A BRIEF HISTORY
origins of the Albanian people are not definitely known, but data drawn
from history and from linguistic, archaeological, and anthropological
studies have led to the
conclusion that Albanians are the direct descendants of the ancient Illyrians
the latter were natives of the lands they inhabited. Similarly, the Albanian
derives from the language of the Illyrians, the transition from Illyrian
apparently occurring between the 4th and 6th centuries AD.
culture is believed to have evolved from the Stone Age and to have manifested
itself in the territory of Albania toward the beginning of the Bronze
Age, about 2000 BC. The Illyrians were not a uniform body of people but
a conglomeration of many tribes that inhabited the western part of the
Balkans, from what is now Slovenia in the northwest to (and including)
the region of Epirus, which extends about halfway down the mainland of
modern Greece. In general, Illyrians in the highlands ofAlbania were more
isolated than those in the lowlands, and their culture evolved more slowly--a
distinction that persisted throughout Albania's history.
its beginning, the kingdom of Illyria comprised the actual territories
Dalmatia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, with a large part
modern Serbia. Shkodra (Scutari) was its capital, just as it is now, the
important center of Northern Albania.
earliest known king of Illyria was Hyllus (The Star) who is recorded to
have died in the year 1225 B.C. The Kingdom, however, reached its zenith
the fourth century B.C. when Bardhylus (White Star), one of the most
prominent of the Illyrian kings, united under scepter the kingdoms of
Molossia (Epirus*) and a good part of Macedonia. But its decay began under
the same ruler as a result of the attacks made on it by Philip of Macedon,
father of Alexander the Great.
the year 232 B.C. the Illyrian throne was occupied by Teuta, the celebrated
Queen whom historians have called Catherine the Great of Illyria. The
depredations of her thriving navy on the rising commercial development
Republic forced the Roman Senate to declare war against the Queen. A huge
army and navy under the command of of Santumalus and Alvinus attacked
Central Albania, and, after two years of protracted warfare, Teuta was
for peace (227 B.C.)
last king of Illyria was Gentius, of pathetic memory. In 165 B.C. he was
defeated by the Romans and brought to Rome as a captive.
Illyria consisting of the Enkalayes, the Taulantes, the Epirotes, and
the Ardianes, became a Roman dependency. She was carved out into three
independent republics the capitals of which were respectively Scodar
(Shkoder), Epidamnus (Durres) and Dulcigno (todays' Ulqin in Montenegro)
of antiquity relate that the Illyrians were a sociable and hospitable
people, renowned for their daring and bravery at war. Illyrian women were
fairly equal in status to the men, even to the point of becoming heads
federations. In matters of religion, Illyrians were pagans who believed
afterlife and buried their dead along with arms and various articles intended
land of Illyria was rich in minerals--iron, copper, gold, silver--and
became skillful in the mining and processing of metals. They were highly
boat builders and sailors as well; indeed, their light, swift galleys
liburnae were of such superior design that the Romans incorporated them
their own fleet as a type of warship called the Liburnian.
the 8th to the 6th century BC the Greeks founded a string of colonies
Illyrian soil, two of the most prominent of which were Epidamnus (modern
Durrës) and Apollonia (near modern Vlorë). The presence of Greek
on their soil brought the Illyrians into contact with a more advanced
which helped them to develop their own culture, while they in turn influenced
the economic and political life of the colonies. In the 3rd century BC
colonies began to decline and eventually perished.
parallel with the rise of Greek colonies, Illyrian tribes began to evolve
politically from relatively small and simple entities into larger and
ones. At first they formed temporary alliances with one another for defensive
or offensive purposes, then federations and, still later, kingdoms. The
important of these kingdoms, which flourished from the 5th to the 2nd
BC, were those of the Enkalayes, the Taulantes, the Epirotes, and the
warring for the better part of the 4th century BC against the expansionist
Macedonian state of Philip II and Alexander the Great, the Illyrians faced
greater threat from the growing power of the Romans. Seeing Illyrian territory
as a bridgehead for conquests east of the Adriatic, Rome in 229 BC attacked
and defeated the Illyrians, led by Queen Teuta, and by 168 BC established
effective control over Illyria.
Romans ruled Illyria--which now became the province of Illyricum--for
about six centuries. Under Roman rule Illyrian society underwent great
especially in its outward, material aspect. Art and culture flourished,
in Apollonia, whose school of philosophy became celebrated in antiquity.
great extent, though, the Illyrians resisted assimilation into Roman culture.
Illyrian culture survived, along with the Illyrian tongue, though many
words entered the language and later became a part of the Albanian language.
manifested itself in Illyria during Roman rule, about the middle of
the 1st century AD. At first the new religion had to compete with Oriental
cults--among them that of Mithra, Persian god of light--which had entered
land in the wake of Illyria's growing interaction with eastern regions
empire. For a long time it also had to compete with gods worshiped by
pagans. The steady growth of the Christian community in Dyrrhachium (the
Roman name for Epidamnus) led to the creation there of a bishopric in
Later, episcopal seats were established in Apollonia, Buthrotum (modern
Butrint), and Scodra (modern Shkodrë).
the time the empire began to decline, the Illyrians, profiting from a
tradition of martial habits and skills, had acquired great influence in
military hierarchy. Indeed, several of them went on from there to become
emperors. From the mid-3rd to the mid-4th century AD the reins of the
were almost continuously in the hands of emperors of Illyrian origin:
Decius, Claudius Gothicus, Aurelian, Probus, Diocletian, and Constantine
The Byzantine Empire.
Illyria to Albania.
the Roman Empire divided into east and west in 395, the territories of
modern Albania became part of the Byzantine Empire. As in the Roman
Empire, some Illyrians rose to positions of eminence in the new empire.
of the emperors who shaped the early history of Byzantium (reigning from
to 565) were of Illyrian origin: Anastasius I, Justin I, and--the most
of Byzantine emperors--Justinian I.
the first decades under Byzantine rule (until 461), Illyria suffered the
devastation of raids by Visigoths, Huns, and Ostrogoths. Not long after
barbarian invaders swept through the Balkans, the Slavs appeared. Between
the 6th and 8th centuries they settled in Illyrian territories and proceeded
assimilate Illyrian tribes in much of what is now Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia
Herzegovina, and Serbia. The tribes of southern Illyria, however--including
modern Albania--averted assimilation and preserved their native tongue.
the course of several centuries, under the impact of Roman, Byzantine,
Slavic cultures, the tribes of southern Illyria underwent a transformation,
transition occurred from the old Illyrian population to a new Albanian
one. As a
consequence, from the 8th to the 11th century, the name Illyria gradually
way to the name, first mentioned in the 2nd century AD by the geographer
Ptolemy of Alexandria, of the Albanoi tribe, which inhabited what is now
central Albania. From a single tribe the name spread to include the rest
country as Arbri and, finally, Albania. The genesis of Albanian nationality
apparently occurred at this time as the Albanian people became aware that
they shared a common territory, name, language, and cultural heritage.
(Scholars have not been able to determine the origin of Shqiperia, the
Albanians' own name for their land, which is believed to have supplanted
name Albania during the 16th and 17th centuries. It probably was derived
shqipe, or "eagle," which, modified into shqipria, became "the
land of the
before that event, Christianity had become the established religion in
Albania, supplanting pagan polytheism and eclipsing for the most part
humanistic world outlook and institutions inherited from the Greek and
civilizations. But, though the country was in the fold of Byzantium, Albanian
Christians remained under the jurisdiction of the Roman pope until 732.
year the iconoclast Byzantine emperor Leo III, angered by Albanian
archbishops because they had supported Rome in the Iconoclastic Controversy,
detached the Albanian church from the Roman pope and placed it under the
patriarch of Constantinople. When the Christian church split in 1054 between
the East and Rome, southern Albania retained its tie to Constantinople
northern Albania reverted to the jurisdiction of Rome. This split in the
church marked the first significant religious fragmentation of the country.
the latter part of the Middle Ages, Albanian urban society reached a high
point of development. Foreign commerce flourished to such an extent that
leading Albanian merchants had their own agencies in Venice, Ragusa (modern
Dubrovnik, Croatia), and Thessalonica (now Thessaloniki, Greece). The
prosperity of the cities also stimulated the development of education
however, was not the language used in schools, churches, and official
government transactions. Instead, Greek and Latin, which had the powerful
support of the state and the church, were the official languages of culture
new administrative system of the themes, or military provinces created
the Byzantine Empire, contributed to the eventual rise of feudalism in
as peasant soldiers who served military lords became serfs on their landed
estates. Among the leading families of the Albanian feudal nobility were
Thopias, Balshas, Shpatas, Muzakas, Aranitis, Dukagjinis, and Kastriotis.
first three of these rose to become rulers of principalities that were
independent of Byzantium.
decline of Byzantium.
partly to the weakness of the Byzantine Empire, Albania, beginning in
the 9th century, came under the domination, in whole or in part, of a
of foreign powers: Bulgarians, Norman crusaders, the Angevins of southern
Italy, Serbs, and Venetians. The final occupation of the country in 1347
Serbs, led by Stefan Dusan, caused massive migrations of Albanians abroad,
especially to Greece and the Aegean islands. By the mid-14th century,
Byzantine rule had come to an end in Albania, after nearly 1,000 years.
few decades later the country was confronted with a new threat, that of
Turks, who at this juncture were expanding their power in the Balkans.
Ottoman Turks invaded Albania in 1388 and completed the occupation of
country about four decades later (1430). But after 1443 an Albanian of
genius--Gjergj Kastrioti (1405-68), known as Skanderbeg--rallied the Albanian
princes and succeeded in driving the occupiers out. For the next 25 years,
operating out of his stronghold in the mountain town of Kruj, Skanderbeg
frustrated every attempt by the Turks to regain Albania, which they envisioned
as a springboard for the invasion of Italy and western Europe. His unequal
against the mightiest power of the time won the esteem of Europe as well
some support in the form of money and military aid from Naples, the papacy,
Venice, and Ragusa. After he died, Albanian resistance gradually collapsed,
and many Albanians fled to Italy enabling the Turks to reoccupy the country
long struggle to keep Albania free became highly significant to
the Albanian people, as it strengthened their solidarity, made them more
conscious of their national identity, and served later as a great source
inspiration in their struggle for national unity, freedom, and independence.
The Ottoman Empire.
nature of Turkish rule.
Turks established their dominion over Albania just as the Renaissance
began to unfold in Europe, so that, cut off from contact and exchanges
western Europe, Albania had no chance to participate in, or benefit from,
humanistic achievements of that era. Conquest also caused great suffering
vast destruction of the country's economy, commerce, art, and culture.
Moreover, to escape persecution by their conquerors, about one-fourth
country's population fled abroad to southern Italy, Sicily, and the Dalmatian
the Turks ruled Albania for more than four centuries, they were
unable to extend their authority throughout the country. In the highland
Turkish authorities exercised only a formal sovereignty, as the highlanders
refused to pay taxes, serve in the army, or surrender their arms--although
did pay an annual tribute to Constantinople.
rose in rebellion time and again against Ottoman occupation. In order
to check the ravages of Albanian resistance--which was partly motivated
religious feelings, namely, defense of the Christian faith--as well as
Albania spiritually closer to Turkey, the Ottomans initiated a systematic
toward the end of the 16th century to Islamize the population. This drive
continued through the following century, by the end of which two-thirds
people had converted to Islam. A major reason Albanians became Muslims
was to escape Turkish violence and exploitation, an instance of which
crushing tax that Christians would have to pay if they refused to convert.
aggravated the religious fragmentation of Albanian society, which
had first appeared in the Middle Ages and which was later used by
Constantinople and Albania's neighbours in attempts to divide and denationalize
the Albanian people. Hence leaders of the Albanian national movement in
19th century used the rallying cry "The religion of Albanians is
order to overcome religious divisions and foster national unity.
basis of Ottoman rule in Albania was a feudalmilitary system of landed
estates, called timars, which were awarded to military lords for loyalty
service to the empire. As Ottoman power began to decline in the 18th century,
the central authority of the empire in Albania gave way to the local authority
autonomy-minded lords. The most successful of these lords were three
generations of pashas of the Bushati family, who dominated most of northern
Albania from 1757 to 1831, and Ali Pasa Tepelen of Janina (now Ionnina,
Greece), a colourful Oriental-type despot who ruled over southern Albania
northern Greece from 1788 to 1822. These pashas created separate states
within the Ottoman state until they were overthrown by the sultan.
the fall of the pashas, in 1831 Turkey officially abolished the timar
system. In the wake of its collapse, economic and social power passed
the feudal lords to private landowning beys and, in the northern highlands,
tribal chieftains called bajraktars, who presided over given territories
patriarchal societies that were often torn by blood feuds. Peasants who
formerly serfs now worked on the estates of the beys as tenant farmers.
rule in Albania remained backward and oppressive to the end. In
these circumstances, many Albanians went abroad in search of careers and
advancement within the empire, and an unusually large number of them,
proportion to Albania's population, rose to positions of prominence as
government and military leaders. More than two dozen grand viziers (similar
prime ministers) of Turkey were of Albanian origin.
the mid-19th century Turkey was in the throes of the "Eastern Question,"
the peoples of the Balkans, including Albanians, sought to realize their
aspirations. To defend and promote their national interests, Albanians
Prizren, a town in Kosovo, in 1878 and founded the Albanian League. The
league had two main goals, one political and the other cultural. First,
(unsuccessfully) to unify all Albanian territories--at the time divided
four vilayets, or provinces, of Kosovo, Shkodr, Monastir, and Janina--into
autonomous state within the framework of the Ottoman Empire. Second, it
spearheaded a movement to develop Albanian language, literature, education,
and culture. In line with the second program, in 1908 Albanian leaders
the town of Monastir (now Bitola, Macedonia) and adopted a national alphabet.
Based mostly on the Latin script, this supplanted several other alphabets,
including Arabic and Greek, that were in use until then.
Albanian League was suppressed by the Turks in 1881, in part because
they were alarmed by its strong nationalistic orientation. By then, however,
league had become a powerful symbol of Albania's national awakening, and
ideas and objectives fueled the drive that culminated later in national
the Young Turks, who seized power in Istanbul in 1908, ignored their
commitments to Albanians to institute democratic reforms and to grant
autonomy, Albanians embarked on an armed struggle, which, at the end of
three years (1910-12), forced the Turks to agree, in effect, to grant
demands. Alarmed at the prospect of Albanian autonomy, Albania's Balkan
neighbours, who had already made plans to partition the region, declared
on Turkey in October 1912, and Greek, Serbian, and Montenegrin armies
advanced into Albanian territories.
prevent the annihilation of the country, Albanian national delegates met
congress in Vlorë. They were led by Ismail Qemal, an Albanian who
several high positions in the Ottoman government. On Nov. 28, 1912, the
congress issued the Vlorë proclamation, which declared Albania's
the new state.
after the defeat of Turkey by the Balkan allies, a conference of
ambassadors of the Great Powers (Britain, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary,
France, and Italy) convened in London in December 1912 to settle the
outstanding issues raised by the conflict. With support given to the Albanians
Austria-Hungary and Italy, the conference agreed to create an independent
state of Albania. But, in drawing the borders of the new state, owing
pressure from Albania's neighbours, the Great Powers largely ignored
demographic realities and ceded the vast region of Kosovo to Serbia, while,
the south, Greece was given the greater part of Çamria, a part
of the old region
of Epirus centred on the Thamis River. Many observers doubted whether
new state would be viable with about one-half of Albanian lands and population
left outside its borders, especially since these lands were the most productive
food grains and livestock. On the other hand, a small community of about
35,000 ethnic Greeks was included within Albania's borders. (However,
Greece, which counted all Albanians of the Orthodox faith--20 percent
population--as Greeks, claimed that the number of ethnic Greeks was
considerably larger.) Thereafter, Kosovo and the Çamria remained
issues in Albanian-Greek and Albanian-Yugoslav relations.
Great Powers also appointed a German prince, Wilhelm zu Wied, as ruler
of Albania. Wilhelm arrived in Albania in March 1914, but his unfamiliarity
Albania and its problems, compounded by complications arising from the
outbreak of World War I, led him to depart from Albania six months later.
war plunged the country into a new crisis, as the armies of Austria-Hungary,
France, Italy, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia invaded and occupied it.
without any political leadership or authority, the country was in chaos,
very fate hung in the balance. At the Paris Peace Conference after the
the extinction of Albania was averted largely through the efforts of U.S.
President Woodrow Wilson, who vetoed a plan by Britain, France, and Italy
partition Albania among its neighbours.
national congress, held in Lushnje in January 1920, laid the foundations
new government. In December of that year Albania, this time with the help
Britain, gained admission to the League of Nations, thereby winning for
time international recognition as a sovereign nation and state.
Noli and King Zog.
the start of the 1920s, Albanian society was divided by two apparently
irreconcilable forces. One, made up mainly of deeply conservative landowning
beys and tribal bajraktars who were tied to the Ottoman and feudal past,
led by Ahmed Bey Zogu, a chieftain from the Mat region of north-central
Albania. The other, made up of liberal intellectuals, democratic politicians,
progressive merchants who looked to the West and wanted to modernize and
Westernize Albania, was led by Fan S. Noli, an American-educated bishop
the Orthodox church. In the event, this East-West polarization of Albanian
society was of such magnitude and complexity that neither leader could
and overcome it.
the unusually open and free political, social, and cultural climate that
prevailed in Albania between 1920 and 1924, the liberal forces gathered
strength, and, by mid-1924, a popular revolt forced Zogu to flee to Yugoslavia.
Installed as prime minister of the new government in June 1924, Noli set
build a Western-style democracy in Albania, and toward that end he announced
a radical program of land reform and modernization. But his vacillation
carrying out the program, coupled with a depleted state treasury and a
obtain international recognition for his revolutionary, left-of-centre
quickly alienated most of Noli's supporters, and six months later he was
overthrown by an armed assault led by Zogu and aided by Yugoslavia.
began his 14-year reign in Albania--first as president (1925-28), then
King Zog I (1928-39)--in a country rife with political and social instability.
Greatly in need of foreign aid and credit in order to stabilize the country,
signed a number of accords with Italy. These provided transitory financial
to Albania, but they effected no basic change in its economy, especially
the conditions of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Italy, on the other
viewed Albania primarily as a bridgehead for military expansion into the
Balkans. On April 7, 1939, Italy invaded and shortly after occupied the
King Zog fled to Greece.
social base of Zog's power was a coalition of southern beys and northern
bajraktars. With the support of this coalition--plus a vast Oriental bureaucracy,
an efficient police force, and Italian money--King Zog brought a large
of stability to Albania. He extended the authority of the government to
highlands, reduced the brigandage that had formerly plagued the country,
the foundations of a modern educational system, and took a few steps to
Westernize Albanian social life. On balance, however, his achievements
outweighed by his failures. Although formally a constitutional monarch,
reality Zog was a dictator, and Albania under him experienced the fragile
stability of a dictatorship. Zog failed to resolve Albania's fundamental
that of land reform, leaving the peasantry as impoverished as before.
to stave off famine, the government had to import food grains annually,
even so, thousands of people migrated abroad in search of a better life.
Moreover, Zog denied democratic freedoms to Albanians and created
conditions that spawned periodic revolts against his regime, alienated
the educated class, fomented labour unrest, and led to the formation of
communist groups in the country.
Albania as a military base, in October 1940, Italian forces invaded
Greece, but they were quickly thrown back into Albania. After Nazi Germany
defeated Greece and Yugoslavia in 1941, the regions of Kosovo and Çamria
were joined to Albania, thus creating an ethnically united Albanian state.
new state lasted until November 1944, when the Germans--who had replaced
the Italian occupation forces following Italy's surrender in 1943--withdrew
Albania. Kosovo was then reincorporated into the Serbian part of Yugoslavia,
and Çamria into Greece.
the various communist groups that had germinated in Zog's Albania
merged in November 1941 to form the Albanian Communist Party and began
fight the occupiers as a unified resistance force. After a successful
against the fascists and two other resistance groups--the National Front
Kombtar) and the pro-Zog Legality Party(Legaliteti)--which contended for
power with them, the communists seized control of the country on Nov.
1944. Enver Hoxha, a college instructor who had led the resistance struggle
communist forces, became the leader of Albania by virtue of his post as
secretary-general of the party. Albania, which before the war had been
the personal dictatorship of King Zog, now fell under the collective dictatorship
of the Albanian Communist Party. The country became officially the People's
Republic of Albania in 1946 and, in 1976, the People's Socialist Republic
man who became the dominating figure of the Communist resistance
movement almost from the beginning was the party leader Enver Hoxha
(1908-85). Hoxha rose from a boiling crucible made up of several explosive
ingredients: the daily travail of poorly armed and badly organised guerrilla
fighting against well-equipped and highly trained occupying armies; a
determination to prevent the more powerful Yugoslav resistance movement
from interfering unduly in Albanian domestic affairs; constant bickering
mainly right-wing British liaison Officers operating in Albania during
years; and the civil war of 1943-4. Hoxha emerged from this blood-stained
period as a very ambitious, ruthless, cunning and fanatical Communist
leader and politician. He also managed to combine very dogmatic Communist
beliefs with fierce nationalism.
pursuing the retreating Nazi armies from Albania and defeating their
right-wing rivals the Communists set up their own government, under Hoxha's
leadership, in November 1944. Unlike the Yugoslav Communists, their Albanian
counterparts had no direct links with Moscow during the war. This state
affairs continued in the early post-war years, when the Albanian regime
effect a Yugoslav satellite. But Tito and his colleagues soon discovered
their desire to make Albania part of the Yugoslav federation was strongly
opposed by Hoxha himself. They consequently tried hard to replace him
more pliant leader. But Hoxha employed all his machiavellian deviousness
thwart Yugoslav efforts to topple him, and in fact succeeded in doing
Hoxha came to display the same ruthlessness in his determination to create
one-party state. All opposition - political, economic, social and cultural
crushed with the utmost brutality. The only group towards whom he showed
any wariness or consideration during the early years was the peasants,
made up the great majority of the population. He first introduced a mild
agrarian reform in order to win their support. But later, when he had
consolidated his own position in the party and the country, he embarked
fierce campaign of full collectivisation of agriculture.
Yugoslav ambition to annex Albania created a split within the Albanian
party between a pro-Yugoslav and an anti-Yugoslav faction. The situation
aggravated by the fact that the leader of the pro-Yugoslav faction, Koci
was appointed Minister of the Interior, thus in control of the secret
all other security forces. The 1948 schism between Stalin and Tito suddenly
gave Hoxha an opportunity to achieve three main political ambitions: to
once and for all from Yugoslavia's clutches; eliminate pro-Tito opponents
had made life difficult for him for several years; and to establish his
links with Moscow. From 1948 onwards he was to embrace Stalinism with
unparalleled eagerness and fervour. One could say he became one of the
Soviet dictator's most natural and consistent disciples. Hoxha visited
Moscow on several occasions, when he discovered, to his delight, that
was great affinity between them. Although the Albanian leader had been
natural pro-Stalinist most of his life, the close alliance and friendship
served to confirm and reinforce all his innate domineering and bloodthirsty
propensities. Both believed in absolute personal power, which was justified
very flexible ideology which could be manipulated to suit all possible
Like Stalin, Hoxha was utterly determined to destroy all opponents, real
imaginary, and remove every obstacle his policies encountered. Hence under
his rule every trace of natural justice, of freedom of thought and expression,
these terms are understood in the civilised world, was wiped out in his
just as it had been in the Soviet Union under Stalin.
death in 1953 and the emergence of Nikita Khrushchev as party leader
in Moscow were a severe blow to Hoxha. Not only did he lose a powerful
friend and like-minded teacher, he suddenly passed under the control of
volatile and unpredictable political leader who held dangerous reformist
Hoxha's first shock came in 1955 when Khrushchev decided to bring about
reconciliation between Moscow and Yugoslavia, whose relations had remained
frozen since 1948. The Albanian leader was asked to bring to an end his
regime's long hostility towards Yugoslavia and establish normal relations
Although he made a few superficial friendly gestures towards his neighbour,
Hoxha was at heart opposed to any genuine reconciliation, and he remained
mainly because he feared Tito's reformist ideas. Another greater shock
Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin in his 'secret speech' of 1956. Hoxha
this as an attack not only against the policies of his regime but also
own personal position in the Party and government. The Soviet leader's
to persuade Hoxha to reform his rule and give up some of his Stalinist
also proved ineffective. As a result, tension between Moscow and Albania
steadily grew from 1955-61, when the final break occurred. The first signs
trouble in the Soviet-Albanian alliance appeared in 1960, when Hoxha sided
with China in the early stages of the Soviet-Chinese ideological dispute.
Matters came to a head at the international conference of 81 Communist
parties held in Moscow in November 1960, where the Albanian leader openly
defied Moscow by supporting China's cause. A year later Moscow broke off
diplomatic relations with Albania and stopped all economic, industrial
military aid. The Chinese quickly came to the rescue of their small ally
Europe with a package of economic help. They undertook to build 25 industrial
plants in Albania with the assistance of Chinese technicians. But relations
between the two countries faced great difficulties from the beginning
of their immense difference in size and the huge cultural and political
that divided them. Nevertheless, Mao's cultural revolution did have a
impact on Hoxha: it led him to make all religious practices illegal in
However, serious strains between the two countries arose when the Chinese
government opened up to the USA and Yugoslavia in the early 1970's. Hoxha
rejected China's advice that his government should do the same. The alliance
finally came to an end in 1978, when Peking stopped all economic and military
aid and withdrew its experts. As a result, not only was Albania left completely
isolated, it was also deprived of all foreign aid it so desperately needed.
end of the alliance with China marked the beginning of a period of steady
economic and industrial decline. Factories and industrial plants built
1950's with Soviet bloc aid became outdated and derelict. Shortage of
machinery and equipment led to the widespread use of manual labour in
collective farms. The situation was aggravated by a highly centralised
bureaucratic system and inefficient management. At the same time, incessant
official propaganda exhorted people to increase production and to rely
than ever on their own efforts and on natural resources. 1985 was an important
watershed for all communist countries of Europe, especially for Albania.
March, Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet Communist leader. In April, Enver
Hoxha died at the age of 76, after having ruled the country almost like
private life for over 40 years. He was succeeded by Ramiz Alia, a member
the Politburo who had served for several years as Hoxha's principal deputy.
20th 1991, thousands of demonstrators protesting in the capital,
Tirana, topple down the statue of Enver Hoxha. Religion is legalised,
religious institutions are opened and the ex-persecuted priests and hoxha's
allowed to exercise their profession freely. March 31, elections are organised
all over Albania. The Party of Labour (reformed as Socialist Party) wins
elections. In June, the formation of coalition government for national
December the collapse of the coalition government is forced by the Democratic
Party, because the Socialists are seen to be stalling on the reform programme.
Fresh general election is held in March 1992, the Democratic Party wins
landslide victory with over 65% of the popular vote. In April, Dr Sali
sworn in as the new President. The new government vowed to implement a
wide-ranging reform programme which will affect all aspects of life in
the life of the present Government, the focus of reform has been to
radically change the economic and social foundations of the country. It
achieved many of its goals, and as a consequence, the DP won a landslide
victory in the General Election of 26th May 1996. The new Government has
vowed to continue with its wide ranging reform program and intends to
Albania into the the 21st Century.