Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Albania

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ALBANIA, the name given to a region between the Adriatic Sea, Greece, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Upper or northern Albania formed part of the Illyria of the Romans; lower or southern Albania corresponds to ancient Epirus. It comprises the vilayets of Scutari and Janina and parts of Monastir and Kossovo. It formed the southwestern portion of former European Turkey, and extends along the western shore of the Balkan peninsula, from the river Bojana to the Gulf of Arta. There are three lakes, Scutari, Ochrida, and Janina. The principal rivers are the Boyana, Drin, Shkumbi, and Artino. A fine climate and a favorable soil would seem to invite the inhabitants to agriculture, but in the N. little is cultivated but maize, with some rice and barley, in the valleys; the mountain terraces are used as pastures for numerous herds of cattle and sheep. In the S. the slopes of the lower valleys are covered with olives, fruit, and mulberry trees, intermixed with patches of vines and maize, while the densely wooded mountain ridges furnish valuable supplies of timber. The plateau of Janina yields abundance of grain; and in the valleys opening to the S. the finer fruits are produced, along with maize, rice, and wheat. The inhabitants form a peculiar people, the Albanians, called by the Turks Arnauts, and by themselves Skipetar. The Albanians are half-civilized mountaineers, frank to a friend, vindictive to an enemy. They are constantly under arms, and live in perpetual anarchy. At one time the Albanians were all Christians; but after the death of their last chief, the hero Skanderbeg, in 1467, and their subjugation by the Turks, a large part became Mohammedans. Albania became an independent state in 1912. Pop. about 850,000. Durazzo, the capital, 5,000; Scutari, 32,000. Prince Wilhelm of Wied accepted the crown in March, 1914, but fled at the outbreak of the European War and the state fell into anarchy. Essad Pasha Topdani attempted to establish a military government in October, 1914, but failed. Austrian armies overran Albania in 1916 and again in 1917. The Italian general commanding Italian forces proclaimed the independence of the country and a government was set up at Durazzo. The political status of Albania was undetermined in 1920. The people had turned against Italy by whom they thought they had been betrayed in offering Scutari to Jugoslavia and south Albania to Greece.