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Disintegration in Albania

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Albania is a small country in the so-called ‘East Adriatic’ region, with Greece to the south, and ex-Yugoslavia to the east and north. Italy lies across the Ionian (or Adriatic) sea to the west. Some would argue that it is obscure, weak and provincial. But nevertheless it is much-loved, at least by eccentric foreigners. It was part of the Ottoman empire until Turkey-in-Europe finally disintegrated after the First World War. It was eyed by Italy, Serbia and Greece, who had their own nationalistic agendas. These led to military or political conflicts that the Albanians did not provoke. It emerged as a nation-state by stages between 1912 and 1920, partly because the powers sought or accepted it, aiming to block annexation by the others. The First World War and the collapse of the Turkish empire ushered in a time of turbulence, leading to a monarchy, but Albania was annexed soon afterwards by Mussolini.

This was followed by the Communist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha, which collapsed in 1990, and then arose a civil war. Since then there has been a period of confusion characterised by social and political disintegration papered over by the appearance of democracy. The civil war of the early 1990s was not the only recent conflict, of course. An even more recent conflict was the crisis in Kosovo – or High Albania, as Edith Durham called it. As a result of this, Kosovo may yet gain independence. It is not my intention to rehearse the history of these two political/military events. However, I will mention two things about design and planning of towns and regions that arise from these events.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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