In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Albania is Number 17 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Albania was conquered by the Ottomans in the middle of the 15th century and did not achieve full independence from the Turks until 1912. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. It discusses to two main subgroups in the Albanian population, the Gegs of the north and the Tosks of the south. It also contains a note, “Distribution of the Albanian Race in 1912,” which provides information about Albanians living outside Albania itself, including elsewhere in the Balkans, in Sicily, and in other parts of southern Italy. The section on social and political conditions discusses the role of tribal and religious divisions in delaying the development of a national consciousness. It adds that the majority of the Albanian population became Muslim under Ottoman rule and that “long after the Serbs and the Greeks achieved their national independence, the Albanians remained loyal subjects of the Ottoman Sultan….” The study discusses several options for a postwar Albania, including partition among neighboring states or the establishment of an independent Albania. It contains no mention of the secret April 1915 Treaty of London, in which Britain, France, and Russia promised Italy that in exchange for entering the war against Austria-Hungary, it would gain Albania as a protectorate. This treaty was never implemented, largely because of opposition by the United States. In 1920 Albania became a sovereign state and a member of the League of Nations.

Last updated: September 5, 2014