Albania is a country in southeastern Europe.
Probable descendants of the ancient Illyrians, the Albanians were ruled as part of the Ottoman Empire for 450 years. Independence was not achieved until 1913, at which point it was the least economically and socially developed country in Europe.
The country was invaded by Italy (under Benito Mussolini's fascist regime) in 1939, who set up a puppet government. From 1944 to April 1985 it had a communist government led by the Stalinist Enver Hoxha and enforced by his secret police: the Sigurimi. Hoxha was so ideologically extreme that he denounced the Soviet Union as revisionist (insufficiently communist) and led his country into near-isolation from the rest of the world except for his sole ally, China, in the 1960s. He would go on to denounce and cut off ties with China too after he decided Mao's "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" was too revisionist. His own "Albanian Ideological and Cultural Revolution" was clearly the proper path toward national and world proletarian revolution.[citation NOT needed] Unlike the Chinese Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the Albanian Ideological and Cultural Revolution did not mask a power struggle among party elites. Hoxha was always in control.
As a result of the country's isolation, the regime grew paranoid and built about 700,000 concrete bunkers around the country.[note 1] Most of them litter the landscape to this day. They are said to be the place were young Albanians lose their virginity just like the backseat of a car is to Americans.
Albania began introducing small reforms after Hoxha's death in 1985, and fully democratized after 1990. In 1996-97, a series of pyramid schemes took hold in Albania which led to rioting and the near-collapse of the government when these schemes imploded.
Albania is one of the few European countries with a majority population of Muslim heritage (the others being the minority-majority Bosnia, disputed Kosovo, and Turkey if you count it as a European nation). During the latter part of Hoxha's reign starting in 1967 religion was officially banned, so demographic surveys dating from this period often show the country as
110% 70%+ atheist or agnostic.
Albania is the home of sworn virgins, who are women who traditionally took a vow to live as men, and are respected as such.
Mother Teresa was Albanian.
George W. Bush
- Nicholas Pano: "The Process of Democratization in Albania," in Karen Dawisha and Bruce Parrott's Politics, Power, and the Struggle for Democracy in South-East Europe (1997) Cambridge University Press.
- George W. Bush is revered as a hero in Albania by Leah Garchik (August 9, 2015 Updated: August 9, 2015 4:41pm) San Francisco Chronicle.