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lauantai 25. helmikuuta 2017

Croatia, Cool Facts #168

<= 167. Bosnia & Herzegovina                                                                                      169. Serbia => 

1. Croatian Flag 

Tricolor of Croatian flag
The flag combines the colors of three ancient Croatian kingdoms. 

Kingdom of Croatia - red and white
Kingdom of Slavonia - white and blue
Kingdom of Dalmatia - red and blue

Five coat-of-arms above the shield:
From left to right they are the arms of ancient Croatia, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Istria and Slavonia. 

Shield in the Croatian flag
The red and white checks were originally used by the Grand Prince of Dalmatia to represent his Sinovčić Royal family. The symbol became notorious during the Second World War as the ultranationalist and fascist Ustashe movement adopted it. 

Symbol of the Ustashe movement

2. Kingdom of Croatia 925-1102

First King of Croatia
In the year 925 Tomislav became the first king of the Kingdom of Croatia. He was the first Croatian ruler to be styled a king in a letter from Pope John X. Before this Duke Branimir was already the first native Croatian ruler recognized by the Pope in 879, but he was not a king. The Kingdom of Croatia lasted until 1102, when Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary after a war over the claim of the throne. 

Kingdom of Croatia area 
The medieval kingdom comprised most of present-day Croatia, except most of Istria and some Dalmatian coastal cities. It also comprised a lot of parts of modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Enemies and allies
During the existence of the kingdom it had conflicts, periods of peace or alliance with the Bulgarians, Byzantines and Hungarians. Venice and Croatia competed against each other for the control over the eastern Adriatic coast. 

European map in 1045

3.  House of Habsburg rule in Croatia 1527-1918

Ottoman threat
The Ottoman conquests in Balkan led to the Battle of Krbava in 1493 against the Kingdom of Croatia, which was in a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary at the time. The Ottomans won, but this didn't lead to immediate territorial gains.

Partition of Hungarian territories
The Battle of Mohács was fought in 1526 between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. The Ottoman Empire won the battle and the death of Louis II marked the end of the Jagielloxn dynasty in Hungary and Bohemia, whose dynastic claims passed to the House of Habsburg. The medieval Hungary was partitioned between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Dynasty.

Habsburg rule in Croatia
In 1527 the Croatian Parliament chose Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg as a new ruler of Croatia. The Habsburg rule in Croatia lasted until 1918, when the Croatian Parliament decided to join the newly formed State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which later evolved into Yugoslavia.

Territorial changes during the Habsburg rule
In 1745 the Kingdom of Slavonia was formed from the territory retaken from the Ottoman territory. It was a subordinate to the Croatian Kingdom and in 1868 these two formed the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. In 1804 the Habsburg Monarchy became the Austrian Empire, which annexed the Venetian Republic in 1814 and established the Kingdom of Dalmatia.

Habsburg territories in 1700, red (Spanish Habsburgs), yellow (Austrian Habsburgs)

4. Republic of Ragusa 1358-1808


Present-day Dubrovnik

Vassal state of: 

1358-1458 Kingdom of Hungary 
1458-1806 Ottoman Empire 
1684-1806 Habsburg Austria 
1806-1808 French Empire and Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy 


Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro = "Liberty is not sold for all the gold in the world"


In the 1400s the Republic of Venice dominated the coastal areas of the Adriatic sea, Dubrovnik or in Italian Ragusa, was the only region to remain independent and to challenge Venice. In 1418 the free-minded Ragusa forbid slave trade and established public hospitals and orphanages. 
The Republic of Ragusa reached its commercial peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1808 Napoleon's French Empire conquered the Republic of Ragusa and annexed it to the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. 

Painting of Ragusa from 1667
Republic of Ragusa in the borders of present-day Croatia

5. Free State of Fiume 1920-1924 

What ? 
An independent free state, which existed between 1920 and 1924. Fiume is the Italian name for present-day Rijeka. The free state comprised the city of Fiume and rural areas to its north. 

Why ? 
The demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was one of the reasons for the establishment of the free state. The Great Powers suggested its establishment as a buffer state between Yugoslavia (at the time Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) and Italy, because these two states were in dispute about the area. US President Woodrow Wilson advocated for the establishment of this state and he regarded it also as a potential home for the League of Nations organization. 

The end of independenceIn January 1924 the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes signed the Treaty of Rome with the Kingdom of Rome agreeing the annexation of Fiume by Italy. Later after World War II Rijeka and Istria became part of Yugoslavia as Italy was on the losers side in the war. 

Free State of Fiume map
Fiume flag


Time Before Christ - Croatia was inhabited by Illyrian tribes before the Romans conquered their areas and established there the Roman provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia
600s Slavic peoples moved to the area
700s Duchy of the Croats was established
800s Duchy of Pannonia was established
879 Duke Branimir became the first native Croatian ruler recognized by the Pope
925 Kingdom of Croatia was established and Tomislav was the first ruler who was styled a king in a letter from Pope John X
1102 Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary after a war over the claim of the throne
1400s The Republic of Venice gained control over most of Dalmatia by 1428, except the city-state of Dubrovnik which became independent
1493 Ottoman conquests led to the Battle of Krbava, which Croatia lost
1526 Croatia lost the Battle of Mohács against the Ottoman Empire
1527 The Croatian Parliament chose Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg as new ruler of Croatia, under the condition that he provided protection against the Ottoman Empire
1683-1698 During the Great Turkish War, Slavonia was regained from the Ottoman Empire but Bosnia, which had been part of Croatia before the Ottoman conquest, remained outside Croatian control
1689-1692 and 1737-1739 During the First and Second Serbian Migrations a lot of Serbs moved to the Habsburg controlled Croatia from the Ottoman controlled areas of Balkan
1797-1809 The First French Empire occupied the entire Adriatic coastline ending the Venetian and Ragusan Republic, establishing the Illyrian Provinces
1813 The Illyrian Provinces were captured by Austrians and absorbed by the Austrian Empire after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 
1848 During Hungarian Revolution sided with Austria and helped them to defeat the Hungarian forces in 1849
1867 Austria and Hungary established a personal union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary
1868 The Kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia were united, but the Kingdom of Dalmatia remained under de facto Austrian control 
1918 The Croatian Parliament declared independence and decided to join the newly formed State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which later that year entered into union with the Kingdom of Serbia to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
1929 The name of the country was changed to Yugoslavia
1934 King Alexander I was the last European monarch to be assassinated as he was killed by a Croat nationalist
1939 Croatian autonomous area of Banovina was established to alleviate the internal tensions in Yugoslavia
1941 Yugoslavia was occupied by Germany and Italy and following the invasion, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and the region of Syrmia were incorporated into the Independent State of Croatia, a Nazi-supported puppet state
1945 The Yugoslav Partisans had gained control of Yugoslavia
1945 Croatia became one of the six republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
1971 Croatian Spring, a cultural and political movement, which was suppressed by the Yugoslav authorities
1980 Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito died after which the political situation in Yugoslavia deteriorated
1991 Croatia and Slovenia both declared independence and made a defense agreement
1991-1995 Croatian War of Independence after the Croatian Serbs had opposed the independence and got support from the Serb controlled Yugoslav People's Army
1995 The war ended in Croatia's victory
1998 Serbs were driven away from East Slavonia and thus the breakaway of this area from Croatia was prevented
2006 Croatia and Albania became Nato members
2009 Jadranka Kosor became Croatia's first female prime minister

torstai 23. helmikuuta 2017

Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cool Facts #167

<= 166. Montenegro                                                                                                      168. Croatia => 

1. Beginning of World War I 

The events in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina in June 28th, 1914 started the World War I. At the time Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of the Kingdom of Austria-Hungary. In 1908 Bosnia and Herzegovina was formally transferred to Austria-Hungary from the Ottoman rule. This was opposed by Serbia, which demanded the unification of all Serb areas. 

The conflict between Serbia and Austria-Hungary over Bosnia and Herzegovina culminated in Sarajevo, when the Bosnian Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Austria-Hungary declared war to Serbia which led to the beginning of World War I. 

Gavrilo Princip killing Archduke Franz Ferdinand

2. Part of Ottoman Empire 1463-1908 

Over 400 years present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina was the outermost region of the Ottoman Empire. Battles against the Habsburg's Austria and the Republic of Venice were fought from there many times. 

Ottoman conquest 1463In 1463 the Kingdom of Bosnia ceased to exist after its conquest by the Ottoman Empire. In 1483 the Ottoman Empire occupied Herzegovina, which had been under Austrian control. 

Bosnian uprising 1831-1833
Bosnian ayans (landlords) revolted against the Ottoman Empire. The reason for the uprising were the reforms implemented by the Sultan to abolish the ayan system. The uprising was suppressed by the Ottoman Empire.

Austro-Hungarian occupation 1878
In 1875 Christian peasants revolted in Bosnia and they were supported by Serbia, Montenegro and Russia. Bosnia declared independence in 1878 as the Ottoman rule in Balkan region started to break up as a result of the Russo-Turkish war in 1877-1878. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878 it was decided that Austria-Hungary got the right to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina, which still technically remained part of the Ottoman Empire.

Austro-Hungarian annexation 1908
In 1908 Bosnia and Herzegovina was formally annexed to Austria-Hungary from the Ottoman Empire. This was highly protested by Serbia and Montenegro, Austria-Hungary's Balkan neighbors.

The Ottoman Empire in 1683

3. Bosnian War 1992-1995

Independence or Yugoslavia  
After the independence declarations of Slovenia and Croatia the question emerged whether to remain with Yugoslavia or seek independence. The Serbs favored remaining within Yugoslavia, while the Bosniaks and Croats favored independence.

The Serbs abandon the central government
The Serb parliament members abandoned the central government and formed the Assembly of the Serb People of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In January 1992 the Assembly established the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was renamed Republika Srpska in August.

Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia
In November 1991, the party branch in Bosnia and Herzegovina of the ruling party in Croatia proclaimed the existence of the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia

Referendum for independence
In 1992 the majority voted for independence, although most of the Serbs boycotted the referendum. In March 1992 the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina was declared. In the following months the declaration of independence got wide international recognition. 

Civil War
The Bosnian Serb militias, supported by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, started the war after the declaration of independence. The Bosnian Serbs managed to get much of the country under control in 1992 and their advance was accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats. 

The ethnic cleansing conducted by the Serbs culminated in the Srebrenica massacre of more than 8000 Bosniak men and boys. Bosniak and Bosnian Croat forces also committed war crimes on a smaller scale and mostly during the Bosniak-Croat war. The Bosniak-Croat conflict ended in March 1994 and led to the creation of joint Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Nato involvement
After the Srebrenica massacre Nato forces launched a bombing campaign against the Republika Srpska in August 1995. 

Dayton Agreement of December 1995The Bosnian Serb leadership finally agreed a negotiated settlement, which ended the active combat and roughly established the basic political structure of the present-day state. According to the agreement the country consists of two autonomous entities: Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country has a three-member Presidency composed of a member of each major ethnic group (Bosniak, Serb, Croat).

Bosnian War

4. Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina

- The World Tourism Organization estimated that between 1995-2020 Bosnia and Herzegovina will have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world - Sarajevo was ranked 43th best city in the world, when Lonely Planet ranked the best cities in the world in 2006
- Medugorje has become Europe's third most important religious place as Christians have made pilgrimages there since the reputed apparitions began in 1981
- Bosnia and Herzegovina has also become an increasingly popular skiing and Ecotourism destination 
- The Huffington Post named the country the "9th Greatest Adventure in the World for 2013"
- National Geographic named the country as the best mountain biking adventure destination for 2012

Mostar's Stari Most
Buna River near the town of Blagaj
Prokoško Lake

5. Bosnian pyramid claims

- Author Semir Osmanagic proposes that a cluster of natural hills in central Bosnia and Herzegovina are the largest human-made ancient pyramids on Earth
- The hills can be found near the town of Visoko, located northwest of Sarajevo
- The European Association of Archaeologists released a statement calling the pyramid claim as a "cruel hoax"
- After several studies of geologists, archeologists and other scientists have concluded that the hills are geological formations and not man-made

Bosnian pyramid claim


229BC Conflict between the Romans and Illyrians started
9 Rome completed the annexation of the region
395 In the partition of Rome, Pannonia and Dalmatia became parts of the Western Roman Empire as the eastern parts became part of the Byzantine Empire
455 Some claim that the region was conquered by Ostrogoths and was later changed hands between the Alans and Huns
500s Emperor Justinian had reconquered the area for the Byzantine Empire
500s-600s Slavs overwhelmed the Balkans
1100s Kingdom of Hungary and Byzantine Empire disputed over the area
1154 Banate of Bosnia emerged, although it was part of the Hungarian Crown Lands it was a de facto independent state
1377 Bosnia was elevated into a kingdom with the coronation of Tvrtko as the first Bosnian king
1391 Tvrtko died and Bosnia fell into a long period of decline
1463 The Kingdom of Bosnia ceased to exist after its conquest by the Ottoman Empire
1483 The Ottoman Empire occupied Herzegovina, which had been under Austrian control 
1648 Abkhazian Ottoman explorer Mehmed Zilli visited Bosnian cities while he was traveling around the Ottoman Empire
1699 Bosnia became the westernmost province of the Ottoman Empire after the Great Turkish War with the treaty of Karlowitz
1800s Nationalistic movements arose in the Balkans
1831-1833 Great Bosnian uprising, Bosnian ayans (landlords) revolted against the Ottoman Empire
1875-1877 Herzegovina uprising between ethnic Serbs against the Ottoman Empire
1878 Berlin Congress, Bosnia and Hertzegovina was ceded to Austria-Hungary although it remained de jure Ottoman territory 
1908 Ottoman rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina was officially ended when the area was annexed into Austria-Hungary, which was opposed by Serbia as they demanded the unification of all Serb areas
1914 Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo
1914 After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Austria-Hungary declared war to Serbia and so the World War I started
1918 Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
1929 The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was established
1941 Nazi Germany invaded Yugoslavia, Bosnia was annexed to the Nazi puppet regime, the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) 
1943 The Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia with Tito at its helm held its founding conference in Jajce
1945 Bosnia and Herzegovina became one of the six constituent republics in the newly established Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
1991 Croatia and Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia
1992 Civil war started among the three ethnic groups of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats started fighting against each other
1992-1995 Bosnian War, Nato-led forces ended the war after bombing against the Serb forces
2014 Protests and violent clashes in almost 20 towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina against the government over high unemployment

keskiviikko 8. helmikuuta 2017

Montenegro, Cool Facts #166

<= 165. Kosovo                                                                                 167. Bosnia and Herzegovina => 

1. Origins of Montenegro's Name 

Montenegro = Originally Venetian name meaning "black mountain"

In most of the countries the name of the country is a translation of "black mountain"


Mali i Zi - Albanian
Hēishān Chinese
Μαυροβούνιο - Greek
Crna Gora - Montenegrin 
Karadağ - Turkish
Czarnagóra - Polish


The Montenegrin name Crna Gora started denoting the whole area of the present-day Montenegro in the 15th century. Originally the name Crna Gora referred to only a small strip of land under the rule of the Paštrovići. The name started including wider mountainous regions after the Crnojević family took power in Upper Zeta. 

Bobotov Kuk on the Durmitor mountain is the symbol of Montenegro

2. Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro 1696-1852

Ecclesiastical principality 1696-1767, 1773-1852
Between 1696-1852 Montenegro was an ecclesiastical principality. This meant that the head of state was an Orthodox Prince-bishop. Danilo I of the House of Petrović-Njegoš was the first Prince-bishop and he made the title hereditary. There was only one problem, the Prince-bishops lived in selibacy and they weren't allowed to make kids. The title of a Prince-bishop was then passed from the ruling Prince-bishop to his nephew. 

The first Prince-bishop Danilo I

Monarchy 1767-1773
The ecclesiastical principality was abolished between 1767-1773, when an impostor called Little Stephen posed as Russian Emperor and crowned himself Lord of Montenegro.

Little Stephen

Secular state 1852
The last Prince-bishop of Montenegro was Danilo II Petrović-Njegoš. Danilo II married Darinka Kvekić, who was from a wealthy Serbian merchant family. Danilo ended the Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro and turned the country into a secular state (principality). After doing this Prince-bishop Danilo II became Prince Danilo I of Montenegro. 

The last Prince-bishop Danilo II

3. Montenegro joins the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918

During the World War I Montenegro was among the Allied Powers. Austria-Hungary occupied Montenegro from 1916 until October 1918. King Nicholas had fled the country during the occupation and a government in exile was set up in Bordeaux France. When the Allies liberated Montenegro, the Podgorica Assembly was convened and voted to unite Montenegro with the Kingdom of Serbia to form the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In January 1919 the "Greens" rebelled against the decision to unite with the Kingdom of Serbia in the Christmas Uprising, but eventually they lost against the pro-unification "Whites". For the first eleven years of its existence the state was called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes before it was changed in 1929 to "Kingdom of Yugoslavia".


4. Independence in 2006 

194. Independent country in 2006
In 2006 Montenegro gained independence after 55,4% of the population voted for independence in the referendum. It was the 194. independent country at the time. 

New independent countries of Europe

26. Independent country in 1878
The previous time when Montenegro had gained independence was in 1878. After the war between Russia and Turkey, Turkey had to recognize the full independence of Serbia and Montenegro in the Berlin Conference. At the time Montenegro became the 26. independent country of the world. The independence lasted until 1918, when the Podgorica Assembly voted to unite the country with the Kingdom of Serbia as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Balkan nations, which gained independence from Ottoman Empire

5. Tourism in Montenegro 

- Tourism is one of the main industries in Montenegro 
- Montenegro was a famous tourist spot in the 1980s, but the Yugoslav wars between 1991-2001 crippled Montenegro's tourism for a long time
- The tourism industry began to recover in the 2000s
- The coast region of Montenegro is considered as one of the new "discoveries" among tourists in the world currently
- In 2009 Yahoo Travel described Montenegro as the second fastest growing tourism market in the world, falling behind only China

List of some attractive locations: 

- Ada Bojana
- Buljarica
- Jaz Beach
- Porto Montenegro
- Velika Plaža 

Bay of Kotor


The Illyrians were the first inhabitants of the region 
400BC Maritime Greeks established some coastal colonies on the sites of some Illyrian settlements
168BC The Romans defeated the last Illyrian King Gentius
100BC Rome fully absorbed the Balkans into their provinces
395 Roman Empire was split into two, modern Montenegro lied on the dividing line of Rome and the Byzantine Empire 
537 Emperor Justinian re-established Byzantine control of the Balkans and brought Christianity
625 Formation of Duklja as a vassal state of Byzantine Empire 
1042 Duklja gained independence from the Byzantine Empire at Battle of Bar
1077 Kingdom of Zeta recognition 
1186 Stefan Nemanja conquered the region and incorporated it into the Serbian realm as a province named Zeta 
1356 Independent dukedom was established
1421 Zeta was annexed to the Serbian Despotate 
1455 The Crnojević  family became sovereign rulers of the country 
1496 The Ottomans conquered the region 
1512-1528 Montenegro was an autonomous sanjak in the Ottoman Empire 
1516 Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro was established 
1683-1699 Great Turkish War, The Ottoman Empire lost in the war against many European powers
1852 Proclamation of principality 
1878 After the War between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Empire had to recognize the independence of Montenegro at Treaty of Berlin 
1910 The Kingdom of Montenegro was proclaimed 
1918 The Podgorica Assembly voted to unite the country with the Kingdom of Serbia
1919 Christmas Uprising in January when the "Greens" rebelled against the decision to unite with the Kingdom of Serbia, but they lost against the pro-unification "Whites"
1941 Italian forces occupied Montenegro and established it as a puppet Kingdom of Montenegro 
1944 The Yugoslav Partisans liberated Montenegro 
1945 Montenegro became one of the six constituent republics of the SFR Yugoslavia 
1992 Dissolution of SFR Yugoslavia, Montenegro remained part of a smaller Federal Republic of Yugoslavia along with Serbia 
2003 Serbia and Montenegro was established, a state union which was less decentralized than the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 
2006 Montenegro became independent after the referendum  
2011 The Royal House of Montenegro was rehabilitated and recognized limited symbolic roles within the constitutional framework of the republic 
2016 A coup was attempted by 20 people, which was prevented 

perjantai 3. helmikuuta 2017

Kosovo, Cool Facts #165

<= 164. Albania                                                                                                     166. Montenegro =>

1. Partially Recognized Independence of Kosovo

- Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on 8 October 2008 
- Kosovo hadn't been independent ever before, it has been part of different states throughout history 
- As of 1 December 2016, 110 UN states recognize the independence of Kosovo 
- All neighbors except Serbia recognize the independence
- The Serb minority opposing the declaration of independence has formed the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija in response 

green = recognition of independence, blue = non-diplomatic official representation in Kosovo

2. Battle of Kosovo Polje 1389

The Battle of Kosovo Polje was a decisive moment in the country's history. Before the battle, the present-day Kosovo was part of the Serbian Empire. The Ottoman army managed to defeat the Serbian forces during the battle. Both parties suffered greatly during the battle losing a lot of men. After this battle in the following years, one Serbian principality after another became Ottoman vassals. The Ottoman rule in Kosovo continued until the Balkan Wars, when it became a province of Serbia in 1913. 

Battle of Kosovo
Battle plan

3. Muslim Majority Country 

- Almost 96% of the population are Muslims 
- Only a bit under 4% are Christians 

Historical explanation 
During the Ottoman-Habsburg wars in the late 1600s the Christian Serbs and Turkish Muslims fought against each other in the area of Kosovo. After the war a lot of Serbs moved out of Kosovo to the north to areas, which were controlled by Austria. These areas were Catholic. However Albanian settlement in Kosovo increased, because the Albanians converted into Islam and were loyal to the Ottoman Empire. 

Ottoman Empire in 1683

4. Kosovo War 1998-1999 

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) 

BackgroundKosovo was an autonomic province of Serbia and the majority of the people were Albanian Muslims. There was tension between the Albanians and Serbs and the Yugoslavian government discriminated the Albanians. In the 1980s the Serb minority in Kosovo started complaining about ethnic oppression, which led the Serbian president Slobodan Milošević to start a nationalistic campaign defending the Serbs. Kosovo's autonomy was ended and Serbs got back into the important positions. 

Resistance by KLAThese aforementioned acts led the KLA to start the armed fight against the independence of Kosovo. The KLA targeted the Serb police and authorities. Serbia responded to these attacks violently by looting and burning whole villages and killing civilians as they were looking for the KLA guerrillas. 

Nato intervention in 1999  Nato intervened in the conflict in 1999 by bombing the Serbian forces. Nato forces didn't have the approval of UN Security Council to execute these operations, which has been criticized a lot afterwards. The Serbs accelerated the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo as the Nato air bombardments started. After three months of Nato attacks, Serbia was ready for a peace treaty and the conflict ended. 

Up to one million Albanians were driven out of their homes during the conflict. Most of them returned causing about 280,000 Serbs to leave their homes because they were scared of revenge attacks. So after the peace treaty a UN administration was established in Kosovo and a significant amount of peacekeepers were deployed. The KLA was disbanded, although it moved its operations to Macedonia. Finally in 2008 Kosovo became independent.

Kosovo War 1998-1999

- Albanian and Serbian are the official languages of Kosovo 
- 95% of the population speak Albanian as their native language - Albanian language is an Indo-European language and apparently the last remnant of the historical Illyrian language
- There are various dialects in Albanian, that are spoken in different parts of southern Europe 

Albanian dialects


3000 Years ago the Illyrian tribes arrived to West Balkan
160s Rome conquered the area
59BC The area was incorporated into the Roman province of Illyricum
87 The area of current Kosovo became part of Moesia Superior
300s The barbarian raids started and continued for the following centuries
500-600s Slavic migrations
850s The region was absorbed into the Bulgarian Empire
1018 The region became part of the newly established Theme of Bulgaria
1180 Serbia took the region under control
1346 The peak of the Serbian power was reached, when the Serbian Empire was formed
1371 Kosovo became the hereditary land of House of Brankovic
1300-1400s The easternmost areas of Kosovo were part of the Principality of Dukagjini
1389 Battle of Kosovo, Ottoman forces defeated the Serbians, which caused the collapse of the Serbian power in the region
1455-1912 Kosovo was part of the Ottoman Empire
1459 Ottomans conquered the new Serbian capital of Smederevo, leaving Belgrade and Vojvodina under Hungarian rule until the 1500s
1600s During the war between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg's Austria, Christian Serbs rebelled against the Turkish Muslims and after the war a lot of Serbs moved out of Kosovo to the north of Balkan, which were Catholic areas ruled by Austria and so Albanian population in Kosovo grew as they converted into Islam and were loyal to the Ottoman Empire
1876-1878 Serbian-Ottoman War
1878 Kosovo's capital Pristina was attached as a part of Serbia in the Berlin Congress
1878 The League of Prizren was formed, this was a political organization attempting to unify all the Albanians of the Ottoman Empire in a common struggle for autonomy and greater rights
1881 The League of Prizren was disestablished, but enabled the awakening of national identity among Albanians
1912 Albania declared independence during the Balkan War
1913 The Ottoman Empire lost in the First Balkan War and Kosovo became a Serbian province
1915-1916 During World War I, Kosovo was occupied by Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary 
1918 The Allied pushed the Central Powers out of Kosovo
1918 After the World War, the Kingdom of Serbia was transformed into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
1929 The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was transformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
1941 Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, most of Kosovo was assigned to Italian-controlled Albania, with the rest being controlled by Germany and Bulgaria
1945 After the world war Kosovo became an autonomous province in Yugoslavia
1974 In the constitution of Yugoslavia, Kosovo was granted major autonomy, allowing it to have its own administration, assembly and judiciary
1981 Protests by Albanians over the status of Kosovo were crushed and the rights that had been recently granted to Albanians were repealed 
1989 Slobodan Milosevic delivered the Gazimestan speech during the celebration of 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo 
1990 The majority of the Kosovo Assembly passed a resolution declaring the Republic of Kosova withing the Yugoslav Federation
1991 The Kosovo Assembly was dissolved by Serbia
1992 The Republic of Kosova was declared independent, which was disbanded in 2000 after the Kosovo War
1998-1999 Kosovo War, which was intervened by Nato forces as they bombed Yugoslavia aiming to force Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo
1999 UN administration period started and ended in 2008
2008 Kosovo declared independence, which has been recognized by 110 countries (December 2016)

torstai 2. helmikuuta 2017

Albania, Cool Facts #164

<= 163. The Netherlands                                                                                              165. Kosovo => 

1. Name of Albania

Ptolemy, the geographer and astronomer from Alexandria drafted a map in the year 150, that showed the city of Albanopolis located northeast of Durrës. The Illyrian tribe of the Albani lived there. 

Albanon and Arbanon 
The medieval settlements in present-day Albania were called Albanon and Arbanon. The historian Michael Attaliates was first to refer to Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 in his book written in 1079-1080.

Arbëri of Arbëni 
The name used of Albania by its people during the Middle Ages. The people referred to themselves as Arbëresh or Arbënesh. 

The policeman Shqipëria and ethnic demonym Shqiptarë gradually replaced Arbëria and Arbëresh in the 1600s. The names are popularly interpreted as "Land of the Eagles" and "Children of the Eagles". 

Valbonë national park

The origins of the current Albanian flag are in the Medieval times. The double-headed eagle was borrowed from the banner of the Byzantine Empire, more specifically from the emblem of the Palaiologos dynasty, the last ruling dynasty of the Byzantine Empire. 

Russia and Austria-Hungary later used also the double-headed eagle adopted from the Palaiologos emblem. 

Albania became independent from the Ottoman Empire after a successful revolt in 1443. The independence lasted until 1479. The League of Lezhë was established, which was the first unified Albanian state in the Middle Ages and they used a flag with the double-headed eagle on a red background. 

The symbol of the double-headed eagle was re-used by Albanian nationalists in the 19th and 20th century, while they were campaigning for the country's independence from the Ottoman Empire. During the independence the flag has been modified several times although they all have had the red background and the double-headed eagle. 

Emblem of the Palaiologos Dynasty
Albanian flag timeline

3. Ottoman Albania 

Medieval Era
The Ottoman Empire started conquering Albania in 1388 and in 1431 they had occupied most of Albania. A revolt lead by the national hero Skanderbeg gained independence for a short period of time. Between 1444-1479 Albania was independent after which the Ottoman Empire conquered the area back. Muslim Albanians held several high administrative positions in the Ottoman Empire. For example over two dozen Grand Viziers had Albanian origins. The Grand Vizier was the prime minister of the Ottoman sultan, who could only be dismissed by the sultan himself.

In the 1800s the Ottoman power started waning and the Albanian nationalism started rising among the people. The Prizren League was established in 1878, which defended the Albanian language, autonomy and the scattering of the Albanian areas.

During the Balkan War in 1912, Albania declared independence under the leadership of Ismail Qemali. After over 500 years of Ottoman influence, Albania became finally independent as the whole Ottoman Empire started declining.

After the independence, the neighbors Serbia and Greece wanted to annex Albania. When the border was defined in 1913, the Albanian area of Kosovo stayed inside Serbia's borders. In 1920 Albania's independence was fully recognized.

Muhammad Ali, Grand Vizier of Ottoman Empire

4. Communist Albania 

Albania became a communist country in 1946, when it was declared as the People's Republic of Albania. The power was concentrated on the communist party and its leader Enver Hoxha

Relations with Yugoslavia 
Relations with Yugoslavia broke down in 1948 because Yugoslavia had taken Kosovo and the bad relations between the leaders of Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. In 1968 Albania left the Warsaw Pact, because of the occupation of Czechoslovakia. 

Relations with China 
Albania was the only socialist country in Europe to support China. In 1967 copying the Chinese Culture Revolution, religious people were being persecuted, religions were banned, mosques and churches were destroyed and religious leaders were incarcerated and executed.

End of Communism
The death of Enver Hoxha in 1985 liberated the atmosphere in Albania. The opposition was allowed again in 1990 after large protests. Finally between 1991-1992 the People's Republic of Albania was dissolved and the Republic of Albania was founded.

Enver Hoxha, leader of Albania 1945-1985

5. Skanderbeg, Albanian National Hero

The national hero of Albania is Gjergj Kastrioti, who is also known as Skanderbeg. Skanderbeg started the rebellion against the Ottomans in 1443 and was able to gain a short independence as the League of Lezhë was established in 1444. The League of Lezhë, which was a military alliance of feudal lords in Albania existed from 1444 until 1450

The Kastrioti family's red flag with the double-headed eagle was raised as the flag of the League of Lezhë. Skanderbeg's army of 10,000 men marched through Ottoman territory between 1443-1468 defeating the consistently bigger and better supplied Ottoman forces, which is why he was admired. Skanderbeg didn't manage to gain support from the Albanians in the Ottoman-controlled south or the Venetian-controlled north. 

Skanderbeg died in 1468, when he was fighting against the Ottomans together with the Venetians during the Ottoman-Venetian War

Kastrioti family coat of arms



3500 Years ago it's estimated that the Illyrians arrived to the area
1000s BC Illyrian communities flourished in Albania
229 BC Rome declared war on Illyria for plundering Roman ships
227 BC The war ended in Illyrian defeat
168 BC Third Illyrian war against the Romans
167 BC After losing the war Illyria lost independence and Rome split the region into three administrative divisions
395 The Roman Empire was divided into two and the Roman province of Illyricum came under the Byzantine control, although the Goths took control over the territory in the 400s
600s The Slavs took control over the territory
800s The Bulgarian Empire started controlling the area
1190 The Principality of Arbër was the first Albanian state was established by Progon, Lord of Kruja
1200s The Serbian Principality captured some of the area in present-day Albania
1255 The Principality of Arbër was dissolved 
1271 The Kingdom of Albania was established by Charles of Anjou
1331-1355 The Serbian Empire got control over the Albania but after the dissolution of the empire several Albanian principalities were created like Balsha, Thopia, Kastrioti, Muzaka and Arianiti
1388 The Ottoman Empire conquered the territory
1431 The Ottoman Empire had occupied most of Albania
1443 A great and longstanding revolt broke out under the lead of Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, which lasted until 1479
1444 George Castrioti Skanderbeg united the Albanian principalities
1453 Constantinople fell but Skanderbeg continued fighting until he got killed
1479 The Ottoman Empire got back the control over Albania 
1600s Islam became widespread in the Albanian population
1878 The League of Prizren was formed to promote Albanian autonomy and integrity 
1912 The independent Albania was declared during the Balkan War by Ismail Qemali
1913 Kosovo remained inside Serbia, which was a territory with a significant Albanian population
1913 Albania's independence was recognized by the Conference of London
1914 The Peasant Revolt in Albania started
1914-1925 Principality of Albania
1925-1928 Albanian Republic 
1928 The republic was replaced by another monarchy
1939 Fascist Italy invaded Albania and ruled the country until 1943 
1943 Nazi Germany occupied Albania 
1944 The communist partisans liberated Albania from German occupation
1946 Albania became a Communist state led by Enver Hoxha
1947 Albania's first railway was completed
1948 The relationship to Yugoslavia broke down because of the Albanian territories that Yugoslavia took back and the 
1967 Enver Hoxha proclaimed Albania the "world's first atheist state"
1968 Albania broke away from the Warsaw Pact after the occupation of Czechoslovakia
1985 Enver Hoxha died and Ramiz Alia became his successor as Chairman of the Presidium of the People's Assembly
1991-1992 The People's Republic of Albania was dissolved 
1997 The crisis caused by the collapse of financial institutions led to armed protests as investors requested their money back. The prime minister resigned and UN peacekeeping force arrived to calm down the situation
1999 Kosovo War, people from Kosovo found refuge in Albania
2009 Albania became a full member of NATO
2013 The Socialist Party won the national elections