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Albania

country war hoxha greek

Albania, one of the smallest countries in the Balkans, 210 mi (338 km) long, and less than 100 mi (161 km) wide.

Land and climate

The country is mountainous, with isolated fertile basins and a narrow coastal plain. The climate is Mediterranean, but summers can bring prolonged droughts and winters can be harsh.

People

Albania's population is largely Muslim, with a Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christian minority.

Economy

Albania is a poor country with slow development. Farming yields grapes and olives as well as grains, fruits, tobacco, and cotton. Albania is rich in chromium, copper, nickel, and coal, and mining provides most of the country's income. Industries produce food and petroleum products, textile-sand building materials.

History

As part of ancient Illyria, Albania was successively under Greek, Roman, and Byzantine influence and control. In succeeding centuries it was invaded by Goths, Bulgars, Slavs, and Normans. Later, the national hero Scanderberg (1403?–68) delayed but failed to stop Ottoman Turkish conquest. Turkish rule Islamized Albania and suppressed nationalist aspirations until the First Balkan War (1912). Occupied in World War I, ruled by the self-proclaimed King Zog I (1928–39), then annexed by Italy and occupied in World War II, Albania regained independence under the antifascist guerilla leader Enver Hoxha, a Communist, who proclaimed a republic in 1946. The death of Hoxha in 1985 marked the beginning of a period of political and economic liberalization. In 1991 free elections took place. The new government was unable to improve the economic situation of the country. Towards the end of the 1990s, tensions developed between Albania and its neighbor Yugoslavia, regarding the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo.

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