Albania is one of Europe's most recent sovereign states. Formed in 1912 with the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the foundling state had a very precarious beginning.
The inevitable breakup of The Ottoman Empire was hastened by the complete success of The Albanian Revolt, having all of its demands for boundary reforms met by their Ottoman overlords. This indication of a severely weakened Ottoman authority led to the First Balkan War.
Foreseeing the vacuum left from an Ottoman demise , neighbouring countries consisting of Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro formed The Balkan League. The League's agreement was to divide and annex European territory left from an Ottoman withdrawal. With The League's armies making major advancements, Albanian beys and intellectuals gathered in the southern port city of Vlora and formed the All Albanian Congress to protect the gains of the Albanian Revolt as to which Ottoman territory was deemed an autonomous Albania.
The Balkan League was eventually pushed back and lost some of its gains
and on the 28th of November 1912 The All Albanian Congress met to proclaim Albania's Independence from the Ottoman Empire and the formation of an Albanian State. The declaration was made Ismail Qemal, the countries first president.
In 1913 a delegation was sent to The London Conference to seek international recognition. The international powers decided to grant this on the understanding that it must loose some of the proclaimed territory of Albania to members of the Balkan League and become a constitutional monarchy. For this role a junior German prince called Wilhem of Wied was eventually selected but due to internal political intrigue largely orchestrated by Albanian Essad Pasha Toptani the new monarch's effective control was limited to a the port of Durrës and a few small surrounding villages. Six months later Wilhelm of Wied's position was unsustainable and conveniently for him the First World War broke out and he was recalled to Germany for military service.
Between the two World Wars, Albania transitioned from a democratic republic to a monarchy under the rule of self proclaimed King Ahmed Zogu, chief of the influential Mati Tribe and former Prime Minister of Albania.
In 1939 Italy annexed Albania forcing King Zog flee into exile. The Second World War saw Albania occupied by the fascist Italians and later the Nazis. Three predominant resistance groups formed, Legality Movement (monarchists), Bali Kombëtar (nationalists), and Partisans (communists), but were largely ineffective as animosity between the groups descended into civil war. The communist Partisans ensured that they were in the commanding position at the end of the war and through this grandstanding and the use of force were able to seize power and hold power until 1991.
Albania's long road to democratic republic did not begin in earnest until the fall of the communists regime's brutal rule. However, with the collapse of a huge financial pyramid scheme in 1997, Albania was once again standing at the precipice of civil war which was thankfully averted.
Today Albania's state institutions have strengthened and this small Balkan state is now a confident, stronger and peaceful country that continually finds itself at the top of places to travel lists. With its rich history from the stone and bronze ages to its more modern intrigues, unspoilt environs, culture and welcoming nature of its people, Albania proudly sits at the international table of nations.
This work is a collection of images taken from 2001 to date, that intend to help explain Albania's history and customs with personal insights acquired from numerous travels of the past 20 plus years.