Preparation of this edition of Albania: A Country Study began as popular revolutions were drastically altering the political and economic systems of the communist countries of Eastern Europe. In Albania extreme isolation and Stalinist policies slowed, but could not stop, the revolution that striking workers and irate citizens directed against the regime. In early 1992, the Albanian people forced the communist government's fall and elected Sali Berisha, a surgeon, to be their president in the first free election in Albanian history. Thus began a long-term transition from totalitarianism toward democracy and from a centralized command economy to one based on a private market.
The uncertainty of both the process and the outcome of the transition make descriptions of the changing structures of government, economy, and society somewhat tentative in nature. The authors have attempted to describe the existing, but possibly transitional structures, using scholarly materials, which even from Western sources are very limited. Such descriptions can form a sound basis for readers to understand the ongoing events and assess change in Albania. The most useful sources are cited by the authors at the end of each chapter. Full references to these and other sources are listed in the Bibliography. A Country Profile and a Chronology are also included in the book as reference aids.
Transliteration of Albanian personal names and terms generally follows the Library of Congress transliteration system. Transliteration of place-names, however, follows the system developed by the United States Board on Geographic Names. In the ecclesiastical context, preference is given to the generic term Orthodox," rather than Eastern Orthodox. The term Greek Orthodox like Serbian Orthodox or Albanian Orthodox) is used to designate ethnic affiliation, not historical background. Measurements are given in the metric system; a conversion table is provided to assist readers unfamiliar with that system (see Table 1, Appendix).
Finally, readers will note the body of the text reflects information available as of April 1992. Certain other portions of the text, however, have been updated: the Introduction discusses significant events that have occurred since the information cutoff date; the Chronology and the Country Profile includes updated information as available; and the Bibliography lists recently published sources thought to be particularly helpful to the reader.
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