Northern Epirus – Southern Albania – it’s the historical part of Greece where Olympia (the mother of Alexander the Great) and King Pyrrhus were born. You know the term “pyrrhic victory”, right?
Until the last decade of XX century, Albania and its people was quite the enigma. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there are still many people who are not that much familiar Albania’s culture and history. For example, did you know that Albanians call their country Shqipëria, which means “the land of eagles”?
Or did you know that Albanians come from the ancient Illyrians who, according to some theories, came to the Balkan Peninsula before the Greeks, and over a thousand years before the Slavs?
Another not well-known fact is that the Albanian language – Shqip – derives from Ilir, and is not similar to any other known language.
Did you know that The Treaty of London established the borders of Albania and recognized its independence in 1913?
Or that as a result of the Second World War, all bridges and factories were destroyed, and 7.3 percent of the population died or became permanently disabled, while the rest were on the verge of starvation?
Or that during Winston Churchill’s visit to Moscow in October 1944, when the English Prime Minister and Joseph Stalin were signing the agreement on the spheres of influence in the Balkans, Albania has not even been mentioned?
A couple of more facts that are interesting but not well-known: Albania boasts more than 3,250 species of plants, which accounts for 30 % of all flora in Europe.
Tirana, the capital of Albania, is one of the very few capitals in Europe without a McDonald’s.
And the last question: did you know that more Albanians live outside their country than within? We can meet plenty of Albanians mostly in countries like USA, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo. It is also how I met my Albanian friend. Obviously, not in Albania.
All shots above I took in June 2017 while travelling around the Balkan peninsula for almost 30 days.
Source: R.Kaplan “The Balkan Ghosts”.