|It is believed that Albanians are the
descendants of the ancient Illyrians,
a Stone Age people that lived in the Balkans prior to the migration of
Slavs. Even though they had close ties to Ancient Greece, the Greeks
Albania. However, in 229 BCE, the Romans did conquer the area.
After the fall of Rome, the Byzantine Empire took control of the area. During the middle ages, Albania became and important region within the Byzantine Empire. Eventually, in 1388, the Ottoman Turks took control of the area. However, between the years of 1443 and 1468, the Albanian's had a brief period of independence, before the Ottomans regained control. It was during the beginning of this second conquest of the Turks that Albania suffered the most as it was cut off from the rest of Europe and it's economy suffered greatly. As a result of continued rebellions in Albania, the Turks forced the conversion of two-thirds of Albania's population from Christianity to Islam.
It wasn't until 1912 that the Albania regained its independence from the Ottomans. However, in 1938, Italy invaded and captured Albania. Soon after Albania regained their freedom at the end of World War II, Enver Hoxha a communist party member and a friend of Joseph Stalin became the dictator of Albania. Hoxha was an advent isolationist and paranoid schizophrenic. He had bunkers built throughout the country. The result was a people and an economy the suffered greatly. Hoxha finally died in 1976, but it wasn't until the fall of communism that Albania was able to finally become part of the world economy again.