Albania has been inhabited since ancient times and its archaeological sites include a plethora of Greek, Roman, and early Christian structures, valuable murals and mosaics. Today, the country’s state-lines roughly correspond to the Kingdom of Arberia, established in the 13th century by the King of Naples.
In the 15th century, the region famously resisted Ottoman occupation - the military exploits of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, hero and leader of the resistance, chronicle a titanic struggle that has long since entered Albanian lore. After his death in 1468, Albania finally succumbed to Ottoman rule, becoming a vital pillar of the empire until Albanian national consciousness awakened in the early 20th century. Numerous fine mosques and palaces – along with the widespread practise of Islam - are among the legacies of the Ottoman era.
During the Second World War, Albania was occupied by both Italian Fascists and German Nazis. It was liberated by Soviet forces in 1944 and declared the Socialist People’s Republic of Albania. The dictator Enver Hoxha banned religion, curtailed civil liberties, and destroyed many of the country’s finest religious architecture. On the plus side, Albania became the only country in the world not to impose taxes on its population.
The present-day Republic of Albania was established after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Following some social and economic crises in the late 1990s, the country has now successfully adjusted to a market economy and is now in the process of re-discovering itself. The capital city of Tirana, exuding energy, determination, and youthfulness, is the place to see the new Albania.