Modern Albania is a largely made up country with no early equivalent. Under the Romans it was part of the provinces of Dalmatia, Macedonia and Moesia Superior, subsequently becoming part of the Bulgarian Empire.
The region then became part of the Serbian Empire and, in the 15th Century, was part of the Ottoman Empire. It remained with the Ottomans until 1912 when a fledgling Albanian state was created.
From the 1830s Albanian nationalism started to take hold and there were a number of revolts including the Albanian Revolts of 1833 – 1839, the Revolt of 1843 – 44 and the Revolt of 1847. By the early 1900s as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated an Albanian uprising in 1908 and again in 1910 subsequently led to the Balkan War of 1912. The Albania of today was invaded from the north by the Serbians and from the south by the Greeks but the subsequent Conference of London created a new Albania which left large numbers of Albanians outside the new state in Serbia (mainly Kosovo), modern Macedonia and Montenegro (in these areas you will often hear ethnic Albanians talking of the reunification of Greater Albania, a reference to the pre 1912 geographical area) .
The current parliament of Albania or Kuvendi i Shqipërisë can trace its history back to this time when the National Assembly of Vlora was created during the All-Albanian Congress on 28th November 1912.
The new state collapsed with the onset of World War One, first being overrun by Greece and then by Italy, but the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 gave the territory to Greece which then promptly lost it following their defeat at the hands of the Turkish in 1921.
The first of a series of inter-war governments made its appearance at this time. Ahmed Bey Zogu became the first prime minister in 1922 until 1924 when there was a short lived rebellion. Zogu came back later in 1924 instigated a new constitution and got himself elected as President with widespread powers in the January of the following year; the constitution also created the National Assembly. In 1928 the parliament went even further and declared Zogu as King – he became Zog I, Skanderbeg III of the Albanians.
Zog was a conservative but did make some efforts to modernise the country, however he ceded more and more influence to Italy during his reign and on 7th April 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, Italy invaded, Zog was deposed and Victor Emmanuel III of Italy also became King of Albania.
During World War Two Albania was occupied by the Italians, Greeks and finally the Germans. In 1941 the Albanian Communist Party formed around Enver Hoxha started the fight against the Italians. By September 1942 they had regrouped into the National Liberation Front (NLF) and throughout the war were increasingly successful in their battles with the various invaders.
By January 1944 the NLF controlled much of Albania and by November the Germans had largely gone; so a provisional government was formed with Enver Hoxha as prime minister and Albania became a communist state called the Socialist People’s Republic of Albania.
Hoxha went on to rule until his death on 11th April 1985 and throughout his period in power he eliminated his opponents and followed at first a Stalinist line but then subsequently became fascinated with Maoism. Albania was largely isolated from the rest of the world during this period.
Ramiz Alia went on to succeed Hoxha but by that time Communism was fading across the whole of Europe. It was only a matter of time before the communists in Albanian were obliged to introduce democratic elections. The first of these took place on 31st March 1991 with Alia’s Party of Labour of Albania taking 169 of the 250 seats in the constituent assembly.
But it was not to last and in 1992 the Democratic Party of Albania won 92 of 140 seats in the new parliament with the communists taking just 38 seats. After the election Aleksandër Meksi became Prime Minister and Sali Berisha became President. The new government was not a great success, failing to make the transition from communism to a pluralist state, but they did win the 1996 general election with 122 of 140 seats; only to collapse a year later in the wake of the failed pyramid schemes which had proliferated unchecked.
In the 1997 election the communists, now in the form of the Socialist Party of Albania and led by Fatos Nano as prime minister won 101 of the 140 seats, took office and went on to win again in 2001 with 73 seats, just enough of a majority to run the government.
During this period of Socialist rule the party went through three prime ministers, Fatos Nano, Ilir Meta and Pandeli Majko.
In June 2005 fresh elections saw the Democratic Party of Albania return with the support of a democratic coalition and they won again under the leadership of Prime Minister Sali Berisha with 70 seats in 2009.
In 2009 Albania joined NATO and currently the country is seeking accession to the European Union (EU) but is struggling to meet the democratic and economic requirements of the EU.
In June 2013 the opposition Socialist Party (PS), led by Edi Rama in an alliance of 40 parties called the ‘Alliance for a European Albania’, won the general election. The PS won 84 of the 140 seats, up from 65 seats in 2009.
The President is elected by the Assembly for a five-year term and is eligible to stand for a second term.
The unicameral Assembly or Kuvendi has 140 seats of which 100 members are elected by direct popular vote and 40 by proportional vote to serve four-year terms.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Albania at joint 83rd out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 39 (where 100 is least corrupt).