See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how AL can stand for Albania.
From 1479 to 1912 Albania was part of the Turkish Empire.
The Albanian people's national freedom struggle started
later than any other people within the European part of the
empire. Immediately before the Berlin Congress in 1878,
which was to establish Turkey's European borders after the
war with Russia, Albanian nationalists formed a federation,
the Prizren League - for the preservation of a united
Albania within the empire. The Prizren League, which the
Turks had originally regarded as a support in the fight for
the maintenance of the empire's holdings in Europe, quickly
developed into an organization which itself absorbed the
Albanian national currents. In 1881, the Turks disbanded the
league and arrested its leaders. Three years later, it
resumed business from Bucharest. At the beginning of this
century, an Albanian anti-Turkish newspaper was published in
Brussels, edited by Ismail Kemal Bey Vlora. During the First
Balkan War of 1912, when the Turks were practically expelled
from Europe, Ismail Kemal Bey Vlora proclaimed Albania
With support predominantly from Austria-Hungary, an
international commission before World War I drew Albania's
borders. The 1919 Versailles Peace Conference agreed that
Albania should maintain its borders from 1913. This meant
that the Kosovo area was not incorporated into Albania but
became part of Yugoslavia. The incorporation of the Kosovo
area has since been a constant target of Albanian
nationalists and a source of contradictions between the two
countries up to our day. The early 20's were characterized
by ever-changing governments and political turmoil. In 1925,
with armed Yugoslav support, Ahmet Bey Zogu became
president. Three years later he was proclaimed Zog 1st -
king of the Albanians.
The overriding problem for Albania since the liberation
of Turkey has been that it has not been a self-sustaining
economic entity. In 1912 Albania was the most backward
country in Europe. Agriculture was based on natural farming,
and in bad years the country was unable to feed itself.
Trade between the various regions hardly existed, and no
industry existed. Albania was unable to accumulate capital
that could be invested and contribute to economic growth.
Therefore, throughout its independence period, Albania has
been forced to turn to some superpower to obtain financial
assistance to develop the country.
Albania tried to get financial help from the League of
Nations, but this was refused. After Zogu became president
in 1925, he turned to Italy for financial assistance. Italy
and Albania entered into the years following a series of
economic agreements. As a result, Italy was already
dominating Albania both economically and politically in the
late 20's, and Mussolini was pushing for political
concessions for his financial aid. After Italy had completed
its campaigns in Ethiopia and Spain, Albania became occupied
in 1939. Albania was made into an Italian province and a
base for further expansion towards Greece.
King Zog - who reigned as dictator in 1925-39 - had made
efforts to modernize the country. Blood revenge and polygamy
were banned. Many Albanians were sent to Western Europe to
study and the educational system improved. The economic
progress that had taken place was due to Italian help. The
Italians built 1200 km of roads and hundreds of bridges.
Agriculture was modernized. But Italy did little to develop
an independent Albanian industry. Italy was first and
foremost interested in exploiting the natural resources that
mattered to the military apparatus, e.g. oil resources. In
1938, industrial production accounted for only 4.4% of gross