To the World from Albania

The Republic of Albania is a Balkan country in Southeastern Europe. It borders Montenegro to the north, the Serbian province of Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west and a coast on the Ionian Sea to the southwest.

Albania has played a relevant role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in southeastern Europe and is a potential candidate for membership in the European Union and NATO.

Albania, in the southeastern corner of Europe, has been populated since prehistoric times and was settled by the Illyrians, possible ancestors of present-day Albanians. Situated where it is and surrounded by powerful, warring empires, Albania has seen a lot of violence throughout its history. Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans swept through, leaving their mark and their ruins.

Archaeological research shows that the lands that are today inhabited by Albanians were first populated in the Paleolithic Age (Stone Age). The first areas settled were those with favourable climatic and geographic conditions. In Albania, the earliest settlements have been discovered in the Gajtan cavern (Shkodra), in Konispol, at Mount Dajti, and at Saranda.

Fragments of Cyclopean structures, of the Cyclopean-Pelasgian period, were discovered at Kretsunitsa, Arinishta, and other sites of the district of Gjirokastra. The walls, partly Cyclopean, of an ancient city (perhaps Byllis) are visible at Gradishti on the picturesque Viosa River. Few traces remain of the once celebrated Dyrrhachium (today Durrës). Central and Northern Albania abound in unexplored remains of the Illyrian period. The traces of the early Illyrian civilization lie still covered under the dust and ashes of nearly thirty centuries.

The rediscovered city of Butrint is probably more significant today than it was when Julius Caesar used it as a provisions depot for his troops during his campaigns in the 1st century BC. It was considered an unimportant outpost,overshadowed by the likes of Apollonia and Durrës.In 2000, the Albanian government established Butrint National Park, which draws about 70,000 visitors annually and is Albania's second World Heritage site. Cultural performances are held in the huge amphitheater.