Friday, December 28, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The Albanians first appear in the historical record in Byzantine sources of the late-11th century. At this point, they are already fully Christianised. Christianity was later overtaken by Islam during the centuries of Ottoman rule. After independence (1912) from the Ottoman Empire, the Albanian republican, monarchic and later Communist regimes followed a systematic policy of separating religion from official functions and cultural life. Albania never had an official state religion either as a republic or as a kingdom. In the 20th century, the clergy of all faiths was weakened under the monarchy, and ultimately eradicated during the 1940s and 1950s, under the state policy of obliterating all organized religion from Albanian territories.
The Communist regime that took control of Albania after World War II persecuted and suppressed religious observance and institutions and entirely banned religion to the point where Albania was officially declared to be the world's first atheist state. Religious freedom has returned to Albania since the regime's change in 1992. Albanian Muslim populations are found throughout the country whereas Orthodox Christians are concentrated in the south and Roman Catholics are found in the north of the country.
Despite the presence of the main monotheist religions in Albania, many important Pagan days and rituals are celebrated and practiced by Albanians. 14 March is a Pagan day, called "The summer day". It is massively celebrated in the city of Elbasan and in Tirana.
Albanian folk music falls into three stylistic groups, with other important music areas around Shkodër and Tirana; the major groupings are the Ghegs of the north and southern Labs and Tosks. The northern and southern traditions are contrasted by the "rugged and heroic" tone of the north and the "relaxed" form of the south.
Albanian was proven to be an Indo-European language in 1854 by the German philologist Franz Bopp. The Albanian language comprises its own branch of the Indo-European language family.
Before the establishment of the People's Republic, Albania's illiteracy rate was as high as 85%. Schools were scarce between World War I and World War II. When the People's Republic was established in 1945, the Party gave high priority to the wiping out of illiteracy. As part of a vast social campaign, anyone between the ages of 12 and 40 who could not read or write was mandated to attend classes to learn. By 1955, illiteracy was virtually eliminated among Albania's adult population. Today the overall literacy rate in Albania is 98.7%, the male literacy rate is 99.2% and female literacy rate is 98.3%.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Albania is divided into 12 administrative counties. These counties include 36 districts and 373 municipalities. There are overall 2980 villages in all Albania. The municipalities are the first level of local governance, responsible for local needs and law enforcement. The Albanian republic is a parliamentary democracy established under a constitution renewed in 1998. Elections are held every four years. Albania, along with Croatia, joined NATO on 1 April 2009, becoming the 27th and 28th members of the alliance.
Tirana is Albania's capital and largest city.
The Albanian population is relatively young by European standards, with a median age of 28.9 years.
The dominant and official language is Albanian, a revised and merged form of the two main dialects, Gheg and Tosk, but with a bigger influence of Tosk as compared to the Gheg. The Shkumbin River is the dividing line between the two dialects. In the areas inhabited by the Greek minority, a dialect of Greek is spoken that preserves features now lost in standard modern Greek. Other languages spoken by ethnic minorities in Albania include Aromanian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Gorani, and Roma.
There are no official statistics regarding religious affiliation in Albania. The CIA World Factbook gives a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholics.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Albania's independence was recognized by the Conference of London on 29 July 1913, but the drawing of the borders of Albania ignored the demographic realities of the time. The short-lived monarchy (1914–1925) was succeeded by an even shorter-lived first Albanian Republic (1925–1928), to be replaced by another monarchy (1928–1939), which was annexed by Fascist Italy and then by Nazi Germany during World War II. After the liberation of Albania from Nazi occupation, the country became a socialist republic, the People's Republic of Albania, which was led by Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania.
The People's Republic was dissolved in 1990, and the Republic of Albania was founded in 1991. The Communists retained a stronghold in parliament after popular support in the elections of 1991. However, in March 1992, amid liberalisation policies resulting in economic collapse and social unrest, a new front led by the new Democratic Party took power. The economic crisis spread in late 1996 following the failure of some Ponzi schemes operating in the country, peaking in 1997 in an armed rebellion that led to another mass emigration of Albanians, mostly to Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Germany and North America.In 1999, the country was affected by the Kosovo War, when a great number of Albanians from Kosovo found refuge in Albania.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The history of Albania emerged from the prehistoric stage from the 4th century BC, with early records of Illyria in Greco-Roman historiography. The modern territory of Albania has no counterpart in antiquity, comprising parts of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Macedonia. The territory remained under Roman control until the Slavic migrations of the 7th century, and was integrated into the Bulgarian Empire in the 9th century. The territorial nucleus of the Albanian state formed in the Middle Ages, as the Principality of Arbër and the Kingdom of Albania. The first records of the Albanian people as a distinct ethnicity also date to this period.
At the dawn of the establishment of the Ottoman Empire in Southeast Europe, the geopolitical landscape was marked by scattered kingdoms of small principalities. The Ottomans erected their garrisons throughout southern Albania by 1415 and established formal jurisdiction over most of Albania by 1431. Along with the Bosniaks, Muslim Albanians occupied an outstanding position in the empire, and were the main pillars of Ottoman policy in the Balkans.
Enjoying this privileged position in the empire, Muslim Albanians held various administrative positions, with over two dozen Grand Viziers of Albanian origin, such as Gen. Pasha, who commanded the Ottoman forces during the Ottoman-Persian Wars; Gen. Ahmed, who led the Ottoman army during the Austro-Turkish War (1663–1664); and, later, Muhammad Ali Pasha of Egypt. In the 15th century, when the Ottomans were gaining a firm foothold in the region, Albanian towns were organised into four principle sanjaks. The government fostered trade by settling a sizeable Jewish colony of refugees fleeing persecution in Spain.
Albanians could also be found throughout the empire, in Iraq, Egypt, Algeria and across the Maghreb as vital military and administrative retainers. This owed largely to their early use as part of the Devşirme system. The process of Islamization was an incremental one, commencing from the arrival of the Ottomans in the 14th century. Timar holders, the bedrock of early Ottoman control in Southeast Europe, were not necessarily converts to Islam, and occasionally rebelled; the most famous of these rebels is Skanderbeg. The most significant impact on the Albanians was the gradual Islamisation process of a large majority of the population, although such a process only became widespread in the 17th century. Mainly Catholics converted in the 17th century, while the Orthodox Albanians followed suit mainly in the following century. Initially confined to the main city centres of Elbasan and Shkoder, by this period the countryside was also embracing the new religion.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Albania is a country in Southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west and on the Ionian Sea to the southwest. It is less than 72 km from Italy, across the Strait of Otranto which links the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea. Albania is a member of the UN, NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of Europe, World Trade Organization, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and one of the founding members of the Union for the Mediterranean.
The modern-day territory of Albania was at various points in history part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Macedonia, and Moesia Superior. The modern Republic became independent after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in Europe following the Balkan Wars. Albanians had for almost five centuries been at the heart of a sprawling empire in which they enjoyed a privileged position as administrators and generals and in the diffusion of Ottoman culture throughout the European, Arabian and African continents. Albania became independent in 1912, becoming a Principality, Republic, and Kingdom until being invaded, during World War II, by Fascist Italy in 1939, and invaded again by Nazi Germany in 1943. In 1944, Albania was liberated and a socialist People's Republic was established under the leadership of Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labor. In 1991, the Socialist republic was dissolved and the Republic of Albania was established.