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Albania Information - Page 2
In ancient times Albania was known as Illyria, named after Illyrian tribes living in the area. Neighbouring Greeks founded trading colonies along the coast in Durres and Vlore.

Illyria was conquered by the Romans and later became part of the Byzantine Empire when the Roman Empire divided. In fact, a number of Roman Emperors were of Illyrian descent.

Over the years various peoples invaded the region. Ottoman rule began in 1468 and lasted for over four hundred years.

Albania achieved independence after the Balkan Wars (1912-13), its borders redrawn and some territory lost. The Albanian leader, Ahmet Zogu, became King of the Albanians in 1928.

On the eve of the Second World War (1939) Italy invaded Albania and the King left for exile in Greece. Following the War, Albania became a Communist state led by Enver Hoxha.

Albania aligned itself with the USSR and became a member of the Warsaw Pact. However between 1961 and 1978 Albania moved its allegiance to China. (Albania left the Warsaw Pact following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia).

Albania underwent a period of political change after the collapse of communism in the 1990s.

During the 1990s Albania implemented various economic reforms. At this time unemployment was high and many people lost their savings after the collapse of pyramid investment schemes.

Many young Albanians left the country to seek work in places such as Greece and Italy. However, the economy benefited from remittances sent home by such economic migrants.

The agricultural sector employs over half the working population. Agricultural products include wheat, maize, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, apples, pears, citrus fruits, grapes, nuts, meat and dairy products.

Industries are hydropower, oil, mining, lumber, metals, cement, chemicals and food processing.

There is potential for the tourist industry to assist the economy and the country is keen to promote Albania's history, culture and ecotourism. (2009)

Traditional crafts are weaving, carpet making and wood carving.

Folk music and dance is important in Albanian culture. Every five years there is a National Folk Festival in Gjirokastra where dancers and musicians come together.

Cultural institutions in Albania include the National Theatre, the Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Tirana and the Gallery of Arts in Shkoder.

Football is very popular in Albania. Other sports include basketball, volleyball, tennis, athletics and gymnastics.

Albania's long coastline provides ample opportunity for water sports such as swimming. The mountainous regions are suitable for a variety of mountain sports.

Religious holidays are celebrated. Other holidays include New Year's Day - 1 January, International Women's Day - 8 March, Labour Day - 1 May, Independence Day - 28 November (from the Ottoman Empire - 1912) and Liberation Day - 29 November.

News from Albania is available in Newslink.

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