The next few posts will be covering my time in Albania. I realize that the average American's knowledge of Albania is somewhere around minimal to absolutely nothing. To save you the trip to Wikipedia and that wormhole, I'll give you a quick rundown here on the country.
Albania is a mountainous country in the Balkans. Early Albania was peopled by the Illyrians. Through its history it has been a part of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. It gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. During World War II the Italians followed by the Germans occupied the country. At the war's end the country regained its independence and became a socialist state under the rule of Enver Hoxha. The communist period was marked by extreme isolation, even by communist standards. Hoxha died in 1985 and communism fell in 1992. Albany moved to a market economy at that time.
Since the fall of communism Albania has embraced the West. It is now a member of NATO and is a candidate for EU membership.
Albania is a middle income country, but still poor by European standards.
The population is nominally majority Muslim, but religion is not a significant factor in the daily lives of most Albanians.
There are significant Albanian population pockets in most Albanian's neighbor because of the way in which Albanian borders were drawn by outside powers.