Albania is conquered by the Romans.
Albania becomes part of the Byzantine empire after split of the Roman Empire.
1385 to 1912:
Albania is conquered by the Ottoman Empire. During this time many Albanians converted to Islamic faith, also many emigrated to Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Turkey.
1443 to 1478:
National hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeg led a revolt, Albanians temporarily had control of their country.
1912 November 28th:
Albanian issues the Vlore Proclamation declaring independence.
Great powers establish official Albanian borders.
During the Paris Peace Conference, Woodrow Wilson dismisses a European plan to divide Albania among its neighbors.
1939 to 1943:
(During WWII) Albania is occupied by Mussolini’s forces.
1943 to 1944:
After Italy was defeated by the allied powers, German forces took over occupation of Albania until pushed out by the Communist partisans with help from American and British troops.
Enver Hoxha takes power, acting as a “miniature Stalin” imposing communism and suppressing freedom.
Enver Hoxha dies.
Communism falls when the Communist party is voted out, Sali Berisha becomes first democratically elected president.
Several pyramid schemes collapse causing thousands of people to become bankrupt and angry, armed revolts led to near-collapse of government authority. Weapons depots are raided, which leads to a state of total anarchy. The UN Multinational Protection Force eventually helps to restore order.
Albanians ratify a new constitution, guaranteeing rule of law and protecting fundamental human rights and religious freedom.
After being elected as a Prime Minister in 2005 for first time, Sali Berisha is re-elected in July, 2009. Albania joins NATO and files the application for EU membership the same month of that year.
Ongoing disputes and allegations of fraud during the 2009 parliamentary elections lead many members of congress to boycott Parliament. Sometimes ethnic tensions over treatment of Greek minority in Albania or Albanian community in Greece, but overall relations are positive.
There are two dialects of the Albanian language, the Gheg dialect in the North, and the Tosk dialect in the Southern region. Modern Albanian contains components of both dialects. Albanian or “Shqip” is comprised of 36 letters and is based on the Latin alphabet. The following are a few useful words and phrases in Shqip:
Albanians are some of the most hospitable people you will find in Europe, or for that matter, anywhere in the world. When visiting someone’s house, they will always offer you something to drink such as coffee (Turkish), juice, or raki (more likely if you are a man). They will also usually bring out a dish of sweets such as candy, chocolates, or cookies.
It is also very common for someone to ask you about your parents, and your family. Always do the same in return, as a way of being caring and to show respect. At holidays and family get-togethers, Albanians like to toast repeatedly throughout the meal, going around the table saying “Gezuar”, and wishing each person well.
In general, Albanian food is wonderfully fresh, wholesome, and delicious. Food is almost always grown locally, since so many people have their own fields and land for growing fruits and vegetables. Also, much food is grown in a traditional sustainable manner, which means that it is often grown without the use of any chemicals.
In Saranda you will find a wide variety of fresh seafood including squid, shrimp, fish, among other things. Salads often include ingredients such as tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, green peppers, and olives. For meat-eaters, lamb is usually a good choice since there are many sheep raised locally and therefore it should be fresh.
Local fruit trees include varieties of lemon, orange, pear, mulberry, and fig, to name only a few. Green grapes are also quite abundant, when in season.
While in the country you should definitely get used to drinking Turkish coffee, especially if you are looking to have a truly cultural experience. Instead of being filtered, the coffee is ground very finely, then simply brought just to a boil before being served. This means that the coffee is very strong, which explains why it is drunk in very small cups. The grounds will settle to the bottom of the cup, and some women like to take your cup, turn it over, and supersticiously “read your coffee grounds”.
Most families will grow grapes to make their own “raki” which is a very strong, clear, alcoholic beverage. Be careful when drinking this potent liquor, you may find yourself quite tipsy after only a small amount. Men like to sit around sipping raki from small shot-sized glasses, while smoking cigarettes and talking.