made Teuta's realm an enemy of Rome. Roman troops defeated Teuta's army and seized the port of Epidamnos, which the Romans renamed Durrachium.


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    The Roman Period
    In the Illyrian Wars of 229 and 219 B.C., Rome overran the Illyrian settlements in the Neretva River valley. The Romans made new gains in 168 B.C., and Roman forces captured Illyria's King Gentius at Shkodër, which they called Scodra, and brought him to Rome in 165 B.C. A century later, Julius Caesar and his rival Pompey fought their decisive battle near Durrës (Dyrrachium). Rome finally subjugated recalcitrant Illyrian tribes in the western Balkans during the reign of Emperor Tiberius in A.D. 9. The Romans divided the lands that make up present-day Albania among the provinces of Macedonia, Dalmatia, and Epirus.

    For about four centuries, Roman rule brought the Illyrian-populated lands economic and cultural advancement and ended most of the enervating clashes among local tribes. The Illyrian mountain clansmen retained local authority but pledged allegiance to the emperor and acknowledged the authority of his envoys. During a yearly holiday honoring the Caesars, the Illyrian mountaineers swore loyalty to the emperor and reaffirmed their political rights. A form of this tradition, known as the kuvend, has survived to the present day in northern Albania.

    The Romans established numerous military camps and colonies and completely latinized the coastal cities. They also oversaw the construction of aqueducts and roads, including the extension of the Via Egnatia, an old Illyrian road and later famous military highway and trade route that led from Durrës through the Shkumbin River valley to Macedonia and Byzantium. Copper, asphalt, and silver were extracted from the mountains. The main exports were wine, cheese, oil, and fish from Lake Scutari and Lake Ohrid. Imports included tools, metalware, luxury goods, and other manufactured articles. Apollonia became a cultural center, and Julius Caesar himself sent his nephew, later the Emperor Augustus, to study there.

    Illyrians distinguished themselves as warriors in the Roman legions and made up a significant portion of the Praetorian Guard. Several of the Roman emperors were of Illyrian origin, including Gaius Decius, Claudius Gothicus, Aurelian, Probus, Diocletian, and Constantine the Great
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    The Coming of Christianity
    Christianity came to the Illyrian-populated lands in the first century A.D. Saint Paul wrote that he preached in the Roman province of Illyricum, and legend holds that he visited Durrës. In 379, under emperor Theodosius I, as part of the Prefecture of Illyricum Orientale, the southern region was divided into three provinces: Epirus Vetus, with capital at Nicopolis (modern Preveza); Epirus Nova, with capital at Durrës; and Praevalitania, with capital at Shkodër. Each city formed an archdiocese.

    When the Roman Empire was divided into eastern and western halves in A.D. 395, Illyria east of the Drinus River (Drina in Yugoslavia), including the lands that now make up Albania, were administered by the Eastern Empire but were ecclesiastically dependent on Rome. Within time, much of southern Albania, especially to the east, came to be included within the domain of the Byzantine rite and therefore developed into a branch of the Orthodox church.

    In A.D. 732, however, a Byzantine emperor, Leo III the Isaurian, subordinated the area to the patriarchate of Constantinople. For centuries thereafter, the Albanian lands became an arena for the ecclesiastical struggle between Rome and Constantinople. Remaining under Roman influence, most Albanians living in the mountainous north remained Roman Catholic, whereas in the southern and central regions, the majority became Orthodox while forging closer links with the Greek peoples to the south.

    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. From 1019 Albanian dioceses of the Byzantine rite were suffragans of the independent Archdiocese of Ohrid until Durrës and Nicopolis (Preveza) were reestablished 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.
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    The Barbarian Invasions and Early Middle Ages
    Main article: Albania in the Middle Ages
    The fall of the Western Roman Empire and the age of great migrations brought radical changes to the Balkan Peninsula and the Illyrian people. Barbarian tribesmen overran many rich Roman cities, destroying the existing social and economic order and leaving the great Roman aqueducts, coliseums, temples, and roads in ruins. The Illyrians gradually disappeared as a distinct people from the Balkans, replaced by the Bulgars, Serbs, Croats, and Albanians. In the late Middle Ages, new waves of invaders swept over the Albanian-populated lands.

    Thanks to their protective mountains, close-knit tribal society, and sheer pertinacity, however, the Albanian people developed their distinctive identity and language. Indeed, Albania's ancient communities evolved into fiercely independent clans. Albania remained an isolated place where landowning families ruled over large, private domains. Small principalities developed near port cities and in fertile river valleys. In the mountains, the Albanian clans fought for territory and for scarce natural resources.

    In the fourth century, barbarian tribes began to prey upon the Roman Empire, and the fortunes of the Illyrian-populated lands sagged. The Germanic Goths and Asiatic Huns were the first to arrive, invading in mid-century; the Avars attacked in A.D. 570; and the Slavic Serbs and Croats overran Illyrian-populated areas in the early seventh century.

    For a time, southern Illyricum remained an important source of manpower for the imperial army. Most of the reconquests in the western Mediterranean were achieved by troops from the southern Balkans. The security of these homelands was now based on local strongholds, either new or refurbished. The network of small forts, whose construction will have been a burden on local communities, represented a passive defense from a basis of limited control over the countryside. In Old and New Epirus, 50 existing forts were repaired, but according Procopius in his Secret History, the region was ravaged almost every year of Justinian's reign by Huns and Slavs, causing many Roman casualties and so much destruction that the area was deserted.

    With the eventual collapse of Illyricum, the condition of the region worsened. There seems to have been a collapse of the inland towns which had arisen in the Hellenistic period, while the more secure coastal cities continued to enjoy a relatively prosperous existence. Some inland places were protected with the latest type of defenses, including Scampis (Elbasan) on the Via Egnatia and Vig near Shkodër. The passage of the Visigoths and Ostrogoths through the area caused the building of several new hill-fortresses, such as Sarda overlooking the river Drin, sometime after the 5th century. The population of this area were Latin-speaking provincials, in the interior mainly of Illyrian origin, but more cosmopolitan in the coastal towns.

    The dispersal of Slavs in the southern Balkans following the unsuccessful siege of Thessalonika in 586 led to an occupation of Praevalitania and the region south of the Shkumbin, a distribution indicated by place-names of Slav origin. During the 7th and 8th centuries Durrës and the coast remained under imperial control but the old cities of Lezhë and Shkodër sank to within their acropolis.

    The key evidence for the population of this time is the Komani-Krujë group of cemeteries centered on Durrës, town-based and Christian. These cemeteries went out of use by the early 9th century when the new military command theme of Durrës came into existence. They indicate the survival of a Romanized population of Illyrian origin driven out by Slav settlements further north, the Romanoi mentioned by Constantine Porphyrogenitus. This interpretation is supported by the concentration of Latin place-names around the Lake of Shkodër, in the Drin and Fan valleys and along the road from Lezhë to Ulpiana in Kosovo, with some in the Black Drin and Mat valleys, a distribution limited on the south by the line of the Via Egnatia.

    Another population to the south is evidenced by an early tumulus culture. Another region indicates movement from high altitudes between the Shkumbin and Mat, concentrated between Elbasan and Krujë, into the plain of the Mat - a likely place for Arbanon. However, the main brunt of the northern mountaineer population probably came from the northern Albanian mountains, in Dukagjin and Mirditë, and the mountains of Drin, descending into the lowlands of western Albania, the Black Drin river valley, and into parts of Old Serbia during the summer.

    In the 9th century, the Bulgars conquered much of the Balkan Peninsula and extended their domain to the lowlands of what is now central and southern Albania. The Bulgarian leader Simeon I defeated the Byzantine army and established colonies along the Adriatic seacoast. Samuil, who succeeded Simeon, conquered Durrës, the former Roman port of Durrachium that still traded with cities in Greece and Italy. Many Illyrians fled from coastal areas to the mountains, exchanging a sedentary peasant existence for the itinerant life of the herdsman. Other Illyrians intermarried with the conquerors and eventually assimilated. In general, the invaders destroyed or weakened Roman and Byzantine cultural centers in the lands that would become Albania.

    But the Byzantine emperor Basil II, nicknamed the “Bulgar-slayer”, counterattacked in 1014. The Byzantine forces smashed the Bulgarian army, seized the Adriatic ports, and conquered Epirus, which lies south of Albania. These territories were far from the Byzantine capital at Constantinople, however, and Byzantine authority in the area gradually weakened. While the clans and landowners controlled the countryside, the people of the coastal cities fought against Byzantine rule. It was during this period of rebellion and turmoil that the region first came to be known as Albania.
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    Late Middle Ages
    Main article: Albania in the Middle Ages
    The first historical mention of Albania and the Albanians as such appears in an account of the resistance by a Byzantine emperor, Alexius I Comnenus, to an offensive by the Vatican-backed Normans from southern Italy into the Albanian-populated lands in 1081. In the same year, the weakness of the Byzantine empire let northern Albania slip under Serbian control.

    The ports of Albania remained a valuable prize for several rival nations. The Normans, who ruled a kingdom in southern Italy, conquered Durrës in 1081. The Byzantine reconquest of 1083 required the help of Venice, which soon gained commercial privileges in Albanian towns as a reward. This wealthy trading city in northern Italy built fortresses and trading posts in Albania's lowlands to bolster its power. The Normans returned in 1107 and again in 1185 but were quickly expelled.

    Again during the late medieval period, invaders ravaged the Illyrian-inhabited regions of the Balkans. Norman, Venetian, and Byzantine fleets attacked by sea. Bulgar, Serb, and Byzantine forces came overland and held the region in their grip for years. Clashes between rival clans and intrusions by the Serbs produced hardship that triggered an exodus from the region southward into Greece, including Thessaly, the Peloponnese, and the Aegean Islands.

    Divided into warring clans, the Albanians were unable to prevent the occupation of their country by outsiders. The Serbs occupied parts of northern and eastern Albania toward the end of the twelfth century and conquered Shkodër in the 1180's. In 1204, after Western crusaders sacked Constantinople, Venice won nominal control over central and southern Albania and the Epirus region of northern Greece and took possession of Durrës. A prince from the overthrown Byzantine ruling family, Michael Comnenus, made alliances with Albanian chiefs and drove the Venetians from lands that now make up southern Albania and northern Greece, and in 1204 he set up an independent Byzantine principality, the Despotate of Epirus, with Janina (now Ioannina) as its capital. His successor, Theodore, conciliated the Albanian chiefs in 1216, repulsed an attack on Durrës in 1217 by western Crusaders and Venetian ships, and turned his armies eastward before being defeated in 1230 by the revived Bulgarian Empire of Ivan Asen II.

    A restored Byzantine Empire smashed Bulgaria in 1246 and pushed to the north Albanian coast, where the Albanian tribes were briefly weaned away from their alliance with the Despotate of Epirus. The Byzantines gained Durrës in 1256 but lost it in 1257 to Manfred, king of the Two Sicilies, who also acquired Vlorë and Berat in 1268. In 1272 his successor, Charles I of Anjou, the ruler of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily, attacked from his base in southern Italy. Charles conquered Durrës and much of central Albania; he called his new domain the Albanian kingdom that would last until 1336.

    Internal power struggles further weakend the Byzantine Empire in the 14th century, and by this time Serbia, a realm to the northeast, had already established a dynasty at Shkodër to take control of northern Albania. In the mid-1300's, Stefan Dušan, a powerful Serbian prince, conquered much of the western Balkans, including all of Albania except Durrës. Dušan drew up a legal code for his realm and crowned himself "Emperor of the Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians, and Albanians." But in 1355, while leading an attack against Constantinople, Dušan suddenly died. His empire quickly broke apart, and his lands were divided among Serb and Albanian noblemen. Strong families came to the fore, especially the Balshas in the north and the Thopias in the center. Southern Albania fell to a Serbian chieftain, Thomas Preliubovich, in 1367. He was succeeded in 1385 by a Florentine noble.

    The constant warfare in Albania causrd poverty and deadly famines. Beginning in the 14th century, many Albanians left their troubled homeland and migrated southward into the mountains of Epirus and to the cities and islands of Greece. Albanian exiles also built communities in southern Italy and on the island of Sicily.
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    Ottoman Rule
    Main article: Albanian lands under Ottoman domination

    Ottoman supremacy in the Balkan region began in 1385 but was briefly interrupted in the 15th century, when Gjerg Kastrioti, an Albanian warrior known as Skanderbeg, allied with some Albanian chiefs and fought-off Turkish rule from 1443-1478 (although Kastrioti died in 1468). Upon the Ottomans' return, a large number of Albanians fled to Italy, Greece and Egypt. 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, who governed districts on the empire's fringes, 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.
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    The birth of Albanian nationalism
    Main article: National awakening and the birth of Albania

    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 preponderance of Muslims link with Islam and their internal social divisions, were the last of the Balkan peoples to want to a division from the Ottoman Empire, because they feared that they would lose its Albanian-populated lands to the emerging Balkan states--Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece.

    Albanian leaders formed the League of Prizren in 1878 with the backing of sultan Abdulhamid II, through which they pressed for territorial autonomy and defending their lands from the onslaught of their neighbours. After decades of unrest a major uprising exploded in the Albanian-populated Ottoman territories in 1912, 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. They were assisted by Aubrey Herbert, a British M.P. 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.

    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.
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    World War I and its effects on Albania
    Main article: History of Albania (1919-1939)

    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 in a predatory world without a foreign protector, Albania became the object of tensions between Italy and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (the later Yugoslavia), which both sought to dominate the country.

    With Yugoslav military assistance, Ahmed Bey Zogu, the son of a clan chieftain, emerged victorious from an internal political power struggle in late 1924. Zogu, however, quickly turned his back on Belgrade and looked instead to Benito Mussolini's Italy for patronage. Under him, Albania joined the Italian coalition against Yugoslavia of Kingdom of Italy, Hungary, Romania 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 Zogu coaxed the country's parliament into declaring Albania a kingdom and himself king. King Zogu remained a hidebound conservative, and Albania was the only Balkan state where the government did not introduce a comprehensive land reform between the two world wars. Mussolini's forces overthrew Zogu when they occupied Albania in 1939.
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    World War II and the rise of Communism, 1941-44
    Main article: Military history of Albania during World War II

    Between 1941 and 1944, communist partisans fought Italian and German occupation forces as well as various nationalist Albanian partisans. However, they were victorious in World War II and took over the country which became communist immediately after that.
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    Communist Albania
    Main article: History of Albania (1945-1989)

    Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu emerged as the dominant figures in Albania after five years of political turmoil following the end of World War II. They began to concentrate primarily on securing and maintaining their power base, and secondarily on preserving Albania's independence and reshaping the country according to the precepts of Stalinism. Throughout all rule, Hoxha engineered an elaborate cult of personality that elevated him to the status of infallible leader. When he died in 1985, grandiose nation-wide mourning ceremonies were organized.

    Soon after Hoxha's death, 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.

    In 1992 the Democratic Party 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 intensive international mediation.
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    MODERN HISTORY

    Main article: History of Albania (1989-present)

    Since 1992 Albania has been oriented towards the West. In 1995, Albania was accepted in the Council of Europe and has requested membership in NATO. The workforce of Albania has continued to emigrate to Greece, Italy, Europe and North America. The political leadership has not fulfilled the people's hope for a short and not too painful transition.

    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 the President of the Republic. 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 a prominent leader of the Democratic Party, Azem Hajdari. 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.

    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.

    Aside from internationally acceptable statistics, Albania shows incredible infastructural and economic improvement. Construction is at a current boom in Albania as villas, apartment complexes, offices, restaurants, and hotels are multiplying at a frantic rate. Also, due to black market trade and through other venues, Albania currently boasts the highest percentage of Mercedes Benz automobilies of any European nation. The standard of living has been steadily increasing. Even more promising is the increase in development of manufacturing and consumer-based businesses in Albania, evidenced in companies like Olim (oil products), Deka (detergents), Glina (bottled water), Birra Tirana (brewery), and Alumil (Aluminium alloys).
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    Albania in the Middle Ages



    Communism and later
    The fall of the Roman Empire and the age of great migrations brought radical changes to the Balkan Peninsula and the Illyrian people. Barbarian tribesmen overran many rich Roman cities, destroying the existing social and economic order and leaving the great Roman aqueducts, coliseums, temples, and roads in ruins. The Illyrians gradually disappeared as a distinct people from the Balkans, replaced by the Bulgarians, Serbs, Croats, and Albanians. In the late Middle Ages, new waves of invaders swept over the Albanian-populated lands. Thanks to their protective mountains, close-knit tribal society, and sheer pertinacity, however, the Albanian people developed their distinctive identity and language.


    Early Middle Ages
    In the 4th century, barbarian tribes began to prey upon the Roman Empire, and the fortunes of the Illyrian-populated lands sagged. The Germanic Goths and Asiatic Huns were the first to arrive, invading in mid-century; the Avars attacked in A.D. 570; and the Slavic Serbs and Croats overran Illyrian-populated areas in the early 7th century. About fifty years later, the Bulgars conquered much of the Balkan Peninsula and extended their domain to the lowlands of what is now central Albania. Many Illyrians fled from coastal areas to the mountains, exchanging a sedentary peasant existence for the itinerant life of the herdsman. Other Illyrians intermarried with the conquerors and eventually assimilated. In general, the invaders destroyed or weakened Roman and Byzantine cultural centers in the lands that would become Albania.


    Late Middle Ages
    Again during the late medieval period, invaders ravaged the Illyrian-inhabited regions of the Balkans. Norman, Venetian, and Byzantine fleets attacked by sea. Bulgarian, Serbian, and Byzantine forces came overland and held the region in their grip for years. Clashes between rival clans and intrusions by the Serbs produced hardship that triggered an exodus from the region southward into Greece, including Thessaly, the Peloponnese, and the Aegean Islands. The invaders assimilated much of the Illyrian population, but the Illyrians living in lands that comprise modern-day Albania and parts of Yugoslavia and Greece were never completely absorbed or even controlled.

    The first historical mention of Albania and the Albanians as such appears in an account of the resistance by a Byzantine emperor, Alexius I Comnenus, to an offensive by the Vatican-backed Normans from southern Italy into the Albanian-populated lands in 1081.

    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. A prince from the overthrown Byzantine ruling family, Michael Comnenus, made alliances with Albanian chiefs and drove the Venetians from lands that now make up southern Albania and northern Greece, and in 1204 he set up an independent principality, the Despotate of Epirus, with Ioannina in northwest Greece) as its capital. In 1272 the king of Naples, Charles I of Anjou, occupied Durrës and formed an Albanian kingdom that would last for a century. Internal power struggles further weakened the Byzantine Empire in the 14th century, enabling the Serbs' most powerful medieval ruler, Stefan Dusan, to establish a short-lived empire that included all of Albania except Durrës.
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  15. #14  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    That's a very long post and I'm affraid that very few members will read it completely. Could you shortly summerise it, and present a topic for debate? Especially the question of whether Kosovo should become an independent state should be interesting for debate.
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    I post the new topic "Kosova Independence" we can debate there
    l=l0[1+α(t-t0)]
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  17. #16  
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    ok tnx :wink:
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    NP brother :wink:
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