Country Briefs: Located in the Southeastern part of Europe, with its strategic geographical location between Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, Albania, is a place to be visited.
With a population of around 35,563,112, Albania covers an area of 28,748 sq km. The capital city of Albania, Tirana, is not just historically relevant but is also quite important from tourism point of view. Every year Tirana receives countless tourists from all over the globe.
If we trace back to the history of Albania, we find that by and large it is believed that the Illyrians of the Stone Age were the first one to settle here. It is believed that Albania derived its name from Arber, an Illyrian tribe.
The Illyrians were greatly influenced by the Greeks. In 335 BC, Alexander routed the forces of the Illyrian chieftains Clitus and the Illyrian tribal leaders and soldiers accompanied Alexander on his conquest of Persia. By the end of 3rd century BC, Illyrians under Queen Teuta attacked Roman merchant vessels plying the Adriatic Sea. In response to it, the Romans attacked and defeated the Illyrians in 229 BC.
The rule of Romans lasted for six centuries. During this time Albania witnessed lot of economic and cultural advancement. The Romans also strengthened the defense forces. But unfortunately the Roman Empire had a downfall that resulted in the bifurcation of Albania into two halves.
So in AD 395, Roman Empire disintegrated into eastern and western Albania. Soon after in AD 732, the Byzantine emperor, Leo the Isaurian gained control over Albania and subordinated the area to the patriarchate of Constantinople. This turned the Albanian lands into an arena for tussle between Rome and Constantinople.
The Byzantines led to lot of destruction. The Illyrians suffered constant devastation by raids from the Visigoths, Huns and Ostrogoths. Though the Illyrians possessed a common territory, language and culture, their drawback was that they lacked the unity of a name.
It was geographer Ptolemy of Albanoi tribe who drove the name of his central Albanian tribe to be used across the land. As a consequence the name Shqiperia meaning the land of eagles was created. The newly named Albania scaled new heights of development especially in terms of commerce and economy.
However the decline of the Byzantines witnessed attacks from other foreign powers such as Serbs, Bulgarians, Norman Crusaders and Venetians. In 1388, Ottoman Turks came to power. Due to the violence and oppression caused by the Turks many Albanians fled to Italy, Greece and Egypt and most of the others adopted religion of Islam.
The Ottoman Turks suffered a setback in 1443 when Gjergi Kastrioti, an Albanian military genius drove out the Turks. Though the Turks soon returned after his death in 1468, yet Albanians by then had gathered lot of courage and inspiration for independence.
In 1878, the Albanian leaders formed the League or Prizen that led to a major revolt in Ottoman territories in 1912, the First Balkan War. When Serbia, Montenegro and Greece laid claim to Albanian lands during the war, the Albanians declared independence.
In 1913, after the Second Balkan War, The Great European Powers endorsed an independent Albania. But the fresh state soon collapsed due to the outbreak of World War I.
Albania suffered greatly during the First World War. The country was the bone of contention between Italy and the kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1924, Zogu, the victorious son of a clan chieftain declared Albania a kingdom and became its king. But in 1939 Mussolini's forces overthrew Zogu and occupied Albania.
At the end of Second World War, Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu emerged as dominant figures. They laid emphasis on strengthening the military base and on preserving and reshaping Albania.
In 1998 Albanians ratified a constitution and established a democratic system of government based upon the rule of law and ensuring the protection of fundamental human rights.
After undergoing numerous upheavals in social, economic as well as political situation, Albania confronted a remarkable infrastructural and economic improvement. At present the country is known by virtue of some of the staggering facts.
For instance Albania possesses the greatest number of Mercedes Benz than any other European nation. Also Albania?s economy and trade has received a new dimension with the development of eminent companies such as Olim, Deka, Glina and Alumil etc.
- HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
- ISO: County codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a global context, prefix "AL-" to the code (ex: AL-4 represents Fier).
- FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
- Population: 2001-04 census. Populations and areas of counties were calculated by adding the component districts.
- Districts: The districts that are part of this county.