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With help from Belgrade and the remnants of General Piotr Nikolayevich Wrangel’s White Russian Army, the power-hungry Zogu returned to Albania and took possession of the country in a coup d’état on 24 December 1924. On 22 January 1925, Albania, still formally a principality, was declared a republic, with Ahmet Zogu as its first president. By stifling all opposition within INTRODUCTION • lxi the country and playing Italy and Yugoslavia off against one another, Zogu created a certain degree of political stability and authority in the coming years, but by the second half of the 1920s Albania’s increasing economic dependence on neighboring fascist Italy had transformed the little Balkan country into an Italian protectorate, in particular after the conclusion of the first Pact of Tirana on 27 November 1926.

There are also several, mostly bilingual, ethnic minorities, notably of Greeks in the south of the country, but also small groups of Slavs, Roma, and Vlachs. As to traditional religious identification, about 70 percent of the population is Muslim, about 20 percent is Albanian Orthodox, and about 10 percent, in the north, is Roman Catholic. There is also a sizable community of Bektashi, a liberal Islamic sect. Only about half of the Albanians live within the borders of the Republic of Albania itself.

1392 Durrës conquered by the Venetians. ALBANIA IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE (1393–1912) 1393 Shkodra overrun by the Turks. 1396 Shkodra reconquered by the Venetians. 1405 Birth of Scanderbeg. 1415 Fortress of Kruja conquered by the Turks. 1417 Vlora, Kanina, and Berat are conquered by the Turks. 1419 Gjirokastra conquered by the Turks. 1431 Founding of the Ottoman sandjak of Albania (Sancak-i Arnavid). 1432 George Arianiti begins his uprising against the Turks. 1438 Scanderbeg appointed military commander of the fortress of Kruja.

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