With our little tour of the world continuing, let us travel to Albania, a former Communist nation!
The first presence of humans in present-day Albania where the Neanderthals during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic era, around the capitol of Tirana. During ancient times, the incorporated territory of Albania was inhabited by the Indo-European people, Greeks, Illyrian, and Thracians. These people liked to plunder the weak Roman Empire during the 300 BC's. Then, in 229 BC, the Roman Republic (SPQR) declared war, with the Illyrians being defeated. In 395 AD, the Roman Empire (Caesars) was split. During the 10th century, the Western Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox church split, effectively dividing Albania into two parts- a Catholic North, and an Orthodox south. This split was known as the Great Schism. With the fall of the City of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, the nation was conquered by the Ottomans, who would bring Islam into the region. The nation would win independence in 1912, as a result of the First Balkan War. In 1937 as part of the overly ambitious Mare Nostrum plan, Mussolini invaded the nation.
During the second World War, The Soviets captured the city of Tirana from the Nazis (BTW, Hitler's birthday was yesterday) during Operation Bagration, bring this horrible idea into Albania, known as Communism (boo, hiss). The nationalists fought the communists, backed by the Soviets, but lost. The nation was now communist. That meant no religion, no due process of law. The government controlled everything down to the pillow you slept on. After burning Mosque after Mosque after Mosque, Enver Hoxha, prime minister (more like ruler-for-life) declared Albania "the world's first atheist state", banned all fascist, religious, and anti-socialist practice, and shut the border with democratic Greece.
After forty years of communism, the communists were overthrown in 1991 and free elections where also help, with the Democratic Party (the conservatives) taking control. The government soon went on a horrible idea of investing in pyramid schemes, which burst in 1996, leading to violence and civil war. Italy soon was forced to intervene and end the chaos. Today, Albania is run by the socialist party (the nation has circled back into communism), with a mixed population of many religions.
The official currency of Albania is known as the Lek, and was introduced on 16th February 1926, before the days of communism. Before then, the nation had no collectible currency. They adhered to the gold standard (which we need to stop printing money out of the wazoo). The first coins where the bronze 5 and 10 qindar leke, nickel Â¼, Â½, and 1 lek, and a silver 1, 2, and 5 franga lek.
Today, the franga/qindar was phased out as the value of the lek dropped, with the lowest denomination being 1 lek, in Copper-plated steel. Most of the other coins are nickel, with the 100 leke being the only cupro issue. Commemoratives are typically issued with the 100 and 200 leke and include subjects like Michelangelo's David and the integration of the nation into the EU. As of 2015, the denominations are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100.
Banknotes have their own history to themselves.
In 1926, the National Bank of Albania (NBA from here on out) issued notes in the more valuable 1, 5, 20, and 1000 Franka Ari. . IN 1939, they were redenominated as Franga. In 1944, once liberation occurred, the notes became leke.
In 1965, the communist nation issued more bills, including a new denomination- 3 leke. When the nation changed its name to the People's Socialist Republic of Albania, a new series was made, commemorating the world's worst idea- communism.
As communism was toppled in 1991, the nation came out with bills celebrating the nation's heritage. These were issued in 100, 200, 500, and 1000 leke. And in 1996, the notes were modernized, with plastic notes and a new 2000 and 5000 leke notes.
Thank you, and see y'all on our road trip later!
RIP THE COLUMBINE 14
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Guess the Song Lyrics- Last Time- Safety Dance: Men Without Hats
I got my first real six-string
Bought it at the five-and-dime
Played it till my fingers bled
Was the summer of '69
Me and some guys from school
Had a band and we tried real hard
Jimmy quit, Jody got married
Shoulda known, we'd never get far
Oh when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Yeah, I'd always want to be there
Those were the best days of my life
Ain't no use in complainin'
When you got a job to do
Spent my evenings down at the drive-in
And that's when I met you
Standin' on your mama's porch
You told me that you'd wait forever
Oh and when you held my hand
I knew that it was now or never
Those were the best days of my life
Back in the summer of '69