- Accession to the Council of Europe : 1995
- Area : 28 748 km2
- Population : 2.89 million inhabitants (2014)
- Capital : Tirana
- Official language : Albanian
- Religion : Catholic
- Government : Parliamentary Republic
- Head of State : Ilir Meta, President since April 29th, 2017
- Head of Government : Edi Rama (Prime Minister)
- Currency : Lek (ALL)
- Calling code : + 355
- National day : November 28
With a combination of Greek, Roman, Italian and Turkish cultures, Albania benefits from the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean shores. Hindered by political instability, which has plagued the Balkans for centuries, Albania experienced several military conflicts first-hand during the 1990’s, notably the Kosovo Conflict. However, Albania played a central role for NATO and the United States throughout that tumultuous period.
- 1912 :Albania declares its independence.
- 1920 : At the Congress of Lushnje, Tirana becomes the Albania capitol.
- 1939 : Occupation of Albania by fascist Italy.
- 1941 : Italy leaves Albania after its defeat against Greece. Creation of the Communist Party of Albania.
- 1943-1944 : Occupation of Albania by Germany.
- 1946 : Foundation of the Popular Republic of Albania by Enver Hoxha, who had attempted to construct a Catholic church detached from the Church of Rome.
- 1948 : Albania breaks away from Tito’s Yugoslavia.
- 1961 : Albania breaks aways from the USSR. Later this year, Albania leaves the Warsaw Pact.
- 1967 : The practice of any religion is made illegal.
- 1978 : Albania breaks off from China.
- Septembre 1990 : Albania deputies secretly adopt a constitution for the Republic of Kosovo.
- 1992 : Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the European Union and Albania. Albania becomes eligible for funding under the EU’s “Phare Program”.
- 1993 : Economic and social reforms lead to privatization.
- 1994 : Accession to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).
- 1995 : Accession to the Council of Europe and a partner for peace of NATO.
- 1999 : Member of the Organisation International de la Francophonie.
- 2006 : The Council decises on a revised European Partnership for Albania. The European Commission Albania Readmission Agreement enters into force.
- 2008 : The European Union and Albania reach an agreement to facilitate the visa process.
- 2009 : Accession to NATO. The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) becomes effective. Albania submits its application for European Union membership.
- 2010 : The European Union grants visa liberalisation to Albania.
- 2014 Albania officially becomes candidate to become a member State of the European Union.
Officially founded in 1614 by General Sulejman Pasha Ottoman, who built a mosque, a bakery and a Turkish bath during the same year, Tirana became the capital of Albania in 1920. The city grew rapidly during the twentieth century because of its agricultural, textile, mechanical and pharmacal industries. In the 1960s, Tirana experienced a second period of population growth, which continued to increase in the 90’s with the influx of Albanians from the north, as well as refugees from Kosovo.
The city is now the main industrial and cultural center of the country, and is trying to develop its tourism industry. Most of the monuments in Tirana are located close to Skanderbeg Square – named after the national hero who fought for the liberation of Albania from Turkish oppression. At the Square, you can find the National Museum of History, the Pyramid (the ancient mausoleum of Enver Hoxha that is now an exhibition hall), the Opera. the Palace of Culture built in the Soviet-style, Fascist-style buildings left from the Italian occupation, the Et’hem Bey Mosque built in 1794, the Clock Tower of 1821, and the Tabakkane Bridge on the right bank of Lana, which dates back to the Ottoman period (XVIIth-XVIIIth century).
Pictures : Kruja, north-east of Tirana © Greg Ronnen Tirana
Rebirth of a capital © tirana.gov.al
“ By blood and origin I am Albanian. My citizenship is Indian. I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the whole world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.”
Mother Teresa, Oslo, ceremony of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nicknamed the “Saint of the Lower Depths,” Mother Teresa is one of the leading figures of the twentieth century.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bejaxhiu in Skopje on the eve of World War I, she is the last of a family of three Albanian children. Fatherless at age 9, her mother started a small business to support the family. At 18, she expresses the wish to become a missionary. She left her parental home in Skopje and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns, and was sent to India in 1929, where she developped a particular affinity for the country. Thus she became Indian in 1947. In Darjeeling, she took her initial vows and chose the name Teresa. From 1929 to 1946, she taught at St. Mary’s College in Calcutta, before becoming director. Struck by the abject poverty of the inhabitants of “slums”, she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and she decided devote herself to the poorest in the slums. In 1947, she founded the first school in the neighborhoods of Calcutta. In 1948, she received the Pope’s permission to leave her convent to serve the “poorest of the poor.” She began to wear a white sari with blue borders in 1950, and founded the Congregation of Missionaries of Charity. She never stopped caring for abandoned children, and is especially remembered for finding adoptive parents and establishing schools.
The tasty food is certainly one of the main draws of Albania. Albanian cuisine is varied, often described as being a cross between the savors of the Orient and the Occident. The cuisine of this region is characterized by notably fresh produce and grilled meats (mish zgare). Popular dishes include: byrek (a sort of puff pastry) with spinach and cheese, the fërgesë Tiranian (a mix of yogurt and grilled meat), the qofte of Korça (diced meat covered in a savory spice sauce), and the gliko of Përmet and of Korça (a jam of either apples or pears).
In 1913, a circus duo pulled off one of the biggest scams in history. The German crook Otto Witte took the identity of a clown, and decided to pretend to be the nephew of the Sultan, Prince Halim Eddine. He was helped in his task by his compagon Schlepsig Max, whom he met in a prison in Barcelona where he was serving a sentence for fraud. He was crowned king, claiming to be Otto I, and then declared war in Montenegro. Exposed three days later, he fled with some of the treasure.
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