The territory of Albania has been inhabited since Antiquity. Traces of life from the period of middle and late Paleolithic (100 000 - 10 000 years ago) are found in Xare, as well as in the Cave of Saint Marina in Saranda.
Albanians are the direct successors of the Illyrians. The Illyrian tribes stretched along the Western part of the Balkans, and they reached the rivers Sava and Danube in the North, the rivers Morava and Vardar on the East (the border line with Thrake), and the mountain-chain of Pindi in the South and South-East (the border with the Greeks and Macedonians).
The very fast economic development, especially that of the metallurgy of bronze and iron (XI - V century BC) created the spiritual and material culture of common values for all the Illyrian tribes. By the end of the fifth century BC, the Illyrians entered the road of slave-ownership, and well-known cities of that time, which exist even today, like Durrahium (Durres), Apollonia, Butroti (Butrint), Scodra (Shkodra), Lissus (Lezha), etc, were founded mainly along sea shore.
The Roman invasion (year 168 BC) had very heavy consequences for the Illyrians, but nevertheless, they successfully faced the assimilating policy of the Romans, mainly thanks to the high standard of development and the clearly crystallized ethnic identity.
With the break up of the Roman Empire in the year 395 AD, Illyria remained under the Byzantine Empire. In the following period, Illyria suffered the invasion of several barbarian tribes, like Goths, Avars, etc.
During the IV - VI centuries, Slavs invaded part of the Northern and Eastern Illyria, as well as Macedonia, parts that with the passing of time were assimilated.
The end of the first millennium marks the crystallization of the Albanian nation. Latter on, the Albanian political formations of the XIV century covered territories from Tivar and Prizren down to Kostur and Vlora, meanwhile in the districts of the Southern part, the historic name of Epyrus was preserved, which in the coming years served as a synonym of Arberi (quite often, the National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeg (1405 - 1468) was called "the Prince of Epyrus").
The Ottoman invasion (XIV century) established the military feudal system in Arberia (Albania), but several continuous uprisings of the Albanian princes prepared the glorious resistance of the Albanian people under the leadership of the National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti, known as Skanderbeg. Skanderbeg managed to give birth to a centralized Albanian state (Arberia), and his flag became the national flag of Albania.
The XVIII century marks the flourishing of two Albanian very well organized and very powerful "Patriarchies": The Patriarchy of Bushatllinj (with Shkodra as its center and governed by Karamahmut Pasha Bushatlli); and the Patriarchy of Ioaninna, with Ioaninna as its center and governed by Ali Pashe Tepelena). The peak of the struggle for independence and national identity was reached with the Albanian Renaissance Movement, which starts in 1830.
In 1878, this movement was very well organized under the League of Prizren, which served as the first military and political leadership of the Albanian uprisings. But, unfortunately enough, in the same year, the Congress of Berlin decided the division of the Albanian territories to the benefit of the neighboring states, Montenegro, Serbia and Greece.
Nevertheless, the Albanian movement for freedom was crowned with the Proclamation of Independence, on November 28, 1912.
During the years of the World War I, Albania was converted into a battlefield for the combating powers, and it was invaded consequently by the Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, France and Austro-Hungary.
In 1920, the Congress of Lushnja (a town 90 km south to Tirana), with the consensus of all the representatives from all over Albania declared Tirana to be the Capital of Albania.
On January 21, 1925, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a Parliamentary Republic and Ahmet Zog was elected President of Albania, but he had so much power in his hands that, in fact, the Republic functioned as a Presidential one.
On September 1, 1928, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania Democratic Parliamentary Kingdom and Ahmet Zog the King of Albania, receiving the royal title "Zog I".
On April 7, 1939, fascist Italy invaded Albania, and consequently on April 12, 1939, the so-called Constitutional Assembly declared the end of Zog's Kingdom and offered the crown to Victor Emanuel III. The Albanian State formally remained a Constitutional Kingdom under the Savoy Dynasty.
On November 29, 1944, Albania was liberated from the nazi-fascist invaders. Since then, Albania was ruled by the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, which influenced into the country’s isolation.
On January 11, 1946, the Constitutional Assembly declared Albania a People's Republic, as one of the forms of the proletarian dictatorship, which lasted, more or less, half a century, until April 29, 1991, when the first pluralistic Parliament declared the Parliamentary Republic of Albania.
The transition from Communist rule has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated physical infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents. Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997.
In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges of reducing crime and corruption, promoting economic growth, and decreasing the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward.
Although Albania's economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure. Albania has played a largely helpful role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in southeastern Europe, and is continuing to work toward joining NATO and the EU.