Albania (Albanian Shqiperia, "Country of the Eagle"), republic in southeastern Europe, officially known as the Republic of Albania. It lies along the northwestern edge of the Balkan Peninsula.
Separated from Italy by only 76 km (47 miles) of the Adriatic Sea, Albania, throughout its history, has been occupied by Italian powers expanding eastward into the Balkans or by Balkan powers expanding westward. In the 1500s Albania came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire (centered in what is now Turkey), and did not gain its independence until 1912. From 1944 to 1990 Albania was a staunchly Communist state, and in 1991 Albania began its transition to a democratic state and market economy.