Albanian culture may be traced all the way back to the ancient Illyrians. Shkodra was the capital of the Ardiaei tribe, and the Albanian language is a rare surviving branch of the ancient Illyrian language.
- The Illyrians lived here first independently. Then alongside the Greeks, until the Romans arrived in the 2nd century BCE and took control of the empire for over four centuries. Until it was divided in 395 BCE.
- The Byzantines were the next to assume the reins of power. Albania was often attacked by Visigoths, Huns, Slavs, and Ostrogoths during their reign.
- Between 1443 and 1468, a brief period of effective Albanian resistance stoked the fires of a developing independence movement. Albeit the nation finally fell to the Ottomans. They stayed for more than four centuries.
A brief history
- The Turks eventually gave in to Albania’s aspirations for autonomy after the founding of the nationalist Prizren League and uprisings in 1910 and 1912. Despite the proclamation of independence, not everything was perfect. It was difficult to establish a coherent state. The nation was invaded by a series of forces throughout WWI, including the French, Italians, and Austro-Hungarians.
- Enver Hoxha, the country’s future leader, founded the Albanian Labour Party in 1941. During a repressive reign that lasted from 1945 until the early 1990s, Hoxha and his party kept Albania on a tight totalitarian leash. Albania cozied up to China during the early decades of Communist leadership. The two countries bonded by their shared enemy, the Soviet Union. Insular Albania was left very isolated after China ended the cooperation in the late 1970s; similarities to modern-day North Korea have been made.
- Albania eventually ended its one-party system in 1991, becoming the latest former communist country in Europe to hold multi-party elections. The first year of democracy was tumultuous. Following the March 1992 elections, the nation was stabilized. However, the collapse of pyramid-banking scams pushed Albania to the verge of civil war in early 1997.
Albania has gradually improved its political stability and economic prosperity since then. The 2005 parliamentary elections marked the first time that power was peacefully transferred from one ruling party to another. Albania has been a member of NATO since 2009. Has been awarded formal candidate status for EU membership, implying that a coveted position in the union is tantalizingly close.
Did you know?
- Following Mussolini’s invasion of Albania in 1939, the country’s first and only royal ruler, King Zog, fled his homeland. He used gold looted from the Albanian treasury to pay his bill at London’s Ritz Hotel.
- Albania was the world’s first atheist state in 1967.
- During the Communist era, the only Western films authorized to be broadcast in Albania were those starring Sir Norman Wisdom, a British comedian. Wisdom became a prominent cult figure in the country as a result.
Albania is a highly secular country. According to a 2011 census, 56.7 % of the population is Muslim, 10.03 % is Catholic, and 6.75 % is Orthodox. These figures only reflect a nominal commitment to each faith. Both the Orthodox church and the Muslim community have expressed dissatisfaction with these figures.
Social Conventions in Albania
- People in Albania usually shake hands the first time they see each other every day, and then again when they part. Men and women both give a kiss on both cheeks amongst friends.
- Moving the head horizontally from side to side is a common technique to say yes. A nod of the head is frequently used to indicate no.
- Albanians frequently take off their shoes before entering their homes or the homes of others.
- Smoking is prevalent, and finding a non-smoking space in a restaurant, let alone a bar, is rare. However, smoking is prohibited on public transportation, and this ban is generally always respected.
- Homosexuality remains taboo, despite the fact that it is not criminal and that anti-discrimination legislation have been in effect since 2010. LGBTQ+ couples’ public expressions of affection are likely to be met with some hostili
Language in Albania
The Albanian language, known as “Shqip” by its speakers, holds a significant place in the country’s culture and identity. It is an Indo-European language with its own unique branch, making it distinct from its neighboring languages. The Albanian language has two major dialects: Gheg (spoken in the northern regions) and Tosk (spoken in the southern regions). These dialects can sometimes be quite distinct, but there’s a standardized form known as Standard Albanian, based primarily on the Tosk dialect, that is used in formal contexts, education, and media throughout the country.
The language has deep historical roots and has been influenced by various cultures due to Albania’s geographic location and historical interactions with neighboring countries. It has absorbed loanwords from Latin, Greek, Turkish, Italian, and other languages. Despite these influences, Albanian remains a unique and vibrant language.
Language and Identity:
Language plays a crucial role in shaping Albanian identity and cultural heritage. The preservation and promotion of the Albanian language have been a key element in maintaining the country’s distinctiveness and independence, especially during periods of foreign rule and influence. The language has been a source of pride and a symbol of national unity for Albanians.
Language and Social Change:
The Albanian language has also been a vehicle for social change and progress. As the country has undergone political and societal transformations, language has played a role in shaping public discourse and advocating for human rights, democracy, and equality. Newspapers, magazines, and online platforms provide spaces for discussion and the exchange of ideas in the Albanian language, enabling citizens to participate in shaping their society.
Apart from Albanian, there are several minority languages spoken within Albania. Some of these include:
- Greek: Spoken primarily in the southern part of the country, particularly in the region of Saranda. The Greek minority has contributed to Albania’s cultural diversity.
- Romani: The Romani language is spoken by the Romani community in Albania. It represents the Roma culture and heritage within the country.
- Bulgarian: Found in some pockets, particularly in the regions near the border with Bulgaria.