The best initiation to Albania is certainly in the pages of the excellent novelist Ismaļl Kadaré with books such as 'The General of the Dead Army', 'Chronicle in Stone', 'The Great Winter' and 'The Castle', 'The Three-Arched Bridge'.
Also read novels by Besnik Mustafaj who was Ambassador to France in 1993.
Albania - The Bradt Travel Guide
'Adriatic Pilot - Croatia, Slovénia, the Adriatic coast of Italy and Albania' by Trevor Thompson (ed. Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson Ltd 2003)
10th century BC: settlement of Illyrians from Central Europe.
From the 8th to the 5th century BC: Greeks from Corfu and Corinth colonised the coast. Founding of the towns of Epidamnos, Dyrrachion (Durres), Apollonia and Butrint.
250 BC: the Illyrian king Agron ruled an independent State.
229-167 BC: the Roman conquest which ended with the defeat of King Genthius. Albanian people subjected to Roman rule for five centuries will become Arbers.
397: Alberia is unified with the Byzantine Empire.
From the 5th to the 11th century: there are many invasions; Goths, Avars, Celts, Slavics, Bulgarians and Normans scour the country, but Byzantine authority prevails.
1096: First Crusade armies move into the country.
1204: Constantinople is ransacked by crusaders.
1344: the country is unified with the Serbian Kingdom. Local chiefs enter into rebellion.
1431: Turkish take possession of Janina.
1442: Gjergi Kastriot Skanderberg, the national hero fights against the Ottoman army with the support of Alfonso from Naples and soon Venitians.
1468: Skanderberg, torn by fevers, dies in Leza.
On the 25th January 1479: peace is concluded with the Venitians who only keep the ports of Ulcinj, Antivari and Durres.
1822: Ali Pacha attempts to free itself from the Ottomans.
1911: new rebellion.
On the 28th November 1912: the independence of the principality is declared, but it does not include Kosovo-Metohidja, given to Serbia and Montenegro.
1914: Italians, in the south, and Austrians, in the north, take possession of the country.
1919: the Treaty of Tirana declares the independence of Albania which becomes member of the League of Nations.
1928: former Minister who takes over power by Coup d'Etat in 1925, Ahmed Zogu, Chief of the Mati Clan (North) proclaims himself king.
1939: Fascist Italy invades the country on which it already had considerable influence. King Zog 1st escapes. The country becomes the base for the invasion of Greece the following year, which will turn out to be a failure for Mussolini.
1940-1945: rebellion is led by Enver Hodja, former French lecturer.
1946: the People's Republic of Albania is proclaimed in January, while in Yugoslavia, Tito is fighting against Stalin's hegemonic plans. As for Enver Hodja, he is resisting that of Josip Broz, nicknamed Tito, whose intention is to annex Albania into his federation. The enemy of his enemy becomes his idol.
1948: alliance of Albania with the Soviets. Statues of Stalin sprout everywhere opposite those of Skanderberg.
1961: Enver Hodja cuts from USSR, after denying destalinisation. Beginning of the pro-Chinese era.
1978: break-up with Maoist China which commits a sin by receiving President Nixon. In an autarkic delirium, Albania now 'counts only on its own orces'.
1985: death of Enver Hodja. His successor, Ramiz Alia, tries to open up and accepts multipartism. The Labour Party, which becomes the Socialist Party wins elections in 1991, though does not stay in power for long.
1992: the Liberals win elections. Sali Berisha becomes President of the Republic. After Stalinian and Maoist mirages, Albanians are won over by the most naive snare and delusion of capitalism. Enthralled by 'pyramid' financial companies, they get ruined.
1997: the wrath of victims of these finance companies push them to take up arms on the 29th June. The country sinks into chaos.
1998: new elections are won by the Socialist Party. A referendum legalises the new Constitution. Events in Kosovo add a new dimension to the hope of an Albanian rebirth.
1999: the country is weakened despite the declaration of its liberties. The living standards of the Albanian people are insufficient. The country receives more and more refugees. In practice, Albania is ranked among the poorest nations. Its government is unstable and opens its doors to Nato and humanitarian actions.
The democratic and economic transition faces a lot of difficulties due to internal conflicts within the government between socialists and democrats. The population is dissatisfied with the two parties but there are no other feasible options.
Since 2002: the Socialist Prime Minister Mr. Fatos Nano tries to put his country back on its feet despite the political instability.
Today: Albania would like to be part of Europe. Negotiations are currently underway.
The poor living conditions has encouraged high clandestine migration away from Albania into western countries.
January 1st: New Year's Day
February: Bajrami Muslim Festival.
March 7th: Teachers' Day.
March 8th: Mothers' Day.
April: Catholic and Orthodox Easter - Bajram Feast.
May 1st: Labour Day.
May 5th: Martyrs' Day.
June 1st: Children's Day.
November 28th: Independence and Freedom Day.
December 25th: Christmas (Catholic).